“How should we meet the unmet, unarticulated needs of customers?” That is the question that guided Satya Nadella’s speech at Microsoft Inspire 2018. This year the event kicked off on July 15 at Las Vegas, but it wasn’t until July 18, Wednesday, that we got to hear what the CEO of Microsoft had to say about how the company is constantly innovating to serve customers better.
Image Source: Microsoft
While addressing the 16,000 partners attending the conference, Nadella said that the opportunity for the tech community to serve customers in “… this new era of the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge is far greater,”.
There are 5 key topics that he touched upon in his corenote speech, each one holding great potential for the future of innovation:
Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge
Nadella said one of his aims was to express “… how we do things very differently”. The commonality, that binds all of the solution areas that Microsoft excels in, like modern workplace, business applications, applications/infrastructure and data/AI, is a “… profound shift to a new way of doing things,”. Microsoft plans to move to a people-centered experience from a device-centered one and infuse everything with AI, with its offerings having perception capability, language capability, and autonomy among other things. “And to power all of this, the one thing that’s needed is a ubiquitous, distributed computing fabric”, Nadella stated.
Microsoft has big plans for the said computing fabric and it begins with the Azure cloud platform. “We are very, very excited about questioning the conventional wisdom of what is a data center,” said Nadella. To enable compute to migrate wherever there is data Microsoft is taking Azure to Azure Stack, to Azure IoT Edge, to Azure Sphere. “This is that one ubiquitous, distributed computing fabric. One programming model that is event-driven, serverless, so you can write an application that truly works across all of this.”
In his speech, Nadella focused heavily on artificial intelligence and the recent advancements in AI, that are almost at par with human perception and language capabilities. Noting that Microsoft Research aims to democratize these breakthroughs, he explained, ultimately, the potential is “for us to be able to turn every industry into an AI-first industry – whether it’s retail or health care or agriculture. We want to be able to make sure that they can take their data, in a secure, privacy-preserving way, [and] can work that into AI capabilities that they get the return on.”
Image Source: Microsoft
Not so surprisingly, a segment of Nadella’s speech was dedicated to Microsoft 365 suite, given how his own day revolves around it. He said, “The opportunity for everyone here is to take Microsoft 365 and apply it for cultural transformation in large enterprises [and] for productivity in small businesses. To be able to really do industry-specific workflows in health care, manufacturing, financial services. To be able to take it to first-line workers. To extend to business process with Dynamics 365. That’s the opportunity that everyone in this room has with Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365.” He also mentioned how Teams enhances his daily collaboration with his inner circle and how the commitment feature of Cortana ‘saves him every day’.
Dynamics 365 is now the fastest-growing business of the tech giant, even faster than Office 365, with 65% growth during the first three quarters of the company’s fiscal 2018. In this regard, Nadella elaborated how Power BI has emerged as the “one tool that’s changed the culture inside the company,” because it helps businesses to focus on leading indicators rather than on lagging indicators. He opined that with time, thanks to IoT and other tools, more things will be automated. Soon there will be a need for tools that will help to reduce the total cost of automations and customizations. “And now we’ve built a complete new app platform, which I think represents a tremendous opportunity for everyone in the room – Power BI, PowerApps and Flow. The combination of it is just going to change how applications are built and deployed”, Nadella said.
You can watch Satya Nadella’s corenote speech at MS Inspire 2018, here.