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Forfusion Attend Microsoft's #FutureDecoded Conference

An inspirational day of future technlogy, redefining productivity and empowering the individual. Great insight from a range of keynote speakers

The UK’s level of productivity is at its lowest since 1945 and only 17% of modern workers say they are proud to work for their company…

Shocked? You’re not alone…

Yesterday was the first time I attended Microsoft’s annual #FutureDecoded conference and the host, Microsoft’s Chief Storyteller Steve Clayton, kicked off the business day (techie day is today, 11th) by citing the above stats on the UK’s modern workforce.

Purpose in Innocence

That being said, the first keynote speaker’s company flew in the face of these findings. Co-founder of Innocent Drinks, Richard Reed, was delighted to tell the story of the iconic brand’s path to prominence. This, Reed claimed, was because Innocent hires people who live and breathe its values and purpose (in its case, making it easier for people to be healthier), citing the fact that 95% of Innocent employees say they are proud to work there.

’If you’re 70% sure, then just go for it! You’ll never be 100% about anything.’

This was Reed’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs – if only more of our customers thought that same way when it came to adopting the latest technology and cutting edge solutions!

Other notable quotes Reed referenced came from Apple’s Head of Talent, Dan Walker:

‘Have zero tolerance for those that don’t live your values.’

And perhaps the best of all:

‘I’d rather have a hole than an asshole…’

Harsh, but true.

Redefining productivity in the age of scarcity

The keynote of keynotes was delivered by none other than Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, who spoke passionately about Microsoft’s new vision of empowering every individual and organisation on the planet to achieve more… an ambitious and inspirational mission indeed.

This ties into Microsoft’s well-known and well-received ‘cloud first, mobile first’ strategy, which Nadella qualified by stressing that it’s the mobility of human experience that is key, not any one device.

The energetic CEO claimed this mission will encompass the reinvention of productivity and business process (something we at Forfusion are playing our part in by launching our own productivity solutions with Microsoft such as Pragmatist).

‘Human attention and time are scarce. We must help everyone allocate scarce resource wisely, this is at the core of our ambition.’

Nadella went even further by boasting that Microsoft’s collaboration tools have in some cases eradicated business processes altogether, helping make the most of available working hours – something we’ve seen first-hand with many of our customers.

The sky is no longer the limit

Moreover, Nadella was keen to point out that continuing to build an intelligent cloud will fuel the next generation of applications – coinciding with his announcement of plans to build data centres in London to support Azure Cloud and to expand existing data centres in Ireland and The Netherlands.

‘We will build the most advanced public cloud to enable ours and our partners and customers to build the best apps… the notion of unlimited capacity in the Cloud liberates every organisation make big dreams a reality.’

Nadella also pointed to Office 365 apps such as Power BI, which enables real time visualisation of data and leading indicators of success like NPS, not just revenue and profit. He also referenced Outlook’s email triage / machine learning feature, Clutter, which acts as a super spam filter (something I find very useful!).

Redefining personal computing

Another impressive development was that of personal computing, whereby Nadella did a demo of a Lumia phone which when connected to a screen or monitor becomes a full laptop version – I predict this is going to be huge, especially in emerging markets!

In what was a sign of the giants’ growing tolerance for interoperability, Nadella showed us what he called an ‘iPhone Pro,’ which is an iPhone loaded with Microsoft’s collaboration apps… I for one never thought I’d see the day a Microsoft CEO demoed an Apple product!

This is not to mention other developments, such as ‘Windows Hello’ on Surface Pro 4, which uses eye recognition instead of password for security… like something from Minority Report!

On the roadmap of improving productivity and helping to ‘achieve more’ was the augmented reality piece that is Hololens, which will enable real-world visualisation of all kinds of data… I for one cannot wait to see how this develops.

‘If you change the way you see the world, you’ll see the world you want to see.’

Inspirational words from an inspirational leader. 

Innovation is a powerful thing

Next was Virgin Atlantic CEO, Craig Kreeger, who discussed how the airline is partnering with Microsoft to improve innovative customer experience by ‘not being afraid of failure.’

Perhaps most fascinating of the keynotes came from Chief Digital and Information Officer for the Ministry of Defence, Mike Stone, who spoke about his ambitious plan for Defence as a Platform (DaaP), which will dramatically improve and cut costs for the MoD’s IT infrastructure for years to come.

‘You can do things at pace if you set about it in the right way.’

Stone is seeking to fully embrace the power of the cloud and mobility and will be migrating 20,000 users a month for the next year, embracing a new style of IT, including utilisation of Office 365.

We also heard from Arsenal’s CIO on the football club’s digital transformation and the challenges of being a disproportionately large brand compared to the actual organisation’s size.

‘I see IT as facilitating commercial growth in partnership with business, rather than a support function. Flexibility, agility and resilience are key to this.’

We also heard from Martha Lane Fox who co-founded Europe’s largest travel and leisure website lastminute.com in 1998. Fox expressed concern that technological innovation was too US-centric, as well as a shortage of women in engineering and technology. Although, she acknowledged that this is changing and aims to help improve this further with her new project doteveryone.org.uk, which aims to advance understanding and use of digital technology to deliver prosperity and social well-being.

There were a number of very interesting break-out sessions on everything from improving education through gamification of learning to increasing charitable donations through social analytics.

The event was concluded by a ‘fire side’ style chat between BBC TV Presenter Clare Balding and the infamous Lord Seb Coe, pioneer of the 2012 Olympics, who has been thrusted into arguably the biggest sporting corruption scandal in history. He spoke about why he got into athletics and his mission to cleanse athletics (even if the results of his actions aren’t obvious until after he’s gone), as well as the importance of technology and analytics in improving performance (something which he remembers being alien in the sport).

All in all, the conference was an inspirational day, providing lots of takeaways and an ambitious vision for the future of not just technology, the economy or society, but human civilisation as a whole. It’s a fantastic time to work in technology and an even better time to be a Microsoft partner!

Categorised Under: Company Updates

11th Nov 2015

Forfusion Marketing Executive Sean Ball