By: Bob Evans
CLOUD WARS — Doubling down on his belief that Microsoft must help customers become world-class software creators themselves, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella today showcased several innovative customers embracing “tech intensity” to innovate and grow in today’s high-intensity digital economy.
Nadella described tech intensity as a fusion of cultural mindset and business processes that rewards the development and propagation of digital capabilities that create end-to-end digital feedback loops, tear down data silos and unleash information flows to trigger insights and predictions, automated workflows and intelligent services.
This latest example of Microsoft’s strategic differentiation from its competitors in the Cloud Wars carries forward some key themes that Nadella has been touting over the past 12-18 months centered around his belief that in a world where computing is rapidly becoming ubiquitous, industry leaders must aggressively and relentlessly pursue digital innovation across everything they do.
- Each year, about 10 billion new microcontroller-equipped devices are plugged into the global economy—which companies will lead the way in weaving all those intelligent devices into highly intelligent and optimized feedback loops?
- Nadella says the world is becoming one giant computer—which businesses will be best positioned to take full advantage of that massive scale and connectedness?
- More than 2 billion “first-line workers” can become active users of this ubiquitous computing in untraditional ways that new technologies are now making possible, unlocking new opportunities for innovation and productivity;
- Nadella recently said that data from its LinkedIn subsidiary shows that as fast as tech companies are pursuing and recruiting developers, non-tech companies are hiring developers at an even faster rate and in larger numbers; and
- Microsoft believes it’s ideally positioned to take a leading role in this emerging world of “tech intensity” and ubiquitous computing by offering a complete fabric supporting this new model: hybrid architecture, Azure, Azure Stack, Azure IoT Edge, Azure Sphere and more.
At today’s Microsoft Ignite conference, Nadella used his keynote address to highlight some powerful innovation from companies ranging across multiple industries and from around the world, with the common denominator being their aggressive deployment of digital technology, digital processes and digital business to create entirely new types of competitive advantage.
The customer innovations—in food processing, oil exploration, smart buildings, mixed-reality retail experiences and more—highlighted by Nadella are built around AI, IoT, blockchain, Dynamics 365, mixed reality, Azure Digital Twins, Azure Sphere, and insights gleaned from quantum-computing research.
Here’s an overview of the nine digital innovations showcased by Nadella:
BMW: AI, Azure, Cortana, Office 365 to help create personalized and digital brand experiences. BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA) is built on top of Microsoft’s Azure cloud and conversational technologies, and the company expects to add more assistants with specific functionality for drivers. The BMW assistant feature will be available starting in March of 2019 in 23 languages and markets.
Buhler: AI, blockchain and Azure to to cut food waste and boost safety. Buhler, which processes almost two-thirds of the world’s grain and maize, has created an AI-enabled digital-sorting machine connected with an IoT platform to identify harmful toxins on grains and remove those grains from the food flow. The recent addition of blockchain technology allows companies up and down the food chain to ensure the grains entering the market are safe “from field to fork.”
CBRE: IoT and Azure Digital Twins to improve utility and energy-efficiency of office buildings. The largest commercial real estate services firm in the world, CBRE is pairing IoT sensors with Azure Digital Twins technology to optimize energy usage and offer real-time views into the availability of specialized office space and equipment.
Coca-Cola: heavy emphasis on security and threat protection as cornerstones of digital transformation. With 770,000 employees in more than 200 countries, Coca-Cola’s ongoing efforts to engage customers more intimately and drive new revenue growth include the deployment of sweeping new security initiatives as the company simplifies its IT operations and looks to move 100 percent of IT operations to the cloud.
Eli Lilly: Microsoft 365 Enterprise to accelerate global collaboration and innovation. With the development of new pharmaceuticals now decentralized across not only Eli Lilly’s research team but also a global network of physicians, medical researchers and healthcare organizations, Lilly created a new set of collaborative tools to support that new innovation network.
E.ON: Azure Sphere and intelligent edge to offer personalized home-energy management. One of the world’s largest suppliers of electricity, E.ON is developing new ways to engage with consumers and offer them digital tools to manage a wide range of connected devices—from intelligent refrigerators to solar panels and thermostats.
H&M: AI and Dynamics 365 to help re-imagine the shopping experience. The world’s second-largest fashion retailer—with almost 5,000 stores—is using a range of intelligent technologies such as an AI-based “Magic Mirror” that can identify people who gaze into the mirror and then offer those consumers style advice and discounts within H&M’s flagship store in New York City.
Shell: AI and Azure upstream at drilling sites all the way downstream to gas stations. “Digital technologies are core to our strategy to strengthen our position as a leading energy company,” said executive vice president for technology and CTO Yuri Sebregts in a press release late last week. “Our collaboration with Microsoft gives us a solid digital platform to make our core business more effective and efficient and supports our ambition to provide more and cleaner energy solutions through technology.”
ZF: mixed reality via Dynamics 365 to push digital insights to first-line workers. German car-parts maker ZF is an early adopter of mixed-reality tools to help its workers gain critical new insights to boost productivity and safety among a category of workers that Microsoft believes holds enormous potential for harnessing digital technology in untraditional ways.