An incredibly insightful day, learning from some of the most reverential leaders in business and sport.
It’s exciting to be able to attend face-to-face events again! Not sure that’s exactly a hot takeaway but being able to spend time recently at Microsoft Envision, listening to the likes of Gareth Southgate, Clare Barclay (CEO of Microsoft UK), Tony Danker (Director-General of CBI) and everyone else that I haven’t named here (if I were to, then this entire blog would just be me giving names and respective job titles), was a sober reminder of how unusual things have been over the last couple of years.
Enough wallowing in the past though… I wanted to write this post to give some insight into what was discussed, what’s on the horizon and what my personal key takeaways were from this year’s Microsoft Envision event.
I’ll be talking about:
The conflict in Ukraine – The First Major Hybrid War / Keynote – Brad Smith
Unlocking potential / Gareth Southgate
Fuelling the BWT Alpine F1 team with Dynamics 365 and Edge IoT / Charles Lamanna & Nathan Sykes (BWT Alpine F1 team)
The UK’s Outlook / Keynote – Tony Danker
There was a session dedicated to Digital Perseverance in the Keynote as well, but I’ve already written extensively about that, which you can find here!
I’ll be kicking this off with what I, and others on the day, feel was an incredibly insightful discussion…
Brad Smith’s (President, Microsoft) perspective on the Ukraine conflict.
This will be a long-remembered conflict for several regrettable reasons, one being that we can class this as the first major hybrid-war with shots being fired, not only on the ground, but also in cyberspace - which has led to Microsoft, alongside others, pushing for a Digital Geneva Convention.
The first shots of the war weren’t Russian missiles that struck Ukrainian territory on February 24th – they were shot in cyberspace days before, with Russian interference of Ukrainian networks through use of a malware called Foxblade. Microsoft were the first to notice these shots being fired, and then coordinated with European states to prevent Foxblade being used across the continent!
Brad’s talk highlighted the incredible importance of cybersecurity and especially of hosting things in the cloud. It was extremely beneficial in this case as well, to be able to take things outside of the country and disperse critical information, at the speed of light, across the globe.
For me this was an essential session, and I would highly recommend everyone taking the time to listen to Brad speak at length about the importance of these events, and what we can all take from it. Although we fortunately aren’t at war ourselves, we’re all often at battle with ‘bad actors’, (with the number of attacks increasing each day) and the more that can be done to shore up our cyber defences the better. I’ll have a link to the Microsoft Envision site at the end of this article – take the time to watch this talk, if nothing else.
Unlocking Potential session with Gareth Southgate
It’s extremely unfortunate that this won’t be posted online to watch or rewatch, as there is so much to take from the talk that took place here between Gareth Southgate and Clare Barclay.
Gareth talked at length about culture, fostering a growth mindset, what it takes not only to win but also (more importantly) to bounce back from losses, and balancing performance and personalities… lots to learn from.
As someone who personally often engages with podcasts and books from leaders in business and sport sharing their personal stories and findings, this was incredibly insightful. It was a great opportunity to be able to hear and learn from the man that has reignited national pride in the England team.
Although this session won’t be available to review, if you or your team would like any recommendations on books/podcasts in this space, I’m confident I can help. Just ask!
(Mindset by Carol Dweck is a great place to start)
Fuelling the BWT Alpine F1 team – Charles Lamanna (CVP Business Apps and Platform, Microsoft)
I was always going to be interested in this session due to my strong belief in Microsoft Business Applications, and particularly the Power Platform, bringing so much to the table for businesses that are looking to utilise the power of Data, AI and Collaboration – and it did deliver.
Learning more on how the BWT Alpine F1 team are using the Power Platform across their team was really interesting. They started off just using Power Apps to enable their developers to work quicker and involve more of their team, and now a few years later they have Power Apps sitting at the core of their operations. They use it to easily and efficiently log any potential issues with the car, which then immediately sends that info over to the designer to review. If it does require some work, it automatically creates a task to follow-up on – and all of this can be done on mobile devices, with a slick UI guiding through each step of the way.
And the beauty of Power Apps is you don’t need to compromise. It’s not that you’re going to market and purchasing a system that does 70% of what you’re looking for – instead, using a low/no code solution like Power Apps means you can easily create the exact app you’d need to match your processes and solve your unique problems.
Simply - Power Platform is the best low code platform to create value for your business and the data backs that up, with Power Apps being the #1 adopted low-code platform. Over 50% of CIOs say they would select Microsoft as their enterprise automation platform as they look to improve their business processes.
If you would like to learn more about Power Platform and how to identify opportunities with your customers, I am confident, based on how I’ve helped other partners in this space, that we can unlock those existing barriers for you and your team. Reach out to me and we’ll organise a call (my details will be at the foot of this post).
The UK’s outlook – Tony Danker (Director-General of CBI)
If we stand still to take stock of everything we’re facing right now, globally and in the UK, it’s fair to say that words like disheartening or demoralising are likely to come to mind.
We’re still facing the lingering impact of the pandemic, the effect of inflation on the bottom line and the top line, the skills shortage, energy prices, the conflict in Ukraine, lasting supply chain challenges and the difficulty in retaining and attracting talent…
It would be considered a tough period if we were facing just one of these complications, but no, we’re up against it all at the same time.
Tony Danker argues however that the pandemic has emboldened our resolve, both individually and as a community, and what he’s seen travelling the country and speaking with industry leaders is surprising and inspiring.
It’s strength in the face of adversity. It’s resilience. It’s a resolute ‘We’ve got this’.
We already entered the unknown when Covid struck - and we’ve come out the other end stronger. We’ll be fine here as well. We’ll get through it.
And by investing in technology, particularly those that improve productivity such as Collaboration, AI and Automation tools – (Teams and Power Platform in particular), we can face these economic headwinds to again come out the other side stronger.
See my previous blog on Digital perseverance for more insights on why and how technology is the answer to the problems we’re facing presently and on the horizon – Link to that post is here if you’d like to take a look!
If you would like to watch any of the sessions I’ve spoken about here, and/or others that focus on extremely important topics such as sustainability, AI and accessibility, you can do so here: