How Microsoft has Deployed AI to Serve its Customers Efficiently?

AI
AI

Over a billion people use Microsoft services and products for both business and personal use. A pool of companies has brought major transformations globally, but it is hard to find a company that has such an influential global impact as Microsoft. Several companies today use Windows and other Microsoft software in their routine official space.

This leading global computer software vendor is headquartered in Redmond, Washington, and has offices in over 60+ countries.

In recent years, the company has accomplished innovation and assisted customers in navigating their businesses’ digital transformation. Microsoft works with a mission to empower every individual and every organization on the Earth to achieve more. The company’s business model relied on its customers’ and partners’ success. The company works towards creating local economic opportunities in every community, enabling people to unleash technology’s power to address major challenges.

 Comprehensive Products Revolutionising Services Across Globe

The company has made an incredible impression through its technologies on people and companies across the globe. Microsoft’s ecosystem impacts a billion lives every day by creating new opportunities for its customers and partners.

In Kenya, Microsoft’s partner M-KOPA Solar has connected thousands of homes across sub-Saharan Africa to solar power using the Microsoft Cloud. The company has innovated the service through a pay-as-you-go model that helps households living on less than US$2 per day establish a credit history.

In Arizona, Microsoft is applying Dynamic 365 to improve results among the region’s most vulnerable population. Additionally, in Poland, MedApp is employing HoloLens to enable cardiologists to visualize patients’ hearts as it beats – in real-time. It consequently reduces the time consumed in the whole open-heart surgery process.

In Hawaii, Jack’s Diving Locker uses Microsoft 365 to link its 50 employees across land and sea to focus on their strength and protect pristine coral reefs and take people diving.

Around the world, from iconic brands to small manufacturers, are using Microsoft’s technology to build their digital capability to thrive. Notably, the world’s biggest company by revenue, Walmart, and its private employer deploy Azure and Microsoft 365 to empower its digital transformation while transfiguring customers’ shopping experience.

In the UK, Reckitt Benckiser uses Azure and Microsoft 365 to work more closely with supermarkets and retailers across the world that stock their products. Thousands of data pieces are brought together daily and displayed in Power BI charts to show executives how different markets are performing and where there is a demand for particular brands.

Reckitt Benckiser plans to employ Microsoft IoT Hub to collect data automatically, and Cognitive Services such as machine learning to analyze it in real-time to improve how sites operate.

In India, Microsoft and Lumos Labs, along with Tech Mahindra, the Indian Volkswagen division “KODA AUTO” and Tezos India, have created the Century program, which shall focus on the Indian-based start-up blockchain scene. This 18-month program aims to identify and resolve business-related obstacles, challenges, and problems. The program will seek blockchain solutions for natural gas and oil, manufacturing, commerce and finance, health care, telecommunications, the entertainment industry, and the public sector.

Decisive Verticals of Microsoft’s Business Expansion

The company produces a broad array of products and services in the context of productivity and business processes. These products support the digital work and the life of customers, and some of this gained extreme popularity on a global scale.

Since Satya Nadella took over the company as CEO, he has focused the company’s vision on humanizing Microsoft by improving its organizational culture. He enhanced the coordination of efforts across every department and group of the organization.

Over time, product differentiation has become the classification of the company’s business strategy. Microsoft develops technological products and services and sells them for premium costs. Additionally, the company’s business strategy is currently focused on three elements – ‘cloud-first, mobile-first,’ growth through mergers and acquisitions, and exploring business opportunities related to AR/VR (Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality). Moreover, Microsoft has embodied tech intensity as one of the crucial pillars of its business strategy.

Azure Leading the Market.

As the company has a great focus on the business’s cloud segment, the intelligent cloud serves as one of the strengthened sources of Microsoft’s competitive advantage. Mobile-first represents the strategy for mobility of experiences on the cloud, and the company is keen to work in this direction as well.

Microsoft launched Azure in February 2010. In addition to traditional cloud offerings such as virtual machines, object storage, and content delivery networks (CDNs), Azure offers services that leverage proprietary Microsoft technologies.  Azure also offers cloud-hosted versions of common enterprise Microsoft solutions, such as Active Directory and SQL Server.

Azure is also an excellent choice for Machine Learning Operations (MLOps) and Artificial Intelligence Operations (AIOps). It offers resource scalability and lower overall resource acquisition costs than on-prem, driving down the business cost of enabling AIOps and MLOps in the cloud. Microsoft has also launched Azure Sentinel and Threat Experts, two cloud-based AI cybersecurity tools. These tools use AI to assist security professionals to respond to immediate risks rapidly.

Most recently, Microsoft announced the release of a new version of Azure Stack HCI, version 20H2. This is a new operating system that is now in Public Preview. The new version 20H2, allows customers to run Azure Stack HCI on their own hardware if it matches Microsoft’s validated node solution. It offers the possibility to manage multiple clusters and VMs running on Azure Stack HCI using Azure Arc, Microsoft’s multi-cloud management offering. It contains a new deployment wizard and stretches Cluster for disaster recovery. Moreover, another update is, that it has free Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2008 virtual machines. Other updates include faster Storage Spaces resync, synchronous and asynchronous storage replication, encryption, site-local resiliency, automatic VM failover, and full-stack updates.

Expanding Boundaries Through Mergers and Acquisition

In such a competitive age, mergers and acquisitions play a significant role in corporate strategy. Companies like Microsoft engage in M&A to enhance their capabilities, product range, and value offerings. The recent acquisition of the tech giant includes CyberX, a security start-up that focuses specifically on detecting, stopping, and predicting security breaches on the internet of things networks and the networks of large industrial organizations. Under this acquisition, CyberX will complement the existing Azure IoT security capabilities and extends to existing devices, including those used in industrial IoT, Operational Technology, and infrastructure scenarios.

In the same year May, Microsoft again made headlines for the acquisition of Softomotive, a world-leading provider of robotic process automation (RPA) with over 15 years of experience and the creator of WinAutomation. By bringing Softomotive’s desktop automation together with the existing Microsoft Power Automate capabilities, at uniquely affordable pricing, Microsoft is further democratizing RPA and enabling everyone to create bots to automate manual business processes.

In 2018, Microsoft reached an agreement to acquire GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform where more than 28 million developers learn, share, and collaborate to create the future. Under the terms of the agreement, the company bought GitHub for US$7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. In the same year, it acquired Semantic Machines Inc., a Berkeley, California-based company that has developed a revolutionary new approach to building conversational AI.

Microsoft acquired AltSpace on October 3, 2017, for an undisclosed amount. AltspaceVR is one of the pioneers in immersive communications bringing people together in virtual reality from over 160 countries to attend meetups, comedy shows, yoga classes, dance parties, and large-scale events hosted by NBC, Reggie Watts, Justin Roiland, Drew Carey, and more.

Prior to this, on January 13, 2017, the tech giant acquired Maluuba, a Montreal-based company with one of the world’s most impressive deep learning research labs for natural language understanding. Microsoft plans to leverage Maluuba’s expertise in deep learning and reinforcement learning for question-answering and decision-making systems to advance its strategy to democratize AI and make it accessible and valuable to everyone — consumers, businesses, and developers.

In June 2016, Microsoft acquired the social media website LinkedIn for US$196 per share in an all-cash deal valued at US$26.2 billion. This acquisition enabled the company to connect the world’s professional cloud and the world’s professional network. Subsequently, this created new experiences and new value for business users. In 2018 only, Microsoft acquired 16 companies with various expertise ranging from video games producer to AI to employee engagement.

Additionally, the company’s notable acquisition was Nokia Corporation’s Device and Services for US$ 9.4 billion in 2014 and Mojang Synergies AB, which is a Swedish video game developer of the Minecraft gaming franchise, for US$ 2.5 billion.

AR/VR Technology Strengthening the Core

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has positioned augmented and virtual reality technology at the core of the company’s business strategy. Notably, while the company is spending a considerable amount of time and effort defining potential business use of HoloLens, most other organizations are still focused on employing AR/VR for consumer gaming purposes. Further, Microsoft has been able to exemplify VR usage to improve the shopping experience, education, and automotive design. Leadership in augmented reality and cloud segments can become a reliable source of its competitive advantage with positive implications in the long-term perspective.

HoloLens has opened up an array of functionalities and possibilities in diverse industries ranging from healthcare to engineering and architecture to defense for Microsoft. Last year, Microsoft introduced HoloLens 2 at Mobile World Congress. Priced at US$3,500, Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 AR headset isn’t meant to be a consumer device. Its price and design are intended for industrial applications like training, equipment maintenance, engineering, and new product design.

Next, as an advancement in AR/VR field, in May 2020, Microsoft Research introduced Virtual Robot Overlay for Online Meetings (VROOM), a way to combine AR and VR to bring life-sized avatars into the workplace in the form of telepresence robots. As a Windows Mixed Reality headset tracks the remote worker’s pose and head movement, they get a 360-degree view of the surroundings and any movements via the telepresence robot.

The VROOM system also gives the VR user a first-person view so the remote worker can see their hand movements and gestures. The avatar then appears to walk when the remote worker instructs the robot to move.

Encouraging ‘Tech-Intensity’

The focus on tech intensity can be considered a recent add-on to Microsoft’s business strategy. It is a fusion of cultural mindset and business processes benefitting the development and enhancement of digital capabilities that construct end-to-end digital feedback loop, dismantling data silos and smoothening information flow to derive insights and predictions, automated workflow, and intelligent services. Microsoft’s tech intensity concept’s eventual goal is to make the Azure world’s computer while adding more and more companies to the platform.

Democratizing Data Science and AI

Microsoft is increasingly investing in Azure to make it the best cloud for customers’ data estates as they need to build their own AI to derive insights from the accelerating amount of data collected by them. The company democratizes data science and artificial intelligence with Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Machine Learning, and data services like Azure Cosmos DB, to enable organizations of different sizes to transform their data into meaningful insights. Interestingly, in less than a year, Azure Cosmos DB has already crossed the US$100 million milestones in annualized revenue.

Microsoft is leading the field of AI research, object recognition, speech recognition, machine learning, and language translation. Besides, the company is also committed to metamorphose these breakthroughs into customer-friendly toolsets.

The company’s Azure Bot Service has around 3,00,000 developers. It is piloting the new advances in its underlying cloud infrastructure to build the world’s first AI supercomputer in Azure.

Rising Beyond the Cybersecurity Challenges

Breathing in the digital age has its own drawbacks. Cybersecurity has turned out to be a great central challenge for companies aspiring for digital transformation. Microsoft is innovating to facilitate end-to-end security for its customers with secured operations on a global scale. These operations analyze over 6.5 trillion security signals every day, enterprise-class technology, and broad cybersecurity partnerships for an advancing complex, and diverse world.

The company led the Cybersecurity Tech Accord, which has been signed by around 61 organizations on a global scale. This is calling the government overseas to make the internet more efficient and safer.

Microsoft has also announced Defending Democracy Program to collaborate with governments across the globe to ensure safeguard voting. The company has introduced AccountGuard to offer advanced cybersecurity protections to the US’s political campaigns

 AI Initiatives for Social Welfare

As Microsoft makes AI advancements, it is also investing in tools for detecting and addressing bias in AI systems and advocating for thoughtful government regulation.

The company is facilitating change-makers with AI tools to address society’s burning challenges with programs like AI for Earth and AI for Accessibility. AI for Earth is a 5-year US$50 million commitment to environmental sustainability and the latter has been designed to benefit more than a billion people with disabilities around the world. The team across Microsoft has stimulated inclusive design and accessibility while producing tangible results along with new features for Microsoft 365, Office 365, Windows, and Xbox designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities

Conclusion

The power of Microsoft’s digital transformation enables it to create a broad impact across the industry and fuel global outcomes.

Microsoft is leveraging its extensive presence and experience with data centers worldwide to gain the supremacy of being a cloud host and service provider. In context to disruptive technologies, the company heavily invests in artificial intelligence, data management and quantum computing, and certain other additional initiatives.

Microsoft continues to grow and set the bar high enough to remain dominant in the marketplace, even if the technologies and opportunities keep on evolving.

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