“What is common across all these solution areas is this profound shift to a new way of doing things, the intelligent cloud, the intelligent edge and ultimately, though, we've got to measure ourselves not by technology for technology's sake, but how are we empowering people? How are we helping organizations with their digital transformational outcome? That's what this is all about.”
Nadella also stated that Microsoft is going to infuse everything with AI. “It's going to have perception capability, language capability, and autonomy that's going to be built into the applications going forward," Nadella said. "And to power all of this, the one thing that's needed is a ubiquitous, distributed computing fabric."
Judson Althoff, EVP Worldwide Commercial Business at Microsoft, also commented on the opportunity of the Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge stating “It’s not about selling products anymore,” he said. “It’s using cloud services to transform their business. This new wave of compute – the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge – will shape everything we do for decades to come... It’s not some science future story. It’s here and it’s now.”
2. Microsoft 365
It was exciting to watch and learn how Nadella uses Microsoft 365 in his everyday life. He showed how Teams has become a dominating force in his regular collaboration with his day-to-day colleagues. Recently announced was a free version of Teams, and when combined with the Skype for Business integration – Teams will be the standard for conducting business going forward.
Cortana Virtual Assistance has also become an integral part of Nadella’s daily routine. It reminds him of his commitments, his to-do list based on emails he has sent. As he put it "Commitments is one of the features that saves me every day."
As a Microsoft Global Multi-Practice Partner, we are helping organizations accelerate and optimize their digital transformation journey through the utilization of technologies like Microsoft 365. Transitioning from a device-centered experience, to a people-centered experience, organizations have the ability to increase productivity, accelerate cultural transformation in the digital age, and perform industry-specific workflows in healthcare, finance, and manufacturing. In addition to engaging Firstline workers in the organization at scale and with the F1 plan.
3. MS Azure
Microsoft’s cloud platform of distributed computing fabric now has 54 data center regions (14 added this past year), including one under the water – Project Natick. Project Natick was a 12-month research project to create a pre-packaged, environmentally sustainable data center that could be ordered to size and rapidly deployed to operate lights out on the seafloor for years! Microsoft also shared that its private network includes over 4,500 peering locations and 130 edge sites.
"We're very excited about pushing even what is the conventional wisdom of what is a data center,” said Nadella. “Essentially, wherever there is data, compute will migrate to data. And so we are going and taking Azure to Azure Stack, to Azure IoT Edge, to Azure Sphere. This is that one ubiquitous, distributed computing fabric. One programming model that is event-driven, serverless, so you can write an application that truly works across all of this."
We are is poised to drive significant growth in Azure with our recently announced expert designation from Microsoft. As one of the few Global Azure Expert Managed Service Providers – our Azure project and managed services have been driving cloud transformation around the world and are now recognized by Microsoft after taking part in an extensive 3rd party audit. The program certifies some of the most qualified Azure managed services providers in the world and attests to their capacity on providing advanced cloud management support. The certification will help organizations find a competent partner to manage all cloud environments. As customers move to the public cloud with increasing pace, their dependency on partners with a deep level of cloud expertise and experience to guide them will increase. The Microsoft Azure Expert MSP program is awarded to partners that meet a stringent set of requirements, including verified proof of excellence in customer delivery and technical expertise, and the successful completion of an independent audit of their managed services, people, processes, and technologies. Only the most high-fidelity cloud managed service providers are awarded the Azure Expert MSP badge, intended to give customers confidence when selecting a partner to help them meet their digital transformation goals.
4. Business Applications
Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 (a combination of a cloud CRM and ERP System), experienced an amazing 65% growth during the first three quarters of the company’s fiscal.
During his Inspire corenote, Nadella said that Power BI is "one tool that's changed the culture inside the company," thanks to the way that it helps bring the focus to leading indicators rather than lagging indicators.
"When you think about business process in particular, the one thing that is going to be true is more things are going to be digitized. As we see the power of IoT and other tools that are going to be used, every workflow is going to be automated," Nadella said. "That means we need to have a set of tools that allow us to reduce the total cost of these customizations and automation. And now we've built a complete new app platform, which I think represents a tremendous opportunity for everyone in the room - Power BI, PowerApps and Flow. The combination of it is just going to change how applications are built and deployed."
5. Artificial Intelligence and Automation
As mentioned above, Nadella stated that Microsoft will infuse nearly every product with AI. Microsoft envisions every industry turning into an AI-first industry – whether it is retail, health care or manufacturing.
"We want to be able to make sure that they [Customers] can take their data in a secure, privacy-preserving way, convert that into AI capabilities that they get the return on." Microsoft is working at "democratizing autonomy into a set of toolkits that everyone here can use," he said. "Autonomy is not just about a few self-driving projects. This is about autonomy everywhere."
For almost all growing companies, migrating to the cloud is a must – but automation should be a part of your future goal. Whether you’re integrating AI and/or automation into your products and services, or using it to optimize your environment, using data to provide adaptive responses to any given situation is the next wave of modernization. SoftwareONE works by your side to develop and adapt your cloud transformation roadmap.
6. Security, Privacy and Compliance
Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer for Microsoft, discussed how security and privacy are impacting the world today.
"We made technology that is global, but the world is increasingly focused on the borders that divide nations rather than the technology that connects them. And even when people think about technology, they have a lot more questions than they did a year ago. Every day we see headlines about the anxiety people have about technology. We see people questioning whether they can trust technology," Smith said. "And that raises a fundamental question – how do we navigate these difficult times?"
Computers must remain accountable to people. This requires governments to step forward and to ensure that laws are enacted to govern this technology. Could we see a Hippocratic oath for coders or AI practitioners, like how we see for Doctors?
"It's why we've called for existing international law to be strengthened and new international law to be added, in the form of a Digital Geneva Convention. But we're not just calling for new laws, we're taking action." Last December Microsoft and Facebook came together to act in unison to dismantle the malware capability of the North Korean group that was responsible for the WannaCry attack. In addition, in March at the RSA convention 34 companies, (now 44) agreed to a new Cyber-Security tech accord, one in which companies have pledged to help protect every customer, regardless of nationality, and refrain from helping governments attack innocent civilians.
Advancement in all these areas will require future thought leadership and collaboration. Over the coming years, there is no doubt that the technology ecosystem will lead in the advocacy of this very important global initiative that effects every person and every business.
Smith spoke of a recently published book that Microsoft authored; "Ethics of AI – The Future Computed - AI and its role in Society". It outlines fairness, reliability and safety, privacy and security, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability within AI. "As we said then, ultimately the question is not only what computers can do, it's what computers should do."
We understand and recognize that Privacy, Security and Compliance are major concerns for our customers. Especially when you take into account many of the new regulations that have come into effect around the world – GDPR, PIPEDA and many more, it is encouraging to see Microsoft taking steps to make compliance a significant pillar in how they develop solutions for society, as well as recognizing the need to govern the technology as it is being developed. Maintaining compliance and security is not a one step process, it needs to be consistently maintained and adapted for your business. We can assist you with your security and compliance requirements.
We as an industry have a responsibility to keep the world secure.
In total, the conference was a fantastic success, and we are looking forward to continuing to support our clients with their journey of digital transformation. We have structured our business to offer managed services to help customers achieve their digital transformation objectives, and we are empowering our customers to innovate for the future and take advantage of new economic opportunities within their industries.