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Microsoft Introduces Azure Migration Incentives, Contact Center Solution, and Teams Features

The new sales opportunities and cloud software (including a social networking addition to Microsoft Viva, pictured) debuted on the opening day of Microsoft’s annual Inspire partner conference. By Rich Freeman

Microsoft, on the opening day of its annual Inspire partner conference, has unveiled a host of new cloud products and programs.

They include updates to the Azure Migration and Modernization Program (AMMP) aimed at accelerating lift-and-shift movement of on-premises Windows Server and SQL Server environments into the cloud. Incentives on new migrations are now 2.5 times higher than before, and Microsoft sales organizations have additional incentive funding at their disposal to allocate among partners locally.

There are currently over 500 partners in AMMP, which was introduced in 2019 as the Azure Migration Program and renamed a year ago. The incremental commission opportunities for members are arriving just after the end of extended support for SQL Server 2012 and about 15 months before extended support on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 expires.

“It’s a great time for partners to advise customers using SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 / 2012 R2 about End of Support (EOS) timelines and help them take action to stay secure,” said Kathleen Mitford, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure Marketing, in a blog post.

Microsoft also unveiled a new addition to its cloud portfolio for businesses with sales and support organizations today. Called the Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform, the new system employs functionality from Dynamics 365, Microsoft Teams, and the Microsoft Power Platform to support personalized communication with customers through voice, video, social media, and other engagement channels.

“In today’s digital world, brand reputation is synonymous with customer experience, including the quality of customer care,” said Charles Lamanna, corporate vice president of business applications and platform at Microsoft, in a blog post. “Consumers expect effortless, consistent, and secure experiences across any point of contact they choose—in fact, their brand perception and loyalty depend on it.”

The system draws extensively on artificial intelligence to enable user self-service, anticipate customer requests, and give contact center agents real-time recommendations on answers to provide, knowledge center articles to consult, and sales offers to promote. That component of the platform is powered in part by technology from Nuance, the speech recognition vendor Microsoft officially acquired earlier this year.

Biometric authentication, advanced telephony services, business process automation tools, and fraud prevention functionality are included in the new solution as well.

Updates to Microsoft Teams announced today include Excel Live, which lets users create and edit Excel workbooks collaboratively during Teams meetings. The new feature is an early manifestation of the Live Share capability Microsoft introduced during its Build conference in May.

Further additions to Teams include shared channels that allow internal users to collaborate with people outside the organization; Video Clip, a new feature in Teams chat that lets users record, send, and view short videos; and Viva Engage, an in-house social media extension to the “employee experience” platform Microsoft shipped last February that incorporates functionality from Yammer, Microsoft’s employee social networking solution.

“Viva Engage brings consumer-like social networking to the workplace, building on the strength of Yammer to build community, spark engagement, and grow personal networks, right in the flow of work,” said Colette Stallbaumer, general manager of Microsoft 365 and Future of Work, in a blog post.

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