Biz Apps Partner Podcast: Microsoft’s Steve Cohen on AI Adoption, Unique Partner Value, Market Differentiation with Copilot

Welcome to the “Biz Apps Partner Podcast,” a weekly video series designed to decentralize intelligence about how partners can scale their Microsoft practice by having short, to the point discussions with Microsoft leaders in product, engineering, marketing, partner management, programs, and more.

In this episode, John Siefert welcomes Steve Cohen, GM Business Applications Commercial East, Microsoft, to discuss his role at Microsoft, the unique value partners bring to the table, how Copilot creates differentiation in the market, and the importance of early AI adoption.

Register for the Biz Apps Partner Summit, running July 24-25 in Bellevue, Washington, where attendees will make the right connections, gain insights into Microsoft’s FY 2025 priorities, and learn how to scale their Microsoft Business Applications practice at the 24-hour event.  

Key Takeaways

  • Overview: Steve leads the Commercial East Business Apps organization which consists of approximately 70 people. The team works with around 5,000 customers to identify business problems and develop solutions. He notes that partners play a crucial role in driving business by bringing extensive industry knowledge, product expertise, and business process insights. Partners are instrumental in illustrating how customers can leverage technology to progress their businesses.
  • Partner value: Partners bring a unique value to the table, particularly their ability to view customers holistically. They don’t just focus on business applications but consider the customer at the center of everything, understanding all aspects of their challenges and opportunities. Partners assess whether solutions lie within business applications, the Power Platform, or perhaps Azure DevOps. Additionally, they ensure the security of these solutions.
  • Turning data into insights: Steve discusses the importance of data in today’s business environment. The key is to leverage this data effectively, transforming it into a valuable asset. Top partners are at the forefront of this effort, utilizing AI solutions to rationalize the data estate.
  • Market differentiation with Copilot: There has been great success with initiatives that organize data estates and experiment with out-of-the-box solutions like Copilot for Microsoft 365 or Copilot for Sales. These solutions offer a curated experience, simplifying data understanding so customers can quickly derive value. Partners who adopt these technologies early can differentiate themselves by presenting compelling visions to customers during pre-sales or early engagement.
  • Skill development with AI: Steve is passionate about the potential of AI and the opportunities it presents for skill development. He believes there will be a pivotal moment where humans must learn to effectively utilize AI, with some individuals being more prepared than others. The focus is on scaling this skilling process, which he sees as a key differentiator in how customers derive value. Industry focus is crucial, and Microsoft’s offerings like Copilot for Sales and Copilot for Service provide role-specific, curated experiences.
  • Tech evolution: John and Steve reflect on the evolution of technology, particularly the rapid shift from cloud-based systems to autonomous systems of record, such as ERP and CRM systems. This transition is expected to be much quicker than the previous shift from on-premises to cloud, given the current pace of technological advancement. Steve envisions a future where roles interact with a Copilot-like experience in real-time, streamlining their work within a unified interface.
  • Embracing change: Steve emphasizes the importance of embracing change, particularly in the context of AI adoption. He suggests that hands-on experience with AI tools is one of the best ways to learn and adapt to change. Early adoption of AI can lead to significant long-term growth and less pressure to catch up later and early engagement with AI will provide a broader understanding as its capabilities expand. Steve encourages giving AI a chance, even if its benefits are not immediately apparent.
  • Connect with Steve: Register for the Biz Apps Partner Summit, happening July 24-25 in Bellevue, Washington to meet Steve Cohen and learn how to dazzle customers, get insights into Microsoft’s FY 2025 priorities, and scale your Microsoft Business Applications practice.

Stream the audio version of this episode here:

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