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Microsoft Future Decoded 2019 – AI, AI & AI

Contributor: Mark Summers, Technical Systems Engineer, Acora

This week I had the pleasure of attending Microsoft’s Future Decoded event at the ExCel in London.

It is one of Microsoft’s biggest annual events, bringing its partners and customers up to date with what the future holds in the world of Microsoft.

Right from the beginning of the morning keynote, Microsoft were positioning how important AI is going to be for businesses in the very near future. Their research found that 56% of organisations are already using AI today, and that organisations outperform their competitors by 11% if they use AI. Impressive.

Microsoft was also strongly pushing collaboration within businesses. You’re probably thinking they were pushing Teams, right? Wrong. Microsoft were very keen on staff coming together, collaborating to transform their business. Companies that empower their employees accelerate their ‘digital transformation’ to the cloud. Businesses don’t need to reinvent themselves or start from scratch; they just need to work with their employees to understand how the cloud can create efficiencies for them.

One example of this was East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Trust, where the CTO worked closely with not just their IT team, but their Nurses, to reduce Nurse’s admin time from 30 minutes to 10 minutes per patient, all through embracing the cloud. That’s incredible. A great example of what moving to the cloud, with collaboration within the business and the mindset to want to improve processes, can do to improve patient care – the heart and soul of the NHS.

In terms of AI, I personally think a lot of businesses are either behind the curve or haven’t started yet. Microsoft’s 56% claim seems quite high in my opinion. It certainly appeared that way in the sessions I attended, where the question asked was “Has your business started to think about AI yet?” and only one or two hands were raised in a room of roughly 100, each time. I don’t see this as a problem, but businesses certainly need to start thinking about their digital transformation to ensure they remain ‘relevant’.

Avaya, we’ve all heard of them, right?. Their market cap is currently over $1bn. Avaya has been around for over 25 years since it was spun out of AT&T. I expect you’ve also heard of Zoom. Zoom decided to transform and innovate their business and reach out to the market that Avaya were not targeting and now their market cap is $27bn. That’s staggering for a company that was only founded in 2011.

Companies need to think about how their business can transform and successfully adopt the cloud to ensure they stay competitive, and don’t lose out to their rivals. One of the quotes I noted was “Stop talking about culture change. Fix funding, governance and procurement first” which I thought was a powerful message to send to businesses. For the culture to change, you need to ensure the business is ready, there is a tech adoption plan, along with having the right people and funding to be able to achieve the market impact your competitors weren’t expecting.

To summarise, don’t focus solely on tech and talent. Aligning the culture, the structure of the business and the ways of working are all crucially important to successfully adopting AI in your business. Understand what you are going to do with the technology, reach out to your IT partners and ensure they understand what you are aiming to do, follow the value chain of your business and look at the operations of your business to see what could be achieved using AI.

But it’s also okay that you’re not quite looking into AI yet, you still have time…. if you start soon.

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