Last week we wrote about big data and it’s no understatement to say that it has the capacity to revolutionise how we operate as individuals, as businesses and as a society.
This week, Team Koncise and over 12,000 of our closest friends are off to ExCel London for Microsoft Future Decoded to learn about how digital transformation and AI are changing the world, to learn about how to grow our clients’ businesses and to learn about how we can take advantage of the phenomenal transformations that are happening right before our very eyes.
Is It Just A Very Expensive Push On Microsoft’s Products?
Well, yes. In their own words they will ‘allow us to empower our digital transformation journey and explore how we can use data to transform businesses with solutions infused with AI’ by leveraging Microsoft Intelligent Cloud connected to billions of smart devices at the Intelligent Edge.
Then they said this – Digital transformation is about bringing together people, data and processes to create value for your customers and maintain a competitive advantage.
They can be forgiven for going a bit corny and predictable because they told us what their five key Digital transformation pillars are:
Transforming Products – Using data to differentiate and capture emerging opportunities
Empowering Employees – Creating a work environment that’s flexible, intelligent and secure
Optimising Operations – Accelerating responsiveness, improving service levels and reducing costs
Engaging Customers – Tailoring individual customer experiences through data
Developing Culture – Enhancing diversity and inclusion and building trust through ethical solutions
There are 130 breakout sessions, hands-on labs, over 40 partner and sponsor experiences and keynote speakers including amongst others Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, UK CEO Cindy Rose, EVP of Azure Jason Zander and oddly, Sir Michael ‘You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off’ Caine.
All fascinating, but what do we – us as suppliers and re-sellers and you as customers – really want to know?
Is Intelligent Edge and Intelligent Cloud Really Intelligent?
Yes, it’s incredible what it can do and what it has the potential to do.
Internet-connected devices including phones, tablets, computers, fridges, ovens and your home’s heating and lighting are bringing us closer than ever to a world of ambient intelligence. The internet is becoming more and more commonplace in our lives and it’s meeting our needs like it never has before.
Intelligent fridges will let you know when you’ve run out of milk and add it to your shopping list. Intelligent ovens will let you know when your Beef Wellington is cooked to pink perfection.
Soon, according to Microsoft, we will ‘expect software to respond to spoken natural language, gestures, body language and emotion, and for it to understand the physical world and the rich context surrounding each user as we navigate our personal lives, our work and the world around us.’
And it’s not just for personal gain. Smart sensors and devices are ‘breathing new life into industrial equipment from factories to farms, helping us navigate and plan for more sustainable urban cities and bringing the power of the cloud to some of the world’s most remote destinations.’
It goes even further. It’s allowing for stunning breakthroughs in the worlds of healthcare, sustainability, conservation, accessibility, disaster recovery and lots more besides.
As a practical example, the UN estimate that the world will need 70% more food to feed a population of 9.6bn by 2050 and Sean Stratman, a farmer in rural Washington has used ambient intelligence to create a heatmap of his land that serves as a guide for him to plant the crops that will best perform in specific locations.
There are dozens and dozens of examples where the intelligent edge is being used to create efficiencies, cost savings, improvements in worker safety and better resource management.
That’s All Grand, But How Does It Help My Business?
Cloud computing is here and it’s not going anywhere. From a recent Gartner survey, 62% of SMEs are using cloud technology and the rest are ‘planning on implementing the technology or evaluating how it could best be used by their organisation.’
The early adopters of cloud technology rightly had concerns about security but now they’re more or less abated and as the technology has matured, businesses of all sizes – yours included – are leveraging it’s incredible power.
Here are five ways you can benefit from cloud computing as we head towards the third decade of this century…
Scaling Infrastructure – Spikes in popularity, for example if your business relies on seasonal activity, can result in unpredictable server loads and has the potential to overload a traditional server. Cloud-hosted infrastructure has failover systems that kick in if the host server becomes overloaded which allows your business to carry on as normal.
By paying for just the server load you need, your data management costs stay low and offer you the most economical solution.
Cloud-Based Office Systems – Most businesses these days are looking at collaborative working practices and by using tools such as Google’s G-Suite or Office 365, ‘living documents’ on cloud-based office systems reflect changes by all users instantly, allowing a fundamental shift in collaboration between employees.
Digital workspaces like this reduce the load on IT staff and massively improve efficiencies. No longer do you have to email documents back and forth between teams where changes are missed or overlooked. We’ve all been there…
Remote Workspaces – The ability to collaborate over cloud services allows employees the flexibility and support to work remotely or to continue projects while away. Other cloud-hosted services such as Skype keep lines of communication open between collaborating groups and managers.
There are pros and cons of remote working as we’ve written here and here but ‘telecommuters’ help businesses circumvent many costs associated with brick-and-mortar workspaces. Cloud technology also breaks down social barriers for individuals with small children or disabilities, providing a foundation for a more inclusive workforce.
Big Data Analytics – As we said last week, big data is no longer the domain of those that can throw millions at it and most small businesses dramatically overestimate the technical challenges associated with it.
Big data allows SMEs to better understand customers by tapping into freely available data from Google, Facebook and Twitter and there are plenty of open-source platforms that can process information to help you gain the competitive edge.
Backups and Recovery – IT Security remains the number one issue for small businesses and in fact, a 2017 survey by the Better Business Bureau (focusing on SMEs in North America), only 35% said they could remain profitable for more than three months if they lost access to critical data. It’s not unreasonable to suggest the figures are similar here.
Cloud-based data storage helps address security concerns by building redundancy into a company’s information management approach. Hybrid systems that back up local data to the cloud in real time offer protection against security breaches, allowing companies to reduce their reliance on physical infrastructure and manual backups.
Don’t Be Scared of the Cloud
With any move to a new way of doing things, there is always a sense of trepidation but as we said at the start of this blog, as individuals, as businesses and as a society, we have always adapted to new environments and tech is no different.
Specialising in the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, digital marketing expert Alec Sears says that ‘Cloud technology has the potential not just to improve information storage and security, but also the way we work with each other and the accuracy with which we make business decisions.’
We wholeheartedly concur.
If you’re going to Future Decoded we’ll see you there!
Have a good week.