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Microsoft industry focus remains priority in FY19

At Microsoft Inspire 2017 last July, the software giant discussed its reorganization along industry verticals such as financial services, healthcare and government. CIOs can anticipate the Microsoft industry focus to endure as the company enters its 2019 fiscal year.

At this year’s annual business partner event, company executives said Microsoft would continue down that path in FY19, which began July 1.
This industry-oriented go-to-market strategy is part of Microsoft’s bid to tap what it views as a $4.5 trillion market in digital transformation. Enterprises adopting new business models and designing new customer experiences need industry know-how as well as technical acumen, so the thinking goes.

At Microsoft Inspire 2018, Judson Althoff, executive vice president of worldwide commercial business at Microsoft, cited customer wins at Starbucks, Unilever, Dun & Bradstreet, and Komatsu among others as evidence that Microsoft’s vertical market push is already producing results.

“You have to give credit to the focus on our industry strategy,” he said.

Althoff also credited Microsoft’s partners, who often contribute the critical industry knowledge that drive digital transformation projects.

A case in point

A partnership involving Microsoft, professional services firm KPMG Australia and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia exemplifies the Microsoft industry focus. The companies are collaborating on a software platform dubbed Wiise, which integrates online banking functionality within a business management system. Wiise, which will be sold to small and medium-sized businesses, is set to launch in August 2018.

Work on Wiise occurs beyond the walls of the three corporations in a joint venture operation located in a Sydney fintech hub.

“It’s a genuine startup,” said Elliot Cousins, executive manager for partnerships at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, calling the standalone approach a key to the venture’s success.

Andrew Hagger, general manager for strategy and operations, private business banking, at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, called the tripartite relationship “uncharted waters” for the bank and its partners.

“We’ve had a few challenges on the way, which you would expect in three large institutions — many internal stakeholders, differing operating rhythms within those businesses and the normal pressures around funding constraints and resource allocation,” he said.

Hagger and Cousins spoke during a financial services panel at Microsoft Inspire 2018.

Microsoft: Industry needs to embrace change

Such alliances, as challenging as they may be to executive, are the types of measures companies may need to take to fend off digital disruption. Indeed, the transition to digital business compels financial services CIOs to consider emulating startup company culture.

“The [financial services] industry, as a whole, is under great pressure,” said Janet Lewis, vice president, global financial services at Microsoft. “The organizations — whether they are insurance or capital markets firms or banking firms — are needing to change their business model, they are needing to create a different customer experience and they are needing to be agile in a way their infrastructure today has not necessarily allowed them to do.”

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