6 Key Insights from Microsoft Inspire – Day 2

brad smith

Recap of Day 1 here

Day 2: How good was Brad Smith in the corenote this morning?

I always love hearing from Brad and the powerful stories he shares around challenging real-world topics like policing, racial inequality, sustainability, and more than 1 billion people on this planet that live with a disability. We virtually followed Brad as he toured around Microsoft’s home in Seattle with epic views of Lake Union – the houseboat where Sleepless in Seattle was filmed, the Space Needle, and the BurgerMaster next door to where Microsoft had their first offices. But as always Brad was on point confronting head-on the key issues facing our world.

These issues reminded me of why I founded Transcends and our 5 core values: Empowerment through Technology, Conscious Connections with our clients, to #AlwaysBeLearning, Courage and a Competitive spirit, and, lastly, perhaps, our most defining cultural value – digital freedom enabling an award-winning remote work culture. Our startup team is digitally distributed and diverse; we are proud to have team members from every continent except Antarctica and we are constantly faced with the changes and opportunities that a diverse and remote team present, especially during a challenging time like COVID-19.

brad smith

Along this theme of diversity, inclusion, and a better remote working world, here are some top picks & tips from the sessions today:

  1. SUSTAINABILITY – Microsoft commits to being carbon negative by 2030. Back in January, Brad Smith announced Microsoft’s commitment to being not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative by 2030. Today, he emphasized the need to act: “[b]efore you can build a big building, you first have to dig a deep hole. We are all in a pretty deep hole. But this is an opportunity not just to rebuild, but to re-imagine the future”. We’re with you, Brad. Last year, two of our clients – Enlighten Designs and Sustainable Coastlines – won a “Microsoft AI for Good Grant” and “Cloud for Good” awards. We’re thrilled to see Microsoft continuing their investment on this path – “we can’t empower everyone around the world if we can’t do what it takes to save the world.”
  2. TOP AZURE ANNOUNCEMENTS – The next generation of Azure is here. In his corenote address, Satya Nadella focused on Azure Stack HCI, new Azure Migrate features, Azure Lighthouse security enhancements. Moreover, there was a discussion on third-party connectors for Azure Sentinel, Microsoft’s security information and event management offering. Here’s a great article from CRN.
  3. THE NEUROSCIENCE OF VIRTUAL CONNECTION – This must-watch session started with an anecdote from David Scott (Freshspot Marketing) on his daughter’s love of Harry Potter and the 85,000 word alternate ending she wrote to Rise of the Phoenix. What does this have to do with virtual connection? Everything! She created a participatory digital experience from an analog medium. And, this is exactly what organizations need to do today to stay relevant in a remote work world. In a digital experience, time compresses and our attention span maxes at about 30 minutes. We want shorter, more impactful, and cinematic content. Hopefully, the session is released, so you can re-watch: “Digital Experiences in a pandemic era – connecting with customers when it’s hard to connect.”
  4. Oh, CANADA! As a Canadian-born entrepreneur leading a Vancouver-based agency, I love participating in this area’s special events each year. Led by Kevin Peesker and Suzanne Gagliese, the virtual version certainly did not disappoint. Fully clad in red & white, with maple leaf masks to boot, they were joined by Gavriella Schuster to celebrate the IMPACT awards. Our team at Transcends has been fortunate to work with award winner MediaVale through Microsoft’s Assisted Growth program – congratulations!
  5. COMMUNITY RESPONSE AWARD – Microsoft’s global awards had more than 3,300 submissions this year and 146 winners across 200 countries. There was one big change this year – a new “Community Response” award to recognize partners that made a significant difference providing innovative and unique solutions to help communities during the global pandemic. And the winner? RedBit from Canada – Congratulations! Also, a mention to our client NTT DATA, on their finalist nomination and a surprise cameo for the team at Letsignit.
  6. PUPPIES & PENGUINS (and even an orangutan) – This was perhaps our team’s all-time favorite Inspire happening – REAL ANIMALS live on the animal cam! This was hidden interstitial programming that we only noticed part way through the second day.


And, to finish off, it was good fun to see the cameo of Bill Gates. Here’s a sneaky snap if you missed it:

bill gates
Ashleigh Vogstad – CEO, Transcends

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