As I reflect on another Industry Solutions University, having returned from Barcelona, it is interesting to note the progress that we, Microsoft, are making in our efforts to make ourselves more relevant to our customers needs by understanding their business more.


Industry Solutions University (ISU) is an internal Microsoft sales training event ("readiness" in 'softie speak) where the various industry teams update Microsoft's enterprise sales and marketing teams on the numerous industry strategies, including focus industry solutions and key partners that we go-to-market with.  ISUs started about 6 years ago.  I became involved just before joining Microsoft (from industry) and this was my fifth ISU in EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa).


The basic idea of industry solutions is recognising that most customers don't wake up in the morning thinking "Today, I'd like to buy some xyz Microsoft product licenses".  Instead, they have business problems that need solving, for example, improving visibility of their plant floor manufacturing operations.  So, rather than having an IT conversation about the latest features and functions of a Microsoft product(s), it's about trying to understand how customers can use Microsoft technologies to solve their business problems and having a conversation on this basis.


The ISUs are run on a regional basis.  Beyond EMEA, we are now thinking and planning for further ISUs in numerous different regions around the world.  We have a very strong involvement of our partners and customers.  This year in our Process Manufacturing track, we were very lucky to have a customer, from a world-leading German chemicals company, speak about sustainability and we had a number of our global Alliance partners speak about their industry solutions.


This is a long-term journey that we are on.  It's interesting to reflect on the maturity levels now compared to many years ago.  As many of you know, Microsoft frequently thinks and acts in the long-term and can be tenacious to eventually get things right.  This matches our process manufacturing customers - building a plant and developing a product are capital-intensive activities.  It's also a long-term effort.


-- Nick