Delivering information and eliminating bottlenecks with CDC’s COVID-19 assessment bot

Written by admin_wp_f1. Posted in Parceiros

In a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not only important to deliver medical care but to also provide information to help people make decisions and prevent health systems from being overwhelmed.

Microsoft is helping with this challenge by offering its Healthcare Bot service powered by Microsoft Azure to organizations on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response to help screen patients for potential infection and care.

For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released a COVID-19 assessment bot that can quickly assess the symptoms and risk factors for people worried about infection, provide information and suggest a next course of action such as contacting a medical provider or, for those who do not need in-person medical care, managing the illness safely at home.

The bot, which utilizes Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service, will initially be available on the CDC website.

Public health organizations, hospitals and others on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response need to be able to respond to inquiries, provide the public with up-to-date outbreak information, track exposure, quickly triage new cases and guide next steps.  Many have expressed great concern about the overwhelming demand COVID-19 is creating on resources such as urgent, emergency and nursing care.

In particular, the need to screen patients with any number of cold or flu-like symptoms — to determine who has high enough risk factors to need access to limited medical resources and which people may more safely care for themselves at home — is a bottleneck that threatens to overwhelm health systems coping with the crisis.

Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service is one solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help the CDC and other frontline organizations respond to these inquiries, freeing up doctors, nurses, administrators and other healthcare professionals to provide critical care to those who need it.

The Healthcare Bot service is a scalable Azure-based public cloud service that allows organizations to quickly build and deploy an AI-powered bot for websites or applications that can offer patients or the general public personalized access to health-related information through a natural conversation experience. It can be easily customized to suit an organization’s own scenarios and protocols.

To assist customers in the rapid deployment of their COVID-19 bots, Microsoft is making available a set of COVID-19 response templates that customers can use and modify:

  • COVID-19 risk assessment based on CDC guidelines
  • COVID-19 clinical triage based on CDC protocols
  • COVID-19 up-to-date answers to frequently asked questions
  • COVID-19 worldwide metrics
COVID-19 assessment bot screenshots
Screenshots from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 assessment bot.

Providence, one of the largest health systems in the U.S. headquartered near Seattle and serving seven Western states, had previously used Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service running on Azure to create a healthcare chatbot named Grace that could help answer patient’s questions online. Using CDC guidelines and its own clinical protocols, Providence was able to build a similar Coronavirus Assessment Tool in just three days to help people in the communities it serves know whether they should seek medical attention for their respiratory symptoms.

The tool, which launched in early March, can bring a prospective patient directly into a telehealth session with a clinician to get immediate care.  It also aims to prevent healthy people or those with mild symptoms from showing up at clinics and emergency departments, which helps to limit community infection and save hospital beds and equipment for those who need it.

Other providers who are now using Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service to respond to COVID-19 inquiries include:

Virginia Mason Health System, based in Seattle and serving the Pacific Northwest region, has created a patient assessment Healthcare Bot to help its patients understand whether care is needed. The instance is live and has thousands of daily users.

Novant Health, a healthcare provider in four states in the Southeast with one of the largest medical groups in the country, has created a Healthcare bot for COVID-19 information that went live on its website within a few days, with thousands of daily users since its launch.

Across all users, customized instances of Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service are now fielding more than 1 million messages per day from members of the public who are concerned about COVID-19 infections — a number we expect to escalate quickly to meet growing needs. We hope the answers it can provide will curb anxiety that the “worried well” may experience without clear guidance and save lives by speeding the path to care for those who need it most.

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Women as allies for women: Understanding intersectionality

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One of my earliest learnings was that my experiences as a woman were not identical to other women’s experiences, although they were similar. As with any dimension of identity, the way women experience the world depends on much larger context. As a white girl growing up in Victoria, British Columbia, there were multiple layers to my experiences. Although my brothers and I had what was necessary, we did not have much socioeconomic privilege. What I learned as I watched the world around me is that as a benefit of my race, it was easier for me to cover my socioeconomic status than it was for my friends who were not white.

The United Nations marked March 8 as International Women’s Day by declaring that “fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women everywhere.” This declaration is inclusive of all women with intersectionality in mind.

Understanding intersectionality in the workplace

It starts with something as simple as the way we think about all the dimensions of our identity, including things like race, ethnicity, disability, religion, age and sexual orientation. Even class, education, geography and personal history can alter how we experience womanhood. When Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality 30 years ago, she explained it as how these overlapping identities and conditions impact the way we experience life’s challenges and opportunities, the privileges we have, the biases we face.

So simply focusing on a single dimension of identity, without that context, is not always helpful. When we consider women as a single category, as a monolith, it can be misleading at best, dangerous at worst. Doing so overlooks the variations of circumstances and perspectives within the group and obscures real lived experiences as outliers or exceptions. “Women’s workplace issues” is a vague term without enough specificity to drive action. Women of color, women with disabilities, transgender women, women who are the first of their family to work corporate or professional jobs, women who are caregivers — all women deal with additional social, cultural, regional or community demands that may not exist for others. Although all women navigate varying degrees of conscious and unconscious gender biases, intersections of identity can place compounded pressure on a woman to downplay other aspects of her life to conform — a behavior called covering, as explored by Kenji Yoshino — leading to even greater workplace stress.

To increase hiring, retention, representation and the development of women in the workplace, companies must be intentional and accountable for being aware of the diversity within the diversity. Conventional strategies to increase the representation of women in a workplace have mostly benefited those who do not also experience intersectional challenges. By getting curious and exploring the lived experiences of women through the lens of intersectionality, we become more precise about the root cause and about finding ways to generate systemic solutions for all.

Setting the stage for allyship

 Understanding all this can be a powerful catalyst for change, not just for organizations as a whole but also for individuals. At Microsoft we are refining how we think about allyship. Part of that exploration is the recognition that as Microsoft employees each of us has some dimension of privilege. This isn’t meant to minimize or negate the very real ways that communities experience significant, systematic historical bias or oppression. But rather it is meant to shine a light on our opportunity to show up for each other. For example, as a community of women we have an opportunity to be more thoughtful about the experiences of our peers who face greater challenges due to their intersectional identity. So although traditionally we might look to men in the workplace to carry the full weight of allyship, women in the workplace also have an opportunity to be thoughtful allies for others in their community.

Such an awareness opens the door for true allyship — an intentional commitment to use your voice, credibility, knowledge, place or power to support others in the way they want to be supported. I am very aware of my opportunity, due to my personal privilege, to show up for other women in a meaningful way. I embrace my obligation to create space for other voices to be heard, not just on International Women’s Day, but all year round.

The post Women as allies for women: Understanding intersectionality appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Microsoft for Healthcare: Empowering our customers and partners to provide better experiences, insights and care

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At Microsoft, our goal within healthcare is to empower people and organizations to address the complex challenges facing the healthcare industry today. We help do this by co-innovating and collaborating with our customers and partners as a trusted technology provider. Today, we’re excited to share progress on the latest innovations from Microsoft aimed at helping address the most prevalent and persistent health and business challenges:

  • Empower care teams with Microsoft 365: Available in the coming weeks, the new Bookings app in Microsoft Teams will empower care teams to schedule, manage and conduct virtual visits with remote patients via video conference. Also coming soon, clinicians will be able to target Teams messages to recipients based on the shift they are working. Finally, healthcare customers can support their security and compliance requirements with the HIPAA/HITECH assessment in Microsoft Compliance Score.
  • Protect health information with Azure Sphere: Microsoft’s integrated security solution for IoT (Internet of Things) devices and equipment – is now widely available for the development and deployment of secure, connected devices. Azure Sphere helps securely personalize patient experiences with connected devices and solutions. And, to make it easier for healthcare leaders to develop their own IoT strategies, today we’re launching a new IoT Signals report focused on the healthcare industry that provides an industry pulse on the state of IoT adoption and helpful insights for IoT strategies. Learn more about Microsoft’s IoT offerings for healthcare here.
  • Enable personalized virtual care with Microsoft Healthcare Bot: Today, we’re pleased to announce that Microsoft Healthcare Bot, our HITRUST-certified platform for creating virtual health assistants, is enriching its healthcare intelligence with new built-in templates for healthcare-specific use cases, and expanding its integrated medical content options. With the addition of Infermedica, a cutting-edge triage engine based on advanced artificial intelligence (AI) that enables symptom checking in 17 languages Healthcare Bot is empowering providers to offer global access to care.
  • Reimagine healthcare using new data platform innovations: With the 2019 release of Azure API for FHIR, Microsoft became the first cloud provider with a fully managed, enterprise-grade service for health data in the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) format. We’re excited to expand those offerings with several new innovations around connecting, converting and transforming data. The first is Power BI FHIR Connector, which makes it simple and easy to bring FHIR data into Power BI for analytics and insights. The second, IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) FHIR Connector, is now available as open source software (OSS) and allows for seamless ingestion, normalization and transformation of Protected Health Information data from health devices into FHIR. Another new open source project, FHIR Converter, provides an easy way to convert healthcare data from legacy formats (i.e., HL7v2) into FHIR. And lastly, FHIR Tools for Anonymization, is now offered via OSS and enables anonymization and pseudonymization of data in the FHIR format. Including capabilities for redaction and date shifting in accordance with the HIPAA privacy rule.

Frictionless exchange of health information in FHIR makes it easier for researchers and clinicians to collaborate, innovate and improve patient care. As we move forward working with our customers and partners and others across the health ecosystem, Microsoft is committed to enabling and improving interoperability and required standards to make it easier for patients to manage their healthcare and control their information. At the same time, trust, privacy and compliance are a top priority – making sure Protected Health Information (PHI) remains under control and custodianship of healthcare providers and their patients.

We’ve seen a growing number of healthcare organizations not only deploy new technologies, but also begin to develop their own digital capabilities and solutions that use data and AI to transform and innovate healthcare and life sciences in profoundly positive ways. Over the past year, together with our customers and partners, we’ve announced new strategic partnerships aimed at empowering this transformation.

For example, to enable caregivers to focus more on patients by dramatically reducing the burden of documenting doctor-patient visits, Nuance has released Nuance Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX). This ambient clinical intelligence technologies (ACI) is enriched by AI and cloud capabilities from Microsoft, including the ambient intelligence technology, EmpowerMD, which is coming to market as part of Nuance’s DAX solution. The solution aims to transform the exam room by deploying ACI to capture, with patient consent, interactions between clinicians and patients so that clinical documentation writes itself.

Among health systems, Providence St. Joseph Health is using Microsoft’s cloud, AI, productivity and collaboration technologies to deploy next-generation healthcare solutions while empowering their employees. NHS Calderdale is enabling patients and their providers to hold appointments virtually via Microsoft Teams for routine and follow-up visits, which helps lower costs while maintaining the quality of care. The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department is embracing mixed reality by working with technology providers Medivis, Microsoft and Verizon to roll out its first 5G-enabled hospital. And specifically for health consumers, Walgreens Boots Alliance will harness the power of our cloud, AI and productivity technologies to empower care teams and deliver new retail solutions to make healthcare delivery more personal, affordable and accessible.

Major payor, pharmaceutical and health technology platform companies are also transforming healthcare in collaboration with us. Humana will develop predictive solutions for personalized and secure patient support, and by using Azure, Azure AI and Microsoft 365, they’ll also equip home healthcare workers with real-time access to information and voice technology to better understand key factors that influence patient health. In pharmaceuticals, Novartis will bring Microsoft AI capabilities together with its deep expertise in life sciences to address specific challenges that make the process of discovering, developing and delivering new medicines so costly and time-consuming.

We’re pleased to showcase how together with our customers and partners, we’re working to bring healthcare solutions to life and positively impact the health ecosystem.

To keep up to date with the latest announcements visit the Microsoft Health News Room.

About the authors:
As Corporate Vice President of Health Technology and Alliances, Dr. Greg Moore leads the dedicated research and development collaborations with our strategic partners, to deliver next-generation technologies and experiences for healthcare.

Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Rhew recently joined Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business Healthcare leadership team and provides executive-level support, engaging in business opportunities with our customers and partners.

As Corporate Vice President of Healthcare, Peter Lee leads the Microsoft organization that works on technologies for better and more efficient healthcare, with a special focus on AI and cloud computing.

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Creating a world of good: Microsoft launches the Global Social Entrepreneurship program

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Imagine what it would mean if communities that lack access to safe drinking water had a simple, affordable way to test their water supply for cholera, a water-borne disease that sickens 4 million people every year and causes an estimated 143,000 deaths? Or if we could skim plastic bottles, bags and microfibers from coastal waterways around the world? And what if there was a way to connect Africa’s growing community of young data scientists with organizations that have valuable data sets but lack the expertise to uncover the insights that the data might provide?

Whether it’s by saving lives, protecting the marine environment or focusing the talent of up-and-coming experts in machine learning on local issues in Africa, each one would mark an important step toward addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

The good news is that today, this work is already happening. It’s happening at startups that are creating new businesses, built around powerful technologies and designed to make the world a better place. A smartphone-based cholera detection system developed by OmniVis is already being tested in field studies in Bangladesh and elsewhere. More than 800 trash-skimming devices deployed by Seabin Project have collected more than half a million tons of marine litter, the majority of which is microplastics. And more than 10,000 data scientists have signed up for Zindi’s web platform, which has hosted dozens of competitions that have yielded valuable artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for companies, nonprofits and government organizations across Africa and around the world.

This is truly just the beginning. Around the world, innovators and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to harness technology to fuel purpose-driven social enterprises that measure success not just by the profit they generate, but by the good they do. At Microsoft, we are deeply inspired by the commitment of these social entrepreneurs, who are focusing their passion for positive change on improving human health and the environment, advancing social and economic equity, and much more.

But these are huge, complicated problems and far too large for any single organization to hope to solve alone. So to empower social entrepreneurs, Microsoft is launching a new Global Social Entrepreneurship program to offer qualified startups access to technology, education, customers and grants.

Our global initiative is designed to help social enterprise startups build and scale their companies to do good globally. The program is available in 140 countries and will actively seek to support underrepresented founders with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. The criteria to qualify for the program include a business metric that measures impact on an important social or environmental challenge; an established product or service that will benefit from access to enterprise customers; and a commitment to the ethical and responsible use of AI.

At Microsoft, we believe in providing the foundational building blocks to help social entrepreneurs create companies that can achieve worldwide impact. Social enterprises that become part of the Global Social Entrepreneurship program will receive access to free Microsoft cloud technologies, including up to $120,000 in Azure credits, along with technical support and guidance. A dedicated program manager will help Global Social Entrepreneurship startups market and sell solutions and connect to large commercial organizations and nongovernmental organizations that are potential customers. Participants focused on sustainability, accessibility, and skills and employability will also be eligible for grants. And social enterprises that join the Global Social Entrepreneurship program will be part of a worldwide community of like-minded innovators who come together to share ideas, foster connections and celebrate success.

To help us identify promising social entrepreneurs from around the world who are pursuing innovative tech-based solutions that can have a transformational impact, we’re excited to be working with organizations like MIT Solve. A marketplace for social impact innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Solve currently supports more 130 teams of social entrepreneurs – more than half of which are led by women – from 36 countries. With its global reach and reputation, Solve will ensure that we recruit talented social entrepreneurs who might otherwise be overlooked.

I see social enterprise startups like OmniVis, Seabin Project and Zindi as examples of one of the most important trends of the past decade – the growing recognition that building a business can be a powerful way to be a force for progress to benefit people and the planet. It’s an idea that has been gathering momentum. A 2016 report by the Global Entrepreneur Monitor found that one-third of startups around the world were focused on social good rather than just commercial success.

Today, social entrepreneurship is much more than a trend. It has developed into a global movement as more and more entrepreneurs find innovative ways to use AI to pioneer new approaches to solving the problems the world faces. For many of them, it is a chance to turn a lifelong passion into mission-driven enterprise that can thrive because it is doing good and driving positive change.

Dr. Katherine Clayton, the founder of OmniVis – which was selected as a 2019 Solver with MIT Solve – is a great example. After her uncle died of AIDS when she was just 7 years old, she declared she was going to get rid of disease when she grew up. It was a promise that led her to study biomedical engineering in college and then work on water safety issues in rural Thailand in a study-abroad trip alongside Engineers Without Borders. When she learned about the impact of cholera on vulnerable communities around the world, she saw a perfect opportunity to bring her knowledge of technology together with her desire help rid the world of life-threatening health issues.

One reason cholera is so difficult to control is that current tests for the bacteria must be processed in a major laboratory, which takes days and comes with high costs. Working with colleagues at Purdue University, Clayton has developed a simple, cellphone-based device that can analyze a few drops of water and provide an answer within minutes and then transmit location data to let health authorities know where to send the supplies needed to prevent an outbreak. And all for less than $10 a test.

Seabin Project is a similar story of lifelong passion applied to a contemporary problem. It was co-founded by Pete Ceglinski, who grew up in a small coastal town in Australia, where he learned to surf at age 8. He began his career as a product designer in Perth while still in his 20s and then became a builder of high performance boats for America’s Cup racing teams.

In 2014, Ceglinski quit his job and used his life savings to launch Seabin Project. Based on a business model pioneered by Patagonia, Seabin Project combines education and technology, with a goal of removing debris from the ocean and teaching people that if we are smarter about the use of plastics, we can keep them out of our oceans in the first place.

Named one of the world’s 50 best inventions by Time magazine in 2018 and recognized by the U.N. as a technology that can help address ocean pollution, Seabin trash skimmers are now trapping an average of 3.6 tons of marine litter per day in ports and marinas in more than 52 countries. And the devices not only collect trash, they collect data that scientists can use to better understand the impact that plastic debris has on marine life and human health.

At Zindi, which is based in Cape Town, South Africa, CEO Celina Lee sees incredible opportunities to be a catalyst for applying the power of AI to challenges for businesses, nonprofits and governments in Africa. A platform for hosting online machine learning competitions, Zindi connects engineers and data scientists at every level of experience with organizations that have difficult problems that machine learning and AI can help solve. Recent Zindi competitions include a UNICEF-sponsored effort to use AI to predict the impact of flooding in Malawi, a challenge to be presented at the International Conference on Learning Representations to use computer vision to recognize crop diseases, and a competition sponsored by Tunisia’s Ministry of Finance to use AI to detect tax fraud.

As important as the results of these competition are in creating AI solutions to meet the specific needs of African communities and organizations, Lee believes Zindi can have an even greater long-term impact by helping to build and support a thriving AI ecosystem in Africa and by giving young data scientists opportunities to improve their skills, build their work portfolios and connect with potential employers.

I never stop being inspired by the passion and purpose of people like Katherine Clayton, Pete Ceglinski and Celina Lee, who have dedicated their knowledge, time and resources to making a difference in the world. At Microsoft, we are honored to stand with them by offering access to technology, financing, partners, customers and a community that recognizes that people have great power to effect positive change if they have the right resources.

I believe more than ever that amazing things happen when startups work together with investors, enterprises, governments, nonprofits and communities. Through Global Social Entrepreneurship, we look forward to working in close partnership with social enterprises from around the world. I can’t think of a more compelling way to help create a sustainable, accessible and equitable world. To learn more and apply, please visit:


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Delivering on the promise of security AI to help defenders protect today’s hybrid environments

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Technology is reshaping society – artificial intelligence (AI) is enabling us to increase crop yields, protect endangered animals and improve access to healthcare. Technology is also transforming criminal enterprises, which are developing increasingly targeted attacks against a growing range of devices and services. Using the cloud to harness the largest and most diverse set of signals – with the right mix of AI and human defenders – we can turn the tide in cybersecurity. Microsoft is announcing new capabilities in AI and automation available today to accelerate that change.

Cybersecurity always comes down to people – good and bad. Our optimism is grounded in our belief in the potential for good people and technology to work in harmony to accomplish amazing things. After years of investment and engineering work, the data now shows that Microsoft is delivering on the potential of AI to enable defenders to protect data and manage risk across the full breadth of their digital estates.

The AI capabilities built into Microsoft Security solutions are trained on 8 trillion daily threat signals and the insights of 3,500 security experts. Custom algorithms and machine learning models make, and learn from, billions of queries every day. As a result, Microsoft Security solutions help identify and respond to threats 50% faster than was possible just 12 months ago. Today, Microsoft Security solutions are able to automate 97% of the routine tasks that occupied defenders’ valuable time just two years ago.

Microsoft Threat Protection, generally available today, does the heavy lifting for defenders by proactively hunting across users, email, applications and endpoints – including Mac and Linux. It brings together alerts and takes action using AI and automation. Microsoft Threat Protection breaks down security silos so security professionals can automatically detect, investigate and stop coordinated multi-point attacks. It weeds out the unimportant and amplifies signals that might have been missed, freeing defenders to work on the incidents that need their attention. With identity protection as a core component, it is the only solution of its type that is designed for Zero Trust. More details on the Microsoft Threat Protection announcement can be found on the Microsoft Security Blog.

It also builds upon solutions recognized as leaders in their categories, like Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) for endpoint security. Microsoft Defender ATP offers preventive protection, post-breach detection and automated investigation and response for Windows and macOS. Today we’re announcing support for Linux and plans for iOS and Android as well.

Azure Sentinel, the first cloud-native SIEM with fusion AI technology turns huge volumes of low fidelity signals into a few important incidents for security professionals to focus on. In December 2019 alone, within Microsoft, Azure Sentinel evaluated nearly 50 billion suspicious signals that in practical terms would be impossible for people to manually analyze and emitted just 25 high-confidence incidents for SecOps teams to investigate.

Microsoft was the first major cloud company to embrace the reality of the hybrid and multi-cloud enterprise, with more than 60% of enterprises using two or more cloud platforms. We’re committed to helping SecOps defend the entire stack, not only Microsoft workloads, and that’s why Azure Sentinel brings together events generated by security products from leading vendors such as Palo Alto Networks with the signals generated by cloud platforms such as AWS, providing security teams with visibility across their estates. To further help our customers secure their entire multi-cloud estates, today we are announcing the general availability of the Azure Sentinel connector for IoT and the ability to import AWS CloudTrail logs into Azure Sentinel at no additional cost from Feb. 24, 2020 until June 30, 2020. With this offer AWS customers now have seamless access to the best in-class, cloud-native security information and event management (SIEM) technology from a major cloud provider. More on the details of the Azure Sentinel announcements can be found on the Microsoft Security blog.

Funnel diagram of Azure Sentinal Fusion

An example of Azure Sentinel machine learning activity from the 30-day period of December 2019.

Securing the enterprise is not just about external attackers, but also managing insider risk – which has become a top concern of CISOs. Insider Risk Management in Microsoft 365 – the first born-in-the-cloud, integrated insider risk management solution – helps customers tackle the problem with no agents to deploy and no data ingestions to configure. Extending the same Microsoft Information Protection technology that already classifies and protects more than 50 billion documents for Microsoft customers, machine learning in Insider Risk Management brings together signals, sensitivity labels and content together in a single view, which saves security teams time by allowing them to quickly make informed risk decisions and take action. The general availability of Insider Risk Management is rolling out to customers’ tenants over the coming days.

When people and technology come together, we can accomplish amazing things. The world is indeed getting more complicated, but the public cloud combined with human expertise and industry collaboration are delivering innovation that gives the advantage back to the defenders of cyberspace. We have never been more optimistic about the potential for technology to support and scale your most precious cybersecurity assets – your people.


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Black History Month: Leaning In

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White, Dutch, male and writing about Black History Month?

As an executive at Microsoft, a resident of the United States and a human being, it is important to me to use my voice to support the many communities around me, to give back, to empower others and to be a catalyst for change. It was with that idea in mind that I reached out to Kathleen Hogan, our executive vice president of Human Resources some years ago and asked if I could be a sponsor for the Employee Resource Group that supports our black and African American community at Microsoft called Blacks at Microsoft (BAM).

Being part of BAM for the last three years as co-sponsor has been an absolute honor and a privilege. Thanks to the generosity of the BAM community, I have had the opportunity to listen and learn much more directly about what’s top of mind for the community and explore my own understandings and assumptions. I’ve learned things about black history in the United States that I knew embarrassingly little about. And I’ve been deeply impressed with the cohesion and support BAM members provide each other and the external community. For me, the opportunity to influence others by actively participating in events and tune in to learn from others, to speak up when I observe behaviors inconsistent with our values or beliefs on inclusion, and to amplify stories that need to be told to help address injustices in society is some of the most rewarding work I have done while at Microsoft.

Black History Month, in the U.S. and Canada, is an opportunity for all of us to “knock on the door” to increase our awareness and understanding – from African history to slavery to the Jim Crow South to the civil rights movement to present-day inequities. It is also an opportunity to recognize and honor more recent examples of achievement from the black community and to reflect on what it means to create a truly equitable society.

I encourage everyone – community member or ally – to set aside some time this month to better understand black history, to be intentionally inclusive and to get acquainted with those who are different, with the intention of deepening empathy and understanding. In doing so, we become aware of our own biases, get curious about other points of view and gain the courage to have challenging conversations. Let every Black History Month be an opportunity to understand a little more, to be more connected and to deepen our sense of community.


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Microsoft for Startups unlocks $1 billion in sales opportunities for B2B startups; adds GitHub and Microsoft Power Platform

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Two years ago, we announced an ambitious goal to become the leading enterprise cloud for B2B startups in the world. Called Microsoft for Startups, we launched a founder-first program that delivers the technology, go-to-market and community benefits needed to catalyze startup success.

Since then, the industry has seen tremendous growth among B2B tech startups. According to PitchBook, venture capitalists bet $30 billion on enterprise startups in 2019, surpassing consumer tech funding for the first time in a decade.

Microsoft for Startups has witnessed that momentum firsthand. Thousands of startups from more than 140 countries have connected their game-changing solutions to our enterprise customers. Startups active in our program are on pace to close more than $1 billion in new sales opportunities over the next year alone.

Satya Nadella in startup promotion


To celebrate tomorrow’s hyper-scale companies, we are expanding member benefits to include:

  • GitHub Enterprise: Starting today, all new and current startups in the program will receive access to GitHub Enterprise. GitHub Enterprise extends the flexibility and functionality of GitHub with features that simplify account administration and provide additional security, compliance and deployment controls as teams scale.

GitHub logo

  • Microsoft Power Platform: In the coming months, all new and current startups will also receive access to Microsoft Power Platform which empowers organizations to analyze data, build solutions, automate processes and create virtual agents.
    Micosoft Power Platform logo

What lies ahead for Microsoft for Startups?

Like the early-stage founders we support, there are big things in the pipeline.

We are committed to:

– Listening to the needs of startup communities around the world and employing these insights to guide our program experience from events and education, to unique vertical tracks such as our Quantum or Autonomous Driving

– Extending our reach even deeper into communities of under-estimated founders and ensuring diverse voices are heard and championed.

– Providing open access to distribution channels including our commercial marketplaces (Azure Marketplace and AppSource), cloud solution providers (CSP), and our enterprise sales force, all positioned to empower startups with unparalleled growth opportunities.

But don’t take our word for it.

Here are a few of the incredible startups and organizations we’re working with. We’re so happy to call them partners and to be a part of their continued success.

Element AI logo


“Element AI has progressed from a startup to an AI solutions provider that is helping organizations operationalize AI to drive business impact, led by fundamental research teams that are connected to the best academic ecosystems. We joined the Microsoft for Startups program to accelerate the commercialization of our AI products and solutions with customers around the world.” 

– Omar Dhalla, Senior Vice President at Element AI

Eagle Genomics logo


Eagle Genomics now sells together with Microsoft — a relationship that has doubled the size of our platform business in the past year and cemented a major deal with Unilever.”

– Anthony Finbow: Chief Executive Officer, Eagle Genomics

Microshare logo


“Through the Microsoft for Startups program, we were able to connect with Microsoft’s vast partner ecosystem.  We recently forged a global alliance with Arrow Electronics which allows us to deliver our IoT solutions to over 200,000 leading manufacturers and service providers.” 

– Ron Rock, Microshare CEO and cofounder

TechStars logo


“TechStars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and our Global Network Partners — including Microsoft — are an important part of our network. Microsoft adds powerful industry expertise by offering hands-on mentorship, business development opportunities and access to resources that help accelerate our global startups across 150 countries. Microsoft for Startups provides a streamlined path for B2B startups to connect with the world’s leading enterprise companies and we congratulate them on their two-year anniversary.” 

– Max Mead, SVP of Business Development

Clobotics logo

“Clobotics is headquartered in both Shanghai and Seattle, and our solution is aimed at Fortune 1000 enterprises The Microsoft for Startups program was instrumental in connecting us with global customers including Walmart, P&G and Coca-Cola.”

– George Yan Founder of CEO of Clobotics


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U.S. Air Force and Microsoft partner to empower airmen with modern IT

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The U.S. Air Force is breaking the glass as a leader in harnessing the power of cloud, rapidly rolling out modern services to enable airmen to advance the mission through more effective collaboration. As part of their digital transformation journey to achieve global access, persistence, and awareness for the 21st century, the U.S. Air Force is deploying targeted workloads that allow airmen to focus on their missions rather than spending time managing IT infrastructure.

Mission focus and efficiency

A key part of their digital transformation strategy is leveraging the technology industry’s capabilities for cloud infrastructure, allowing the U.S. Air Force to re-tool and refocus their resources. As part of our collaboration with the U.S. Air Force, we’re deeply aligned on a joint mission to drive IT enhancements that enable airmen to be more efficient and effective. Building out the capabilities for this targeted mission focus started with planning for how the organization will manage their data in the future, deploying core functions such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive and other capabilities delivered through the Microsoft 365 suite of productivity applications.

Improved total cost of ownership

The rapid deployment of cloud tools at this scale is made possible by the U.S. Air Force’s leadership in building the multi-cloud factory Cloud One, a migration center of excellence designed as a foundation for future innovation. Leapfrogging more traditional cloud migration strategies with a Platform as a service (PaaS)-first approach and secure systems boundary, Cloud One enables the U.S. Air Force to rapidly transform legacy systems into modern apps and exploit the agility, scale and global presence afforded by the cloud.

William Marion, U.S. Air Force Deputy Chief Information Officer, says that Cloud One is the U.S. Air Force’s “path to the cloud, but further it is fundamental to the Digital Air Force and the future of Multi-Domain Operations. It enables our teams to achieve unprecedented cost efficiencies and productivity through automation, agile software development at scale, and a streamlined process for moving applications to production.”

Cloud One has recalibrated what internal teams expect from a cloud migration, providing all the foundational cloud capabilities including networking, monitoring, access control and identity. In addition, apps deployed to Azure Government inherit the platform’s security controls by design, further reducing operational costs and freeing up resources to focus on the mission.

Focus on security and compliance

The U.S. Air Force understands the importance of a dynamic, foundational risk management framework that can react quickly to cyber-attacks and changes in the threat landscape. With Microsoft 365 Government and Azure Government, they can obtain the scale and performance of modern cloud tools while maintaining compliance with the strict compliance requirements of the Department of Defense (DoD), including DoD Impact Level 5.

Next-generation collaboration

One of the primary goals of the U.S. Air Force is to empower airmen to collaborate and execute their missions with modern technology best practices. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Enterprise IT and Cyber Infrastructure Division (AFLCMC/HNI) at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts has planned, tested and started deployment of Microsoft Teams to improve project management and teamwork. With geographically separated organizations, Teams will streamline collaboration and communication between airmen across the globe.

The massive scale of this U.S. Air Force organization – wide rollout requires massive change management – so we’ve developed a joint plan with focused training, deployment and service adoption to drive mission-focused use cases. The plan includes learning events with modern modalities, creating consumable resources to enable airmen to learn more about how Teams can work for their unit. This includes product immersion events, ask-me-anything events, and video content so airmen can learn efficiently from wherever they are in the world.

These advances in productivity, cloud acceleration, and collaboration are a result of ongoing teamwork across the 16th Air Force, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, and the Defense Information Systems Agency. As thought leaders and innovators, these organization have planned, built and deployed modern IT experiences at massive scale using Microsoft 365 Government and Azure Government, enabling airmen to continue to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace.

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Black History Month: Building a better future together

Written by admin_wp_f1. Posted in Parceiros

Gladys Hall and granddaughter
At left Gladys Hall in 1939; at right, Gladys Hall and Sarah Bond in 1999.

Gladys Hall was born on March 19, 1925, in Atmore, Alabama, at a time when her prospects and those of her family were inextricably linked to the circumstances of her birth and race. Her father worked tirelessly to provide for his family. He ran a dry cleaning business from their home, where Gladys started working as a girl. She would meet customers out at their cars and carry their clothes up the hilly driveway back into the shop. One routine Saturday, men dressed in white robes and hooded masks pulled up in their car and asked 12-year-old Gladys where her father was. She quickly concocted a story about him being away and then ran up the driveway to warn him. Her father immediately fled out of the back of their home, in fear for his life, for simply the unchangeable fact that his skin was black.

That man was my great-grandfather. Gladys was my grandmother. She could have taken that early experience – and all the other obstacles she encountered growing up – and allowed it to build hate and resentment in her heart. But instead, she chose to focus on building a better future for herself and for others. Her life spanned a time when there were great advancements in civil rights, making it possible for her to achieve things beyond what her father could have ever imagined. At the age of 45, Gladys Hall achieved her lifelong dream of attending college, graduating with a master’s degree in education – and she became a teacher.

‘Progress is not inevitable, but driven by the choices that we make as individuals’

Black History Month is a reminder for us all to reflect on the richness of our history and the lessons it has taught us. Each year it helps us move forward a little further together, as one. The origin of Black History Month came as a response to black people being largely left out of the history books, despite the many significant roles they played. Since first being celebrated in 1976, February is now recognized around the world as a month to pay tribute to the accomplishments and contributions of generations of people who may otherwise have been forgotten. For me, it’s also a reminder that progress is not inevitable, but driven by the choices that we make as individuals. Choices like the ones my grandmother made.

This is one of the reasons why, for me, Microsoft is special. Our chosen mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. Diversity and inclusion are core tenants of our culture and integral to achieving that mission. It is only when we empower everyone to realize their full potential – no matter the circumstances – that we reach our full potential as a society.

‘It is only when we empower everyone to realize their full potential – no matter their circumstances – that we reach our full potential as a society’

We kicked off Black History Month with our Blacks at Microsoft chapter ringing the Nasdaq closing bell on Wall Street for the third consecutive year. Throughout the month, Microsoft Stores around the globe will host Black History Month events, and if you live near one, I would encourage you to attend.

We have the power to choose how we think, how we speak, and how we act – and we can choose to treat each other with dignity, respect and inclusion as our path forward. I celebrate Black History Month by reflecting on this lesson that my grandmother – the teacher – taught me. It’s my hope that this is a lesson Black History Month can teach us all.

The post Black History Month: Building a better future together appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

We are the dream of our ancestors

Written by admin_wp_f1. Posted in Parceiros

Blacks at Microsoft group shot at NASDAQ
Microsoft executives and Blacks at Microsoft leaders, award winners and chapter members rang Nasdaq’s closing bell to kick off Black History Month. In the front row, from left, Stacey Mahoney, Tekisha Thomas, Melinda Moyo-Turner, Amma Kwateng, Emmeline Jean, Rodney Williams; middle row, Felicia Gardner, Fanta Dicko, Albert Dankwa, Aissa Bautista, Mallory Banks, Erica Rhoden, Bianca Francis, Michael Dunner, Nicole Smith, Curtis Clay III, Brandon Clark, Kimberly Powell, Ray Wilson, Danielle Skeen; back row, Cassandra Young, Bambo Sofola, Ryan Trollinger, Travis Walter.

As I reflect on the importance of Black History month, the words from Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise,” come to mind.  “Bringing the gifts my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.” Yesterday, my friends and colleagues proudly stood on the floor of the world’s largest stock exchange and rang the market’s closing bell, signaling an end to the day’s trading and serving as our kickoff for Black History Month festivities at Microsoft.

There’s so much to celebrate during Black History Month, as it’s an opportunity to acknowledge and recognize the incredible contributions that our community has made to the very fabric of this country. While there’s plenty to celebrate, we must recognize that this is only possible because of the hard work and sacrifices made by our ancestors. Like many of us, I am a product of American history – a great-great granddaughter of slaves. Our ancestor’s struggles, triumphs, joys, perseverance and sacrifices have paved the way for our generation, and future generations yet to be born.

A spark of that same perseverance and strength inspired the vision of the Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) founders more than 30 years ago. We were the first of many Microsoft’s employee resource groups. As we rang that bell today, some of their dreams were being realized. We stand on their shoulders and recognize how hard they worked to create a community that has meant so much to so many, and with that, we’re eternally grateful.

For me, BAM represents our journey as black employees to learn, develop, grow and support each other through our collective community, with the ongoing support of many allies. That journey in turn, informs Microsoft’s diverse and inclusive culture which has a direct impact on our customers and partners as well. The journey is never complete, but the ongoing engagement and support of our collective community has had a lasting and positive impact on many, including me.

As we celebrate our history and the accomplishments of many extraordinary people this month, I encourage you to reflect on your own learning journey. We all have a responsibility to learn from others and lend our help and support to others who can benefit from the same. At Microsoft we are all striving to become thoughtful and informed allies to others. While Black History Month is one moment in time, this commitment can allow us to understand and support each other all year round. Now more than ever, we need to galvanize as a community to pave the way for generations to come.  

We’ve come so far, but we still have a long journey ahead of us. It’s more important than ever for us to come together and work toward opportunity, equity and equality for everyone.

Watch BAM team members in a “Behind the Bell” interview with Nasdaq on LinkedIn.

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