This year at Microsoft Ignite we explore how organizations can activate AI and automation directly in their business workflows and empower developers to use those same intelligent building blocks to deliver their own differentiated experiences.
The global pandemic has created unprecedented levels of uncertainty, as well as the need to sense and reshape our physical and digital environments, sometimes in completely new ways. Leaders across industries recognize innovation as the only path forward. Critically, we’ve seen a shift from “innovation for innovation’s sake” toward a desire to lower operating costs, anticipate trends, reduce carbon footprints, and improve customer and employee experiences. We’re calling this commitment to innovation “digital perseverance.”
Do more with less with the Microsoft Cloud
Automation and AI are key ingredients for digital perseverance and helping organizations drive efficiency. Komatsu Australia, for example, a leading industrial equipment manufacturer, used Power Automate and AI Builder to automate over 1,000 invoices annually and realize an efficiency gain of 300 hours per year—and that was just for one supplier. These capabilities also improve employee engagement. Of those surveyed in a recent Microsoft study, the use of no-code or low-code platforms or apps is shown to have led to an 83 percent positive impact on work satisfaction. When people are freed from tedious, low-value tasks and feel empowered to contribute their best work, everyone wins.
Organizations are also using AI and automation to reinvent their businesses to stand out from competitors and drive growth. In a recent survey, of respondents investing in AI, 47 percent indicated the main driver was to create new products or services, while only 43 percent indicated the main driver was to improve existing products and services.1 With the Microsoft Cloud, technical and non-technical roles can access leading AI and automation capabilities directly in their flow of work to be more productive. For example, Fashable, a technology startup in Portugal, is using Azure Machine Learning to reduce “fast fashion” waste by forecasting customer interest in computer-generated fashion designs before ever touching a sewing machine. Another great example is Investec, a global financial services company, which uses conversation intelligence in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales to help their sellers be more productive on sales calls, follow up quickly, and preserve valuable customer information, which raises the bar in the sales journey and drives growth.
Automation and AI everywhere and for everyone
We believe everyone should have access to these transformative technologies, so we’re infusing AI and automation throughout the Microsoft Cloud, from Viva Sales to Power Platform and Azure AI. This means customers can leverage the skills and resources they already have and confidently combine platforms as needed, all while building on a secure, flexible, and integrated foundation within the Microsoft Cloud.
Drive seller productivity and deeper customer engagement with Dynamics 365 and Viva Sales
We are infusing automation and AI into Dynamics 365 to help professionals focus on what matters most—creating great customer experiences. Microsoft Viva Sales, a seller experience application now generally available, captures customer and deal insights from Microsoft 365 and Teams and populates it within any customer relationship management (CRM) system, eliminating manual data entry and freeing time to focus on selling. Today, we are announcing that conversation intelligence capabilities will be available to all Dynamics 365 Sales and Viva Sales customers at no additional cost. With conversation intelligence, AI guides sales conversations in real time by recommending talking points and sales literature to share with the customer. In addition, sellers receive insights on customer emails within Outlook, which can be updated directly in their CRM.
Empower people and automate processes with Microsoft Syntex
Content is everywhere, in the form of videos, audio files, documents, and more. Microsoft research estimates organizations spend nearly $46 billion a year storing and managing content while netting countless hours of manual processing. Content AI transforms how this content is created, processed, and discovered to turn content from a cost into an advantage.
We’re excited to introduce Microsoft Syntex: Content AI integrated in the flow of work. It integrates innovations across the Microsoft Cloud, from Microsoft 365 to Azure, to Power Platform and Microsoft Purview. Syntex automatically reads, tags, and indexes high volumes of content and connects it where it’s needed in context—in search, in applications, and as reusable knowledge. It puts people at the center, with content integrated into collaboration and workflows like eSignature. Customers like TaylorMade Golf Company, a global golf equipment provider, are using Syntex to empower their people and automate workflows at scale.
Improve operational efficiency by automating repetitive processes with Power Platform
Low-code enables people and organizations to punch above their weight in IT resources, doing more and at a lower cost, and when it comes to revolutionizing day-to-day processes, there’s nothing quite like Power Platform. Power Platform makes it easy for anyone to build apps and webpages, automate workflows, create virtual agents, and analyze data. At Microsoft Ignite, we’re excited to share new innovations that make AI and low-code more intuitive for users of all skill levels.
Building on the success of GitHub Copilot, we’re bringing natural language capabilities to Power Automate with description to cloud flows. Now, a maker only needs to describe in natural language the flow they want to build and a suggestion of relevant flows is generated—the maker then adds connections to finalize their flow. It’s that easy. In AI Builder, feedback loop gives you the ability to flag and retrain documents for higher accuracy, and there is now additional support for unstructured data and text recognition to identify 164 languages.
Quickly and easily embed AI into business apps with Azure Applied AI and Cognitive Services
Azure Applied AI Services and Azure Cognitive Services provide developers with pre-built and customizable models to quickly deploy intelligent applications. While AI adoption increased overall during the pandemic, it particularly accelerated use cases like document processing for H&R Block, knowledge mining for Beiersdorf, and natural language understanding in sales and service scenarios for Progressive Insurance. These companies are using Azure AI services to remove friction in business-critical processes to help end-users and employees focus their time and energy on valuable work.
Now customers can use a new pre-built model for contracts in the Azure Form Recognizer Studio to extract entities such as parties and payment terms for downstream processing. Azure OpenAI Service, available in preview, now offers access to DALL·E 2 by invitation. Azure Cognitive Service for Language now offers expanded summarization, contact center capabilities, language support, and Language Studio enhancements.
Build and deploy responsible machine learning models faster to enhance productivity at any scale with Azure Machine Learning
For organizations building custom predictive models, Azure Machine Learning provides a powerful, unified machine learning platform to help teams get models into production more quickly. To enhance collaboration, we’re excited to announce Azure Machine Learning registries, enabling teams to share registries at the tenant and organization level for greater repeatability and scale. To help customers do more with less, we’ve also consolidated open source tools within the Responsible AI Dashboard, now generally available, for easier debugging directly within a data scientist’s workflow. Finally, we’re helping organizations build with the frameworks they already know and love. Our latest release for Azure Container for PyTorch enables teams to optimize training for PyTorch models directly within the Azure Machine Learning Studio or SDK.
Drive the next level of insights, efficiency, and sustainability with the industrial metaverse
When you think about how data, automation, and AI can combine to make a real impact, one of the most compelling scenarios is in the industrial metaverse. One example is how Bosch built their industrial metaverse with different users’ needs in mind.
Bosch is reducing complexity on their factory floors by using the Internet of Things (IoT) and Azure Digital Twins to optimize predictive maintenance. Their machines trigger an alert when there’s an issue and before something breaks down. The alerts are automatically routed through Microsoft Teams—for simple issues—or Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service, when a service ticket is needed. And all the data from this system feeds back into itself, continuously improving Bosch’s predictive maintenance models over time. By combining platforms, Bosch empowers everyone from their frontline workers, to operations managers, and data scientists to contribute their expertise and deliver greater efficiency. That’s the kind of disruption that makes Bosch a leader in the manufacturing industry.
Digital perseverance is inclusive and responsible
Digital perseverance allows organizations to thrive despite uncertainty by harnessing digital technology to achieve their business goals and do more with less. Microsoft provides an unmatched foundation for this, combining leading platforms for CRM, Robotic Process Automation, and Cloud AI Developer Services, among others. We’re also committed to the advancement of AI that’s driven by principles that put people first, enabling our customers and partners to innovate responsibly for the future of work. By democratizing leading and responsible innovation across the Microsoft Cloud, we’re helping customers get the most out of their technology stack and ensuring everyone from the frontline to the back office can contribute their best work.
Learn more about Azure and AI at Microsoft Ignite
1Gartner: Forecast Analysis: Artificial Intelligence Software, Worldwide, By Analyst(s): Alys Woodward, Anna Griffen, Alan Priestley, Jim Hare, Eric Hunter, Kevin Quinn, October 20, 2021
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