Microsoft Further Differentiates Itself With Enterprises At Ignite 2017 – Forbes

Patrick Moorhead

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella headlines Ignite 2017

This week I’m in Orlando attending Microsoft Ignite and Envision 2017, the company’s annual conference dedicated to all things for enterprise IT and business executives. I’m no stranger to Ignite—I try to attend every year to hear the latest on what Microsoft has been cooking up for big business. Last year, the focus was all on accelerating the digital transformation of enterprises through IT (you can read my Ignite 2016 recap here). This year was a continuation of that, with the company demonstrating how it was integrating AI, mixed reality, and cloud technology across its portfolio to evolve the enterprise and prepare its customers for the workplace of the future. I wanted to go ahead and offer up my recap of the bigger stories coming out of Day 1 of the conference, with a focus on CEO Satya Nadella’s keynote address Monday morning.

Julia White opens Ignite 

Corporate VP of Cloud Platform Marketing, Julia White, took the stage first to introduce herself as the host of the event. She took a moment to thank the people of Orlando for hosting the event in the wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Irma, a nice touch. After a few words, she introduced Nadella to the stage. Nadella, as I’ve said before, is a rock star, and while many of the themes of these conference keynotes have become repetitive as I attend nearly all Microsoft’s events, I always look forward to hearing what he has to say. Nadella is one of the few technology leaders who have empathy and business and technical depth and he was firing on all cylinders every Ignite and Envision venue I saw him in.

Nadella led off with a few words on digital transformation, saying that the most critical aspect was bringing together everyone, with their various areas of expertise, together to support the process of continuous change and renewal. Nadella posed the question, “How are we going to empower people?” He went on to say that every piece of technology developed should “embellish the capability of human beings.” This brought him to what he says is Microsoft’s main mission: empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. I like that Microsoft constantly reiterates their mission as it helps put listeners in the right frame of mind. It also helps to amp up Microsoft’s differentiation from their consumer competitors trying to get into commercial and separate itself from the slower database, ERP, and even SaaS companies.

Microsoft aids Ford with design and engineering

Nadella said a few words on Microsoft 365, saying that its core purpose is to “unlock a new culture of work.” Think of Microsoft 365 the “all-in” product enabling every Microsoft piece of software and service. At this point, Nadella brought Raanah Amjadi, Product Marketing Manager of Microsoft Teams, to the stage to talk about modernizing the workplace. She talked about Ford Motor Company, and the company’s need to have a friction-free environment, while still maintaining security standards to protect its IP. Amjadi gave a demonstration of how Microsoft could empower Ford’s teams to design and engineer new vehicles using 365, Mixed Reality with HoloLens, and VR, saying that Microsoft’s vision is for Ford and other companies to have the ability to fully, interactively, collaborate from anywhere in the world.

Patrick Moorhead

Ford shows off cutting-edge use of Microsoft 365

This demonstration was “out there” for many enterprises, but it highlights just how far into the future Microsoft can go with an enterprise. Adding mixed reality, AI and conversational platforms to get more work done more collaboratively and globally is the holy grail, right? Microsoft wants enterprise to know they can play with startups and large consumer tech companies and the reality is that they can.

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