Transforming Businesses with Cloud Technology and Artificial Intelligence



Emma Okonji writes that the move by Microsoft to digitally infuse cloud and artificial intelligence technologies across its products, will not only help customers to envision and create the future of businesses, but will also help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges

Microsoft, a software technology giant and productivity company for mobile and cloud, on Monday this week, held its annual Information Technology (IT) forum in Orlando, Florida, in the United States of America with over 25,000 business customers from around the world in attendance.

Microsoft used the forum, tagged ‘Microsoft Ignite’ to showcase how it is infusing cloud, artificial intelligence(AI)  and mixed reality across its products to help customers envision and create the future of businesses.

Microsoft also shared how quantum computers could help solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

The software giant also announced the expansion of Microsoft 365, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility plus security to provide a complete, intelligent solution for empowering everyone to be creative and work together, securely.

The mission of this year’s forum, according to Microsoft, is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more.

Addressing business complexities

As new business opportunities open in the eCommerce space, many businesses have shifted to the internet, using cloud computing to drive their operations. But the new business opportunities did not come without their challenges, which continue to slow down the speed of businesses when browsing online.

The Microsoft Ignite conference, however, saw the need to address the business challenges by infusing different technologies across its products and services to drive business agility.

According to Microsoft, a new intelligent search experience for Office 365 and Microsoft 365, has been developed, which uses AI and the Microsoft Graph to deliver more relevant search results based on organisational context. The new experience from Bing, designed for enterprise, school, and organisations, helps users save time by intelligently and securely retrieving information from enterprise resources such as company data, people, documents, sites and locations as well as public web results, displaying them in a single experience. Bing for business can be used with a browser on any device, transforming the way employees search for information at work, ultimately making them more productive.

Bing for business is available for private preview and will be available as part of existing subscriptions to Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, E5, F1, Business Essentials, Business Premium, and Education E5 subscriptions.

“For administrators, we wanted to provide something that is easy to deploy and manage, offers enhanced protection for business search traffic while reducing costs associated with help desk calls. Bing for business provides these benefits to users and administrators with quick and seamless access to internal company information directly within Bing’s web results while keeping the results protected,” Microsoft said in a statement.


Era of quantum computers 

Microsoft also shared how quantum computers could help solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges. The focus is around Microsoft’s commercial businesses  such as Office 365, Windows 10, Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AI, with an in depth focus on how the company is empowering people and organisations to succeed in a rapidly evolving workplace, and enabling customers to harness data, AI, hybrid and cloud technologies to evolve business process.

Addressing large crowd of business customers who attended the forum, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer, Satya Nadella, said: “Digital technology is impacting all aspects of our society and economies, creating unprecedented opportunity for organisations of all sizes. I am optimistic and inspired by the ingenuity of customers, partners and developers everywhere that are pushing the frontiers of what is possible with mixed reality and artificial intelligence infused across Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure, to transform and have impact in the world.”


The next frontier of computing

Following 12 years of investment in its vision to create a scalable computer based on quantum physics, Microsoft, at the forum, announced the creation of a new programming language optimised for exploiting scalable quantum computers and deep integration of the programming language into visual studio, providing developers with debugging and other support and state-of-the-art simulators that can run locally or on Microsoft Azure. The tools will be available for free by the end of the year,” Microsoft said.


Empowering employees

In order to empower employees and foster a new culture of work,

Microsoft also announced the expansion of Microsoft 365 with two new solutions to empower firstline workers and education customers. The company also introduced new intelligent search capabilities, a vision for intelligent communications centering on Microsoft teams, and security and IT management enhancements to help customers stay secure and compliant, including meeting the general data protection regulation.

The Microsoft 365 F1 brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility and security to empower more than two billion firstline workers worldwide who serve as the first point of contact between a company and its customers or who are directly involved in making products.

The education edition of Microsoft 365, gives students, faculty and staff everything they need to create and collaborate, securely.

Microsoft 365-powered devices, including new commercial Windows 10 S devices from HP Inc., Lenovo, Acer and Fujitsu starting at $275, offer self-service deployment and simplified management, staying always up-to-date, resulting in a low total cost of ownership for businesses. Designed for cloud-based identity and management, these devices are ideal for firstline workers, students and educators.


Skype for business online capabilities 

Microsoft also introduced a new vision for intelligent communications, including plans to bring Skype for business online capabilities into Microsoft teams along with cognitive and data services, making teams the true hub for teamwork in Office 365, including persistent chat, voice and video.

The intelligent search experiences use AI and machine learning to deliver more relevant search results everywhere that people search across Microsoft 365.

New LinkedIn in Microsoft profile cards now provide the ability to see information from LinkedIn profiles in Microsoft apps and services. This new experience, rolling out now for first release customers in Outlook Web Access, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business, enhances the way customers collaborate and build relationships by providing insights about the people they are working with, inside and outside the organisation, right from within Office 365.

Hardware experience 

According to Microsoft, HP Inc. and Lenovo will join in supporting Windows AutoPilot by providing device IDs to companies on select orders beginning January 2018. This enables users to easily set up a new device complete with the company configuration and apps ready to go and remove the need for information technology to touch the device or manage updates in person.


Addressing advance threat 

The Microsoft 365 is also delivering improved advanced threat protection (ATP) features like enhanced anti-phishing capabilities; expanded protection to SharePoint online, OneDrive for business and Microsoft Teams; and integration between cloud and on-premises identity threat detection capabilities.

Microsoft expanded Dynamics 365 with new AI solutions that transform critical enterprise scenarios and apps and services to help business users reinvent the processes they use every day.

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI solutions are designed to tackle high-value, complex enterprise scenarios and tailored to existing processes, systems and data. The first solution includes an intelligent virtual agent for customer care,  an intelligent assistant for customer service staff and conversation management tools, all powered by Microsoft AI.

According to Microsoft, Australian Government Department of Human Services, HP, Macy’s and Microsoft are already using the technology to improve overall customer satisfaction and handle more requests, in a shorter amount of time.


Microsoft cognitive services

This is a collection of intelligent APIs that allows developers to easily add AI capabilities to their applications. Today’s updates include the general availability of text analytics, a cloud-based service for language processing, such as sentiment analysis, key phrase extraction and language detection of text.