Group Chief Technology Officer
Following our attendance at Microsoft Inspire 2017, here is your insider overview of the conference from our #C5Inspire Team. From the latest on the Azure Stack, Machine Learning and Security, we’re now ready to develop your business strategy on the latest Microsoft developments.
Gus’ Microsoft Inspire
In my last blog I highlighted some of the benefits of the Azure Stack, and advised about the anticipated timelines for launch. Following meetings with the key product group contacts and our partners HPE, we are happy to confirm that whilst Microsoft shipped the “General Availability” code to their hardware partners, we don’t anticipate the pre-configured hardware to be available until September. All the other points made in my last blog are still valid, in addition to which I am informed that the release cycles for Azure Stack will be 6 monthly – this means that it will not be before Q1 in 2018 that some of the significant advantages of leveraging the Stack can be realised (e.g. adding nodes & regions for geo-scalability).
However, strategically it is sensible to start factoring in an early transition to Azure Stack if you are nearing end of life with your existing infrastructure architecture. If you would like to know more about how this could factor into your plans, whether you are looking for an internal enterprise Stack implementation for your organisation or a locally-hosted Infrastructure as a Service offering I’d be happy to discuss further.
Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Bots
Once only being a feature of science fiction material, bots have now truly arrived. The framework for bot development now makes it possible to create intelligent customer service bots that are; available 24/7, can reduce human capital cost whilst increasing the customer experience and satisfaction. Building intelligent bots is still not easy; unintelligent bots will cause more harm than good, however by leveraging Microsoft’s AI services including LUIS (Language Understanding Intelligent Service) the intent of the customer can be used to understand and provide an appropriate response. One of our colleagues Martin Blampied has built a proof of concept bot for answering questions about some of the solutions C5 has built in Jersey, including airport arrivals & departures, the bus tracker, car park availability and more. If you have a customer service department this is an area you should be considering – we are actively developing internal and external-facing intelligent bots.
I attended a number of sessions on cybersecurity and what Microsoft has been doing to address the four primary areas of Identity & Access Management, Threat Protection, Information Protection and Security Management:
In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, it’s key to stay up-to-date with the options available to mitigate the many risks. Microsoft is sometimes touted as the least well-known security company; their annual $1 Billion investment in this space has resulted in the incorporation of a number of acquisitions to fill the gaps. The above slide is rather busy but illustrates all the areas that Microsoft has covered.
Cosmos DB / IoT
In my role as CTO for GardenTags and C5 and in advising Digital Jersey on Internet of Things and Smart Island strategies, I’m always looking to the latest approaches for structuring data and applications for performance and scalability. The data explosion of the last few years means that traditional means of storing high volumes of data aren’t always suitable; advances in NoSQL approaches with document-based storage whilst still being able to provide detailed analytics and insights into your data was great to hear about. A mobile gaming app development company that has had 16 million downloads of their game ‘The Walking Dead’ gave confidence that new hybrid architectural approaches are fit for purpose at hyper scale.
Andrew’s Microsoft Inspire
Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, talked us through how Microsoft have simplified their solutions into four key areas to support customers with their digital transformation needs.
Introducing Microsoft 365
Microsoft’s Modern Workplace solution area is about bringing systems into one simple framework to enable people to become more productive and creative, including working as dynamic teams rather than as individuals or in more traditional organizational hierarchical terms.
One of the challenges presented by the Digital Transformation of the Modern Workplace is the bigger surface area of security that needs to be addressed, including having multiple endpoints and ensuring intrusion in one place doesn’t propagate to other areas.
As part of Microsoft’s “modern workplace” solution area, they announced the launch of Microsoft 365 which brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS).
Microsoft Office 365 will be available in two versions: Microsoft 365 Enterprise for larger organizations, and Microsoft 365 Enterprise Business which is designed for small and medium sized businesses with up to 300 users and will give access to the same tools as larger organisations.
Microsoft 365 represents a shift by Microsoft in providing solutions for the modern workplace from viewing productivity, security and device management as individual workloads to seeking a comprehensive approach to secure productivity.
James’ Microsoft Inspire
Empowering Financial Services in the Digital Economy
Financial organisations are constantly being asked to deliver innovative customer and employee experiences with speed and agility whilst managing the realities of risk, legacy systems and cost pressures. Yet, 70% of IT budgets however are currently required to keep the lights on, leaving little budget to transform business.
From MS Inspire I now know that Microsoft are realigning their business and will be focusing on six priority industries, with Financial Services at the top. Working with Microsoft in the future will mean speaking with industry specialists, people who understand the Financial services industry and backing this up with the technical expertise we already receive from them. We can now have conversations with Microsoft about business outcomes and not just attributes of Microsoft products and platforms to build better strategies with our clients and deliver these business objectives.
- Millennials are more loyal to their last best experience than an institution
- 37% of Millennials use non-traditional banks
- 67% of customers would share more data with banks in return for new, more benefits… they expect their data to be leveraged into personalised advice and benefits, tailored to their life stage, financial goals and personalised needs (source: Accenture)
Digital transformation is essential to sustaining a competitive advantage in financial services
Empowering your employees and engaging your customers with Microsoft solutions such as Dynamics 365, Unified Service Desk (USD) and 3rd party marketing solutions you can utilise a holistic customer view to create personal experiences. Coupling this with Business Intelligence solutions such as Power BI, LinkedIn and Customer Insights means that you can start building a 360º view of your client. Utilising Advanced Analytics will then allow you to anticipate customer needs and prevent problems.
We are pleased to be offering briefing sessions with our MS Inspire team to give you a more personalised overview of the key takeaways you should be aware of from MS Inspire 2017. If you would like to arrange one, please get in touch.