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Microsoft recently hosted its Microsoft AI Partner Innovate event in Sydney. There, it outlined its vision for partners across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand to leverage Copilot as a vehicle for new customer acquisition and revenue streams.

Here’s a breakdown of the key insights and opportunities that Microsoft presented to its channel:

A big market scope

According to Microsoft, there are around three million SMB users in A/NZ that are also potential Copilot users. That in itself is a big market opportunity for partners, particularly those MSPs that focus on supporting SMEs with straightforward technology.

Microsoft also claimed that Copilot not only supports customer acquisition but also offers partners avenues to diversify their income streams by adding additional services around management and support for the Copilot environment.

Customer engagement and adoption

One of the reasons that Copilot is such a strong opportunity is the robust cloud adoption rates in the region. As noted by Public Spectrum, for example, spending on public cloud alone will reach $23.2 billion by 2024. Due to that, Microsoft claims that there is a growing demand for AI solutions like Copilot to complement existing cloud deployments.

To help sell customers on Copilot, Microsoft recommends that it is pitched as a productivity booster with many benefits, including a reduction in email time and mundane tasks, as well as faster document drafting.

Security and compliance

Australian organisations of all sizes face an increased challenge in terms of both cybersecurity and the regulatory environment as the Australian government accelerates its own ambitions to see Australia become a leader in the space.

This is causing a bevy of investment and acquisition activity within the channel. Microsoft, meanwhile, sees Copilot as an opportunity for partners to enhance their professional services offerings by aligning Copilot deployments with Microsoft’s security solutions like Entra, Intune, Purview, and Defender for Cloud Apps.

Data management and insights

At a vendor level, partners like Veeam are exploring Copilot’s potential to extract meaningful insights from backup data repositories, unlocking valuable information for decision-making. For the channel, and particularly value-adding service providers, there’s a significant opportunity in preparing customer data for Copilot adoption, offering managed services to consolidate, protect, and govern data effectively.

AI-optimised surface devices

Finally, there is a channel play, too. Microsoft has introduced Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 for Business as devices equipped with neural processing units (NPU) for AI workloads. For partners, the new Surface devices promise efficient processing of AI tasks, enhancing experiences like video calls with features like “eye gaze correction.” This provides a new fleet deployment opportunity.

New partner benefits

Microsoft then finished its event with the announcement of an expansion to its Surface reseller program. This will streamline access to Surface devices for partners and eliminate previous authorisation requirements.

Microsoft clearly sees value in AI for the channel, across hardware, software, and services, for the rest of 2024 and beyond, and with Copilot, it has developed an AI solution that the channel can take to the smallest SME right through to the largest enterprise.

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