The Future Decoded according to Microsoft

I attended the Microsoft Future Decoded event at the Excel Arena today to get a glimpse of where Microsoft thinks they can add value to our future. If you still have this nostalgic view of Microsoft being this end user focused organization focusing on shifting end points, then you’re in for a surprise. Why?  Because Microsoft has shifted the narrative away from its traditional core community. It’s now all about how Microsoft is going to play a major role in developing a Cloud for Global Good where they are providing services that make a difference to our daily lives. Is this just hot air – I don’t think so! Microsoft wouldn’t publish a strategy paper unless it was seriously committed to a Global narrative.

The strategy has shifted to push Cloud services that are accessible and on tap to meet your every type of computing need. However, the smart shift is how they are now making available their Artificial intelligence engine and API as part of the Azure Cloud service to everyone that wants to tap into computing power that has never been available and apply it to problems that require machine learning solutions, where computing power has never been accessible to solve these problems. To put it into context the Global Computing Power available via Azure can translate the whole of the Wikipedia literature to another language in less than a 10th of a second.

Businesses and research bodies have embraced these new accessible tools such as Azure Machine Learning API and computing power to solve problems that were not possible before such as:

To identify cancer cells for radiographers to reduce their analysis time from 1 hour to several minutes, real time translation from one language to multiple languages for a conference call either via voice to text or text to text – that army of linguists in Brussels will be getting nervous, using historical data to develop forecast cost models such as cost of project delivery.

It will be interesting to see if CIO’s out there are able to identify and embrace the opportunities offered by these services? If not their organisations will be casualties of this revolution.  Microsoft have fully committed to machine learning that they have now underpinned their portfolio with capabilities offered by Azure and Machine Learning and their partners are now developing innovative solutions to complement them

The radical thinking is that Global change will come from everyone having access to Microsoft’s computing power and tools that support solving problems by everyone in society and businesses. This will be embraced by everyone because Microsoft won’t be a threat to those providing new solutions because Microsoft’s revenue is going to come from making these tools available on tap and metered.

This new technology wave is now being described as the 4th technology revolution and for good reason, it will change the way businesses work and engage and it will also change the way public bodies look at solving everyday problems so much so that this will impact the way 1 in 4 male jobs are done. Yes, it will make menial jobs redundant but it will also support people in improving the quality of their jobs and add value where only humans can do. But most importantly new problems will be solved at a faster pace than ever before. Now I ask you how can that not be a good influencer of Global Change?

I am interested to hear of your organizational challenges to adopting these new technologies and what business and social problems you feel are now solvable due to the onset of Machine Learning.

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Jamshaid Anwar is Director of Delivery at CoolHarbour a Microsoft Communications Partner.

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