Digital transformation is the fourth industrial revolution – the message from Future Decoded

Ross MacKenzie
Tags: Microsoft

Microsoft promoted their Future Decoded Business Day 2016, Tuesday 1 November, as being “dedicated to showing how any business can become a digital business” and showcasing the future in a way to empower businesses to make the most of the opportunities the future will bring.

Certainly digital transformation and how technology can help people and business achieve more came over as the central theme addressed throughout the day at the ExCel centre in London.

Cindy Rose, UK CEO of Microsoft, began the morning with her keynote speech, referring to the world as being “on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution.”


Disruption is real – and it’s happening quickly

Referencing their partnership with YouGov, set up to explore what digital transformation means to businesses and organisations, Cindy Rose quoted two statistics:

  • Nearly half of business leaders (44 percent) believe their business model will be obsolete within five years.
  • Half of all organisations believe that their industry will be disrupted within the next two years.

Toni Townes-Whitley, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft, also referred to the fourth industrial revolution, describing “cloud as an engine and data as a fuel”.  

With opportunity comes challenge

While organisations recognise the benefits of digital empowerment, there can be resistance to change. The Microsoft survey points to almost half (46 percent) of business decision makers believing senior leadership to be unwilling to disrupt existing processes and business strategies in order to grow and become more competitive in the future. Toni Townes-Whitley also outlined more specific concerns – over how jobs and roles may disappear, worries surrounding hacking, and privacy issues.

Her mantra ‘with opportunity comes challenge’ was also a central theme discussed in various other talks and sessions throughout the day.


The UK tech industry growing at pace - up 42 percent since 2010

Chancellor of the Exchequer The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP addressed the security issue when launching the National Cyber Security Strategy 2016-2021.

Underpinned by £1.9 billion of investment, the strategy is built on three core pillars:

  • Defend - through the government taking a more active cyber defence approach, and supporting use of automated defence techniques to block, disrupt and neutralise malicious activity before it can reach the user

  • Deter - through ensuring those committing cyber crime are caught and prosecuted

  • Develop - the capabilities the UK economy and society need to keep pace with the threat

But his message was also that it’s up to industry and organisations themselves to recognise their responsibility for managing cyber risks.

Referring to those wary of change, Philip Hammond said, “The fears that machines could render humans obsolete are as old as machines themselves… and yet as old jobs disappear, new, previously unthought-of opportunities open up and the economy re-trains and re-absorbs the displaced workers.”

Philip Hammond also stressed his view that the tech industry is the future of the British economy and the UK strongly positioned to be at the cutting edge of digital transformation.


Microsoft Dynamics 365 - launched 1 November

On offer throughout the afternoon were talks on digital transformation and the stories of how organisations have made their journey of transformation, along with presentations on Microsoft products and solutions, such as Office 365, and also Dynamics 365, launched Tuesday 1 November.

Spanning Sales, Customer Service, Marketing (with Adobe Marketing Cloud promoted as the preferred marketing service), Field Service, Project Service Automation and Operations, Dynamics 365 will bring together ERP and CRM data and processes to create one data model with unified navigation across each application. Power BI is incorporated within each of the intelligence apps, and the platform will integrate with third party solutions and be available on-premise and in the cloud.

Using the tools with which they’re familiar, organisations can purpose-build their platform, starting with what they need and adding features as business requirements develop. This is critical to ensuring everyone can benefit from the innovations and advancements of this fourth industrial revolution – because as Michael Frisby, Cobweb MD, says, “Digital transformation is fast becoming a case of when rather than if for every business.” 


Digital transformation and Azure

“There is a massive opportunity for any organisation to leverage the intelligence and capabilities within Microsoft Azure to engage more closely with their customers than ever before,” Michael continues, “with more empowered employees making better decisions and providing better customer service, with more efficient operations and products more tailored to customer need.”

For more information about the Future Decoded 2016 Business Day visit Microsoft’s news centre’s Future Decoded 2016: Day One – as it happened

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