Paul Shanahan speaking
Read Time, 5 min.

Ten things to take away from Microsoft Tech Summit 2018

Last week saw the Microsoft Tech Summit come to Dublin for the first time and it was an opportunity for Technical Professionals to explore the value Microsoft can bring to their organisations. Whether they are using Microsoft services and products already on a daily basis, trying them out for the first time, or the merely curious of what we have to offer there was tonnes to learn! Here are 10 lessons we took home from a packed day of keynotes and workshops.

 

1) It’s a good time to be a developer

Microsoft Tech Summit didn’t come to Dublin for the Guinness. There is talent here and we want to support it. What’s more, our partners exhibited because they want to do the same. Competition for developers is fierce and familiarity with the evolving tech ecosystem can future proof your skills. This was highlighted best by the flurry of activity around the Microsoft Learn stand – a dedicated stand focused on a free learning platform for individuals with all levels of technical proficiency. www.microsoft.com/learn

 

2) It’s also good to be an entrepreneur

Is it time to drop the term ‘disruption’? Whether you are in AI, Blockchain, fintech, media or medtech, every industry is adopting entirely new technologies and new industries are springing up around them. This was showcased brilliantly in the keynote session by Warwick Hill and Rachel Peck who talked about Microsoft Startups – We’ve been listening to entrepreneurs and have launched a $500 million fund for start-ups around the world. If you have a good idea it can find its niche with a little help.

 

3) Get close to your customers

The days of shipping shrink-wrapped software every other year are gone. Development relies on a direct line of communication to the customer where solutions can be reported, fixed and deployed at speed. Microsoft now deploys over 85,000 times per day! And those feedback pop ups? Please fill them in. All feedback is appreciated – especially the negative. Sometimes it’s the only way to learn.

 

4) Microsoft is all in on open source

This year we closed our acquisition of GitHub in a deal worth $7.5bn. That’s a huge investment proving our commitment to engaging with a massive community of developers – 31 million of them to be exact. What’s more we have been working to make sure that the tools we provide work with almost anything else on the market. Whether it’s because you inherited a particular IT estate or just prefer using other tools, we will find a way to make them work with you. The Red Hat stand was packed through Tech Summit and there was a notable demand for the Red Fedora on the day!

 

5) Change is about people as much as technology

DevOps’ newfound customer obsession has changed the key KPI from the number of deployments to the number of happy users. You can have the perfect application but it’s pointless to work on something without an installed base.

 

6) Kids literally speak a different language

Voice recognition applications like Google Assistant, Cortana and Siri might be the future of the user interface but children are being left behind simply because digital personal assistants can’t understand them. Forget kids having a different accent, or pitch they may as well be speaking a different language. Soapbox Labs’ Founder and CEO Patricia Scanlon explained how her company has been using deep neural nets to address this problem and has had great success in improving accuracy and introducing parental controls to lock off certain smart speaker functions. No more accidental Amazon purchases!

 

7) In the future you can train against the best athletes on the planet!

Belfast-based STATSports CTO Arthur McMahon was on hand to show how his company is using Azure to deliver data sourced from athletes in real time to in-stadium displays, broadcasters and coaches. Using a small GPS device kept either in a jersey or a vest data is collected for review by strength and conditioning teams so progress can be logged, compared and training regimes adjusted to get the most out of sports people. The only place you won’t see it being used for now is the dugout, thanks to a FIFA directive.

The company’s consumer offering uses the same technology as its professional offering only with a different set of features. Based on the information collected it could be possible to pit yourself against the giants of soccer, rugby or any other team using STATSports products. Of course, you’d have to get permission from clubs and players before being able to do any of that.

 

8) Migration to the cloud does not have to be a pain

Depending on what applications you run, migrating from your on-premise server to the cloud can be a frictionless process done in near real time. Hybrid is real and it is an option. There are tools to deliver quick assessments and readiness. They even do cost related calculations to support internal business cases. Making your initial assessments has never been easier!

 

9) You can trust Zero Trust networks

The days of perimeter-based security are numbered. Despite the best efforts of IT teams, users do not change their passwords every 60 days and those that do often choose ones that are predictable or similar to their colleagues. Passwords are only part of the problem. Have you taken notice of the number of devices connected to your corporate network and where they came from?

Zero Trust networks address these issues by limiting the level of access between users and devices dynamically, reducing network access at different times or even downgrading permissions based on recent usage. That’s before we get into the use of biometrics and token-based login systems. Here’s to never having to remember a strong password ever again.

 

10) AI adds a ‘buddy system’ to customer relationship management

Customer relationship management can be more than diary management and meeting scheduling. With Dynamics 365 we’ve been working to add artificial intelligence so you can tailor your workload according to the likelihood of closing a sale, the urgency of a contact or even which colleagues you can talk with to get more information on a client.

As for the bots themselves, well there’s a framework for that.

 

Paul Shanahan

Intelligent Cloud Business Group Lead

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