Tag Archives: supporting

Microsoft announces new technology benefits for nonprofit volunteers on International Volunteer Day

In our nearly 40 years of supporting philanthropic partnerships with nonprofits, and with the 2017 launch of the Tech for Social Impact team, Microsoft has worked closely with nonprofits and partners to develop new products and resources tailored to nonprofits and their very specific technology needs.

We’re constantly engaged with nonprofits to listen and learn about ways to further meet the needs of nonprofits, both big and small. Through conversations with our network, we realized organizations – especially those who rely on and deploy more than one billion volunteers around the world – need solutions that equip their volunteers with the same quality technology solutions that their full-time employees rely on.

In the spirit of International Volunteer Day, a global observance by the United Nations General Assembly for nearly 35 years to celebrate local, national and international volunteerism, we recognize the importance of nonprofit volunteers. Volunteers are the heartbeat of so many organizations. They are in the field, working with beneficiaries, coordinating and executing programs, engaging donors, and reporting impact. That’s why we must go further and equip more nonprofit volunteers with best-in-class productivity tools to promote seamless collaboration and access to content in the field, built on a platform of security features that ensure sensitive constituent data is securely transferred and responsibly managed.

As it stands today, while many nonprofits have digitally transformed thanks to solutions like Azure and Microsoft 365, their volunteers still use unmanaged solutions, which limits the ability of the nonprofit to manage information, protect sensitive data, and make full use of integrated collaboration tools that can increase productivity.

We want to change that.

Today, we’re announcing our first step by providing enterprise-sized customers with a new Volunteer Use Benefit. Starting January 1, 2020, for each licensed Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 seat, nonprofit customers with Enterprise Agreements will receive 10 additional Office 365 F1 seats for their volunteers to utilize. That means that an organization that has licensed 250 Microsoft 365 E3/E5 seats for their fulltime staff will have access to 2,500 Office 365 F1 licenses for volunteers to use at no additional charge. Office 365 F1 brings together the best of Microsoft’s cloud productivity experience including familiar applications for email, calendars, team collaboration, file storage and sharing. This Volunteer Use Benefit will allow organizations to equip millions of volunteers with the tools they need to have an even greater impact on the missions they serve.

This offer will be made available via our Cloud Solution Provider Channel in Spring 2020.

 “Through our recent deployment of Microsoft 365, we’re using tools like SharePoint, Teams and Exchange to drive increased collaboration, cost efficiencies, and security across our organization. In turn, we can devote more resources to driving mission impact.”, said Craig Tucker National Chief Information Officer of Salvation Army Australia. “Central to the success of our organization are the 8,500 frontline workers and volunteers who execute our mission in the field, engage beneficiaries, and manage important information. If we are able to equip our volunteers with the same high quality, secure and collaborative tech solutions that we rely on across Salvation Army it would allow us to fully realize the benefits of digital transformation for organizational success.”

Developing technology solutions for nonprofits strikes at the heart of Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. In the last year, we’ve rolled out solutions like the Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator, which is helping larger nonprofits drive greater insights and operational efficiencies, as well as a Microsoft 365 Business for Nonprofits offer that arms smaller nonprofits with collaboration tools with advanced security and device management capabilities. Not only are we creating solutions, but we’re also supporting nonprofits with digital literacy to improve adoption and usage through digital skills trainings with resources specific to the sector’s unique challenges and needs. With this announcement, we’re excited to extend support to nonprofits’ volunteers. 

In 2020, Microsoft will work with partners to support the roll out of the implementation of the Volunteer Use Benefit which will make all nonprofits more secure and effective, build trust with their funders and beneficiaries, and continue their digital transformation journey. To learn more and be the first to hear when the Volunteer Use Benefit is live, sign up here.

We’re truly grateful and inspired by volunteers across the globe who give their time and effort to help those in need. Their commitment to the world’s most important causes does not go unnoticed.

Published By

Justin Spelhaug

Justin Spelhaug

Global Head – Tech for Social Impact, Microsoft Philanthropies

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Adobe Sign introduces updates targeting mobile device users

Adobe Sign updates this week brought new features supporting mobile devices and new integrations with Microsoft cloud products including SharePoint, Dynamics, PowerApps and Flow, Teams and Azure.

According to Mike Prizament, senior product marketing manager at Adobe, the company emphasized improving user experience on mobile because nearly half of its users start the signing process on their phones. “If 50% of people check their email, and then they try to start signing a document on their phone, we want it to be as easy as possible,” he said.

The Adobe Sign updates include the following:

Improved mobile signing experience: Adobe Sign enables users to zoom in on areas they need to sign and provides mobile-friendly navigation buttons that guide the signer through required fields. The company said these functionalities are available on mobile web and don’t require users to download an app.

New home screen interface: The Adobe Sign home screen has a new design intended to make the main e-signature tools more visible and accessible. The tools let users send out a document for signatures, track document status and manage the signing process. Users can send documents from the Adobe Sign home screen for people to sign instead of emailing the document or sending paper copies, according to the company.

 The new Adobe Sign home screen.
The new Adobe Sign home screen.

New manage page: The new page lets managers responsible for sending documents for signatures track or modify the process. The user can check to whom the documents were sent, determine whether a recipient opened the document yet, change or cancel recipients and archive the documents.

Adobe Sign allows two different levels of account sharing on the manage page: view only and full access. The view-only sharing mode allows the main manager to share the account to team members so they are given access to only view the status of the task. The full-access sharing mode gives complete control to team members to take over the manager’s account in case the person is taking a vacation or leaving the company, according to Adobe.

The new Adobe Sign manage page.
The new Adobe Sign manage page.

Users can swap back and forth between accounts in a drop-down menu on the manage page.

Integrations with Microsoft cloud productivity products

Adobe Sign has updated integrations with the following Microsoft products:

  • Microsoft SharePoint: Users can create and embed digital forms that can be filled, signed and reused. The update is intended to help customers collect information from a large number of people inside and outside the company. Data from the forms is automatically saved and mapped back to a SharePoint list.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365: E-signatures works with Dynamics 365 Sales in more languages, including German, French and Japanese.
  • Microsoft PowerApps and Power Automate in the Government Community Cloud: Users can add signing workflows when a new document is uploaded in SharePoint, then route final documents and create an audit trail to OneDrive/SharePoint.
  • Microsoft Teams: Team members can send documents for signatures and manage, track and get notifications for the status of important documents. The Adobe Sign integration in Teams is certified as part of the Microsoft 365 Certification program, ensuring that enterprise data privacy and security are protected from third-party developed applications in Microsoft 365.
  • Microsoft Azure: Adobe Sign is now available in Microsoft Azure in Europe and stores all data, content and information within the EU.
  • Microsoft Azure Active Directory: Microsoft Azure Active Directory enterprise customers can use single sign-on to send Adobe Sign to their employees via the Adobe admin console within 30 minutes.

“Signature is a key component to identity, and identity is a key component to trusted commerce. Adobe has a huge potential to leverage over 1 billion PDF users in the future of legal signing authority,” said R “Ray” Wang, principal analyst and founder at Constellation Research.

He said the latest integrations with Microsoft products will enable tools such as Dynamics 365 Sales, Microsoft SharePoint, Teams and other apps to take advantage of signature from Adobe.

Wang said Adobe ultimately competes with DocuSign, a cloud service providing e-signature technology.

Adobe sees a big potential still ahead for the market of e-signatures, citing IDC research sponsored by Adobe that found 80% of enterprise document processes still rely on paper. “There’s still a huge opportunity there, and this is a big area that Adobe Sign looks to solve together with Adobe Document Cloud,” Prizament said.

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AT&T revives [email protected] UCaaS deal with RingCentral

In an unexpected move, AT&T will continue supporting and reselling RingCentral’s unified-communications-as-a-service platform as part of a new partnership targeting the large-enterprise market. 

AT&T had informed customers in January 2018 that, within a year, it would no longer support RingCentral’s [email protected], a cloud-based calling and messaging platform the carrier had been selling to small and midsize businesses.

But, this week, the two companies struck a new deal: AT&T will now start selling the UCaaS product to large enterprises, as well as SMBs. Scott Velting, an associate vice president with AT&T, attributed the about-face to “rapidly changing market dynamics and technological advances.”

RingCentral previously purchased AT&T’s customer licenses for [email protected] in an agreement worth up to $26 million. The startup cautioned investors that revenue could be “significantly and adversely affected” if too many of those customers declined to transition from AT&T to RingCentral.

While some of those customers have already migrated, the businesses that have not yet switched will be able to remain on the [email protected] platform through AT&T, RingCentral said.

Leading up to the earlier decision to end the partnership, [email protected] sales had stagnated, with an “immaterial” number of new subscriptions sold in all of 2017, according to RingCentral. Sales through the AT&T channel accounted for 11% of RingCentral’s revenue that year — down from 14% in 2016. 

With the new deal announced this week, the technology behind [email protected] is the same, but RingCentral appears to have developed a more robust strategy for working with service-provider partners like AT&T, said Jeremy Duke, founder and chief analyst at Synergy Research Group, based in Reno, Nevada.

RingCentral is “currently growing at more than the average growth rate for the UCaaS market, and they want to continue that growth,” Duke said. “And they see the AT&T relationship as very important to continue building that momentum.”

RingCentral has more than doubled its revenue over the past three years, from $220 million in 2014 to $501 million last year, according to federal regulatory filings.

“I think this move helps RingCentral in its efforts to move upmarket. We continue to see RingCentral posting strong growth numbers; this expanded partnership should only help,” said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.

AT&T partners with several other UCaaS vendors, including Cisco and BroadSoft, which was recently acquired by Cisco. It also has its own cloud communications platform, AT&T Collaborate.

Vendors target large enterprises with UCaaS

While SMBs drove most of the initial growth of the UCaaS market, more and more enterprises are also now buying cloud calling plans.

UCaaS sales in the enterprise market are growing at twice the rate of sales in the SMB market, according to data released last month by Synergy. There are now nearly 8 million UCaaS seats worldwide, a twofold increase since late 2015, the firm said.

As of the second quarter of 2018, RingCentral remains the leader, with an 18% market share, trailed by Mitel at 16%, 8×8 at 13%, Cisco at 7%, and Vonage at 7%, according to Synergy. Mitel recently acquired UCaaS vendor ShoreTel.

Still, UCaaS platforms account for less than 10% of the total PBX market, according to Synergy.

“Our data shows that larger enterprises are still laggards when it comes to adopting UCaaS, but interest continues to grow,” Lazar said.

Digital marketing partnerships key to vendors’ channel strategies

For some vendors, the key to a thriving channel ecosystem means engaging and supporting a variety of partner types, including digital marketing partnerships.

Digital marketing organizations were among the earliest firms to recognize the IT budgets for marketing shifting from the purview of customers’ IT departments to marketing executives. Vendors took note of the agencies’ influence and unique reach within customer organizations. While on the surface, digital marketing agencies didn’t appear to be direct competition for traditional channel partners, some industry watchers asserted the agencies did in fact pose a potential threat. For example, agencies working on digital initiatives with a client’s marketing department could hypothetically annex the client’s infrastructure decisions, cutting channel partners out from those deals.

Vendors, however, view their digital marketing partnerships as an important subgroup of their overall partner ecosystems that, if anything, is complementary to a traditional channel base.

Progress cites potential partner synergies

Progress Software, an application development and deployment software vendor, said it sees an opportunity for digital marketing agencies to partner up with traditional channel firms.

Progress began to pursue digital marketing partnerships following its acquisition of app development vendor Telerik in 2014, said Matthew Gharegozlou, vice president of sales at Progress. The Telerik buyout brought with it Sitefinity, a content management system, as well as digital marketing agencies that had been working with the product.

Matthew Gharegozlou, vice president of sales, Progress SoftwareMatthew Gharegozlou

“The acquisition of Telerik and Sitefinity gave us the ability to go after these relationships,” Gharegozlou said.

He noted that about 65% of Progress’ content management business is now derived from channel partners. About 80% of those partners are digital marketing agencies.

Progress’ traditional partners typically share a few traits: They work in the app development space, deal with customers’ IT departments and lack skill sets related to digital experience and digital marketing. “So far, we haven’t had any conflict” between traditional and agency partners, he said, because “the bulk of the experience needed on the digital side, our traditional partners don’t have it.”

Traditional Progress partners also usually have expertise in vertical industries, he said, adding that most are based in markets such as financial services, government, healthcare and education. “Our traditional partners are extremely knowledgeable” and have strong relationships in their vertical spaces, he said.

Because of traditional partners’ strengths, Gharegozlou said Progress looks to pair them up with digital marketing agencies for certain leads. Combining the expertise in back-end work and vertical markets with agencies’ expertise in web development and related technologies can produce compelling offerings. 

But while optimistic about these synergies, he recognized that a “full-service” digital marketing agency, which can do both the front-end and back-end work for a customer, diminishes the value that traditional partners may offer. In this sense, full-service agencies may be preferable to customers “because they can do the entire project,” he said.

Salesforce supports acquisition trend

For Salesforce, digital marketing partnerships play a critical role in advancing its marketing platform.

Stephane Viallet, vice president of global alliances, agencies, at SalesforceStephane Viallet

Salesforce has signed numerous digital marketing agencies over the last six years, spurred by several acquisitions to build out its business-to-commercial and marketing portfolio, said Stephane Viallet, vice president of global alliances, agencies, at Salesforce. Salesforce’s acquisitions have included digital marketing software company ExactTarget in 2013, as well as e-commerce provider Demandware and data management platform Krux in 2016. Viallet also cited Salesforce’s alliance with Google as a driver behind the company’s growing digital marketing agency partnerships.

“Partners, including digital marketing agencies, are the lifeblood of Salesforce, extending our platform in new and exciting ways and fueling our growth,” Viallet said in an email. He said Salesforce and its partners are pursuing opportunities created by “our ability to merge media, adtech and martech to execute on a whole new way for brands to connect with customers.”

Digital marketing organizations use Salesforce’s products such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Service Cloud to offer “transformative digital experience that enable clients to meet consumer expectations,” he noted.

I think often agencies can help us get into areas of the business or with clients that we may not thoroughly be in today.
Adrianna Bustamantedirector of digital sales and alliances, Rackspace

In addition to having digital marketing and advertising skills, Viallet said Salesforce seeks partners that understand “the importance of merging data, technology and creativity” to deliver customer experience strategies.

Viallet also pointed to a trend among digital marketing organizations acquiring Salesforce practices, such as Publicis.Sapient’s 2016 buyout of Vertiba, a Gold-level Salesforce Consulting partner.

Other notable acquisitions have included the following:

  • Wunderman bought a majority stake in Salesforce consultancy Pierry Inc. in September 2017.
  • Dentsu Aegis purchased Swiss digital marketing company Blue-Infinity in January 2017.
  • MRM//McCann acquired e-commerce service provider Optaros in December 2014.

“Digital marketing agencies haven’t just built Salesforce practices around the globe organically — they’ve been acquiring them as well,” he said. “Salesforce supports these collaborations as we work to provide our partners with an edge that enables them to exceed customers’ expectations.”

Rackspace: Little overlap between the channels

Managed cloud provider Rackspace, meanwhile, looks at digital marketing partnerships differently: Traditional channel firms and digital marketing agencies can do business with the same customers without necessarily encroaching on each other’s turf.

Rackspace’s alliances with digital marketing agencies stem from its digital services practice. Launched in 2014, Rackspace Digital provides application and infrastructure hosting for web content management systems, e-commerce products, and mobile and critical application services. Adrianna Bustamante, Rackspace’s director of digital sales and alliances, noted that the company has formally developed strategic digital marketing partnerships since about 2010.

Adrianna Bustamante, director of digital sales and alliances, RackspaceAdrianna Bustamante

“I think often agencies can help us get into areas of the business or with clients that we may not thoroughly be in today,” Bustamante said.That’s partly because digital marketing organizations tend to target a customer’s marketing department — versus the IT department.

“Nowadays … your traditional agencies have to be more digitally focused. … But still their main focus is very much around the consulting, the service and the creative — potentially integration and development,” Bustamante said.

She noted that the line between digital marketing organizations and systems integrators are blurring. Digital marketing organizations now look a lot more like systems integrators, while systems integrators “look a lot more like agencies,” she said.

Rackspace works with its agency partners in reseller and referral models. The company offers enablement resources for creating “sticky engagements for their customers and successful projects,” she said, while Rackspace focuses on the back end to ensure their projects meet scale, security and compliance requirements.

“We are heavily focused on trying to … accelerate now in certain verticals and certain segments, now in midmarket and enterprise. We can form a strong partnership when the agency realizes and understands that we are that trusted partner for them,” she said.

Rackspace generally doesn’t see any tension between its traditional and digital marketing partnerships, according to Bustamante.

“There might be several partners that we might have within … a certain customer that we are working with, but they might be working on five different projects, 20 different workloads, across three different business units,” she said.

New Aquatic Skins Out Today!

We’re supporting the incredible work of The Nature Conservancy to protect and restore these coral reefs (which you can learn more about here). Both from sales of this new skin pack and with the promise to donate more money for every coral block YOU place in the game.

It’s true! As soon as players have collectively placed ten million coral blocks underwater in Minecraft, we’ll donate one hundred thousand dollars to The Nature Conservancy and their efforts. We’ve got no doubt you’ll manage it in no time!

So what are you waiting for? Build something amazing out of coral, help us help the oceans and enjoy the new skin pack!

Learn more about the Nature Conservancy by clicking this lovely line of green text.

IMPORTANT LEGAL STUFF:

Net proceeds from sales of the Coral Crafter Skin Pack excluding platform and marketplace operating fees will be donated to The Nature Conservancy, 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA, 22203-1606, USA, www.nature.org. No portion of purchase or gift is tax deductible.

Minecraft will contribute $100,000.00 to The Nature Conservancy to protect and restore coral reefs around the world once players have placed 10 million coral blocks underwater, beginning on June 8th. (Coral blocks are only counted in Minecraft versions without “Edition” in the title.) The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the land and waters on which all life depends. More information about the Conservancy is available at www.nature.org.

We’ll update on Twitter when ten million coral blocks have been placed.

New Aquatic Skins Out Today!

We’re supporting the incredible work of The Nature Conservancy to protect and restore these coral reefs (which you can learn more about here). Both from sales of this new skin pack and with the promise to donate more money for every coral block YOU place in the game.

It’s true! As soon as players have collectively placed ten million coral blocks underwater in Minecraft, we’ll donate one hundred thousand dollars to The Nature Conservancy and their efforts. We’ve got no doubt you’ll manage it in no time!

So what are you waiting for? Build something amazing out of coral, help us help the oceans and enjoy the new skin pack!

Learn more about the Nature Conservancy by clicking this lovely line of green text.

IMPORTANT LEGAL STUFF:

Net proceeds from sales of the Coral Crafter Skin Pack excluding platform and marketplace operating fees will be donated to The Nature Conservancy, 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA, 22203-1606, USA, www.nature.org. No portion of purchase or gift is tax deductible.

Minecraft will contribute $100,000.00 to The Nature Conservancy to protect and restore coral reefs around the world once players have placed 10 million coral blocks underwater, beginning on June 8th. (Coral blocks are only counted in Minecraft versions without “Edition” in the title.) The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the land and waters on which all life depends. More information about the Conservancy is available at www.nature.org.

We’ll update on Twitter when ten million coral blocks have been placed.

State of Decay 2 Exceeds 2 Million Players in Less Than Two Weeks – Xbox Wire

It has been incredible to see fans around the world supporting State of Decay 2 and we are excited to share that we have reached more than 2 million players in less than two weeks since our global launch on May 22.  On behalf of the team here and our incredibly talented partners at Undead Labs, we want to thank the millions of fans old and new who have helped build such a strong community of players united in the fight for survival.

With so many players enjoying the game, we’ve seen some interesting trends and data since our previous milestone of 1 million players. So far, survivors have eliminated close to 2 billion zombies! We’re also seeing lots of successful survivor stories. Last week, players tended to survive about three days on average, and as of note, we’ve seen players complete over 121,000 community stories and start brand new communities with a new map that includes extra bonuses to help kickstart their new survival challenge. This shows an incredible commitment to the game and we’re excited so many of you are enjoying the rich survival experience that State of Decay 2 offers.

The entire team has been working hard to bring all 2 million players lots of key fixes, gameplay tune-ups, and quality of life improvements with our latest game patch released last Friday. We are always listening to our fans to improve the game experience, and we will continue to bring updates and additional content as you explore all that State of Decay 2 has to offer. For further details on what’s changed see the full patch notes here.

The sequel to the original smash hit, State of Decay 2 puts players in small-town America, one year from the end of everything. The dead have risen and civilization has fallen. Not even the military could stop the zombies, and now it’s up to you to gather survivors and build a community in a post-apocalyptic world – a world where every decision matters, and where you define what it means to survive. The game builds upon the unique blend of open-world exploration, third-person action, and survival-fantasy role-playing pioneered in the original game. There is an overarching story told in the form of structured mainline and optional sidequests, but the world itself is shaped by your actions with dynamically generated content based on your choices and the ever-increasing zombie threat.

If you haven’t joined the community just yet, now’s a great time to get in on all the action! In addition to playing it with an Xbox Game Pass membership, you can purchase the Standard Edition for $29.99 and the Ultimate Edition for $49.99. As an Xbox Play Anywhere game, one digital purchase gets you both the Xbox One and the Windows 10 version of the game.

We look forward to welcoming even more players into the world of State of Decay 2 and continuing to support our growing community with further content updates and downloadable content in the future.

Again, on behalf of Microsoft Studios and Undead Labs, we’re excited and humbled to see more survival stories in State of Decay 2. How will you survive?

Microsoft joins the Coalition For Better Ads – Bing Ads

At Microsoft, we believe in supporting and collaborating with the online advertising industry to develop standards that make the digital ecosystem function better for consumers, marketers and publishers.

In this spirit, we are excited to announce that Microsoft has joined the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA). Through our advertising platforms, and our multitude of consumer services, we believe we can make an important contribution to improving and safeguarding advertising standards on the web. 

Microsoft is committed to working with our industry partners and the Coalition for Better Ads to continue the development and implementation of standards that will have a positive impact on consumers and the entire online advertising community.