We were extremely fortunate to attend Microsoft’s Future Decoded at London’s Excel this week. The 2 day event was filled with inspirational speakers who showed the power of Microsoft’s technology in action.
One of the key themes was AI, and Cindy Rose, CEO of Microsoft in the UK explained some benefits of AI include allowing businesses to lower cost, increase competitive advantage and empower workers, and then announced the release of an extremely detailed report on how organisations are moving from experimenting with AI to using it for real impact. You can download the full report here.
Next on the AI agenda was the announcement of Microsoft’s second AI for Good Initiative. Not only is Microsoft opening its doors to AI developers who can help the planet, but it is inviting applications to a four-month accelerator program. 12 start-ups that have a social mission and want create positive social transformation through AI in four key areas (Earth, Accessibility, Humanitarian Action and Cultural Heritage) will be selected and supported in this Initiative.
Fantastic examples of AI already being used for good were on display as the centrepiece of Future Decoded. I’d never thought of AI being used track the snow leopard, tackle illegal fishing or conserving water, but Microsoft showed us exactly how this was done and the very real and positive impact it has had on our environment. Astronaut Tim Peake in his keynote said “Climate change is our biggest environmental challenge and will be our biggest saving grace”. It was incredible to see a brand like Microsoft creating change like this!
And then there was the AI Juice Bar. Yes, really! Using emotion tracking, this AI driven Juice Bar analyses your expressions to give you the perfect juice. Mine was a super delicious Go-Getter!
A second theme from Future Decoded was the importance of empowering the modern workforce. Peggy Johnson, Microsoft’s EVP of Business Development talked about the fast pace of technology enabling organisations to transform and for people to learn new skills, and how being successful in digital transformation is directly linked to empowering the workforce by giving people at every level the skills and tools they need to thrive in this new future.
Astronauts Tim Peake and Helen Sharman echoed this when they talked about how they both worked and benefitted from diverse teams crossing national and political boundaries. They also emphasised the importance of encouraging STEM subjects. From working with Microsoft Ireland, we know that this is high on their agenda, and we were delighted to develop the DreamSpace STEM experience with them.
There were many side panel talks and discussions about how Microsoft and their partners’ products can revolutionise and digitise workforces. Seeing the use of Microsoft Teams in action for live broadcasting was great.
Microsoft have very kindly uploaded all the event highlights to their website. We’ll no doubt be pouring over them in the coming weeks.