During an executive briefing trip to Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Washington, USA last week I was fortunate to meet Eduardo Kassner CTO of worldwide channels and programs, and hear his views on the developments and strategy for Microsoft Azure. The trip was organised by Clare Barclay, Microsoft UK COO and was very helpful in bringing me bang up to date on Microsoft’s strategies across the portfolio. I’d like to take this opportunity to pass on a few thoughts and show you how to find out more.
Many people see the cloud as just a place to store data or to migrate physical on-premise servers too and often feel some anxiety over security and governance or question where the data actually resides from a jurisdiction point of view.
The pace of change has been stunning so it is no wonder many myths are out there. Security and governance are at the heart of Microsoft Azure and the enterprise mobility and security suite. The regulatory compliance, localised datacentres and data privacy far exceed what I have seen in nearly all major UK corporations. Eduardo was responsible for hiring 2,000 people in nine months, got them productive in three months and added $3.5bn to Microsoft revenues, that gives you an idea of the pace and scale of developments in cloud capability at Microsoft.
The business value in cloud technology is, for me at least, less about data storage and servers. It really comes from all the technologies that a move to the cloud brings to bear. Eduardo highlighted a number of business situations that have been totally transformed, quickly and at low cost. These are typical of the major shifts in company performance made possible once you’ve made that first enabling step into the cloud. It is these business-led conversations that matter, not all the chat about technology.
So we’ve all no doubt had luggage go missing on after a flight. You end up on phone lines, getting passed around and selecting menu options then go on hold, right? The approach Microsoft took with an airline produced a new architecture in three days. This uses artificial intelligence and mobile apps, with natural language. Our intrepid traveller can now send text messages to an instant messaging service that is entirely automated but behaves and responds like a human. This system knows who the caller is, where they are and can use analytics to find their bags and then get consent for how to reunite bag and traveller. It even uses sentiment analysis to understand how they are feeling. It’s so natural when you see it demonstrated. Everyone wins, way better service at much lower cost. Unhappy traveller converted into trusting user of the airline.
A couple of other examples show the use of gaming techniques with Aviva, leading to an app built in a month that can monitor and incentivise driving behaviour. This can yield lower premiums for safer drivers and reduced risk for the insurer.
In the U.S. we saw a demo of the convergence of this technology with the Internet of Things, using the example of a police officer drawing a weapon. The weapon and holster have sensors that detect the weapon being drawn, log the date, time and location and flag an incident to the control room so that backup can be provided. At the same time the officer’s car boot closes and is locked, securing their additional weapons and ammunition, it also turns on video cameras in the car and on the officer. We see how a whole stream of activity and safety features come into play from one simple action, all automated. That solution was modelled in just a few days.
Eduardo is an amazing speaker who really animates the subject and demonstrates his thought leadership regarding enterprise migration to the cloud. He is co-author of Enterprise Cloud Strategy, published by Microsoft Press and available to download free here: http://bit.ly/cloudstrategybook
Sword is working with Microsoft to explain cloud advances and what opportunities this presents for innovation and business transformation.
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