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Microsoft’s flagship event for customers and partners, Future Decoded’s Business Day Thursday 1 November attracted 4,500 people from across the business, service and IT worlds.
Digital transformation and technology’s role in helping businesses achieve more in what is being referred to as the fourth industrial revolution came over as the central theme addressed throughout the event at the ExCel centre in London.
Cindy Rose, UK CEO of Microsoft, began the morning with her keynote speech, referring to the world being “on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution.”
She spoke about the partnership with YouGov, set up to explore what digital transformation means to businesses and organisations, and highlighted the following statistics:
– Nearly half of business leaders (44 percent) believe their business model will be obsolete within five years.
– Half of all organisations believe that their industry will be disrupted within the next two years.
Also referring to the fourth industrial revolution in her speech, Toni Townes-Whitley, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft, described “cloud as an engine and data as a fuel”.
There can be resistance to change even within organisations recognising the benefits of digital empowerment. Of those participating in the Microsoft survey almost half (46 percent) of business decision makers said they believe senior leadership to be unwilling to disrupt existing processes and business strategies needed in order to grow and become more competitive in the future. Toni Townes-Whitley outlined other concerns – potential loss of jobs and roles, worry about hacking, privacy issues.
Her mantra ‘with opportunity comes challenge’ was also a central theme discussed at various stages in talks and sessions throughout the day.
The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, addressed the security issue when launching the National Cyber Security Strategy 2016-2021, underpinned by £1.9 billion of investment.
The strategy is built on three core pillars:
1. Defend – with the government taking a more active cyber defence approach, and supporting use of automated defence techniques to block, disrupt and neutralise malicious activity before it can reach the user
2. Deter – through ensuring cyber criminals are caught and prosecuted
3. Develop – the skills needed to keep pace with the threat
But the message was also that it’s up to industry and organisations to step up to their individual responsibilities for managing cyber risks.
With reference to those distrustful of change, Philip Hammond said, “The fears that machines could render humans obsolete are as old as machines themselves… and yet as old jobs disappear, new, previously unthought-of opportunities open up and the economy re-trains and re-absorbs the displaced workers.”
As “a strong advocate of the role of technology in transforming our society and building our economy,” Philip Hammond spoke about seeing the tech industry as the future for the British economy and how the UK is strongly positioned to be at the cutting edge of digital transformation.
Throughout the afternoon break-out sessions covered talks on digital transformation with various organisations describing their own journeys of transformation, along with presentations on Microsoft products and solutions, such as Office 365, and also Dynamics 365, launched Tuesday 1 November.
Spanning Sales, Customer Service, Marketing (with Adobe Marketing Cloud promoted as the preferred marketing service), Field Service, Project Service Automation and Operations, Dynamics 365 will bring together ERP and CRM data and processes to create one data model with unified navigation across each application. Power BI is incorporated within each of the intelligence apps, and the platform will integrate with third party solutions and be available on-premise and in the cloud.
Using the tools with which they’re familiar, organisations can purpose-build their platform, starting with what they need and adding features as business requirements develop. This is critical to ensuring everyone can benefit from the innovations and advancements of this fourth industrial revolution – because as Michael Frisby, Vuzion MD, says, “Digital transformation is fast becoming a case of when rather than if for every business.”
“There is a massive opportunity for resellers to help their customers transform, leveraging the intelligence and capabilities within Microsoft Azure to help organisations engage more closely with their customers than ever before, with more empowered employees making better decisions and providing better customer service, with more efficient operations and products more tailored to customer need.”
For more information about the Future Decoded 2016 Business Day visit Microsoft’s news centre’s Future Decoded 2016: Day One – as it happened.
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