Today, I’m proud to announce the second Female Founders Competition, a global contest to identify and fund top women entrepreneurs who are leading enterprise tech startups. This year, Microsoft’s venture fund, M12, is partnering with Mayfield and Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company founded by Melinda Gates, to help create a more equitable playing field for innovative female founders.
It’s well-documented that women-led companies deliver higher returns over time than those founded by men, yet female founders—particularly of enterprise tech startups—continue to receive significantly less access to capital. In fact, last year companies founded solely by women received only 2.3% of the total capital invested in venture-backed startups. While we’re seeing some pockets of progress, we as a VC community can do much more to support and financially back innovation and ideas from women-led companies. But where do we start?
Last year, M12 and our partners set out to expand the path to funding for women entrepreneurs by upending the traditional formula for sourcing potential investments. Through our first Female Founders Competition, we set the standard VC networks aside and made an open call for the talent to come to us. It worked. We received hundreds of applications and awarded a total of $4 million to two innovative women entrepreneurs: Greta Cutulenco, CEO and co-founder of Acerta; and Julie Dorsey, founder and chief scientist of Mental Canvas. In the time since, I’ve been inspired by how the winners leveraged these investments as springboards to expand their companies and grow their industry footprints.
For me, it’s a deeply personal issue – I share more on the subject in this Evoke essay. I’ve worked with startups for much of my career. I’ve seen the obstacles that female founders face just to get a seat at the table. And women like Greta and Julie remind me every day of the incredible opportunity that these underrepresented founders represent – not just for investors, but for all of us who believe in the power of technology. That’s why I’m proud to share our commitment to helping continue this progress by casting an even wider net.
As part of this year’s competition, we’re expanding our geographic reach, adding a new award category and increasing our combined investment with Mayfield and Pivotal Ventures from $4M to $6M. This enables us to award funds to four female-founded companies: two $2M awards for B2B enterprise technology and two additional $1M awards for women-led companies in deeptech, which is another critically underfunded area of opportunity. We’re also extending eligibility beyond the United States, Europe, and Israel by accepting applications from India.
I encourage you to watch this video where Pivotal Ventures’ Melinda Gates, Mayfield’s Navin Chaddha and I discuss why we’re so passionate about this issue and this competition. I hope you will be inspired, as we are, to find new ways to help create a more equal seat at the table for women founders.
Submissions are open now through December 15, 2019. Female-founded teams building enterprise SaaS or deeptech solutions are encouraged to apply at www.FemaleFoundersComp.com.
We can’t wait to see who we find and fund.
Artificial intelligence can help us to solve some of society’s most difficult challenges and create a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for all. I’ve already shared the exciting possibilities in the fields of healthcare and agriculture in previous posts. But there may be no area where the possibilities are more interesting – or more important – than education and skills. From personalized learning that takes advantage of AI to adapt teaching methods and materials to the needs of individual students, to automated grading that frees teachers from the drudgery of assessing tests so they have more time to work with students, to intelligent systems that are transforming how learners find and interact with information, the opportunities to improve education outcomes and accessibility will be truly transformational.
There are many classrooms around the world where educators teach very diverse groups of students from different cultures, who speak multiple languages. Take The Dhour Shweir Public Secondary School in Lebanon, for example. It improved the academic interaction between students and educators through applications like OneNote and Microsoft Teams which provides real-time language translation, allowing students who speak different languages to communicate with one another. The tools not only promote better collaboration and productivity, but also enhanced interaction between the students and their teachers.
We also saw just how much more Teams can do when Australian professor, David Kellermann, recently demonstrated how he created a unique learning experience for his university students – from a Question bot that can answer students’ queries on its own to a Power BI dashboard that shows how students’ exam answers compare to peers’ and helps build personalized study packs for future tests based on previous performance.
I am intrigued by a new digital assistant that was recently launched by Staffordshire University, in England. Called Beacon, it is designed to help ease the stress and anxiety that many students experience in their first year at university. Hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform, Beacon takes advantage of the fact that students at Staffordshire, one of the UK’s leading institutions for digital technologies, are more likely to use their mobile phone to find information or search for help than to talk to a lecturer or seek out a member of the university’s staff.
Part information source and part digital coach, Beacon answers questions, suggests activities that students might be interested in, checks on their mood, and supports them in their classwork. If the digital assistant detects signs that a student is struggling, it can send an alert to a university staff member who is able to offer help. By providing insights about how each student is adjusting to university life and creating an avenue for delivering extra support quickly to those who need it, the hope is that it will reduce the dropout rate and help students thrive.
Education doesn’t end with school or University. In today’s world, we must all be prepared to keep learning and re-skilling, as the world of work evolves.
Outside of traditional education institutes, AI can also help people to reskill or acquire news skills – for example, through Microsoft’s partnership with Ashoka, a global organization that supports social entrepreneurs who are committed to finding innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social, cultural, and environmental challenges. As part of Microsoft’s worldwide Tech for Good Initiative, at the heart of this new partnership is the Microsoft-Ashoka Accelerator, a program designed to foster an ecosystem of start-ups that take advantage of the power of cloud computing and artificial intelligence to tackle social and environmental issues. I had the pleasure of meeting Arnaud Mourot, Co-Director of Ashoka Europe earlier this year, to talk about support for promising social start-ups. Microsoft is providing access to technology, AI and cloud expertise, and mentors who can help entrepreneurs create intelligent, data-driven solutions, connect to markets, and more.
I also attended the opening of the first Microsoft-Ashoka Accelerators in France and India, where we are piloting the program. Among the early participants in the program are Singa, an organization that helps refugees and asylum seekers connect with people, services, and economic opportunities in their host countries; Ipso Health, which is working to improve healthcare systems and expand access to quality healthcare; and Libraries Without Borders, which sets up libraries and provides access to information resources in conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters.
One of the things I like most about this new partnership is Ashoka’s focus on programs for young people and its understanding of the value that comes from helping a new generation of young entrepreneurs gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to apply advanced technology to social innovation. Through its Youth Ventures program, Ashoka has worked with more than 500,000 young people around the world.
I too, am a strong believer in the value of mentoring young people, and it is something I am actively engaged in through Live for Good, a foundation my family and I founded in 2015 to enable young people from all walks of life to reach their full potential through social entrepreneurship and digital innovation.
One of the most important things I have learned is that the world is filled with talented young people who have brilliant ideas and a deep desire to create a better world, but who often lack access to skills training, to technology, or to mentors who can provide the critical guidance they need to truly thrive – in school and at work. Today, AI-based services like Staffordshire University’s Beacon digital assistant and programs like the Microsoft-Ashoka accelerator are providing opportunities for young people to get the support they need to prepare them to lead the way forward, while technologies such as AI are creating new ways to have a positive impact.
To me, this is probably the most inspiring and promising aspect of the digital revolution—the doors it is opening for all of us to thrive and to create a better world.
The post How AI is transforming education and skills development appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.
In a world where every company is transforming to be digital, we see examples of organizations across public and private sectors embracing the concept of ‘tech intensity’ to maximize their impact. From our perspective, there are three aspects to the leadership principle of tech intensity: First, every leader will need to tune their organization to become a fast adopter of best-in- class technology. Second, organizations will need to build their own unique digital capabilities, which starts with workers who are deeply knowledgeable about the latest technology. And finally, leadership in the digital economy will be exponentially amplified by the level of trust that is created with customers, partners, and stakeholders.
Today’s landscape demands a different leadership approach to capitalize on opportunities at the accelerated pace required to deliver modern mission outcomes. In the U.S. federal government, leaders are adopting technology to successfully optimize existing programs and to accelerate new services that improve the lives of American citizens. Many of our government customers are leading by example in building their own tech capabilities, which enable them to be more efficient and be better positioned to deliver on their mission service to their citizens. Examples abound and you’ll hear us showcase our partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs, USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Department of the Interior and more in the coming weeks.
Government is Embracing Tech Intensity
Tech intensity is really an equation – Tech Intensity = (Tech Adoption X Tech Capability) ^ Trust and as a company Microsoft is focused on providing the inputs to help our customers solve it. For the government agencies harnessing the benefits tech intensity today there are three critical factors to success we’re seeing them embrace: First, they’re finding ways to increase agility and become fast adopters of best-in-class technology, and equally important, they’re building or looking to build their own unique digital capabilities. Don’t forget the human factor here which starts with workers who are deeply knowledgeable about the latest technology backed by a culture that encourages capability-building and collaboration to generate new, breakthrough concepts. To speed tech adoption, they recognize how vital it is that they are able to access the latest commercial platforms, tools and training, so that they don’t have to re-create technology that already has been commoditized. It’s really the first step to building tech intensity. Finally, to assist government leaders in building trust in technology and its deployment to meet Agency missions, Microsoft provides a variety of tools including AI Business School government curriculum (see below) and books like The Future Computed and Tools and Weapons which provide guidance around the impact and ethics of AI which we are seeing government agencies beginning to adopt.
Enabling Government’s Tech Intensity Journey
Microsoft is committed to supporting the technology needs of all branches and levels of government and we’ve worked with our government customers to achieve the most certifications of any cloud provider. We’ve built the most trusted, comprehensive cloud for government which includes Azure Government, Microsoft 365 Government, and Dynamics 365 Government. Today, we’re announcing the latest advances to these government cloud solutions, demonstrating our commitment to our customers unique needs and desire to empower their tech intensity journey.
Delivering mobility and power at the tactical edge with new Data Box capabilities
Microsoft offers a comprehensive portfolio designed to bring compute, data analysis and insight to the tactical edge. Azure Data Box and Azure Stack family of products help government agencies with remote operations access the information they need to make decisions at the edge, along with access to the full range of cloud capabilities as connectivity allows.
For example, Azure Data Box Edge, an AI-enabled edge computing appliance, processes and analyzes data right at the tactical edge and transfers data to cloud when connected. It includes an FPGA on-board to accelerate machine learning inferencing at the edge and transfers the data to Azure over network to retrain the machine learning model or perform aggregated data analytics.
Today we’re sharing that we are getting ready to deliver a new form-factor of Data Box Edge, which will be rugged, portable, and battery-operated. The new form-factor will be ruggedized to meet MIL-STD-810G and MIL-STG-461 standards. A single person can carry this appliance in the field, for example, in their backpacks, in remote and disconnected areas. In field operations, speed is of the essence and insights empower decisions. We’ve partnered with Klas Telecom to bring you this new form-factor, which will further the intelligence of the forward-deployed operating units, ground patrols, or similar mission needs at the tactical edge and empower faster decision making.
New Microsoft 365 Government capabilities for cross agency collaboration and security
In March 2019 we announced that Microsoft Teams – the hub for teamwork– is available in all U.S. Government cloud environments. To further enable cross agency collaboration, we’re excited to announce. Teams Phone Systems and Audio Conferencing are rolling out GCC High and Department of Defense (DoD) environments starting mid-October. These new capabilities along with all the current collaboration services in Teams will enable governments to be mission focused and better service citizens.
As governments embrace tech intensity there’s in increasing demand on time and resources to manage data with a secure cloud environment. Microsoft 365 Government includes built-in security capabilities to protect, detect, and respond to cyberattacks. We’ve also recently announced general availability of Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to the GCC High environment, bringing endpoint detection, response, automated investigation and remediation to U.S. government customers in this environment.
New Business Applications capabilities to empower citizens through proactive customer service
Empowering citizens to engage is essential to modern government. With our Microsoft Business Applications portfolio, government is better able to interact with citizens, empower employees, optimize operations and transform cities at scale with our immersive solutions across Dynamics 365 and Power Platform. Earlier in 2019, we announced PowerApps and Flow for our GCC environments and Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Government availability meeting DoD requirements for contractors holding, or processing DoD controlled unclassified information or subject to International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). By the end of this calendar year, Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Government for DoD will be available.
Today, we are expanding the availability of PowerApps and Flow to GCC High environments. This means our government customers and DoD contractors with higher compliance demands can benefit from these tools. PowerApps and Flow, along with Power BI enables users to do three key actions on data: analyze, act, and automate. Power BI, PowerApps, and Flow work together to help anyone, regardless of technical ability, drive decisions with data.
Outdated tools, systems and practices can make interacting with the government cumbersome. To provide additional channels of engagement that make connections easier, we are announcing Chat for Dynamics 365 is generally available in GCC environments. Chat is an engagement channel that enables your agents to connect with customers in real-time.
Connecting global locations with fast, private, hybrid network connectivity
Customers with distributed operations across the United States or across the globe can benefit from the speed and efficiency of high-bandwidth connectivity, intelligent traffic routing, and the global scale of our network. With ExpressRoute Global Reach, customers gain not only a fast, private connection to the cloud, they can also use our global network as a backbone to connect their on-premises networks together. ExpressRoute can also be used to bring satellite data from ground to cloud, so it can be harnessed at the tactical edge or rapidly distributed to locations around the globe.
Meeting the full spectrum of data classification requirements
As previously announced, Azure Government Secret includes dedicated regions built to support US agencies and partners working with Secret U.S. security classification level data. We’re seeing significant demand for these new regions, and today we’re announcing Sequoia Combine for Azure Government and Azure Government Secret, delivering dev, test and deployment capabilities for classified clouds from an unclassified environment. This emulator service, currently in preview, offers an approved, trusted, and proven approach for IC and DoD air-gapped region solution development.
Accelerating the path to compliance
We’re continually working to streamline compliance, making it easier for customers and partners to accelerate their path to ATO. FedRAMP is a critical certification for many federal agencies and a growing number of state and local government agencies. Today we’re announcing the built-in Blueprint for FedRAMP to help customers with compliance requirements based on FedRAMP proactively manage and monitor the compliance of their Azure environments. This new offering joins a series of recent releases including the NIST SP 800-53 R4 blueprint, all focused on helping you meet your compliance requirements more easily and efficiently.
Responsible AI in Government Business School Module
We launched AI Business School because we know AI will be used more and more to help organizations to innovate and solve problems, and we wanted to help leaders be ready to do so in the right way. We recognize that every organization faces its own challenges, and we wanted to provide concrete examples for each of them through tailored information and real-world case studies. That’s why we added a learning path specific to government because of the uniqueness of the problems these agencies face when considering AI applications. Earlier this week, we rolled out a new version of AI Business School, with updates to that government path, new and adapted lessons within our Responsible AI module and a new learning path for education industry decision makers and educators. The new module focuses on identifying governing practices for responsible AI in government and draws on the wisdom from experts at EY and Altimeter Group. In it we share examples from governments around the world to shed light on what government officials should consider and how to take action. It also has information on tools to support responsible AI and how to make AI governance both tangible and measurable
We’re on a Mission Together
Tech intensity is the motivation behind our mission at Microsoft to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. As agencies face a range of new challenges in meeting their missions, we are committed to helping our more than 10,000 government customers use technology to unlock the power of data, which underpins everything they do. I look forward to sharing many more examples of how government is embracing tech intensity to better engage and connect with citizens, modernize the government workplace, and enhance government services to benefit society. Learn more about how government agencies are using Microsoft cloud technology here.
The post Enabling government to advance ‘tech intensity’ with newest cloud product innovations appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.
In the world of commercial research and science, there’s probably no undertaking more daunting – or more expensive – than the process of bringing a new medicine to market. For a new compound to make it from initial discovery through development, testing and clinical trials to finally earn regulatory approval can take a decade or more. Nine out of 10 promising drug candidates fail somewhere along the way. As a result, on average, it costs life sciences companies $2.6 billion to introduce a single new prescription drug.
This is much more than just a challenge for life sciences companies. Streamlining drug development is an urgent issue for human health more broadly. From uncovering new ways to treat age-old sicknesses like malaria that still kills hundreds of thousands of people every year, to finding new cancer treatments, or developing new vaccines to prevent highly-contagious diseases from turning into global pandemics, the impact in terms of lives saved worldwide would be enormous if we could make inventing new medicines faster.
As announced today, this is why Novartis and Microsoft are collaborating to explore how to take advantage of advanced Microsoft AI technology combined with Novartis’ deep life sciences expertise to find new ways to address the challenges underlying every phase of drug development – including research, clinical trials, manufacturing, operations and finance. In a recent interview, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan spoke about the potential for this alliance to unlock the power of AI to help Novartis accelerate research into new treatments for many of the thousands of diseases for which there is, as yet, no known cure.
In the biotech industry, there have been amazing scientific advances in recent years that have the potential to revolutionize the discovery of new, life-saving drugs. Because many of these advances are based on the ability to analyze huge amounts of data in new ways, developing new drugs has become as much an AI and data science problem as it is a biology and chemistry problem. This means companies like Novartis need to become data science companies to an extent never seen before. Central to our work together is a focus on empowering Novartis associates at each step of drug development to use AI to unlock the insights hidden in vast amounts of data, even if they aren’t data scientists. That’s because while the exponential increase in digital health information in recent years offers new opportunities to improve human health, making sense of all the data is a huge challenge.
The issue isn’t just a problem of the overwhelming volume. Much of the information exists in the form of unstructured data, such as research lab notes, medical journal articles, and clinical trial results, all of which is typically stored in disconnected systems. This makes bringing all that data together extremely difficult. Our two companies have a dream. We want all Novartis associates – even those without special expertise in data science – to be able to use Microsoft AI solutions every day, to analyze large amounts of information and discover new correlations and patterns critical to finding new medicines. The goal of this strategic collaboration is to make this dream a reality. This offers the potential to empower everyone from researchers exploring the potential of new compounds and scientists figuring out dosage levels, to clinical trial experts measuring results, operations managers seeking to improve supply chains more efficiently, and even business teams looking to make more effective decisions. And as associates work on new problems and develop new AI models, they will continually build on each other’s work, creating a virtuous cycle of exploration and discovery. The result? Pervasive intelligence that spans the company and reaches across the entire drug discovery process, improving Novartis’ ability to find answers to some of the world’s most pressing health challenges.
As part of our work with Novartis, data scientists from Microsoft Research and research teams from Novartis will also work together to investigate how AI can help unlock transformational new approaches in three specific areas. The first is about personalized treatment for macular degeneration – a leading cause of irreversible blindness. The second will involve exploring ways to use AI to make manufacturing new gene and cell therapies more efficient, with an initial focus on acute lymphoblastic leukemia. And the third area will focus on using AI to shorten the time required to design new medicines, using pioneering neural networks developed by Microsoft to automatically generate, screen and select promising molecules. As our work together moves forward, we expect that the scope of our joint research will grow.
At Microsoft, we’re excited about the potential for this collaboration to transform R&D in life sciences. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained, putting the power of AI in the hands of Novartis employees will give the company unprecedented opportunities to explore new frontiers of medicine that will yield new life-saving treatments for patients around the world.
While we’re just at the beginning of a long process of exploration and discovery, this strategic alliance marks the start of an important collaborative effort that promises to have a profound impact on how breakthrough medicines and treatments are developed and delivered. With the depth and breadth of knowledge that Novartis offers in bioscience and Microsoft’s unmatched expertise in computer science and AI, we have a unique opportunity to reinvent the way new medicines are created. Through this process, we believe we can help lead the way forward toward a world where high-quality treatment and care is significantly more personal, more effective, more affordable and more accessible.
The post Bringing together deep bioscience and AI to help patients worldwide: Novartis and Microsoft work to reinvent treatment discovery and development appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.
It’s a transformative time for the financial services industry. In the fast-changing, tech-driven world banks now live in, they recognize that technology can play a role in helping them meet both their customers’ expectations and challenging regulatory requirements. Coming to Microsoft from that world myself just two weeks ago, I’m now leading the team responsible for helping our customers do just that – regardless of where they are in their transformation journey.
After 20 years in financial services, I’ve seen the impact technology can have, and recognize we have been approaching an inflection point for some time – and are at the tipping point.
We’re approaching the close of a decade, and the industry has a tremendous opportunity to accelerate use of cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) as a catalyst to improve competitiveness, drive growth, elevate customer experiences and keep ahead of changing regulations and cybersecurity threats.
To take full advantage of what Sibos 2019 describes as a hyper-connected world, more banks are making broader cloud platform choices – moving beyond infrastructure services – and extending their cloud investment to productivity, data and AI, and agile customer relationship management services.
They’re making this platform decision to seize the opportunity at hand and evolve to meet the rapidly changing needs and expectations of customers. They recognize technology can help them create the new business models required – even integrate past, present and future.
As we look ahead, key to this will be the ability for financial organizations to:
- Deliver differentiated customer experience by accelerating growth and loyalty through deeper customer insights and relationships
- Modernize payments and core banking with agility to roll out new products and services
- Manage risk across the organization with deep insights and compliance with regulatory requirements
- Empower employees through teamwork and improved employee productivity and accelerate workplace modernization
- Combat financial crime by protecting your bank and customers while lowering compliance costs
Because of the hyper-connectivity, we know that regulatory compliance is and must be a top priority, which is why Microsoft continues to work with financial services regulators and customers to ensure our cloud services help customers meet their strict regulatory requirements. Our team has been a part of the consultation period in sharing perspectives on updated outsourcing guidance by the European Banking Authority (“EBA)” and the final issued guidance, which takes effect on Sept. 30, 2019. This longstanding engagement with regulators around cloud computing is one of the reasons more than 90 percent of Global Systemically Important Financial Institutions (“GSIFIs”) depend on Microsoft cloud services. As a company we’ve made the investments and commitments to ensure they can meet their regulatory obligations.
To accelerate digital transformation, Microsoft has focused on removing barriers to adopting cloud technology – such as regulatory and compliance, and beyond. At Sibos, we’re unveiling several announcements to further underscore this effort:
- Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection general availability and new feature addressing wrongful declines: This cloud-based solution will be generally available on Oct. 1, 2019 and is designed to decrease fraud costs and help increase acceptance rates for customer payment transactions with e-commerce merchants. Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection is designed to benefit merchants and banks while also improving customer shopping experiences by providing a seamless purchasing experience. The solution combats payment and account-creation fraud with AI technology that continuously learns and adapts to evolving fraudulent patterns. When generally available, the service will include a new feature (Transaction Acceptance Booster) that addresses wrongful declines – a common issue negatively impacting both merchants and banks. Among the first to deploy the new solution is Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting Group in India to reduce the fraud rate for their ecommerce platform Yardley.com. FMCG players like Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting Group can opt into this feature to increase acceptance rates for authorization requests they make to their issuing banks participating in Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection.
- Microsoft Banking Accelerator adds BIAN API implementation: Following the general availability of the Microsoft Banking Accelerator in July, today we are releasing an API sample implementation on GitHub for interoperability with the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN) API service domains. BIAN is a not-for-profit association to establish and promote a common architectural framework for enabling banking interoperability. Microsoft and BIAN have been working together to help unlock new open banking opportunities by allowing organizations to more seamlessly and consistently share banking-specific data across disparate systems. In addition to the BIAN API samples, Microsoft released an update to Banking Accelerator on AppSource bringing additional use cases for retail banking.
- Microsoft is the first cloud provider to receive a comprehensive cloud assessment from TruSight, an industry-backed, best-practices third-party assessment utility. Today, TruSight delivered a comprehensive on-site assessment of Microsoft’s Cloud Computing environment, including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Dynamics 365. The assessment was conducted using TruSight’s stringent best-practices assessment methodology. The new TruSight report gives financial services organizations a high-quality assessment of Microsoft’s cloud services based on standardized, industry-designed control assessment methodology. TruSight and its third-party assessment utility was created by leading banking institutions for the collective benefit of all financial services participants. The utility gives financial institutions the ability to access assessments on the most widely used third parties across financial services, rather than having to individually conduct assessments. Microsoft is the first of the major cloud providers to complete the assessment, which covered 27 control domains such as information technology, cybersecurity, business resiliency, privacy, physical security and risk management. Visit the Microsoft Trust Center to learn more.
Microsoft customers share their success stories
Microsoft is focused on empowering financial services organizations to achieve more. That requires being focused on trust, and always enabling our customers – through innovation, and security and compliance investments, as well as industry leading cloud scale. We continue to put our customers at the center of everything we do by sharing their inspired stories from our customers’ success since last year’s Sibos. We see momentum increasing worldwide as our customers tell their transformation stories – answering the questions about how they overcame obstacles, pitfalls to avoid, keys to success, why cloud or AI, and why Microsoft. Here are just a few of their stories:
- Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank, world’s first trade finance bank, hosted entirely on Microsoft cloud
- Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Telekom, SAP, and others trust Microsoft for their digital transformations
- Deutsche Börse and Microsoft reach a significant milestone for cloud adoption in the financial services industry
- HSBC: How HSBC built its PayMe for Business app on Microsoft Azure:Bank-grade security, super-fast transactions, and analytics
- J.P. Morgan and Microsoft announce strategic partnership to drive enterprise adoption of Quorum
- Moula harnesses AI and transforms small business lending in Australia
- National Bank of Canada empowers and engages workforce, elevates customer and employee experience
- State Street chooses Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Power BI, and Microsoft Teams for Enterprise Investment Management Solution
- TD Bank delivers legendary customer experiences with Microsoft
- UBS Group uses Microsoft Azure cloud to modernize critical business apps, leverage digital channels, and rethink how global workforce collaborates
Microsoft partner news
At Sibos 2019, we’re excited to showcase our partners’ progress in helping our mutual customers with their technology needs. Microsoft is the only cloud provider with a mature partner program and has the largest partner ecosystem in the market with more than 68,000 partners worldwide. Our partners are equipped and prepared to work with financial services organizations of all sizes across all their needs.
We’re featuring the following partner successes and collaboration efforts:
- Accenture Microsoft Business Group empowers enterprises to thrive in the era of digital disruption
- Avanade, Accenture and Microsoft team up at Sibos
- Ernst & Young and Microsoft connect to bring customers together at Sibos
- Finastra creates new era of fintech using Microsoft machine learning and analytics tools
- Marco Polo Network uses Microsoft Azure and Corda blockchain to modernize trade finance
- Volante Technologies launches SEPA Instant Payments as a Service on Microsoft Azure for RT1 and TIPS
Last week, at a gathering of press and analysts in San Francisco, I had the privilege of introducing new features and applications for Dynamics 365, spotlighted by AI-driven insights that empower organizations to take informed actions and improve customer experiences. In addition, I presented our vision for retail, brought to life by two new applications—Dynamics 365 Commerce and Dynamics 365 Connected Store—that will help organizations transform the retail experience.
Helping worldwide business leaders drive intelligent action and make better decisions
More organizations are choosing Dynamics 365 and Power Platform than ever before – from industries spanning energy (ExxonMobil), to transportation (Virgin Atlantic, Paccar), to sports and entertainment (Miami Heat, Tivoli) and many others. The common thread in our customers’ success is the power of a comprehensive, connected business cloud, drawing on unified data and applied intelligence to help customers make proactive decisions to positively impact their business. Customers have seen a transformative shift from a siloed to a proactive way of doing business.
This approach has a dramatic impact to business leaders to drive results across the organization.
Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with Microsoft’s CFO Amy Hood and ask her about the transformational journey of Microsoft’s finance organization. Here is Amy in her own words, sharing how she thinks of our business applications portfolio and what business leaders like her need from technology solutions.
Introducing new features and applications across our portfolio of AI-driven insights applications
Over the past year, we have been investing in our AI-driven insights applications. Today, we are unveiling new features for existing applications along with entirely new applications and capabilities. With the expansion of the portfolio, we can provide a 360-degree view of your business. One that goes beyond data capture and backward-looking insights, to unification of all data, providing forward looking intelligence. Powered by Azure AI, these tightly integrated capabilities can make AI real for businesses today and enable employees to proactively drive decisions and action.
Dynamics 365 Customer Insights
Customer expectations are rising all the time, but people aren’t coming up with these new expectations on their own—it’s brands and businesses that excel at delighting their customers that raise the bar for everyone. Organizations that can adopt AI to manage and analyze data will be better positioned to build powerful relationship with customers over time.
Generally available earlier this spring, Dynamics 365 Customer Insights helps maximize customer lifetime value by surfacing a 360-degree view of the customer – to help organizations unlock insights and determine the best action possible to drive personalized engagement at scale.
Today, we are announcing new capabilities that extend Dynamics 365 Customer Insights beyond B2C scenarios to address complex B2B journeys. Now, with the ability to add an organization as a first-class entity, organizations can map leads and contacts to buying groups, accounts and account hierarchies, giving them the ability to build segments and measure the relationship between an account and contact.
Any organization—in any industry, from amusement parks to retailers and manufacturers— can effortlessly connect data from every source of interaction and arm employees with a single source of truth right within the external business applications they use every day.
Dynamics 365 Product Insights
Organizations on the quest to digitally transform their entire customer journey realize the important role product telemetry can play in terms of monitoring and learning from interactions a customer may have with connected products or services. These lessons help organizations to better understand customer expectations and then deliver more personalized experiences.
Dynamics 365 Product Insights is a new application to the portfolio that can bring insights from connected physical products and give visibility into product performance and customer interactions so organizations can build richer relationships and improve engagement.
Ecolab has been working with us in early development stages as they seek to improve operational efficiencies at nearly three million customer locations in more than 170 countries.
Previously, Ecolab struggled in the “signal collection” phase with disjointed data sets making integration of that data even more challenging. They needed an end-to-end solution for reactive and proactive repairs of their products. Looking at just one example – their Internet-connected commercial dishwashers— Ecolab will now be able to use Dynamics 365 Product Insights to identify anomalies, like an unexpected drop in water usage for a certain model range, and then analyze that data in real time to narrow down to specific model and firmware. Now, in a matter of minutes, they’ll be able to identify a solution to a product performance issue that used to be very time consuming or even impossible to uncover.
Ultimately, with Dynamics 365 Product Insights, Ecolab will be better positioned to unify development, deployment and usage data to get a view of their products; market, sell and better support their products; and then be more proactive with customers to optimizing their experience.
Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service
Customer service organizations have a growing need for deeper, more actionable insights to serve their customers, as well as tools to resolve customer issues quickly. New capabilities in Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service announced today, will enable service teams to more easily create and deploy virtual agents that engage in personalized conversations with customers without writing a single line of code. We’re releasing new authoring and web publishing improvements that will enable teams to deploy a virtual agent on a demo website for testing and stakeholder feedback before deploying on the external-facing website.
Once deployed, new AI-driven insights will allow managers to monitor performance metrics for the virtual agent. Through a new customer satisfaction dashboard, customer service managers can view the overall customer satisfaction score and bot topics driving the score. In addition, they can now view “hours saved” metrics—the return on investment provided by bot sessions compared to typical resolution times by human agents, who are now free to tackle more complex, time-intensive cases.
TruGreen, the largest lawn care company in the U.S., serves more than 2.3 million customers. With Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service, they will now be able to create and deploy a Virtual Agent on their website for routine inquiries in less than two days effort. Beyond simply answering routine questions, by utilizing out-of-the-box connectors from our Power Platform and the orchestration engine of Microsoft Flow, the TruGreen Virtual Agent will be able to take actions based on customer intent. For example, TruGreen can integrate to their ERP application to offer a customer visibility into their available account balance, and then schedule one of 13,000 technicians as a next best action. Ultimately, this will help TruGreen to reduce the call handling time for many of their customers most common requests via their website or mobile app, improving customer satisfaction while increasing their employee effectiveness as routine tasks are offloaded to virtual agents, freeing human agents to field more complex calls.
IoT Intelligence for Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management
Product quality is at the heart of any customer experience. And capturing the signals created when customers use a product can be game changing but imagine if you could capture critical insight before the product leaves the manufacturing facility.
Organizations need a level of visibility and insight into shop floor and equipment operations—an end-to-end solution that provides real-time visibility of production and inventory by leveraging the power of AI, machine learning and mixed reality.
With new IoT Intelligence capabilities we’re announcing today, Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management can connect IoT signals from mission-critical assets with business transaction data, enabling manufacturers and distributors to proactively manage production and stock in real-time, leverage predictive analytics to predict maintenance needs for business-critical equipment before downtime occurs, boost equipment performance and increase throughput, minimize waste and improve business performance.
With headquarters in Australia, Majans is a producer and distributor of snack foods on a global scale and is in the process of trialing these new capabilities to build their factory of the future. By integrating IoT Intelligence, connected devices can detect salt and moisture content in the snacks they make, as well as machine and production KPIs. Signals from connected machines create a digital feedback loop that helps Majans reduce waste, eliminate rework from packaging of poor-quality product, reduce factory downtime with predictive maintenance and connect people with data and insights to refine processes and standards.
New applications to help industries bridge the digital and physical worlds, starting with retail and manufacturing
This is an exciting time to be involved in the retail industry. Shopping is no longer an isolated activity or a special destination, it’s something customers can do from anywhere, anytime.
Mobile and digital platforms have enabled customers to have access to information and shopping experiences that were not even possible just a few years ago. Consumer expectations have evolved so much that historical models of operation are no longer good enough. For example, 91% of customers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember and provide relevant offers and recommendations.
With data driven intelligence, coupled with modern business applications, organizations can deliver personalized and differentiated shopping for their customers. We see this as a future of retail – and it is happening today.
To bring this vision to life, we’re introducing two new applications that help transform the retail space – bringing together physical, digital and observational data sources to improve the store experience.
Dynamics 365 Commerce
A new application that we are announcing today, Dynamics 365 Commerce, is a comprehensive omni-channel solution for retail and e-tail companies that unifies back office, in-store, call center and digital experiences.
A fully-connected solution that will evolve Dynamics 365 for retail, Dynamics 365 Commerce can transform the customer experience—from the digital experiences that make shopping fun and rewarding to productivity and collaboration solutions that help retail employees provide outstanding customer service.
In addition, intelligent systems provide deep insights to empower advanced decision making and personalization, delivering the fully connected commerce solution retailers need to build brand loyalty, optimize operations and supply chain efficiencies and deliver better business outcomes.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the third-largest premium wine company in the U.S., today announced plans to empower customers throughout the shopping experience and transform the way Ste. Michelle Wine Estates does business with Dynamics 365 Commerce as its end-to-end omnichannel solution across physical and digital channels.
With three distinct consumer touch points – e-commerce, traditional brick and mortar and loyalty programs such as wine clubs – Ste. Michelle Wine Estates was challenged by the complexity of the technology needed to provide a true 360-degree view of its consumer. To offer customers the best possible experience, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates plans to align its operations with Dynamics 365 Commerce to power a comprehensive customer engagement platform capable of integrating distinct brands across all its direct-to-consumer sales channels.
Dynamics 365 Connected Store
In retail, success relies on a consistent customer experience across web, mobile and physical storefronts. The challenge for omni-channel retailers is ensuring the same level of service and convenience in physical locations as online—from stocking the same variety of inventory to offering personalized recommendations based on browsing and buying behavior.
Dynamics 365 Connected Store is a new application that provides insight into the retail space, helping physical retailers understand and improve the in-store experience by analyzing disparate data from video cameras and IoT sensors to providing real-time and predictive insights that help store managers and employees make better decisions.
Dynamics 365 Connected Store uses observational data generated as customers move through the store, as well as the status of store equipment and product, to create employee alerts and actionable insights that can improve store efficiency. For instance, Connected Store can improve the checkout experience by triaging extra cashiers via instant notifications, based on sensor or camera data. Fluctuations in the condition of store equipment such as freezers and refrigerators can put product quality at risk. Connected Store, supported by Azure IoT Central, utilizes IoT sensors to monitor temperature and humidity, which can quickly highlight any anomalies to protect inventory.
Connected Store also tracks long-term trends in the retail space, illuminating patterns and opportunities across day-to-day, season-to-season activities and occurrences. Teams across the organization can stay updated with automated emails and a web app to review and report data. Whether you’re a regional manager who seeks to increase revenue and reduce cost by optimizing operations, a store manager who seeks to better-utilize their teams, or a store associate who seeks to better-prioritize their daily activities, Connected Store offers you benefits that can help you optimize customer experience.
Multinational retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is deploying Connected Store at its flagship, located in the heart of London, helping them achieve their ambition of becoming a ‘digital-first’ retailer. Store managers report that Connected Store gives M&S employees a real-time understanding of what is happening within their retail space, allowing them to work more efficiently and provide a more personalized customer experience.
Here is a look into the impact Dynamics 365 Connected Store is having on M&S and how it is changing the way they deliver technology into their stores and into the hands of their colleagues.
Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection general availability and new feature addressing wrongful declines
The cost of fraud to both banks and merchants as well as the customer shopping can be quite high and detrimental to a company’s bottom line. To combat this, we are announcing Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection will be generally available on October 1. This new application will decrease fraud costs and help increase acceptance rates for customer payment transactions with e-commerce merchants.
Banks and merchants can realize immediate benefits with Fraud Protection, but customer shopping experiences can also be improved by providing a seamless purchasing experience. The solution combats payment and account-creation fraud with AI technology that continuously learns and adapts to evolving fraudulent patterns.
As part of this release, Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection will include a new transaction acceptance booster that addresses wrongful declines – a common issue that negatively impacts both merchants and banks. Merchants can opt to participate in this feature to increase acceptance rates for authorization requests they make to issuing banks participating in Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection. Microsoft is at the Sibos 2019 global financial services conference this week showcasing this and several other announcements illustrating our focus on removing barriers for the financial services industry to adopting cloud technology and accelerate digital transformation.
Tune in to the Wave 2 Release Virtual Launch Event on October 10
Only Dynamics 365 connects all forms of data—from observational, to analytics, transactional and beyond – revolutionizing CRM and ERP, and empowering you and your employees to accelerate your business.
To learn more about the technologies we announced today and much more, join us on October 10 for the Microsoft Business Applications Virtual Launch Event—a free virtual event showcasing how we’re accelerating innovation with new features and capabilities across Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.
With updates, insights and demonstrations directly from the experts, you’ll better understand how to leverage these new technologies as part of your own organization’s digital transformation initiatives.