Microsoft Global Skills Initiative

Microsoft launched a global skills initiative to provide digital training to 25 million global workers.  The online courses will be delivered through Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub.  

A new “System of Learning” app will be released later this year on Microsoft Teams.

“Increasingly, one of the key steps needed to foster a safe and successful economic recovery is expanded access to the digital skills needed to fill new jobs.  And one of the keys to a genuinely inclusive recovery are programs to provide easier access to digital skills for people hardest hit by job losses, including those with lower incomes, women, and underrepresented minorities.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith

The Microsoft Data Science team leveraged the LinkedIn Economic Graph to estimate global digital job growth over the next half-decade.  Microsoft estimates that by 2025, there will be 100 million new software development positions, 20 million cloud and data roles, 20 million data analysis, machine learning, and AI jobs, and 10 million cybersecurity, privacy, and trust roles.

LinkedIn has already setup digital training tracks for ten of these key positions: Software Developer, Sales Rep, Project Manager, IT Administrator, Customer Service Specialist, Digital Marketing Specialist, IT Support / Help Desk, Data Analyst, Financial Analyst, and Graphic Designer.  These roles were selected as they have “the greatest number of job openings, have had steady growth over the past four years, pay a livable wage, and require skills that can be learned online.”

Microsoft noted that investment in employee training has declined over the past few decades, leaving fewer employees with on-the-job or employer paid training benefits. Since 2008, investment has remained flat.

“Exacerbating the challenge is the fact that existing training is not reaching the populations who need it most. On-the-job training far outpaces distance learning and other alternative modes, limiting options for prospective employees. Perhaps more significantly, on-the-job training is more than two times as prevalent among workers who are already in higher-skilled roles, leaving those in more automatable positions even more vulnerable to displacement.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith

Emphasis on Virtual Training

The availability of low cost or free training tools is one of the silver linings from the pandemic. Boardroom Insiders, a profiler of C-level biographies and executive concerns, spent two weeks reviewing recent CIO interviews. They observed that technology leaders have emphasized upskilling and reskilling their teams to address skills gaps while working from home.  Tech vendors have rolled out “a whole host of free training and education programs.”  As these programs are virtual, CIOs are encouraging their staff to attend these sessions with zero travel costs and reduced or waived registration fees.

Likewise, CIOs are using the time at home to hone their leadership, communication, and team engagement skills.  CIOs have found their teams to be more productive, collaborative, and agile, with rising morale.

Microsoft Strong Q3 Led by Dynamics 365, Teams, and the Cloud

Microsoft posted another strong quarter, with revenue up 15% (16% in constant currency) to $35 billion.  Operating income rose 25% to $13.0 billion and EPS rose 23% to $1.40.  The pandemic has slowed some revenue streams such as LinkedIn advertising, LinkedIn Talent Solutions, Bing Search advertising, and SMB transactional licensing; however, accelerated digital adoption resulted in little overall impact on quarterly revenues.

“We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.  From remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security – we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything,” said CEO Satya Nadella.  “There is both immediate surge demand and systemic structural changes across all of our solution areas that will define the way we live and work going forward.  Our diverse portfolio, durable business models, and differentiated technology stack across the cloud and the edge position us well for what’s ahead.”

Dynamics products and cloud services revenue increased by 17% (up 20% in constant currency), driven by Dynamics 365 revenue growth of 47% (49% in constant currency).

“Dynamics 365 is helping thousands of organizations accelerate digital transformation as they remote every part of their operations from manufacturing to supply chain management to sales and customer service, inclusive of new scenarios like curbside pickup, contactless shopping, remote customer assistance, and operations,” said Nadella.  “Patagonia is using Dynamics 365 Commerce to rapidly move to new, more intelligent distribution and fulfillment models, including contactless shopping.  And we are working with card issuers like American Express so merchants who use Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection can reduce fraudulent activity as they process more transactions online.”

In the Productivity and Business Processes and Intelligent Cloud segments, there was an uptick in cloud usage, “particularly in Microsoft 365 including Teams, Azure, Windows Virtual Desktop, advanced security solutions, and Power Platform, as customers shifted to work and learn from home.”

“We are empowering people and organizations for a world of secure remote work and learning with Microsoft 365 and Teams.  As work norms evolve, organizations are realizing they need a comprehensive solution that brings together communications, collaboration, and business process, built on a foundation of security and privacy.  Microsoft Teams supports multiple communications modalities in a shared workspace.  It’s the only solution with meetings, calls, chat, collaboration, and with the power of Office and business process workflows in a single integrated user experience with the highest security as well as compliance.

Teams keeps all your work and communication, conversations, documents, whiteboards, and meeting notes in context.  It helps people collaborate inside and outside meetings, making them more efficient and effective while reducing fatigue.  We’re accelerating Teams innovation, adding new capabilities each week, and now support meetings of all sizes, meetings that scale from 250 active participants to live events for up to 100,000 attendees to streaming broadcasts.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Teams usage has exploded during the pandemic, with more than 200 million meeting participants in a single day.  The platform has over 75 million active users, with two-thirds of them sharing, collaborating, or interacting with files on Teams.  The number of organizations integrating their third-party and Line Of Business apps with Teams has tripled in the past two months.

Teams now has over 20 organizations with at least 100,000 deployed employees, including Accenture, Continental AG, Ernst & Young, Pfizer, and SAP.  It is also being widely deployed in medicine and education.

Nadella argued that Microsoft is “not immune” to the broad economic downturn, but that the accelerated shift to digital solutions is to its benefit.  “I would claim that digital as a component of that economic activity is going to increase.  And specifically, the full stack we have from infrastructure to our SaaS applications are going to be very competitive in that context.”

“In our commercial business, our strong position in durable growth markets means we expect consistent execution on a large annuity base, with continued usage and consumption growth across our cloud offerings,” said CFO Amy Hood.  “However, we expect the sales dynamics from March to continue, including a significant impact in LinkedIn from the weak job market and increased volatility in new longer lead time deal closures.”