Microsoft Ignite 2016: AI, CRM Will Drive Customer Experience; Adobe Partnership a Go

By:  Dann Anthony Maurno

At Ignite 2016 today, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen announced that Adobe will make Microsoft Azure the preferred cloud platform for the Adobe Marketing Cloud. Furthermore, Adobe Marketing Cloud will become the preferred digital marketing solution for Dynamics 365 Enterprise.

Elsewhere in his address, Nadella talked about AI in towering terms, describing it as core to Microsoft’s mission to ensure that it “is democratizing AI for every person and organization to help solve society’s most pressing challenges.” So, Microsoft is infusing intelligence into everything it delivers, says Nadella, from applications to infrastructure.

Microsoft to Adobe: “You were smart, partnering with us!”

In speaking of the Adobe alliance, Nadella complemented Adobe’s Narayen by saying “[I]t marks the core of the product transformation and the business transformation that you are leading.” Adobe’s marketing solutions jockey hard for their industry position, and a Microsoft partnership is, frankly, a strong leg up.

Through its strategic cloud partnership with Adobe, Adobe will bring its Marketing, Creative and Document Cloud services to Azure; in turn, Microsoft will make Adobe Marketing Cloud its preferred digital marketing solution for Dynamics 365 Enterprise. Data models will be extensible to enterprise customers as well as ISVs and partners.

As Microsoft’s Judson Althoff, executive vice president of the Worldwide Commercial Business described it, the companies together will help businesses using cloud and data to deliver “compelling and personalized experiences” through every phase of customer relations.

“The transformation that I have described is one that Microsoft has already completed, and which more than 85 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have started with the help of our technologies. Microsoft is the only company that delivers the technology to help through every stage of the transformation, meeting customers where they are no matter where they are in their cloud journey.”

Althoff said in a separate press event that “One differentiating capability across the Microsoft Cloud is the sheer volume and data that we can harness from traditional relational constructs that might live in one data center, to unstructured data in the cloud.”

This comes as little surprise, and the announcement at Ignite was strongly rumored. The companies announced the strategic partnership at Adobe Summit in London last year, to include Adobe Marketing Cloud Solutions with Dynamics CRM. This integration was aimed at eliminating siloed (therefore bad) service experiences.


The manifestations of AI that customers and partners can expect are chiefly aimed at personal productivity and collaboration, but there’s an enterprise story too, particularly for B2C and supply chain companies. Expect:

  • Relationship Assistant, included in the soon-to-be-released Dynamics 365 for Sales, which “makes customer engagement more intelligent than ever before on any device.”
  • New skills for its AI agent Cortana, for example, health insights and reminders.
  • New cloud-powered intelligent capabilities for Office 365, for Word and PowerPoint specifically (e.g., maps, research).
  • Microsoft MyAnalytics (formerly Delve Analytics), a productivity analytics application. New capabilities are aimed at team members and leaders.
  • A new AI-enabled virtual agent across all US support centers to improve customer experience.

Microsoft also pointed to a couple of enterprise-level Cortana Intelligence success stories including Lowes, which aims at delivering a digitally enhanced kitchen remodel experience; also Renault-Nissan Alliance, aimed at “advance[ing] connected driving experiences worldwide.” So Microsoft will be deeper in the car business; the companies will reportedly co-develop next-generation mobility services for cars, services powered by Microsoft Azure aimed at personalization, navigation and predictive services. Think “Smart cars” with newfound intelligence about maintenance, but not driverless cars.

About Dann Anthony Maurno

Dann Anthony Maurno is a seasoned business journalist who began his career as International Marketing Manager with Lilly Software, then moved on as a freelancer to write for such prestigious clients as CFO Magazine; Compliance Week;Manufacturing Business Technology; Decision Resources, Inc.; The Economist Intelligence Unit; and corporate clients such as Iron Mountain, Microsoft and SAP. He is the co-author of Thin Air: How Wireless Technology Supports Lean Initiatives(CRC/Productivity Press, 2010).

Dann can be reached at