Tag Archives: empower

Five lessons on reaching 1 billion people living with disabilities

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. Whether or not we succeed depends on our ability to create an inclusive company culture, deliver inclusive products for our customers and show up to the world in an inclusive way.

Recently I spoke at Microsoft’s Ability Summit about five lessons we’ve learned (so far) in our journey to inclusive and accessible marketing. I’m sharing here in hopes they will inspire your own thinking. To learn more about a couple employee-driven accessibility projects coming out of Microsoft’s One Week Hackathon, I encourage you to check out The Ability Hacks, which we published today.

1. Recognize the values case and the business case

People typically think about the values case for accessibility, which makes sense — empowering people with disabilities makes the world work better for everyone. But the business case for accessibility is equally important. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 billion people worldwide experience some form of disability. In the US alone, that’s nearly 1 in 5 people in 1 in 3 households. If our products don’t work for a billion people, we’re not only failing in our mission, we’re also missing an enormous business opportunity.

2. Proximity powers empathy

We’ve learned the incredible value of investing in programs that bring us closer to customers of different backgrounds. We learn so much and do our best work when we commit to seeing the world from their perspectives. For instance, back at our 2015 Hackathon, a team of Microsoft engineers pitched a project with the lofty ambition of making gaming more accessible to gamers with limited mobility, and so began the journey of the Xbox Adaptive Controller. From the earliest moments, the development team reached out to nonprofits like Warfighter Engaged and AbleGamers to partner and learn how the product of their dreams could address the broadest set of needs in the real world. The team increased community engagement at every milestone, from product design and engineering, to prototype testing with gamers living with disabilities, to designing final retail packaging. The empathy we gained forged the path to a product we’re very proud of, that we hope gamers everywhere love when it arrives this September.

3. Accessibility for few becomes usability for many

We see time and again that our accessibility work starts out focused on enabling a specific set of customers but ends up benefiting everyone. For instance, Microsoft events are a major marketing investment each year, so it’s important our events meet the needs of every attendee, including people living with disabilities. A few years ago, we began live-transcribing event keynotes with the goal of helping attendees who are deaf or hard of hearing more easily follow along with keynotes. To our surprise, we ended up getting far more feedback from attendees who speak English as a second language – live transcription helped them navigate highly technical discussions and fast-paced product demos. Now we provide live transcription services in keynotes at all large Microsoft events and open captioning (and in many cases audio description) in company videos. The positive responses we’ve received speak to the broader, unexpected benefits of embracing accessibility.

If you find a Microsoft video missing captions, please contact us via our
Disability Answer Desk.

4. All marketing should be inclusive marketing

There’s value in audience-specific marketing programs, but we’ve learned we get the best results when mainstream marketing programs feature people from a range of audiences, backgrounds and life experiences. For instance, in our most recent AI ad we tell three different customer stories – one on preserving ancient architecture, one on sustainable farming and one on audio visualization AI – all woven together seamlessly as cool examples of how AI is improving lives for people today.

Pro tip: Make your presentations more accessible by adding live subtitles with the
Presentation Translator add-in for PowerPoint.

5. Real people, real stories

A few years back, we shifted our marketing approach to show technology empowering real people to do real things. As a result, we’ve seen far stronger return on investment than we would hiring actors to depict the stories of others. The video below is a powerful example – it features real students from Holly Springs Elementary in Georgia talking about how Microsoft Learning Tools help them overcome obstacles to reading.

Not only is the story more credible coming from real students, it makes the core empowerment message relatable to more people. This shift in philosophy now guides decisions on who represents Microsoft in our ads, on our website and at our events. In each case, real people sharing real stories is the most effective way to bring the impact of technology to life.

Real people sharing real stories is the most effective way to bring the impact of technology to life.

These are just five of many lessons we’ve learned, and our work is only beginning. We’re energized to keep learning and sharing our biggest lessons, because there’s tremendous value in embracing inclusion and accessibility – for your people, your bottom line, your customers and the world.

Microsoft to acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion | Stories

Acquisition will empower developers, accelerate GitHub’s growth and advance Microsoft services with new audiences

Chris Wanstrath, Satya Nadella and Nat Friedman
From left: Chris Wanstrath, Github CEO and co-founder; Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO; and Nat Friedman, Microsoft corporate vice president, Developer Services

REDMOND, Wash. — June 4, 2018 Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced it has 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. Together, the two companies will empower developers to achieve more at every stage of the development lifecycle, accelerate enterprise use of GitHub, and bring Microsoft’s developer tools and services to new audiences.

“Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. Subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year.

GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects — and will still be able to deploy their code to any operating system, any cloud and any device.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Nat Friedman, founder of Xamarin and an open source veteran, will assume the role of GitHub CEO. GitHub’s current CEO, Chris Wanstrath, will become a Microsoft technical fellow, reporting to Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie, to work on strategic software initiatives.

“I’m extremely proud of what GitHub and our community have accomplished over the past decade, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. The future of software development is bright, and I’m thrilled to be joining forces with Microsoft to help make it a reality,” Wanstrath said. “Their focus on developers lines up perfectly with our own, and their scale, tools and global cloud will play a huge role in making GitHub even more valuable for developers everywhere.”

Today, every company is becoming a software company and developers are at the center of digital transformation; they drive business processes and functions across organizations from customer service and HR to marketing and IT. And the choices these developers make will increasingly determine value creation and growth across every industry. GitHub is home for modern developers and the world’s most popular destination for open source projects and software innovation. The platform hosts a growing network of developers in nearly every country representing more than 1.5 million companies across healthcare, manufacturing, technology, financial services, retail and more.

Upon closing, Microsoft expects GitHub’s financials to be reported as part of the Intelligent Cloud segment. Microsoft expects the acquisition will be accretive to operating income in fiscal year 2020 on a non-GAAP basis, and to have minimal dilution of less than 1 percent to earnings per share in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 on a non-GAAP basis, based on the expected close time frame. Non-GAAP excludes expected impact of purchase accounting adjustments, as well as integration and transaction-related expenses. An incremental share buyback, beyond Microsoft’s recent historical quarterly pace, is expected to offset stock consideration paid within six months after closing. Microsoft will use a portion of the remaining ~$30 billion of its current share repurchase authorization for the purchase.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is acting as legal advisor to Microsoft. Morgan Stanley is acting as exclusive financial advisor to GitHub, while Fenwick & West LLP is acting as its legal advisor.

Media & Analyst Conference Call

Nadella, Friedman, Wanstrath and Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood will host a joint conference call for media today, June 4, 2018, at 7 a.m. Pacific/10 a.m. Eastern to discuss this transaction. The call will be available to international callers at +1 (201) 689-8023 (no password required), to U.S. callers at (877) 407-0666 (no password required), or via webcast at https://edge.media-server.com/m6/p/eudfciq3 at that time. More information is available on http://news.microsoft.com.

Additional details will be available when the acquisition closes.

About GitHub

GitHub is the developer company. We make it easier for developers to be developers: to work together, to solve challenging problems, to create the world’s most important technologies. We foster a collaborative community that can come together — as individuals and in teams — to create the future of software and make a difference in the world.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777,

rrt@we-worldwide.com 

Forward looking statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, which are any predictions, projections or other statements about future events based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. The potential risks and uncertainties include, among others, that the expected financial and other benefits from the GitHub transaction may not be realized, including because of: the risk that the transaction may not be completed in a timely manner or at all; any restrictions or limitations imposed by regulatory authorities; the impact of the acquisition on GitHub’s developer community and enterprise customers; the extent to which we achieve anticipated financial and buyback targets; the impact of management and organizational changes on GitHub’s business; the impact on GitHub employees and our ability to retain key personnel; our effectiveness in integrating the GitHub platform and operations with Microsoft’s business; and our ability to realize our broader strategic and operating objectives. Actual results may differ materially from the forward-looking statements because of these and other risks and uncertainties of our business, which are described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including our Forms 10-K and 10-Q. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Microsoft undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statement to conform the statement to actual results or changes in the company’s expectations.

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

Microsoft advances Microsoft Software & Systems Academy expansion goals with Quantico ribbon-cutting ceremony – Microsoft on the Issues

Microsoft set a vision to empower transitioning military service members and the veteran community with the opportunity to receive relevant training that could lead to meaningful careers. On Monday, the company held its ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) on Marine Corps Base Quantico. With the program’s growing availability, service members from coast to coast will be able to participate in technical training and career development. MSSA Quantico will focus specifically on meeting the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals.

The ceremony, which was held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, started with welcoming remarks from Col. Joseph M. Murray, Commander, Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region – Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman; Dr. Barry Butler, president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU); Marc Langlois, senior director, Department of Navy at Microsoft; and Brig. Gen. Kurt W. Stein, director of Marine and Family programs, Headquarters Marine Corps.

Barry Butler, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University president, delivers remarks at Quantico
Dr. Barry Butler, president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, delivers remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) at Quantico on Jan. 8, 2018.

“Your courage. Your dedication to others. Your ability to work together as a tight knit team. Your adaptability and accountability – these are qualities you have developed in the most challenging of environments,” said Marc Langlois, senior director, Department of Navy at Microsoft, speaking to the first cohort of students for MSSA Quantico.

“MSSA Quantico Cohort A, we don’t just think you are ready to learn. We know you are ready.”

Rep. Wittman also spoke to the group about the importance of programs like MSSA to train our transitioning service members and veterans.

“What a great combination of innovation and creation from the private side to the public side, who are putting that together for the betterment of our nation… [MSSA] is the first step of many steps of developing this skill set that exists here in the Marine Corps.”

The Quantico campus is the first of four scheduled MSSA launches in early 2018 on the Eastern Seaboard, and will complete Microsoft’s 2015 goal of opening nine regions servicing 14 bases. In the months ahead, Microsoft will open MSSA programs at Camp Lejeune, Naval Station Norfolk, and the Jacksonville Community Campus (near Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport).

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green speaks with Rep. Rob Wittman
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green, left, speaks with Rep. Rob Wittman following the ribbon-cutting ceremony for MSSA at Quantico on Jan. 8, 2018.

Since launching MSSA in November 2013 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the state of Washington, Microsoft has worked with education partners ERAU and St. Martin’s University to create a successful and proven model for reskilling our nation’s heroes and preparing them for meaningful careers in technology. This cornerstone of the DoD Skillbridge program helps the industry overall, helps veterans and helps our country build a stronger workforce to compete on the world stage. In the past four years, the company has grown its hiring partner network to more than 240 companies, including Dell, Expedia, Accenture, Capgemeni and the Department of Defense, with an average starting salary of $70,000.

To learn more about MSSA at Quantico, visit military.microsoft.com/mssa.

Marine Corps Base Quantico ceremonial platoon presents the colors
The Marine Corps Base Quantico ceremonial platoon presents the colors during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for MSSA at Quantico on Jan. 8, 2018.

Tags: Education and Jobs, military, MSSA, veterans

AWS SageMaker brings machine learning to developers

LAS VEGAS — Amazon Web Services released a tool this week to empower developers to build smarter, artificial intelligence-driven applications like the AI experts.

Among the deluge of technologies introduced here at AWS re:Invent 2017, the company’s annual customer and partner event, is a tool called SageMaker. Its function is to help developers add machine learning services to applications.

Machine learning is an artificial intelligence technology that enables applications to learn without being explicitly programmed, and become smarter based on the frequency and volume of new data they ingest and analyze. Few developers are experts in machine learning, however.

SageMaker is geared to that audience. It’s a fully managed service for developers and data scientists who wish to build, train and manage their own machine learning models. Developers can choose among ten of the most common deep learning algorithms, specify their data source, and the tool installs and configures the underlying drivers and frameworks. It natively integrates with machine language frameworks such as TensorFlow and Apache MXNet and will support other frameworks as well.

Alternatively, developers can specify their own algorithm and framework.

The National Football League said it will use SageMaker to extend its next-generation stats initiative to add visualizations, stats and experiences for fans, as well as provide up-to-date information about players on the field, said Michelle McKenna-Doyle, the NFL’s senior vice president and CIO, here this week.

To supplement SageMaker, AWS created DeepLens, a wireless, deep-learning-enabled, programmable video camera for developers to hone their skills with machine learning. One example of DeepLens cited by AWS included recognizing the numbers on a license plate to trigger a home automation system and open a garage door.

AWS’ goal is to democratize access to machine learning technology for developers anywhere, so that individual developers could have access to the same technology as large enterprises, said Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of machine learning at AWS.

SageMaker is one example of this, said Mark Nunnikhoven, vice president of cloud research at Dallas-based Trend Micro.

“I’ve worked with those technology stacks quite a lot over the last decade and there’s so much complexity …, but now any user doesn’t have to care about it,” he said. “They can do really advanced machine learning very, very easily.”

AWS ups the ante for AI

The general pattern in the market for AI application development has been twofold, said Rob Koplowitz, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. There are AI frameworks for data scientists that are extremely flexible but require special skills, and higher-level APIs that are accessible to programmers — and in some cases even non-programmers.

“Amazon wants to provide a middle ground with more flexibility,” Koplowitz said. “It’s an interesting approach and we’re looking forward to getting real work feedback from developers.”

AWS has to play catch-up here with other cloud platform companies that wish to bring machine learning to mainstream programmers. IBM provides developers access to its Watson AI services, and Microsoft has its Cognitive Services and Azure Machine Learning Workbench tools. Reducing the complexity of building machine learning models is among the more difficult areas for businesses, so this is a step in the right direction for AWS, said Judith Hurwitz, founder and CEO at Hurwitz & Associates in Needham, Mass.

Computational intelligence in general, and AI and deep learning in particular, is a hot market with a small community of experts among the biggest tech companies from Facebook to IBM.

“They all have a lot of the same core competencies, but they’re distributing them in different ways,” said Trend Micro’s Nunnikhoven.

Google tends to be more technical, while AWS now wants to make AI more accessible. Microsoft targets specific business analytics uses for AI, IBM wants to show more real-world use cases in areas such as healthcare and financial services, and Apple is looking at AI for privacy and devices. But they’re all contributing back to the same projects, such as Apache Mahout and Spark MLlib, Google’s TensorFlow, Microsoft’s Cognitive Toolkit, and others.

SageMaker should help alleviate developers’ fears that data scientists will make them into second-class citizens, but AWS may have aimed too low with SageMaker, said Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research in San Francisco. He said he believes it’s more of a kit to empower business users to create machine learning applications.

Other AWS AI-based services

Other AI-enabled AWS services unveiled this week include Amazon Comprehend, a managed natural language processing service for documents or other textual data that integrates with other AWS services to provide analytics, and Amazon Rekognition Video, which can track people and recognize faces and objects in videos stored in Amazon S3.

There are two services now in preview — Amazon Transcribe, which lets developers turn audio files into punctuated text, and Amazon Translate, which uses neural machine translation techniques to translate text from one language to another. Translate currently supports English and six other languages — Arabic, French, German, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese and Spanish — with more languages to come in 2018.

United Technologies chooses Microsoft Cloud to enhance customer experience and accelerate digital transformation – News Center

UTC is connecting data, people and products to empower employees to operate more efficiently, streamline critical processes, and use intelligent insights to drive positive customer outcomes

REDMOND, Wash., and FARMINGTON, Conn. — Nov. 1, 2017 — Microsoft Corp. and United Technologies Corp. (UTC) (NYSE: UTX) on Wednesday announced a strategic agreement that will create a differentiated customer and employee experience using intelligent technology innovation.

UTC builds and services millions of products in the field, from elevators in some of the world’s tallest buildings, to engines and aerospace equipment in the skies, to commercial products that power smart buildings. Leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Azure, UTC intends to empower employees globally with the digital tools and information needed to support customer interactions for faster, better and more personalized service.

“At UTC, we build products and services that are vital to business and impact lives everywhere. Through digital transformation, we are raising the bar on our capabilities to predict, prevent and respond to our customers’ needs. Collaborating with Microsoft, and leveraging its intelligent cloud, we are changing how we define the customer experience,” said Vince Campisi, chief digital officer and CIO at UTC.

“United Technologies is a global leader in the aerospace and building industries and has a deep commitment to innovation,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president, Worldwide Commercial Business, Microsoft. “The combination of UTC’s customer service expertise together with Microsoft’s intelligent cloud will provide a digital business model for UTC businesses across multiple industries.”

A core tenet of UTC’s transformation is giving employees the digital tools and capabilities to work in new and different ways at market speed. UTC is connecting data, people and products securely to optimize its sales, customer care and field service operations — from responding faster to sales opportunities through automation and intelligence, to predicting maintenance by operationalizing product data, and empowering thousands of service technicians in the field with mobile connectivity. Examples of these initiatives that would be enabled by UTC’s use of Microsoft technology include these:

  • Otis will use Dynamics 365 CRM to empower service technicians and sales teams with a holistic view of the customer relationship and real-time equipment health data to enable predictive maintenance, dynamic field dispatching and a more seamless customer experience.
  • Pratt & Whitney is using Azure and Dynamics for cloud-based field service, sales and marketing solutions to deliver a superior customer experience.
  • UTC Aerospace Systems is building solutions on Azure for predictive maintenance of aircraft systems, to better ensure the reliability, safety and cost-efficiency for customers.
  • UTC Climate, Controls & Security (CCS) will use Azure as the cloud platform for its connected facilities initiative, aimed at helping customers of Carrier heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, as well as other CCS products, optimize comfort, efficiency, fire safety, security and more.

About United Technologies Corp.

United Technologies Corp., based in Farmington, Connecticut, provides high-technology systems and services to the building and aerospace industries. By combining a passion for science with precision engineering, the company is creating smart, sustainable solutions that move the world forward. To learn more about UTC, visit the website or follow the company on Twitter: @UTC

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Rapid Response Team, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com

United Technologies Digital: Text 100, Renatta.Siewert@text100.com or Brad Drazen, UTC, (860) 728-6210, Bradford.Drazen@utc.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.