Microsoft events — the year ahead

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Empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more is a 7 billion-person mission that we don’t take lightly. None of us at Microsoft could ever hope to reach that objective without a vast set of partnerships with curious and passionate people who seek to deeply understand technology and its power to transform individuals, businesses and industries. Facilitating connections, sharing our technologies and partnering to create solutions to real-world challenges is why we create the many Microsoft event experiences we host around the world.

Microsoft event experiences are designed to benefit specific audiences and structured to support clear objectives. We’re committed to closely aligning with all our partners, customers, and business and IT decision makers and connecting you with peers and industry leaders. To find out more about each event, visit our event website for details. Or, if you’re looking for a quick description of each event, read below to get a snapshot of our upcoming events.

Flagship events
IT professionals and developers
Microsoft Ignite — For IT professionals, decision makers, implementors, architects, developers and data professionals. This event provides opportunities to explore the latest tools, receive deep technical training and get specific questions answered by Microsoft experts. With more than 26,000 attendees who join to learn, connect and explore what Microsoft has to offer, this truly is the place where reality meets imagination. Orlando, Florida | Nov. 4-8, 2019

Developers
Microsoft Build — Where leading architects, developers, start-ups and student developers converge to focus on the latest tech trends and innovate for the future. We maintain our “produced by developers and for developers” mantra while inviting the next generation of developers to participate in the student zone. Seattle, Washington | May 19-21, 2020

Microsoft partners
Microsoft Business Applications Summit — An annual opportunity to bring together a community of Microsoft customers and partners in roles that include power users, business analysts, evangelists, implementers and technical architects. This event provides a forum to learn how Microsoft’s end-to-end Dynamics 365 and Power Platform can create and extend solutions to drive business success. Anaheim, California | April 20-21, 2020

Microsoft Inspire — Where Microsoft partners meet to connect and celebrate as one community at the close of Microsoft’s fiscal year. With hundreds of thousands of partners across the world, our partner ecosystem is stronger and more united than ever. We invite you to learn more about how Microsoft leaders are supporting our partners, and how partners can capitalize on the opportunities ahead. We’ve co-located our Microsoft sales kick-off event to build on our shared partnership philosophy. Las Vegas, Nevada | July 20-24, 2020

Regional tours

We started our regional tours for attendee convenience and to gauge how digital transformation is happening around the world. They’ve been a success on both fronts. This year we’re expanding to 30 markets for Microsoft Ignite The Tour and starting Microsoft Envision I The Tour in seven cities. Check out one of the stops on our regional tours in a city near you.

IT professionals and developers
Microsoft Ignite The Tour — We are bringing the best of Microsoft Ignite to you by traveling to 30 cities around the world for both ease of access and for the robust localized content for these distinct markets. Join us for in-depth learning and experiences in a free, two-day format that allows IT professionals and developers to learn new ways to build solutions, migrate, and manage infrastructure and connect with local industry leaders and peers. Visit Microsoft Ignite The Tour for locations and dates.

Business decision makers
Microsoft Envision | The Tour — An invitation-only, single-day event held in multiple cities around the world. With a global focus, this summit allows members of the C-suite to focus on challenges and trends that are changing the way organizations do business. Taking inspiration from our CEO Summit, this conference is designed to give leaders a chance to step back and learn about smart strategies to tackle emerging issues, power new efficiencies and build new business models and revenue streams. Visit Microsoft Envision I The Tour for locations and dates.

Digital learning

For those unable to make it in person or who are looking to quickly skill up on a particular topic, we offer digital learning options. Watch training sessions and event keynote sessions at any time. View multiple modules or choose a learning path tailored to today’s developer and technology masterminds that are designed to prepare you for industry-recognized Microsoft certifications.

Additional events

We’re just scratching the surface of the full picture of events that Microsoft has to offer. If you don’t find what you are looking for here, visit our full global events catalog for a list of events in your region and possibly your own city. These are events that are organized around specific product offerings and located in easily accessible locations with a wide range of class levels offered.

We invite everyone to join us to learn and grow, join us to connect with your peers, join us to get the answers you need so that you can deliver the solutions that can help propel your digital transformation. Visit our events website of flagship and regional events, and we look forward to seeing you in the year ahead.

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It’s back to school and back to innovation with free tools for student developers

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It sneaks up on me every year. One minute, my family is fully ensconced in summer break, the next we’re deep into school supply lists and pre-work to prep for the first day back.

This year, as I’ve helped my own students get ready to go back to school, I’ve been thinking about all the cool (and free!) offerings Microsoft provides to bridge the technology gap for student developers. We’re committed to empowering the next generation of creators with access to technology and training – after all, our future is in their hands! – and we have a little healthy competition thrown in for good measure. Here are a few of the offers that students can take advantage of today and throughout their educations:

One of the newest additions to our lineup, developer hub GitHub offers their Student Developer Pack, which provides access to the best real-world developer tools and training. Students who join the Pack receive GitHub Pro at no charge while in school, plus exclusive offers from GitHub Education partners, including Microsoft.

Microsoft Azure for Students offers a free annual renewal subscription to our top cloud services, plus access to dozens of other Azure and artificial intelligence (AI) tools and training. Students can build skills in trending tech including data science, AI, machine learning and other areas with access to professional developer tools like Visual Studio Code.

Microsoft Education has a plethora of resources available for students and educators, who can get Office 365 free as well, which includes powerful tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and now Microsoft Teams and a lot more. This isn’t a trial – it’s a full-featured product that is free while the student is in school and offered at a big discount after graduation. Educators also have a wealth of resources available to them to help students engage with STEM, from customized training opportunities to unique Minecraft editions to access to special guest speakers.

For college and university students, the annual Imagine Cup competition is now open for entry. I’m continually impressed by the impactful ideas that come out of Imagine Cup – many of which go on to become full-fledged products. But big ideas that make a difference aren’t born in a vacuum, and they can’t be achieved alone. I think that’s one of the things that makes Imagine Cup so special. Students learn how to work together, be resourceful, meet deadlines and a select few receive funding to help take their ideas to the next level.

This year’s Imagine Cup theme is AI for Good. Driven by inspiration and a growing sense of purpose, we’ve seen student competitors create applications tackling some of the world’s biggest social, environmental and health challenges – one user at a time – and that’s what Imagine Cup is all about! So, it only makes sense that there is a stronger focus on AI this year. It’s one of the most promising ways technology can help us be more inclusive, effective and productive. I encourage students with a dream of a better future and an idea to sign up and get to work.  I’m excited to see where the competitors take the challenge this year – and where the competition takes them.

Students who want to be a force for good and make a difference in their communities – while learning and sharing Microsoft technologies with their peers – can apply to be a Microsoft Student Partner, a program that lets student leaders gain experiences, access exclusive resources and gather real-world technical and career skills.

Finally, LinkedIn offers a wide variety of networking and educational opportunities to support students when it comes time to look for a job, learn a new skill or connect with classmates. A current and accurate LinkedIn profile is one of the best ways to build and maintain a career network.

Our goal is for all students to have access to the technology and support they need to make their dreams come true. Please share these offerings with the students in your life, and if you are a student, I hope you’ll take advantage of one or more of them to take your ideas to the next level this year.

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Microsoft expands its automotive partner ecosystem to power the future of mobility

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Technology can help automotive companies transform into smart mobility services providersDashboard of self-driving auto

Karl Benz and Henry Ford revolutionized transportation with the initial development and mass production of the automobile. Now, more than a century later, the automotive industry is poised to transform transportation again, with a push to develop connected, personalized and autonomous driving experiences, electric vehicles and new mobility business models from ride-sharing to ride-hailing and multimodal, smart transportation concepts.

This industry is expected to see significant growth, becoming a $6.6T industry by 2030, with disruptive business models accounting for 25 percent of all revenues, according to consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. From shared vehicle services to fully electric transportation, manufacturers are developing new products and services to enable large fleets offering mobility-as-a-service, which will increasingly replace individual car ownership. This involves modernizing the in-vehicle experience with productivity, entertainment, and personal assistants that are safe and secure, following users across different transport modes, adding value for businesses and consumers alike.

This transformation requires a data-driven mindset. The automotive sector generates vast amounts of data. However, companies aren’t yet fully set up to turn it into relevant insights. Future success depends on the ability to identify and capture digital signals and evolve how the business approaches innovation. Through what we call a digital feedback loop, the entirety of the enterprise can be connected with relevant data— whether it is pertaining to relationship management with customers and partners, or engagement with employees, core product creation or enterprise operations— to drive continuous improvement in products and services, mobility companies must differentiate from their competition.

We support the industry with unlocking this enormous potential by providing intelligent cloud, edge, IoT and AI services and helping automotive companies build and extend their own digital capabilities.

To that end, this year, for the first time, Microsoft is joining Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) and showcasing our approach to working with the automotive industry. We want to empower automotive organizations of all sizes to transform into smart mobility services providers.

Our automotive strategy is shaped by three key principles:

  1. We partner across the industry. We are not in the business of making vehicles or delivering end mobility as a service offerings.
  2. We believe data should be owned by our customers, as insights from data will become the new drivers of revenue for the auto industry. We do not monetize our customers’ data.
  3. We support automotive companies as they enhance and extend their unique brand experiences to expand their relationships with their customers.

We are focusing our customer engagements along with our extensive global partner network to support their success in the five following areas: connected vehicle solutions, autonomous driving development, smart mobility solutions, connected marketing, sales and service as well as intelligent manufacturing and supply chain.

Today, we are sharing updates about our approach and expansions to our partner ecosystem across these focus areas:

  1. Empower connected vehicle solutions

The core of our connected vehicle efforts is the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP). It combines advanced cloud and edge computing services with a strong partner network so automotive companies can build connected driving solutions that span from in-vehicle experiences and autonomous driving to prediction services and connectivity. In addition to our partnerships with Volkswagen and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, new partners are using MCVP to do more:

  • LG Electronics’ webOS Autoplatform offers an in-vehicle, container-capable OS that brings the third party application ecosystem created for premium TVs to in-vehicle experiences. webOSAuto supports the container-based runtime environment of MCVP and can be an important part of modern experiences in the vehicle.
  • Faurecia is leveraging MCVP to create disruptive, connected and personalized services inside the Cockpit of the Future to reinvent the on-board experience for all occupants.
  • Cubic Telecom is a leading connectivity management software provider to the automotive and IoT industries globally. They are one of the first partners to bring seamless connectivity as a core service offering to MCVP for a global market. The deep integration with MCVP allows for a single data lake and an integrated services monitoring path.

Meet more partners in our MCVP blog.

Our customers are also looking to provide conversational assistants tailored to their brand and customer needs, and make them available across multiple devices and apps. The Microsoft Azure Virtual Assistant Solution Accelerator simplifies the creation of these assistants.

  1. Accelerate autonomous driving function development

We empower car makers, suppliers and mobility services providers to accelerate their delivery of autonomous driving solutions that provide safe, comfortable and personalized driving experiences with a comprehensive set of cloud, edge, IoT and AI services and a partner-led open ecosystem that enables collaborative development across companies. We support companies of all sizes from large enterprises such as Audi, that are leveraging Microsoft Azure to create simulations using these large volumes of data, to small and medium sized businesses and start-ups.

Today, we are announcing Microsoft for Startups: Autonomous Driving, a program to accelerate the growth of start-ups working on autonomous driving and help them seize new business opportunities in areas such as delivery, ride-sharing and long haul transit. Learn more about our collaboration with start-ups like Linker Networks and Udelv in our start-up blog.

This year in the Microsoft booth at IAA, Bosch, FEV, Intempora and Applied Intuition are showcasing their autonomous driving solutions.

  • FEV is overcoming the central challenge to validating automated driving functions with a data management and assessment system developed in house, which uses Microsoft Azure.
  • Intempora has recently unveiled IVS, the Intempora Validation Suite, a new software toolchain for the test, training, benchmarking and the validation of ADAS (Advanced Driver and Assistance Systems) and HAD (Highly Automated Driving) algorithms.
  • Applied Intuition is equipping engineering and product development teams with software that makes it faster, safer, and easier to bring autonomy to market.
  1. Enable creation of smart mobility solutions

Intelligent mapping and navigation services are critical to building smart mobility solutions. This is why Microsoft is partnering with companies like TomTom and Moovit.

  • TomTom is integrating their navigation intelligence services such as HD Maps and Traffic as containerized services for use in MCVP so that other in-vehicle services, including autonomous driving, can take advantage of the additional location context.
  • TomTom and Moovit are also partnering with Microsoft for a comprehensive multi-modal trip planner leveraging Azure Maps.
  • The urban mobility app Moovit using Azure Maps also helps people with disabilities ride transit with confidence. This project supports Microsoft’s aim to make our latest technology accessible to everyone and foster inclusion and the use of our technology for the good so that every person on the planet can benefit from technological innovations.
  1. Empower connected marketing, sales and services solutions

With Microsoft Business Applications, our automotive partners, suppliers, and retailers can develop new customer insights and create omnichannel customer experiences. With the Microsoft Automotive Accelerator, auto companies can schedule appointments and automotive services, facilitated through proactive communications.

At IAA, we’re excited to have several partners onsite, including Annata, Adobe and Daimler:

  • Annata is leveraging our Automotive Accelerator to help automotive and equipment companies meet business challenges while taking advantages of new opportunities in the market.
  • Adobe and Microsoft’s strategic partnership and integrations allow an end-to-end customer experience management solution for experience creation, marketing, advertising, analytics, and commerce.
  • Daimler launched eXtollo, the company’s new cloud platform for big data and advanced analytics. The platform uses Azure Key Vault, a service that safeguards encryption keys and secrets, including certificates, connection strings and passwords.
  1. Provide services to build an intelligent supply chain

Driving end-to-end digital transformation requires an integrated digital supply chain–from the factory and shop floor to end customer delivery. Microsoft works with Icertis, BMW, and others to build intelligent supply chain:

  • Icertis Contract Management natively runs on Microsoft Azure and seamlessly integrates with Office 365, Teams and Dynamics 365 so customers can extend the benefits from their Microsoft technology investments.
  • BMW and Microsoft continue to develop the Open Manufacturing Platform to enable industrial manufacturers to work together to break down data silos and overcome the challenges of complex, proprietary systems that slow down production optimization.

We are looking forward to meeting you at our Microsoft booth (Hall 5, C21) or at one of our IAA sessions. On your way to Frankfurt explore our Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform microsite.

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The Intelligent Edge revolution

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I’m old enough now to have experienced several distinct waves of transformation brought by digital technology. As a kid, the personal computing revolution captured my imagination and energy with gaming and programming and new ways to create and do work. As a young adult, personal computers were everywhere and the internet and the World Wide Web connected them, and more importantly, the people using them, in ways that allowed communication and information to flow freely, and for work, commerce, creativity and leisure to be done in radically different ways. In my 30s, the smartphone and an incredible ecosystem of apps and services extended the internet to our pockets, making our connections to information and each other more ubiquitous, helping us navigate our way through the physical world, allowing us to buy almost any good or service we can think of, entertaining us in wonderful new ways, and making collaboration to get our work done more powerful than ever.

Even though that’s already a lot of transformation in a short period of time, and technology has never been more present in our lives, I feel like we’re just getting started. The next wave – one that’s already happening – comes when cheap connected devices with powerful sensors become truly ubiquitous in all of our physical environments, and when those devices become powerful enough to use the techniques of artificial intelligence (AI) to interact with their surroundings and the people in them. We call this combination of connected devices with powerful sensors and AI the Intelligent Edge. A year ago, I shared my belief that the Intelligent Edge would unfold as a platform over the next several years in ways that would surprise us by its breadth and diversity. And it already has.

The Intelligent Edge is proving to be the last mile in the convergence of the digital and physical worlds. –whether it’s a mixed-reality device like HoloLens providing a technician with a digital overlay of analytics, diagnostics and documentation for a piece of equipment they are servicing, or smart devices making the places where we live, work and shop more responsive and interactive, safer and more efficient. Intelligent Edge technologies are already making our homes smarter, improving the yields of our farms, monitoring the environment, helping us navigate our work more effectively, and improving our health and safety.

We’re in the middle of a revolution that is more than just smart speakers, security cameras and clever thermostats. Right now, we have in excess of 12 billion devices connected to the internet. It’s forecast that by the end of this calendar year, that number will rise to 20 billion. We anticipate that billions more of these devices are going to connect to the internet in the next few years. It’s a staggering thought. This Internet of Things (IoT) is already many times larger than the universe of personal computers and smartphones combined, and devices on it are becoming more powerful and more intelligent every day. With the advent of 5G, with its higher throughput, lower latency to the cloud, and higher device densities at the edge, we are likely to see the growth of the Intelligent Edge accelerate even further.

It probably comes as no surprise that I’ve been super stoked by each of the big technology platform waves that I’ve personally experienced, from PCs, to the internet, to smartphones. The Intelligent Edge is no different. I can’t keep from tinkering with these technologies, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I’m using bits of the Intelligent Edge platform to build, of all things, an AI-powered siphon vacuum coffee machine. Instead of screens and buttons, my machine has a camera, a microphone, a speaker, a small digital brain and a connection to the cloud. When you focus your attention on it, it notices, and will ask “Would you like a cup of coffee?” When you respond “Yes,” it guides you through the brewing process with a short dialogue. And if you like, it will remember you and your preferences so that you can get your next cup of coffee more quickly.

My coffee machine probably won’t be commercially viable, and no one should mistake my weekend tinkering for a product that might one day show up in the Microsoft store. But one thing that’s become very clear to me as I build this machine is this: The Intelligent Edge parts of the device are neither especially hard nor expensive. I’m having a tougher time designing a safe steam boiler than I am with the AI! The hardware I’m using to run some of the local AI is cheap and readily available, and the software techniques I’m using to split the AI computations between the edge and the cloud are relatively straightforward. The Intelligent Edge and Intelligent Cloud platform that’s already out there for everyone to use is already quite capable. And even though to some, my coffee machine sounds like a crazy sci-fi project, making it a reality doesn’t feel as challenging as writing my first PC program, internet service or mobile app felt in the early days of those platforms.

What I’m most excited about with the Intelligent Edge is not what we’ve already done, nor even what I can imagine might be done with this new platform, but rather, what others will imagine and create as tens of millions of developers, entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers start building new products and businesses with this technology. Given the magnitude of growth ahead of us, and the fact that the platform is becoming more powerful every day, the opportunities for creators, entrepreneurs and businesses are huge. As with any successful platform, the true measure of the Intelligent Edge’s success will be in the breadth and diversity of the things built on top of it. There, I have infinite faith in the vision and ambition of others.

The IoT Signals Report (an annual research survey published by Microsoft) identifies key, industry-relevant trends in IoT. The survey, conducted by individual interviews with more than 3,000 IoT professionals based in Europe, Asia and North America, found that IoT is considered mainstream. Businesses are seeing tremendous value and opportunity in their ability to improve their bottom lines through IoT adoption. Right now, we’re seeing significant advancements in what I call a new world order with the demise of Moore’s law[1] and the collapse of Dennard scaling[2]. This means that compute is no longer becoming cheap at the exact same time that machine learning is becoming an insatiable consumer of compute power. But while this shift is impacting PCs, we will still see a few years where the power and compute capabilities of Intelligent Edge devices will continue to improve exponentially without much increase in cost.

IoT devices that are part of the Intelligent Edge provide businesses with invaluable insights on how to transform processes for operational efficiencies, such as improving the maintenance of vital of equipment before a costly shutdown and accelerating innovation while simultaneously improving safety, for example. As the IoT landscape continues to expand, we can bank on critical breakthroughs in areas that benefit humanity, such as healthcare, conservation, sustainability, accessibility and disaster recovery.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennard_scaling

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Microsoft acquires jClarity to help optimize Java workloads on Azure

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Today Microsoft is announcing the acquisition of jClarity, the leading contributor to the AdoptOpenJDK project, to support their continued contributions to open source while driving increased performance for Java workloads on Azure. The team, formed by Java champions and data scientists with proven expertise in data driven Java Virtual Machine (JVM) optimizations, will help teams at Microsoft to leverage advancements in the Java platform.  At Microsoft, we strongly believe that we can do more for our customers by working alongside the Java community. The jClarity team, with the backing of Microsoft, will continue to collaborate with the OpenJDK community and the Java ecosystem to foster the progress of the platform.

In the last few years, Microsoft’s usage of Java has grown and now includes multiple large-scale deployments, such as Azure HDInsight and Minecraft. Additionally, Microsoft customers like Adobe, Daimler and Société Générale have brought their Java production workloads to Azure. With more than half of compute workloads running on Linux, Azure has become a great platform for open source, and that certainly includes Java.

The jClarity team are JVM experts who have helped their customers optimize their Java applications while also providing leadership and support within the Java open source community. For us, this is the perfect match. The relationship with this team is not new: since June 2018, Microsoft has sponsored the AdoptOpenJDK project to help build binaries of OpenJDK for different platforms, including Linux and Windows.

Microsoft Azure and jClarity engineers will be working together to make Azure a better platform for our Java customers, and internal teams, improving the experience and performance of the platform for Java developers and end-users.

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Microsoft and Jio: Accelerating India’s digital progress

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Today we announced a comprehensive long-term alliance with Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (Jio), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited. This is an exciting advancement that will accelerate India’s digital transformation and bring the latest technologies to millions of businesses across the country. This alliance represents a unique collaboration between our two organizations.

Jio has transformed the communication and data landscape here in India, connecting more than 340 million people in the country with the power of affordable data. Microsoft has helped businesses revolutionize the global landscape of digital transformation with the worldview of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge. With a solid foundation of trust, we’re committed to accelerating the pace of innovation and delivering more value to every customer, be it large enterprises, SMBs, startups or consumers, and our partners.

This unique alliance also reinforces our commitment to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Earlier today, this announcement was shared as part of the Reliance Industries Annual General Meeting where Reliance Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh D. Ambani shared the news. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared his thoughts as well and reinforced our enthusiasm for the work we will do together and the potential benefits our alliance can bring to organizations across India, and to the country itself.

YouTube Video

What this means for businesses 

India has one of the largest small and medium business markets in the world, which continues to grow significantly. Small and medium businesses in India will have access to a range of cloud-based productivity, collaboration and business applications including Office 365, enabling them to compete more effectively in the Indian marketplace. This collaboration will accelerate innovation to create more affordable offerings for Indian SMBs and startups, including a new range of solutions for one-stop IT capabilities and allowing front-end applications on mobile devices, desktops and other tools.

Jio will build new custom solutions on Microsoft Azure for large enterprises who have already benefited from our technology platforms. Companies will also have easy and affordable access to best-in-class technologies like data analytics, AI, cognitive services, blockchain, IoT and edge computing to accelerate India’s digital transformation and enable grassroots innovation.

Jio will also leverage Microsoft’s speech and language cognitive services for its device ecosystem, providing support in 13 Indian languages, with the flexibility to add other languages. Its internal workforce will now leverage the cloud-based Microsoft 365 productivity and collaboration tools and all their non-network applications will also move to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

For the partner ecosystem in India, these new offerings create more avenues for greater innovation, deeper customer relationships and exponential growth for their businesses. And in a diverse nation of 1.3 billion people united by the power of digital, the solutions this collaboration will bring around connectivity, computing, storage and tech services will redefine how we empower employees, enable customers, transform products and optimize operations.

This joint effort is likely to unlock and accelerate digital innovation in India at an unprecedented scale. I look forward to working with and learning from our current and new customers and partners as we chart a new path with this alliance.

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Harnessing the power of AI to transform agriculture

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What did you have for breakfast today? Depending on where you are reading this, you may have started your morning with coffee and pastries; a smoothie and sourdough toast; perhaps a bowl of congee. Or maybe you skipped it altogether because you were in a hurry. Whatever you chose to do, you probably did not give it much thought.

Yet in a world with a finite amount of arable land, and a population that is expected to grow from 7.7 billion to nearly 10 billion by 2050, producing enough food to eat is a challenge today and a potential crisis in the future. As the population expands and diets change, farmers will need to increase food production by about 70 percent. The question is: how? Finding the right answers is one of humanity’s most pressing issues. AI can be part of the solution.

AI is already transforming agriculture

Already, AI is beginning to transform agriculture in important ways. Many farmers who manage large-scale operations are taking advantage of innovative technologies like self-driving tractors that use GPS, satellite imagery, and AI to plant more efficiently; and sensors and machine learning to make smarter decisions about when to irrigate and how much fertilizer to apply.

But what about the majority of farmers who have less than one hectare of arable land (or a little less than 2.5 acres), and who produce 70 percent of the world’s food supply? Many of them live in low-resource communities with limited access to even basic digital technology. Can AI improve their ability to grow food to feed a hungry world? Yes, it can.

The AI sowing app – How to improve a groundnut harvest

A pilot project in Andhra Pradesh on the southeast coast of India offers a hint of what is becoming possible. In an area of small, subsistence farms where growers have always relied on a combination of ancient traditions and guesswork to decide when to plant, Microsoft is working with the nonprofit International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to enable farmers to take advantage of the power of AI to increase yields. Last year, ICRISAT received a Microsoft AI for Earth grant to support continued development of AI solutions that focus on sustainable agriculture in developing parts of the world.

The AI Sowing App we’ve developed together draws on more than 30 years of climate data, combined with real-time weather information, and then uses sophisticated forecasting models powered by Azure AI to determine the optimal time to plant, the ideal sowing depth, how much farm manure to apply, and more. That information is then shared with farmers through text messages that they receive on a basic feature phone.

In the pilot’s first year, 175 groundnut farmers participated. Most farmers in the region planted in early June, as dictated by custom and tradition. Farmers who used the AI Sowing App delayed planting by three weeks. For those who waited, the results were dramatic—on average they harvested 30 percent more per hectare than farmers who planted at the beginning of June. In the second year, the program was expanded to more than 3,000 farmers and covered a much wider range of crops, including maize, rice, and cotton. Average increases ranged from 10 percent to 30 percent, depending on the crop and the location.

Rows of crops growing at SnoValley Tilth Farm in Carnation, WA
Rows of crops growing at SnoValley Tilth Farm in Carnation, WA. (Photo by John Brecher for Microsoft)

Project FarmBeats – A more sustainable way to farm

Microsoft is involved in another project that has important implications for the future success of small farms. Called Project FarmBeats, the initiative was launched at Dancing Crow Farm, not far from Microsoft’s headquarters. There, on a few acres of rich agricultural land, Dancing Crow’s owner Sean Stratman is exploring a new approach to agriculture that uses sensors to measure soil moisture and temperature along with drones to gather aerial imagery, and then feeding all that data into cloud-based AI models that provide a precise, up-to-the-minute picture of the conditions on his farm, down to the square meter.

With this level of precise knowledge, Stratman is able to make pinpoint decisions about when to plant, when to water, how much fertilizer to apply, when to harvest, and more for each small section of his farm. It’s an approach that is saving labor, reducing costs, and improving output. And it is pointing the way toward a future where farms of all sizes can produce more food, operate sustainably, and generate greater profits.

Reducing our 1.3 billion tons of food waste

According to the UN, increasing production is only part of the answer to the problem we face in feeding the world’s growing population. Almost as important is to reduce the amount of food that is wasted every year. The Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that one-third of all food produced for human consumption—1.3 billion tons—is wasted annually. Here, I believe AI can play a huge role. One way it will have an impact is by ensuring that highly-perishable foods such as milk make it from the farm to the processing plant quickly and safely.

This is an important focus of a pioneering AI-based operations management system that is improving efficiency, ensuring safety, and lowering costs for a brand-new milk processing and manufacturing facility operated by ACM in Girgarre, a small town in Australia. Designed to handle 200 million liters of milk, the facility uses a state-of-the art information system built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Azure Cognitive Services to automate the process of pumping milk from tanker trucks to silos – monitoring quality, and creating a rich data trail so the milk can be tracked from the farm to the store.

ACM has also implemented a sophisticated temperature monitoring system that uses sensors and Microsoft technologies including Azure and SQL to detect temperature fluctuations in storage tanks and trucks, sending alerts to farmers and drivers. If the system senses an electrical failure on a farm, for example, it can automatically dispatch trucks to collect the milk before it spoils.

The potential economic implications of these technologies extend far beyond the farms currently being served. Australia ranks fourth in the world in global market share for dairy exports, behind New Zealand, the EU, and the United States. Overall, Australia’s (AUD) $4.3 billion dairy industry – the country’s third largest rural industry – employs more than 42,000 people. The opportunities to increase production and improve efficiency could bring more jobs and greater prosperity to rural communities in the dairy farming regions of southeastern and southwestern Australia where the climate is particularly suitable for raising cattle.

Initiatives like this one in Australia and the pilot projects in Andhra Pradesh and Washington State offer an early indication of how we can empower farmers on farms of every size and in every part of the world to increase yield in ways that are better for the environment. Taken together, I believe they offer a reason to be optimistic that we will be able to feed the world.

Read about how AI is also transforming healthcare.

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IoT Signals report: IoT’s promise will be unlocked by addressing skills shortage, complexity and security

Written by admin_wp_f1. Posted in Parceiros

We’re living amid an invisible revolution driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). This revolution goes far beyond the smart speakers and thermostats in homes and includes billions of connected devices and sensors that are transforming every industry on the planet, from manufacturing to energy distribution, from smart cities to smart agriculture, from smart buildings to smart medical equipment – and so much more. IoT is also starting to have a profound and beneficial impact on the planet, reducing energy and natural resources as well as improving sustainability.

IDC expects that by 2025 there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices or “things,” generating more than 79 zettabytes (ZB) of data[i]. These billions of devices are creating unprecedented visibility into a business, leading to transformation of operations, energy, products and workplace safety, to name just a few areas.

Today we’re launching a new annual report – IoT Signals – that provides an industry pulse on the state of IoT adoption to help inform how we better serve our partners and customers, as well as help business leaders in development of their own IoT strategies. We surveyed more than 3,000 IoT decision-makers in enterprise organizations to give the industry a holistic, market-level view of the IoT ecosystem, including adoption rates, related technology trends, challenges and benefits of IoT.

What the study found is that while IoT adoption is on the rise and opening the door to business transformation, companies are being held back by skills shortages, project complexity and security challenges. To summarize the findings:

  1. IoT is seen as profitable and critical to business success and is creating opportunities to leverage more advanced cloud and networking technologies. Nearly nine in 10 (85%) surveyed are in IoT adoption and 88% see IoT as critical to business success. We heard from businesses adopting IoT that they believe they will see a 30% ROI on their IoT projects going forward. As they look ahead, respondents believe critical technology drivers for IoT success in the next two years are AI, edge computing and 5G, followed by digital twins and blockchain.
  2. Nearly all respondents (97%) have security concerns when implementing IoT, but this is not hindering adoption. Internet connectivity is a two-way street. With these devices becoming a gateway to our homes, workplaces, and industries, they also become targets for attacks. The cost of a data breach averages between $4M and $8M dollars, and the costs only compound as you think about additional damage to your brand and to the operational technology driving your business’s revenue. The top three security concerns we found among IoT adopters are: creating strong user authentications (43%), tracking and managing each IoT device (38%) and securing endpoints for each IoT device (38%).
  3. There is a skills gap for IoT solutions which is compounded by solution complexity. Almost half (47%) say there are not enough available skilled workers and one in four (38%) IoT adopters cite complexity/technical challenges to using IoT as a barrier to further their IoT adoption. Existing IoT complexities and lack of resources prevent IoT decision makers from more IoT adoption, and 20% cite complexity/technical challenges as a top challenge.

 Looking Ahead: Recommendations for a Successful IoT Strategy

With security concerns mounting and IoT becoming more complex with the rise of AI, 5G and edge capabilities, how can companies create a digital strategy to transform their business with IoT successfully? We partnered with the BCG Group to narrow down the seven key ingredients for success:

  • Business strategy and rationale – Successful IoT projects start with a clear understanding of the business problems to be addressed, the investment needed and the return on investment that is expected.
  • Leadership and organization – Successful IoT projects have executive sponsors in the business unit the IoT project will impact to help bridge organizational boundaries, communicate the strategic vision for IoT and achieve broad alignment across all participating teams.
  • Technology roadmap planning – The companies that think about technology roadmaps and plan for the infrastructure needed to scale IoT solutions are better positioned for long-term success. Involve leadership early as proof of concepts are being developed and start to have those conversations around future-state technology needs.
  • Talent – Designing, deploying and operating IoT requires multi-disciplinary skills, and experience in IoT architecture, data science, security and AI/ML can be rare and challenging to attract for more traditional enterprises. Companies must craft their unique talent strategy to acquire or build capabilities in their workforce based on their starting point and the gaps they need to fill.
  • Operations and core business processes – IoT requires a mindset shift from thinking of IoT as a “one and done” effort to thinking of it as a fundamental change in the way the business is run. Enterprises should begin by ensuring that the core business processes affected by IoT are primed to capture value. In addition, they must be sure to involve frontline staff, such as manufacturing- or store-operations managers, in IoT initiatives from the start.
  • Partnerships and ecosystem – Business partnerships are critical to successful IoT deployments. Our IoT and intelligent edge ecosystem includes more than 10k partners and is growing. Partners can deliver critical industry expertise, making it easier to integrate solutions, share data, meet industry compliance needs and more. Companies with successful IoT implementations recognize the importance of establishing partnerships early and fostering these relationships over the course of their IoT journey.
  • Security as foundational – IoT security needs to be addressed at every layer – from the silicon layer to the cloud. It cannot be a bolt-on or an afterthought.

Microsoft is leading the charge to address these IoT challenges

We are committed to helping customers bring their vision to life across every industry with IoT, and this starts with simplifying and securing IoT. Our customers are embracing IoT as a core strategy to drive better business outcomes, and we are heavily investing in this space committing $5B in IoT and intelligent edge innovation by 2022 and growing our IoT and intelligent edge partner ecosystem to over 10k. And this investment is paying off with recent recognition as a leader by IDC in Industrial IoT platforms for manufacturing and energy[ii].

We are dramatically simplifying IoT to enable every business on the planet to benefit. We have the most comprehensive and complete IoT platform and are going beyond that to simplify IoT. Some key examples include Azure IoT Central, which enables customers and partners to provision an IoT app in seconds, customize it in hours and go to production the same day as well as our recently announced IoT Plug and Play, that dramatically simplifies all aspects of IoT device support and provides devices that “just work” with any solution. To help train IoT developers, we have developed both an IoT School and an AI school, which provides free training for common application patterns and deployments.

Security is crucial for trust and integrity in IoT cloud- and edge-connected devices because they may not always be in trusted custody. Azure Sphere takes a holistic security approach from silicon to cloud, providing a highly secured solution for connected MCUs, which go into devices ranging from connected home devices to medical and industrial equipment. Azure Security Center provides unified security management and advanced threat protection for systems running in cloud and on the edge. We have also contributed to and developed industry resources such as the Security Maturity Model and Seven Properties of Highly Secured Devices to help customers establish a set of best practices around IoT security.

Finally, we’re helping our customers leverage their IoT investments with AI and at the intelligent edge. Azure Digital Twins enables customers to create complete virtual models of physical environments, unlocking new opportunities in smart buildings, automotive, manufacturing, agriculture and more. Azure IoT Edge enables customers to distribute cloud intelligence to run in isolation on IoT devices directly and Azure Databox Edge builds on Azure IoT Edge and adds VM and mass storage support.

When IoT is foundational to a company’s transformation strategy, it can have significant positive impact on the bottom line, customer experiences and products. We are invested in helping our partners, customers and the broader industry to take the necessary steps to address barriers to success. Read more on the Microsoft Transform blog about what customers like Starbucks, Chevron, Bühler AG, Steelcase, Thyssenkrupp and more are driving their business forward with IoT.

[i] Worldwide Global DataSphere IoT Device and Data Forecast, 2019–2023, (Doc #US45066919), May 2019.

[ii] IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Industrial IoT Platforms in Manufacturing 2019 Vendor Assessment, (Doc #US45116819), June 2019.

 

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Microsoft acquires BlueTalon, simplifying data privacy and governance across modern data estates

Written by admin_wp_f1. Posted in Parceiros

The data landscape has changed rapidly over the past few years, enabling tremendous opportunity for enterprises to digitally transform. Data estates are increasingly diverse with fit-for-purpose systems (NoSQL, RDBMs, Data Lakes & Big Data, SaaS apps, etc.) spanning on-premises and cloud environments capable of processing data of all shapes and sizes. This rapid evolution has empowered data professionals including data engineers, data scientists and data analysts to do much more, but at the same time has vastly increased the size and diversity of data estates, making data management and governance harder than ever. In fact, 57 percent of Gartner survey respondents cited “supporting data governance and data security” as one of the biggest challenges for their data management practice.1

At the heart of any digital transformation is making data discovery, access and use simple, secure, compliant and trustworthy. Data privacy is one of the defining issues of our time, as evidenced by the introduction and evolution of privacy laws across the globe (e.g., GDPR, CCPA, etc.). As technology becomes more engrained in our lives and our work, it must be simple to understand and control what data is collected and easily manage who has access to that data and for what purpose.

Today we are excited to announce the acquisition of BlueTalon, a leading provider of Unified Data Access Control solutions for modern data platforms. BlueTalon works with leading Fortune 100 companies to eliminate data security blind spots and gain visibility and control of data. BlueTalon provides a customer-proven, data-centric solution for data access management and auditing across the diverse systems resident in modern data estates.

The IP and talent acquired through BlueTalon brings a unique expertise at the apex of big data, security and governance. This acquisition will enhance our ability to empower enterprises across industries to digitally transform while ensuring right use of data with centralized data governance at scale through Azure.

Together with BlueTalon, we are committed to help enterprises become data-driven companies in a secure and compliant manner. We’re excited to welcome the BlueTalon team to Microsoft and can’t wait to get started. For more information, please see BlueTalon CEO Eric Tilenius’ blog post.

 

¹ Gartner Survey Analysis: Data Management Is Pressed Between Support for Analytics — and Data Governance, Risk and Compliance, Figure 3, Roxane Edjlali, March 22, 2018

 

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Looking back, looking ahead: Customers are driving capabilities for their business and people

Written by admin_wp_f1. Posted in Parceiros

This week in Las Vegas, at Microsoft Inspire, our annual partner event, I had several conversations about  the year we’ve had and what is next for the industry, including opportunities to bring the latest innovations to our mutual customers. Together we are building incredible momentum, truly transforming industries and redefining the art of what is possible. As we move into this new fiscal year, I am particularly energized by the traction I see with open cloud engagements – and the collaborative nature of our partnerships with companies across the world.

This morning’s news of our extensive and multi-year strategic collaboration with AT&T is another example of partnering to deliver unique solutions for our mutual customers, leveraging the strength of AT&T’s network and our cloud expertise. We expect our customers to benefit across a range of scenarios where 5G can enable critical near-instantaneous communications across industries. For example, imagine a first responder using AI-powered live voice translation to quickly communicate with someone in need who speaks a different language. Microsoft will be AT&T’s preferred cloud provider for non-network applications on Microsoft Azure and support AT&T as it consolidates its data center infrastructure and operations. In addition, AT&T will provide most of its workforce with robust cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools with Microsoft 365.

Unilever, a company whose products touch 2.5 billion consumers every day, also made a big impression this week at Microsoft Inspire. Dave Penrith, chief engineer at Unilever, joined me onstage to showcase how digital is empowering the company’s nearly 155,000 employees globally to do their best work with Microsoft 365 (including Teams and Yammer). Unilever is also building custom apps that harness real-time insights from data with PowerApps and Power BI and using Azure IoT’s digital twin technology to represent the physical production lines in its Valinhos Dove factory to digitize its supply chain network.

Of course, Microsoft Inspire is just one moment in time. Over the past 12 months, we’ve made headway across a diverse set of customers and industries.

Earlier this year, in the health care industry, we announced a seven-year, strategic cloud partnership with Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA). WBA will harness the power of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud and AI platform, Microsoft 365, health industry investments and new retail solutions with WBA’s customer reach, convenient locations, outpatient health care services and industry expertise to make health care delivery more personal, affordable and accessible for people around the world. Most recently, UCLA Health shared how they are moving to our cloud to help speed research and improve patient care, and our new multi-year strategic alliance with Providence St. Joseph Health will harness the power of Azure and AI to deploy next-generation solutions in health care and power their employees with Microsoft 365 and Teams.

These are just some of the recent examples that highlight Microsoft’s customer-first approach. In fact, the world’s leading companies choose Azure for their mission-critical workloads, including more than 95 percent of the Fortune 500. In addition, this year we shared stories with retail industry leaders like Walmart, Kroger, Gap, Inc., Albertsons Companies, Starbucks, Neiman Marcus and Coles, and in the automotive industry with Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen and Renault Nissan Mitsubishi. With manufacturing, Airbus demonstrated how HoloLens and mixed reality are helping double its life-to-date aircraft production while improving quality, safety and security.

We continue to invest in technology partnerships to ensure Microsoft’s cloud is the best platform for our customers not only to access all their data, but to understand, process and act on that data to innovate.  Microsoft’s open cloud approach has been demonstrated time and again. We continue to advance our Open Data Initiative with SAP and Adobe, including progress announced earlier this year empowers customers like Coke, Unilever, Walmart and HP to build data models that meet their enterprise needs. In the past quarter, we announced a strategic partnership with Dell Technologies to provide customers with a fully native, supported and certified VMware experience on Microsoft Azure and the ability to extend Microsoft 365 and Windows Virtual Desktop. We announced a cloud interoperability partnership with Oracle using Azure services like Analytics and AI, and are continuing our work with Red Hat to make its extensive portfolio of technologies available on Azure. Plus, we announced last week that Service Now, running on Microsoft Azure, will enable enterprise customers in certain highly regulated industries, such as government, to accelerate their digital transformation and drive new levels of insights and innovation.

It is humbling to see all the ways our customers and partners are embracing technology. Whether large or small, companies are driving new experiences and solutions across every industry, redefining innovation and creating impactful change for the future of their businesses and employees. Their journeys are powerful, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to be their trusted partners along the way.

The post Looking back, looking ahead: Customers are driving capabilities for their business and people appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

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