In this week's episode we sit down with Imran (again!) to discuss what he learnt from attending a very exciting conference, Microsoft Ignite!
Imran came back with some exciting insights to share with us, so we thought we would share them with our Lancom TV viewers as well.
There was so much to discuss, that we decided to break it down into a 2 part mini-series. To learn what Microsoft had to say about the future of technology and business, click the play buttons below!
Imran and I are sitting here again for another episode of Lancom TV, and we are going to talk about Microsoft Ignite. Now, Microsoft Ignite is a conference that happens once a year. There's about 30,000 people that went to that conference this year in 2017. And Imran was one of those people. Now, he has taken over our Twitter and he was posting lots and lots and lots of updates as he was there.
Lot of pressure, lot of pressure.
Lot of pressure. Yes, yes. And we thought we would bring him here today to kind of summarize what are the learnings we took from that conference. Now, just a bit of a recap on Ignite, it is a technical conference that Microsoft puts out like I said once a year, so there could a couple of points here that are a bit technical, but we will try to keep them as business-focused as possible won't we, Imran?
So let's get cracking. What were the biggest learning, so the new things that you took away from that conference, Imran?
Well, I'm not...as Priscila said it is a technical conference, but I'm not really going to talk about technical bits. We'll try to keep it as non-technical as possible. So, first of all, is the biggest thing was the break down of their products on how they see the roadmap for their coming up products. So they are dividing all of the products into four different sections. One is a modern workspace which we all sort of use on day-to-day basis which is Microsoft Word, Outlook, Email, Teams, all those kind of things which allow us to collaborate with each other. As well as share all the information in the office as well as outside the office.
The second part of the business is in the business applications which is Microsoft Dynamics CRM which is used by companies to actually...not at the CRM application but allows you to integrate with all the other products suite in terms of Outlook, Office, Teams. They're also integrating that into LinkedIn as well. If you don't know Microsoft did buy a LinkedIn, so they're integrating something called Microsoft Talent into CRM as well. That's the second part of it.
Yeah, and putting artificial intelligence layer on top of that data to actually understand that data can help you analyze it and predict the future trends.
So four kind of quadrants...
...that they are splitting their own product. So what does that mean for people that are watching us today? Let's just ignore Microsoft business model for one second and bring it way down to our world, Imran. What was the biggest take away that you took from that conference that will impact the everyday business person like you and I, and the person that's probably watching us today?
Yeah. I mean, as I mentioned, data and AI is something which Microsoft did focus on quite a bit, and one of the sessions I attended was about data and AI and in regards to the Power BI application. But other than the technical part of it and the application itself, what I took away from the whole session was how data and AI is almost like a new industrial revolution. So if you look back at history, in late-1700 we had steam power and mechanical power introduced, which allowed us to actually do a lot of things and took away the manual labor part of it. And then late-1800s, we had electricity come in and we started doing the mass production, right?
So we had the machines come in which would churn out all these products. And then late-1900s, we have electronics and IT and automated production, so we are automating all the systems in late-1900s. We have IT come in and the computers come in to help us do that much better.
So what's 2017?
Yeah, 2017. So now, everyone is talking about big data, AI, and machine learning. So the whole point is that we are getting data from pretty much everything. So we are getting data from your social media feeds, you're getting data from your normal day-to-day applications that you use, you're getting data even from things like wristbands that I'm wearing, tells me about my health, right?
Yes. Everything is providing data, isn't it?
So we're getting that explosion of data these days.
We're living in a world of data.
It is and IoT is another mass thing which is going to actually ramp up in the next few years. And IoT means data from your old electronic devices, so that includes your phones, that includes anything electronic which you will be using. So people have, for example, health and fitness devices built into your shoes, for example sleep apps right? Tells you...
You have pillows coming on, which are smart pillows and protect how well you sleep.
Exactly. It is, but...
What do you do with all these data? Because I suppose we know that we're living in an explosion of data. What's the ultimatum for all this data that we are now collecting? There's surely some use for that, isn't there?
Oh, definitely. And that's what Microsoft wants to focus on. So they want us to actually understand the data language. So before we learned how to read and write different languages and we used those to actually produce a lot of products as well as increase our intelligence. But now we have all the data we need to learn a new language, which is data analysis. So we really need to learn how to access and use the data and how to find patterns in that data and how to actually understand what's going on. And then we have machine learning and AI, which will help us not to understand what the data is, but also predict the future for it. So it'll...
Cool. So I'm taking from this, I guess from a more practical point of view, is that beyond just having all this data, which we all do, we need to also learn how to understand it, but also we have to have the systems that allow us to see that data, right?
Because most businesses are still operating spreadsheets, which is offline data that you have to go and get and collect, usually after the point. Where we're moving to is this whole concept of online and real-time data, right?
So we don't want to be doing or making decisions after the fact. We want to be ahead of the curve, I suppose, and going, "What is this data telling me? What is happening in my business?"
"Where am I going to before the end of the month comes up?" Right?
Yeah. So, the whole point is the products like Microsoft Power BI will allow you to put AI and machine learning on your existing data, and allow you to do what-if analysis. For example, if you change one parameter in your data, how is that going to affect, at the end of the month, for the rest of your products?
Yes. And I guess that also takes a little bit...and correct me if I'm wrong, but that takes away that dependency that traditionally we had on IT people to be able to go, "I've got this SQL database, can you go and query it for me? Can you give me the information?" And that takes time, it's tedious. And we...I suppose for myself, speaking for myself, I don't want to rely on people like yourself to be able to collect data in real-time. I want to have the systems in place where I can log in in the morning, I know where my...either my function is, you know, what my key KPIs are, where I'm at, or where my business is going. So, am I getting this right...
...that this is the biggest takeaway?
That is definitely the case. So what we want to do is we want the end-users to be empowered and learn and educated on how to actually use the data. So that's the big education part that we all need to take away from this.
Yeah. And we've got the systems in place that allows us to grab the data, make it publicly available or available to people, and manipulate that on a real-time basis.
Fantastic. And just to close it off, one of the things that we have going at the moment is an offer to review your data analysis process. So if you are still operating in the dark or if you're running spreadsheets or 12, 20 spreadsheets every day to try and make sense of where your business is at or any kind of data collection mechanisms, I suppose, we would like to talk to you and provide some of that knowledge that we have acquired over the years and also recently at the conference, and, hopefully, provide a better way of analyzing your business direction through data. So, thanks for coming in, Imran.
Not a problem.
That was a really good history lesson for me, and also, I guess some takeaways that are very present and current. So I hope you guys enjoyed watching us today and we'll keep in touch.
All right. Thank you, guys.
See you next time.