Pointing to examples in healthcare, retail, manufacturing, agriculture and more, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella focused the opening keynote of Microsoft Ignite 2018 on the fact that technology is penetrating every aspect of business today. And with that penetration comes the need for improved security, data sharing and for businesses of all sizes to embrace what Nadella calls “tech intensity.”
“Everything, whether it’s a car or a refrigerator or the factory floor is getting connected and then becoming intelligent, and this computing power is being used to generate that next generation of AI-driven business processes. In order for us to capitalize on this paradigm shift, we need tech intensity,” Nadella said during his Vision Keynote, which kicked off the conference in Orlando, Fla., which will run through Sept. 28.
.@Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella kicks off #MSIgnite by pointing to Ford's use of tech to build an automotive empire. "Companies that didn't adapt didn't survive...that's what's at stake" for tech adoption pic.twitter.com/JmGIbYj0ol
— Juliet Van Wagenen (@Juliet_Tech) September 24, 2018
What is tech intensity, exactly? According to Nadella, it’s about a focus on both adopting and building technology.
“Each of us has to do really two things: One is we need to make sure that we’re adopting the latest and greatest technology. And second, we’ve got to build our own digital capability. Irrespective of which industry you’re in, you’re a digital business and you’ve got to do both,” he said.
Upping tech intensity is key to embracing innovation and digital transformation as well as meeting customer demands — and, in turn, surviving. And in a bid to help companies embrace the tech and tools at their disposal, the company made several key announcements during the keynote, with a focus on data sharing and security.
Adobe, SAP Partner with Microsoft to Eliminate Data Silos
Without a doubt, it’s the age of data. But even if an organization is making every attempt to use all available data to the fullest, information still often becomes siloed, trapping potentially useful insights and preventing complete visibility into an organization’s processes and customer needs.
To try to eliminate these data silos, Microsoft announced a new initiative with long-standing partners Adobe and SAP, dubbed the Open Data Initiative. This move aims to offer companies a way to create a “single view of the customer” so they can adjust processes and offerings to cater to specific audiences appropriately.
“You have these very sophisticated, rich application suites from SAP, from Adobe, from Microsoft,” said Nadella, after inviting Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and SAP CEO Bill McDermott onto the stage. “The commitment you’re hearing from the three of us is that we are going to unlock the data across all of these suites so that they can be enriched using this very rich cloud data AI layer in Azure so that you can get the data that is there today in any application and think of it as a renewable resource.”
The idea behind the initiative is to have multiple business applications use a “common approach and set of resources for customers” within the Azure cloud, based on three principles:
- Every organization owns and maintains complete, direct control of all their data.
- Customers can enable AI-driven business processes to derive insights and intelligence from unified behavioral and operational data.
- A broad partner ecosystem should be able to easily leverage an open and extensible data model to extend the solution.
“Our belief is that every single enterprise has to meet the mandates of their consumers, which require all interactions to be digital, they require them to be personalized, they require them to be relevant. And this is where the three of us can do some magic in unlocking the data that was previously in silos,” Nadella said.
Microsoft Seeks to Boost Security Offerings
Every company has a laser focus on security. Microsoft is no different, releasing a slew of announcements to help Microsoft customers improve their security posture while keeping user adoption at the center. Updates and new offerings announced at the conference include:
- Microsoft Threat Protection promises to unify threat protection solutions “across email, PCs, identities and infrastructure into a single integrated experience in Microsoft 365.”
- Passwordless login from the Microsoft Authenticator app for Azure AD-connected business applications offers a possible gateway to a world without passwords.
- There are updates to the Microsoft Secure Score, an offering for enterprises that is touted as the “only dynamic report card for cybersecurity.”
- The company is also offering a peek at its Azure confidential computing offering, which promises to protect the confidentiality and integrity of data.
According to Nadella, these offerings and updates keep user adoption central and remove the friction of ensuring security.
Nadella closed out the keynote by underscoring that tech intensity is about more than just “customer engagement and digital transformation or ensuring security and trust,” and said that it’s also about a collective move to reshape industries and companies.
“It’s an opportunity to ensure that the surplus that gets created by digital technology is equitably distributed across our economy, across our society, because that’s what we need,” said Nadella.
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