In today`s world, where virtual becomes part of our everyday reality and we submerge ourselves in technology, it is important to not lose track of what drives us, what inspired our success and what is yet to be accomplished.
In this light we look at the speech that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella held at the Microsoft Inspire event in Las Vegas. What best transcends from it, is a sense of community and cohesion, the will to make a difference and as a core guiding motto, Microsoft`s declared mission, a relentless work to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”.
According to Satya, the success of this ecosystem created around the tech industry, consist in how well it can fulfill its mission and serve its customers. The tech industry is in a continuous growth, with 5% of the world GDP on tech being spent today and expecting to double by 2030.
Satya Nadella highlights that, as in every domain, with great success comes great responsibility and the need for security and privacy has never been greater than now, when the biggest breakthroughs are still to come. We use technology every day as an integrated part of our lives, some so well immersed in our everyday routine that we have come to depend on it, and now the question arises: in this new era of Intelligence Cloud and Intelligence Edge and Artificial Intelligence (AI), how can we still protect our fundamental right to privacy and security? Therefore, a tremendous sense of responsibility, commitment and ethics is needed to make sure that the customers are protected, and our work complies to all the regulations in this domain, like GDPR or the Cybersecurity Tech Accord.
Microsoft`s advances will infuse everything with AI that “it’s going to have perception capability, language capability and autonomy”, the result being the possibility “to turn every industry into an AI-first industry, whether it’s retail or healthcare or agriculture, we want to be able to make sure that they can take their data, in a security-privacy preserving way and convert that into AI capability”.
The new AI Era will require a paradigm shift, from device-centered experience to a multi-sense multi-device, people-centered experience and “to power all of this the one thing that’s needed is a ubiquitous distributed computing fabric”.
Azure is a great example of enormous success, with 54 data center regions and millions of network transactions, keeps advancing to meet the challenges. Bringing the compute power closer to where it is needed, while diminishing costs and increasing reliability, the Project Natick achieved building a fully self-sufficient data center and immersing it into the sea, meeting the needs of the population that lives around the sea coast.
“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.”
These new technologies have the potential to change the way we do business. More and more companies understand the importance of leveraging these great features put at their disposal. Walmart, the biggest company in the world uses Azure, as well as Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365, with projects in Machine Learning (ML) and AI. Likewise, companies from the steel industry, energy industry, or the medical field are using AI, that with more research, “with more compute, with more data and the ability to reason over this data, using the new types of algorithms, can have real impact”.
From industry scale, to small businesses, to individuals “the opportunity for everyone is to take Microsoft 365 and apply it for cultural transformation in large enterprises, for productivity in small businesses, to be able to really do industry-specific workflows in health care, manufacturing or financial services. To be able to take it to first-line workers, to extend the business process with Dynamics 365”. Furthermore, work on a prototype 3D holographic meeting experience will change the future of modern work and enable us to connect the physical space with the digital space in a mixed reality.
In the last years, tremendous advance has been done in achieving human-parity in the perception and language capabilities like object recognition, speech recognition, machine-reading and comprehension. One of the projects that wants to take it one step further to ”full duplex conversations”, between a bot and a human being, is XiaoIce. “There’s 500 million friends that XiaoIce has. It’s a celebrity on TV. It’s written its own book of poetry. We’re in the early days of learning how these kinds of social experiences are going to really become commonplace, but at the same time, things are done in a way that we as humans really are at the center of it and in control of“.
Throughout all these breakthroughs that we had and the ones that lie before us, in this quest to find solutions for the unmet, unarticulated needs of our customers, we must keep in mind what our mission is and to stay anchored in our culture and the everyday reality while building for the future. Sometimes this means to confront our own mindset, to overcome our boundaries, because the toll for innovating and accomplishing the impossible, is to break free from any past dogma or model and find a new, more efficient way to do things.
At an individual level, perhaps the main opportunity, is to connect with the things that enable us, our own personal passions and philosophies and to be able to “take on the most pressing challenges of the world – climate change, energy, education. And within any community that you care deeply about, any country you care deeply about, you have the ability to use this platform to make a difference.”