Speaking in Toronto at this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), the CEOs from Microsoft and General Electric trumpeted the virtues of globalization and sent the message that innovation and business growth go hand-in- hand with secure access to global markets.
“Right now what I'm looking for is the politics in our country to get to a place where people can win elections by making a case for both globalization and addressing the inequities that do exist in our society,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, referring to much of the anti-globalization rhetoric featured in current political discourse in the United States. “That's where we need to get to. It can't be one versus the other.”
GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt was equally sanguine about North America’s future on the global stage.
“We can compete,” Immelt said. “We have great people that work in our factories. We have great products. I would love to see more policies that would help us compete globally versus closing the door on globalization.”
The two companies have just announced an agreement making GE’s Predix industrial software platform available on Microsoft’s Azure cloud, already on offer on Amazon and Oracle’s clouds.
For Microsoft, the move will mean greater access to GE’s vast network of industrial customers, with GE projecting $6 billion (USD) in digital revenue for 2016 and a target of $15 billion by 2020.
Microsoft Canada’s channel chief, Jason Brommet, spoke at the WPC about the changing climate of business in both Canada and the global community, emphasizing the impact that cloud collaboration can have on small-business growth. “We are all becoming [independent software vendors], or as I refer to them, IP service providers,” he said, highlighting the growth in Microsoft partnerships over the past year, where the corporation estimates that Azure has increased overall sales in Canada by 30 per cent. “With Office 365, we have had a 50 per cent year-over- year increase in the number of partners. With Dynamics CRM, we have had a 100 per cent increase. With Azure we have had an 800 per cent increase, and we still need a lot more partners there,” said Brommet.
It was the second anti-protectionist rallying cry sent out from north of the border by an American giant in the past two weeks, coming after U.S. President Barack Obama’s pragmatic and sobering message in Canada’s House of Commons. “Integration of national economies into a global economy, that’s here, that’s done,” said President Obama, who insisted that pulling out from trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement will not ease our economic ills and “is the wrong medicine for dealing with inequality.” At the same time, President Obama offered that ordinary people with concerns about inequality and global trade, “have a legitimate gripe with globalization.”
Microsoft’s WPC is an annual event aimed at connecting Microsoft corporation with its partner businesses which number over 640,000 globally. Attendance at this year’s event is expected to exceed 15,000 Microsoft partners from around the world.