What is Future Decoded? A large gathering of businesses showing how they’ve benefitted from changing how they work, showing how they are exploiting technology for serious financial improvement, doing things that have been impossible and getting people totally on board with big changes. Keynote speakers showed how their sectors and their organisations are changing, ranging from healthcare to financial services, and industrial power to public services.
So, just another technology showcase? Well yes, and no. A keynote from Hiscox gives a flavour of what it’s all about. They needed to review insurance records to determine claims and risk levels in order to anticipate their future financial model and necessary funding. That amounted to one billion records to review and analyse, which IT estimated would take eight months and cost millions of pounds. They actually carried out the exercise using people in the line of business, using cloud-based cognitive services that took twelve hours and cost £600. Their CTO Jonathan Fletcher says it still blows his mind every time he thinks about it. What that means is your IT strategy may have imploded, which could be the best thing that’s ever happened. The information itself is the vital spark in your organisation. The ways we used to try and structure it and bog it down in silos is failing us and is a bankrupt model. To be fair, we all spent a lot of money making the best of what was available and trying to grapple with non-intuitive ways of doing things, like classifying information. The emerging model is server-less, API driven and using data at the Edge. Centrica's stand emphasised the move to IoT, working on data at the edge and using AI to deliver smarter heating services to home.
Knowing about the technology is of course useful, especially as it is changing so fast. More important are the explanations of the benefits, and obstacles that people have experienced and share. The first big theme was how to create a culture of digital transformation. The behaviour of people in your organisation has a massive influence on your ability to change and has been the subject of research by Microsoft, now available to read for free, see the link at the end of this blog.
Let’s cut to some data points from the research. Businesses are worried, with 53% saying they expect to be disrupted within two years, and we’re talking about significant impact. 47% have no digital transformation strategy, so aren’t able to work out what to do about it. For some big organisations ‘wait and see’ has translated into ‘wait and fail’. Once the disruption hits you, it may be too late to overcome and get back in the game. Much of this is driven by cultures and behaviours that are used to working in ‘execution mode’, they get stuff done. That’s very different to transformational thinking. Only 23% have plans to address those cultural issues. We also see evidence that in three years, 50% of the global workforce will be mobile and need to be better able to cope with that. Further research from several sources indicate many job functions will shrink massively or vanish, counterbalanced to some extent by people coming through the educational system now who will be performing jobs that don’t even exist today.
Bringing things back down to the practical, here now, and useful level, did you know that you can use Skype Translator to perform live translation during your phone calls into your choice of eight languages. You may also like to add a live text box to your slide deck that types your words as you present, into your choice of fifty language(s). This uses machine learning and improves as you use it.
At the opposite end of the scale we heard about developments in Microsoft’s approach Quantum Computing, which sounds like science fiction. I won’t dwell on the technology as the whole point is about what it can do and how it could be used. Microsoft aims to use it to tackle global warming, security, and develop new antibiotics for example. With the best traditional computing it is estimated to take billions of years to work out complex molecule behaviour, but that may take hours or days on a Quantum system – a massive boost to the efforts to synthesise new antibiotics for example. Imagine what it could do for simpler business analytical challenges. To make this practical it will be made available to organisations through a new Quantum programming language that will be incorporated in Microsoft Visual Studio, to democratise access to levels of compute power never even imagined before. This forms an extension to Azure. That facility will be available by the end of this year (www.microsoft.com/quantum).
You might be interested that tomorrow is ‘World Paper Free Day’. The Intelligent Information Management community is celebrating that and sharing some useful education http://www.aiim.org/Events-Section/VEvents/WPFD-2017-DigitalOffice
Microsoft have also just published a free eBook on Uniting your workforce, which helps with the digital journey and tackles the new ways people want to work, all of which helps your organisation improve performance. You may find you are already entitled to use a lot of the thing you will need, depending on your software agreement with Microsoft. Sword can help you on that journey.
|Download the Microsoft research|
|At the event, Microsoft announced the release of their research on ‘Creating a culture of digital transformation’, highlighting the importance of the role of people and culture in adopting change.
Download the report now.
eBook on uniting your workforce