Microsoft’s ‘conversation as a platform’ vision underpins digital transformation future

Microsoft’s ‘conversation as a platform’ vision underpins digital transformation future

Microsoft’s ‘conversation as a platform’ vision underpins digital transformation future

1 comment 📅21 February 2015, 02:45


Microsoft’s ‘conversation as a platform’ vision underpins digital transformation future

Microsoft’s vision of enterprise mobility and how to improve employee engagement for digital transformation has long been mooted in this publication – yet at the Redmond giant’s Envision conference today, CEO Satya Nadella discussed themes taking the collaboration element a step further.

Building on the ‘conversation as a platform’ concept discussed at Build last week, the Microsoft chief exec described how bots and artificial intelligence (AI) could transform business conversations by ‘taking the human language but applying it much more pervasively to computing’. “Think of bots that you will build as the new websites or mobile apps, and your customers will interact with your business through these bots,” he told delegates. “We think it is going to be much more ubiquitous in terms of its deployment.”

These bots already exist in some contexts; New York-based startup x.ai offers an AI-powered personal assistant called Amy which schedules meetings. The company works with MongoDB as a database provider; VP strategy Kelly Stirman wrote for CloudTech back in December: “The future of AI isn’t about one giant super-intelligence; instead, it’s about many small, dedicated agents that know you intimately and work on your behalf to improve your everyday life.”

Through Skype, Cortana and Bing however, Microsoft aims to go a little further. The next generation of Skype will not only have visual video mail, with speech recognition providing a transcript underneath the video, but Cortana, through Bing, understanding the context of a given chat and brokering the conversation to move things along and, most importantly, save time. “We’re trying to take that scarce commodity which is human time and inform you individually on how you can spend your time more effectively, but [also] scale out to the organisational level,” said Nadella.

Another example of preserving human resources and time is through VoloMetrix, a data and analytics aggregator which Microsoft acquired last year. Natalie McCullough, VoloMetrix chief revenue officer, described one company which analysed its main management meeting, the preparation for the meeting, the preparation for the preparation almost ad infinitum, and found they spent over 300,000 hours and $30 million per year on it.

Microsoft’s collaboration vision – and overall roadmap for influencing the mobile enterprise – is a fascinating one. The company’s stack of tools, from social network Yammer, to analytics provider Power BI, to the practically omnipresent Office 365, is a firebrand mix on paper. Nadella explained to the Envision audience: “Power BI is a tool that’s absolutely changed not only the way I view our business success and metrics, but it’s changing conversations inside of Microsoft.” Of Yammer, he added: “We use [it] to really have the social conversation inside the company – every night I look at the sentiment analysis of our Yammer conversations so I am informed of what’s top of mind for the 100,000 people inside Microsoft.”

As regular readers will know, not all is what it seems; the tech giant, with its Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), remains conspicuous by its absence from the AppConfig enterprise app community. Office 365 is the sweet spot not only for Microsoft’s collaboration efforts, but for its relationship with other enterprise mobility management (EMM) providers.

Yet moving Skype into the realms of AI and machine learning to provide a better brand and business collaboration experience represents a bold bet – and it is clearly at the primitive stage right now. For Nadella, it is all about integrating the correct models. “The key is the systems approach,” he said. “It’s about the combination of technology, people and process that you put in place to drive these feedback loops. It’s that systems approach to how you become a digital company that I think will define your competitiveness…in the industries you participate in.”

1 Comment

  1. 
i10mn1a
    24 February 2015, 02:45 i10mn1a

    actually no. unless anything that uses squares with bright colo1 is automatically windows 8. these widgets are very android, really. it’s just that they all come from the same app so they actually align properly.

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