Tag Archives: vision

Announcing new AI and mixed reality business applications for Microsoft Dynamics – The Official Microsoft Blog

Today, I had the opportunity to speak to press and analysts in San Francisco about our vision for business applications at Microsoft. In addition, I had the privilege to make two very important announcements: the upcoming availability of new Dynamics 365 AI applications, and our very first mixed reality business applications: Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.

Our vision for business applications at Microsoft

We live in a connected world where companies are challenged every day to innovate so they can stay ahead of emerging trends and repivot business models to take advantage of new opportunities to meet growing customer demands.

To innovate, organizations need to reimagine their processes. They need solutions that are modern, enabling new experiences for how they can engage their customers while making their people more productive. They need unified systems that break data silos, so they have a holistic view of their business, customers and employees. They need pervasive intelligence threaded throughout the platform, giving them the ability to reason over data, to predict trends and drive proactive intelligent action. And with adaptable applications, they can be nimble, allowing them to take advantage of the next opportunity that comes their way.

Two years ago, when we introduced Dynamics 365 we started a journey to tear down the traditional silos of customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). We set out to reimagine business applications as modern, unified, intelligent and adaptable solutions that are integrated with Office 365 and natively built on Microsoft Azure.

With the release of our new AI and mixed reality applications we are taking another step forward on our journey to help empower every organization on the planet to achieve more through the accelerant of business applications. Specifically, today we are making the following announcements:

Dynamics 365 + AI

First, I am happy to announce the coming availability of a new Dynamics 365 AI offering — a new class of AI applications that will deliver out-of-the-box insights by unifying data and infusing it with advanced intelligence to guide decisions and empower organizations to take informed actions. And because these insights are easily extensible through the power of Microsoft Power BI, Azure and the Common Data Service, organizations will be able to address even the most complex scenarios specific to their business.

Dynamics 365 AI for Sales: AI can help salespeople prioritize their time to focus on deals that matter most, provide answers to the most common questions regarding the performance of sales teams, offer a detailed analysis of the sales pipeline, and surface insights that enable smarter coaching of sales teams.

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service: With Microsoft’s AI and natural language understanding, customer service data can surface automated insights that help guide employees to take action and can even leverage virtual agents to help lower support costs and enable delightful customer experiences, all without needing in-house AI experts and without writing any code.

Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights: Helps empower your marketing, social media and market research teams to make better decisions with market insights. Marketers can improve customer relationships with actionable web and social insights to engage in relevant conversations and respond faster to trends.

To help bring this to life, today we released a video with our CEO, Satya Nadella, and Navrina Singh, a member of our Dynamics 365 engineering team, showing examples of ways we’re bringing the power of AI to customer service organizations.

Dynamics 365 + Mixed Reality

Our second announcement of the day centers on the work we are doing to bring mixed reality and business applications together.

Since the release of Microsoft HoloLens over two years ago, the team has learned a lot from customers and partners. The momentum that HoloLens has received within the commercial space has been overwhelmingly positive. This has been supported by increased demand and deployment from some of the world’s most innovative companies.

We recognize that many employees need information in context to apply their knowledge and craft. Not only on a 2-D screen — but information and data in context, at the right place, and at the right time, so employees can produce even greater impact for their organizations. Mixed reality is a technology uniquely suited to do exactly that.

This is a whole new kind of business application. And that’s precisely what we’re introducing today, Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.

Today, we also showcased for the first time how Chevron is deploying HoloLens to take advantage of Dynamics 365 mixed reality business applications.

Chevron is already achieving real, measurable results with its global HoloLens deployment. Previously it was required to fly in an inspector from Houston to a facility in Singapore once a month to inspect equipment. Now it has in-time inspection using Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and can identify issues or provide approvals immediately.

In addition, remote collaboration and assistance have helped the company operate more safely in a better work environment, serving as a connection point between firstline workers and remote experts, as well as cutting down on travel and eliminating risks associated with employee travel.

Here is a peek into the work Chevron is doing with mixed reality:

Unlock what’s next with the Dynamics 365 October 2018 release

Next week at Microsoft Ignite and Microsoft Envision we’ll be in Orlando talking with thousands of customers, partners, developers, and IT and business leaders about our October 2018 release for Dynamics 365 and the Power platform that will be generally available Oct. 1. The wave of innovation this represents across the entire product family is significant, with hundreds of new capabilities and features.

We will have a lot more to talk about in the weeks and months ahead. We look forward to sharing more!

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2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in photos: A SearchCIO snapshot

It’s time to turn your digital vision into reality — and fast. That was the message at the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Cambridge, Mass. The annual event attracted more than 900 senior-level IT decision-makers from around the country and the globe for what organizers billed as a day of learning, networking and spirited discussion.

Sessions at the event featured leading IT practitioners and academics, all doling out practical advice for planning and executing a digital transformation strategy. Of course, that meant discussing the building blocks of digital transformation: AI, internet of things, cloud computing, Agile, DevOps, organizational leadership, digital culture and more.

The SearchCIO team was there to cover — and capture — it.

Scroll through our Instagram roundup of the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium and relive a few of the many illuminating and interesting moments from this year’s event.

8:35 a.m.: Before the opening panel session, Kresge Auditorium

Let the Symposium begin.

Prior to the opening panel session, attendees perused the vendor showcase in Kresge and reviewed the day’s schedule, with complimentary totes in hand.

8:45 a.m.: “Creating a Digital Culture,” Kresge Auditorium

MIT’s George Westerman moderated the opening panel on how to best create a digital culture. As Westerman and the panel emphasized, digital transformation is, above all, a leadership challenge. “Technology changes quickly; organizations change much more slowly,” Westerman said at the start of the panel.

One of many interesting tidbits: Panelists said organizations need to change their outlook on talent. “The right people often look wrong,” said Melissa Swift, global leader for digital solutions at Korn Ferry Hay Group. The traits that might seem jarring to corporate executives may well be the ones the company needs to build a digital culture. Iconoclasts, not clones, should get a second look.

12:00 p.m.: “Insights from the Leadership Award Finalists,” Sala De Puerto Rico

As attendees munched on their salads, MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award finalists doled out sage advice on how they’ve transformed their organizations. Some sound bites from the session:

“Our job as CIOs is really more of psychologists or priests,” said Atefeh Riazi, assistant secretary-general and chief information technology officer at the United Nations. She emphasized it’s not technology that’s the biggest challenge; it’s change management.

“Innovation is about doing the same thing differently,” said Harmeen Mehta, global CIO and head of digital at Bharti Airtel Ltd.

“Understand the context many senior executives are under,” said Mike Macrie, senior vice president and CIO at Land O’Lakes Inc. Older executives aren’t as familiar with technology, so CIOs need to have patience.

1:15 p.m.: “Implementing AI,” Kresge Little Theater

What two words best describe your AI implementation efforts at this time? The blue screen shows how audience members sitting in the “Implementation AI” session responded. Hype and slow were two of the top words, followed by ethically challenged and limited. Panelists, pictured here, are moderator Michael Schrage, Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard, Kayak CTO Giorgos Zacharia and DBS Bank CIO David Gledhill.

1:45 p.m.: Lights, camera, action! Outside Kresge Auditorium

SearchCIO’s Mekhala Roy interviewed Harmeen Mehta, global CIO at Indian telecom giant Airtel and this year’s Leadership Award winner, outside Kresge — one of our many video interviews. During the interview, Mehta said everything she does in her organization has to create new value for the company, create a new business model, solve an existing problem or drastically reduce costs.

2:45 p.m.: “Building the Intelligent Enterprise using AI, ML, Mobility and Cloud Services,” Kresge Auditorium

During this session, panelists shared the hard-won lessons they learned from transforming their organizations into so-called intelligent enterprises. One lesson from Alston Ghafourifar, CEO and co-founder of Entefy Inc.: “An intelligent enterprise is too big of a transformation to actually do alone and to do entirely internal … you have to partner.” They also discussed best practices for managing large data sets, which include taking advantage of edge computing and Lambda architecture.

4:00 p.m.: “Articulating your Digital Vision,” Kresge Auditorium

During her presentation, Jeanne Ross, director and principal research scientist at MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research, said IT needs to shift from enabling business strategy to inspiring it. Enabling is no longer enough anymore; IT needs to inspire new sources of revenue and new value propositions. The sources of that inspiration include ubiquitous data, unlimited connectivity and massive processing power.

For more photos from the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium and other conference coverage, visit our Instagram page and give us a follow.

New to Microsoft 365 in May—empowering and securing users – Microsoft 365 Blog

Each month on the Microsoft 365 Blog, we highlight key updates to Microsoft 365 that build on our vision for the modern workplace. This month, we introduced a number of new capabilities to help individuals produce accessible content, work together in real-time, and create a secure and compliant workplace.

Here’s a look at what we brought to Microsoft 365 in May.

Empowering creative teamwork

Create accessible content in Office 365—We enhanced the Accessibility Checker to streamline the process of creating quality content that is accessible to people with disabilities. Now, the Accessibility Checker identifies an expanded range of issues within a document, including low-contrast text that is difficult to read because the font color is too similar to the background color. The checker also includes a recommended action menu and utilizes AI to make intelligent suggestions for improvements—like suggesting a description for an image—making it easier to fix flagged issues from within your workflow.

GIF showing the Accessibility Checker being run from the Review tab in a Word document with black text on a grey background and an image of a forest. Accessibility Checker inspection results show that the image is missing alternative text and the user clicks the recommended action: Add a description to fix this. This opens the Alt Text pane and the user types the image description in it. The user then clicks the Low contrast text warning in the Accessibility Checker inspection results and clicks the recommended action and changes the page color to white. The inspection results now show no more accessibility issues.

Accessibility Checker alerts you in real-time of issues that make your content difficult for people with disabilities to access.

Work in mixed reality with SharePoint—This month, we unveiled SharePoint spaces—immersive, mixed reality experiences built on SharePoint—which enable you to interact with and explore content in new ways. Now, Microsoft 365 subscribers can work with 3D models, 360-degree videos, panoramic images, organizational charts, visualizations, and any information on your intranet to create immersive mixed reality experiences. SharePoint spaces make it easy to create virtual environments with point-and-click simplicity to help viewers digest information that might be too numerous or too complex to experience in the real world or in a two-dimensional environment.

Create immersive virtual environments in seconds with SharePoint spaces.

Find relevant content faster in SharePoint—The new Find tab in the SharePoint mobile app makes it easier to access the information you need when looking for expertise, content, apps, or resources on the go. The Find tab uses AI to automatically surface sites, files, news, and people relevant to you without having to search—including documents and sites that you were recently working on from across your devices. The Find tab also refines search results as you type, and leverages AI to provide instant answers to questions you ask based on information from across your intranet.

A screenshot of the SharePoint Find tab.

By learning from your existing content and organizational knowledge, AI provides instant answers, transforming search into action.

Run efficient meetings with Microsoft Teams—This month at Build, we demonstrated a range of future capabilities in Microsoft Teams that utilize AI to make meetings smarter and more intuitive over time—including real-time transcription, Cortana voice interactions for Teams-enabled devices, and automatic notetaking. Today, we’re announcing new capabilities for mobile users that make it easier to participate in meetings on the go. Now, you can quickly share your screen with others in the meeting directly from your mobile device, or upload images and video from your library. These improvements make everyone a first-class meeting participant—regardless of location or device.

Source video.

Extend meeting capabilities with Surface Hub 2—Earlier this month, we introduced Surface Hub 2, a device built from the ground up to be used by teams in any organization. Surface Hub 2 integrates Teams, Microsoft Whiteboard, Office 365, Windows 10, and the intelligent cloud into a seamless collaboration experience, which extends the capabilities of any meeting space and allows users to create—whether in the same room or separated by thousands of miles.

Creating a secure and compliant workplace

Achieve GDPR compliance with the Microsoft Cloud—This month marked a major milestone for individual privacy rights with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that took effect on May 25, 2018. Over the last few months, we introduced new capabilities across the Microsoft Cloud to help you effectively demonstrate that your organization has taken appropriate steps to protect the privacy rights of individuals. To learn more about these capabilities, read our summary of Microsoft’s investment to support GDPR and the privacy rights of individuals.

Microsoft 365 customer INAIL leverages Azure Information Protection to classify, label, and protect their most sensitive data.

Work securely with external partners in Microsoft 365—We introduced several new capabilities in Azure Active Directory Business-to-Business (B2B) collaboration that make it easier to work safely and securely with people outside of your Microsoft 365 tenant. B2B collaboration allows administrators to share access to internal resources and applications with external partners while maintaining complete control over their own corporate data. Starting this month, first-time external users are welcomed to your tenant with a modernized experience and improved consent flow, making it easier for users to accept the terms of use agreements set by your organization.

We also improved Business-to-Consumer (B2C) collaboration, making it easier to invite external partners who use consumer email accounts like Outlook and Gmail while protecting your organization’s data and improving the process of setting access policies.

A screenshot from Azure Active Directory's Review permissions tab.

Track terms of use agreements in Azure Active Directory B2B by tracking when users consent.

Other updates

As companies seek to empower people to do their best work, a cultural transformation isn’t just inevitable—it’s essential. This month, we released a white paper outlining how Microsoft is partnering with customers to foster a modern workplace that is productive, responsive, creative, and secure. To learn more, read the New Culture of Work white paper.

Check out these other updates from across Microsoft 365:

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

Intelligent Communications takes the next step with calling in Teams

In September, we introduced a new vision for intelligent communications including plans to evolve Microsoft Teams into the primary client for calling and meetings in Office 365. As part of this, we are bringing comprehensive calling and meetings capabilities into Microsoft Teams, along with data and insights from the Microsoft Graph, and a strong roadmap of innovation to empower teams to achieve more.

  Easily view your calling historyToday we are releasing new calling capabilities in Teams, providing full featured dialing capabilities, complete with call history, hold/resume, speed dial, transfer, forwarding, caller ID masking, extension dialing, multi-call handling, simultaneous ringing, voicemail, and text telephone (TTY) support. You can expect this to roll out over the next few hours and should come soon to your tenant.

To add calling in Teams for your users, the first thing you need is Phone System (formerly Cloud PBX), which is included with Office 365 E5 and available as an add-on to other Office 365 plans. From there, you can subscribe to a Calling Plan (formerly known as PSTN Calling) for any number of users in your organization.

Together, a Calling Plan and Phone System in Office 365 create a phone system for your organization, giving each user a primary phone number and letting them make and receive phone calls to and from outside of your organization. This solution also allows your organization to shift away from expensive telephony hardware and simplifying by centralizing the management of your phone system.

With the addition of calling, Teams is an even more robust hub for teamwork — the single place for your content, contacts and communications including chat, meetings and calling in a modern, collaboration experience.

Getting started with calling in Teams
To get started with calling in Teams, please review our quick start guide. You can learn more about geographic availability of Calling Plans here.  We also invite you to join us live December 18, at 9 AM PDT on Teams On Air to hear guest Marc Pottier, Principal Program Manager discuss and demo calling plans in Microsoft Teams in more detail.

IT Nation 2017: ConnectWise sets sights on a ‘connected ecosystem’

ORLANDO — ConnectWise has revealed a vision for a broad and connected ecosystem of third-party technology vendors that will plug into its PSA software.

At its IT Nation 2017 conference this week, the professional services automation (PSA) software provider discussed its push to bring a seemingly infinite variety of vendor integrations to ConnectWise partners through an upcoming Developer Kit. ConnectWise also highlighted its recent partnership with Cisco to make it easier for partners to use several Cisco technologies within its PSA software. ConnectWise currently integrates with about 200 vendors.

“The whole message [of IT Nation 2017] is really that of choices in the ecosystem, and then, ‘Let’s do more of that. Let’s connect the entire ecosystem,'” said Arnie Bellini, co-founder and CEO of ConnectWise.

Cisco integration

At last week’s Cisco Partner Summit, ConnectWise unveiled the pilot program for ConnectWise Unite, a new offering that lets Cisco partners use Cisco Spark, Meraki, Umbrella and Stealthwatch through the ConnectWise management console. In addition to Amazon Web Services, ConnectWise previously integrated with Microsoft Office 365 and Azure through its CloudConsole product, which Bellini said will be merged with Unite in the first quarter of 2018.

Cisco technologies available under Unite will eventually expand, according to Nirav Sheth, vice president of solutions, architectures and engineering for the global partner organization at Cisco. “We definitely have some cloud-managed assets that we are also exploring to continue to evolve and have more offers enabled by the Unite platform,” he said.

Additionally, ConnectWise Unite will expand with other vendors, including Google, which Bellini said “is a perfect additional integration that we think will help drive more value for Cisco.” Google and Cisco announced a partnership around hybrid cloud at the Cisco Partner Summit.

The Cisco-ConnectWise partnership serves a means for Cisco to grow its market share in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) space, Sheth said, noting that Cisco is trying to change the perception that it is a vendor focused solely on the enterprise segment. This means working more closely with ConnectWise partners such as managed services providers (MSPs) that generally target SMB customers.

Cisco and ConnectWise plan to roll out MSP University, an enablement program for Cisco value-added resellers to expand into managed services. “We have committed to working with Cisco to create an amazing university that helps get Cisco partners started down the path of managed services,” Bellini said. He added that all ConnectWise partners will have access to MSP University as well.

Integrations ahead: The Developer Kit

ConnectWise has several releases on the integration front slated for 2018, the company revealed. Among these is the Developer Kit, a tool for development teams to connect products to the ConnectWise platform. The Developer Kit has a tentative launch date for the second quarter of 2018.

“The idea on the ConnectWise Developer Kit is … [to] make every solution available to our partners and … put it in one pane of glass … so they can manage it and monitor it and bill it,” Bellini said.

Bellini noted the company has put together a $10 million fund to support the Developer Kit initiative. Using the fund, which is provided through ConnectWise Capital, ConnectWise will act as an “angel investor,” investing in ideas that further connect the ecosystem, Bellini said. ConnectWise is looking to increase that fund to $25 million, he said.

Another unique feature of the Devloper Kit is that it allows channel partners to build their own integrations and customize their own experience in the ConnectWise platform without the need of development expertise. “If you want to develop with SDKs and APIs, we still have that, but we are making it easier,” said Craig Fulton, chief product officer at ConnectWise.

Gavin Gamber, vice president of channel sales and alliances, said ecosystem expansion has become a major initiative for ConnectWise leadership, driven by partner demand. Partners “are our best gauges on where we should be heading. … That’s how a lot of these integration partners pop up.”

He added that there are virtually no limits on how large the ConnectWise ecosystem could grow. “The ecosystem is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” he said. With a large ecosystem of integrated partners to balance, he said there are “certainly sensitivities” pertaining to ConnectWise’s competing vendor partners, but “it all boils down to who has got the best solutions for the partner and fits their needs the best at a price that they like and is affordable.”

ConnectWise software enhancements

At the IT Nation 2017 keynote presentation, ConnectWise showcased upcoming features of the ConnectWise suite, often to the applause of conference attendees.

ConnectWise Automate, the company’s automating tool, is being moved to the web and more tightly integrated with ConnectWise Manage. New web-based functions will include a computer management function and network map feature, slated for availability in the first quarter of 2018.

ConnectWise Automate “has been a tool you need to install on a Windows machine. Now we’re taking it to the web so you can now use it from any browser,” Fulton said.

Adding to remote control functionality, ConnectWise Perspective will provide a smartphone video connection between customers and technicians, available in the second quarter of 2018. Using the feature, customers can send a live video feed from their smartphones to technicians, creating an additional layer to a partner’s service delivery capabilities. Perspective will contain features for auto-scanning barcodes, recording session time and adding workstation information into tickets, ConnectWise said.

After Fulton demonstrated Perspective onstage during his IT Nation 2017 keynote presentation, he said he was surprised by the audience response to the upcoming feature. “I wasn’t sure how that was going to go, but man, that was the biggest applause. A lot of people approached me and said … ‘Now I can see what [customers] are seeing.'”