Microsoft Ignite: Satya Nadella on open data, tech intensity, and mutual success

"It's a simple concept - think of it as a very simple equation," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told attendees at Microsoft Ignite in Orlando. "Each of us has to do two things - we need to make sure we are adopting the latest and greatest technology, and we've got to build our own digital capability."

Nadella was talking about his latest ethos of 'tech intensity'. Regardless of which industry you are in, you are a digital business today - and as a result, you need to both build and buy technology to make a success of it. For the latter, Microsoft is here to help - and it was striking during Nadella's keynote how important the message of enablement was to the business leaders, IT professionals and developers present. Our success is your success.

"For us at Microsoft, we are grounded in our mission to really empower you with that tech intensity," said Nadella. "Whether you are a small business, a large multinational, or a public sector institution, our goal is to ensure we give you the digital technology. Our success is fundamentally dependent on your success - that's what engenders the trust long term."

This builds on the foundations of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge (above) as a benchmark of the company's strategy; taking Azure as the rocket fuel and AI as the accelerant. There were various examples of companies taking this road, with the most interesting being Royal Dutch Shell and BMW.

Shell utilises AI for its drilling system, working with Bonsai, a machine learning startup acquired by Microsoft in June. The company has also worked with C3 IoT, a partner of Azure, for preventative maintenance. "Oil and gas is an industry which is always changing," said Nadella. "If you talk about an industry that changes every day because of the changes in the commodity prices - this is it."

BMW, meanwhile, is using Microsoft's AI expertise to build an intelligent agent- but packaging it as its own. "[It's] using all of the Azure AI capabilities, from the bot framework to the cognitive services, to voice, for the dialogue management, but the agent itself is BMW's own agent," said Nadella. "That's strategy at work."

This is endemic of how the landscape is shifting. With so much data on tap, and businesses striving to make the most of it to stay relevant, getting data out of silos is key. Microsoft announced, with Adobe and SAP, the launch of a new Open Data Initiative 'to unlock the true potential of all customer data' for brands. Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP, and Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe, joined Nadella on stage for the announcement.

"I really believe this is a seminal moment in the information technology industry," said McDermott. "We want to actually lower the cost of your data... as this data continues to explode, you have every right to want it to be a lower cost operation. These platforms have to work together - and that breaks down the silos."

"Our belief is that every single enterprise has to meet the mandates of their consumers, which require all interactions to be digital, to be personalised, to be relevant," added Narayen. "I think this is where the three of us can do some magic with respect to unlocking the data that was previously in silos."

You can find out more about the Open Data Initiative here.

Main picture credit: Microsoft/screenshot

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