This is just a glimpse of the many insights from this year’s value-packed Microsoft Future Decoded. Back for its fourth year, Future Decoded 2017 gathered over 24,000 IT and business professionals at the ExCeL in London, to discuss upcoming trends and challenges in the technology world. We again take pride in being a sponsor of the event.
Many attendees of the event visited our stand where we made sure to turn our recent solutions in IoT and Data Analytics into a fun experience. We had games, competitions and, of course, winners!
We congratulate Marc Hockfield from day one, and William Southern from day two, lucky winners of our IoT racing bot competition that had a Star Wars droid as the main prize!
And congratulations to Steve Dinnis and Simon Williams for winning our temperature competition and taking home the champagne!
Fast Growth of Just Eat with Dynamics 365
To showcase the use of Dynamics 365, our customer Just Eat gave an inspiring presentation on the theme of: “Capturing market share through operational transformation». Belinda Bridgman, Senior Project Manager at Just Eat talked about how the Microsoft business application platforms support transformation within the trusted Cloud infrastructure.
Belinda used the fact that with Dynamics 365 the speed of invoicing has increased at twice the speed to highlight some of the many benefits that Just Eat have exerienced To illustrate: in 2006, Just Eat Denmark processed 98,000 orders a month, while last year Just Eat UK could process 25,000 orders in just 15 minutes!
That further translated into a significant business growth by 24.8 per cent in 2016 and a much-improved customer experience.
"Finance, HR, procurement and core business operations are no longer separate entities. Instead, they have a critical role to play in enabling amazing customer experiences.." Said Belinda Bridgman, Senior Project Manager, Just Eat.
Here are the five main highlights from Future Decoded 2017:
1. Almost half of the British Workforce fear changes introduced by digital transformation
Microsoft, Goldsmiths, University of London and YouGov recently conducted a study to research how businesses are preparing for a technology-led future.
The results showed some concerning stats: 49 per cent of the people surveyed said they feared the change that comes with digital transformation!
“This is a major concern – evidence suggests that if you don’t address the human elements of change, successful transformation is unlikely to happen. Creating a culture in which technology blends with human potential is where the magic happens.” Said Clare Barclay, Microsoft UK’s Chief Operating Officer.
Read more about this hot topic in digital transformation in Microsoft's «Creating a Culture of Digital Transformation» report.
2. Azure as a fluid hybrid experience, Business Applications, Data, AI & IoT
There has been much debate over the last few years on public versus private cloud, the focus has recently shifted onto hybrid cloud.
“Microsoft has built up Azure with hybrid in mind. You are running your environment like it’s a single environment. That’s also important from a security viewpoint. Data tends to be most expensive and highest risk when moving but we’ve invested in Azure to make it easy to move your information. It’s a fluid hybrid experience and with Azure Stack you can open up new opportunities and capabilities anywhere.» Said Julia White, Vice-President of cloud at Microsoft.
White emphasised that how we deliver technology is crucial, which is why Microsoft aims to ensure a consistent hybrid solution end to end, make sure every developer can build AI, and rock-solid trust.
To showcase that, she presented a video by Jellyfish Pictures, a BAFTA and multi-award-winning production studio currently working on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This studio has launched a subsidiary business called RenderWise, which will use Microsoft Azure to dramatically improve efficiencies and reduce costs, allowing VFX studios to work remotely and on demand, greatly increasing work process speed while rendering scenes in the cloud.
Everyone was touched by another Microsoft success story that was presented and that talked about an amazing woman with Parkinson’s Emma Lawton, and the wristwatch that changed her life.
Thanks to an invention made by Hayian Zhang from Microsoft’s research centre in Cambridge, Emma’s tremors associated with her disease are significantly reduced and after a long time she can now write again. The device is now known as the “Emma Watch”.
Zhang, now a Microsoft Innovation Director, announced another mission: Project Fizzyo, aiming to help people with Cystic Fibrosis to complete their physiotherapy.
As Julia White highlighted in her speech, Dynamics 365 unifies CRM and ERP capabilities into applications that work seamlessly together across sales, customer service, field service, operations, financials, marketing, and project service automation.
3. Where to start with 4th lndustrial revolution?
Discussions around embracing technology in the manufacturing sector tackled the point that the Government worried about the lack of productivity in UK, when comparing to Europe.
The conclusion was that it is crucial for British manufacturers to introduce connective technology from supply chain to floor to increase efficiency and productivity.
As the Director of Strategic Consulting Nic Boyer listed at Future Decoded, to join the 4th Industrial Revolution manufacturers need to have:
- An employee who is clearly responsible for Digital Transformation.
- A dual strategy to ensure that you're already beginning to innovate as well as digitalising your machines at the same time.
- A business strategy underpinned with digital strategy.
- Empowerment to put new teams of people together: IT, manufacturing floor, operations, etc.
- People who understand data and can turn all the gathered information into actionable data.
In helping British manufacturers to become more productive, we have developed a team of experts creating solutions and advanced in IoT, machine learning and mixed reality to make this a reality.
Read more about modernising your manufacturing business with Columbus in our blog «Join the fourth industrial revolution with your new smart factory».
4. Security concerns and GDPR
GDPR comes into force on 25th May 2018, replacing the current directive. It gives greater control over personal data for individuals and sets security benchmark for organisations.
The Microsoft team talked about the many solutions developed to help businesses prepare for GDPR, stating that the new «formula» for GDPR is:
Data controller + Data processor = Data processing agreement (with Data controller being the customer and Data processor the organisation).
Office 365 protects company data by asking for multi-factor authentication before sign-in and by allowing organisations to block staff from downloading data from home, which is one of the main concerns.
Office 365 can also detect if your credentials have been stolen and sold in the dark web.
Microsoft aims to ensure the highest level of security whilst also remaining flexible: when searching through Office 365 to find documents across Teams, SharePoint or Azure, all of them can be downloaded into a sendable folder, which can be send across to the recipient.
Our blog «The GDPR checklist: 10 Steps to Take Now» talks about this new EU regulation, so check it out for more details on GDPR.
5. “New kid on the block”: Quantum computing
We were excited to hear more about Quantum, a very different form of computing that uses the physics of the very small, individual atoms and particles like electrons, to work on specific challenges that are currently intractable even with today’s supercomputers.
"A way to visualise this is to think of solving a maze puzzle. Computers today would explore one path in the maze, then the next, and the next until it finds the exit. A quantum computer would explore all possible paths at the same time. There are problems in science, chemistry, genetics, medicine, the environment, finance, big data and machine learning that, theoretically, could be solved much faster with a quantum computer." Explained professor Leo Kouwenhovenfrom Station Q Microsoft Quantum Computing team.
A scalable quantum computer has not been developed yet, but progress has recently been made in labs at Microsoft and all over the world. There is lot of work to do, but Microsoft envisions a future where customers use Azure for both traditional and quantum computing.
Microsoft aims to use quantum computing to solve the worlds largest challenges in:
- Nitrogen fixation
- Carbon capture
- Materials science
- Machine learning
Columbus works closely with Microsoft to create solutions for our customers to leverage IoT, machine learning, mixed reality and we look forward to being part of the evolution to Quantum computing.
As we were in Star Wars mood throughout the conference, let's close with Shmi Skywalker's movie quote that perfectly describes the general feel after this year's Future Decoded:
"You can't stop the change any more than you can stop the suns from setting."