A statement from Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella

As you saw at Microsoft Ignite this week, we’re continuing to rapidly innovate for this era of AI, with over 100 announcements across the full tech stack from AI systems, models, and tools in Azure, to Copilot. Most importantly, we’re committed to delivering all of this to our customers while building for the future. We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver on our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnership, and to Mira and the team. Together, we will continue to deliver the meaningful benefits of this technology to the world.

The post A statement from Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog

Microsoft Ignite 2023: AI transformation and the technology driving change

As we reach the end of 2023, nearly every industry is undergoing a collective transformation – discovering entirely new ways of working due to AI advancements.

Microsoft Ignite is a showcase of the advances being developed to help customers, partners and developers achieve the total value of Microsoft’s technology and reshape the way work is done.

As we round out the year, there are strong signals of AI’s potential to transform work. Take our latest Work Trend Index. Eight months ago, we introduced Copilot for Microsoft 365 to reduce digital debt and increase productivity so people can focus on the work that is uniquely human. What everyone wants to know now is: Will Copilot really change work, and how? Our research, using a combination of surveys and experiments, shows the productivity gains are real:

  • 70% of Copilot users said they were more productive and 68% said it improved the quality of their work; 68% say it helped jumpstart the creative process.
  • Overall, users were 29% faster at specific tasks (searching, writing and summarizing).
  • Users caught up on a missed meeting nearly 4x faster. 
  • 64% of users said Copilot helps them spend less time processing email.
  • 87% of users said Copilot makes it easier to get started on a first draft.
  • 75% of users said Copilot “saves me time by finding whatever I need in my files.”
  • 77% of users said once they use Copilot, they don’t want to give it up.

Today, we will make about 100 news announcements that touch on multiple layers of an AI-forward strategy, from adoption to productivity to security. We’ll zoom in on a few key areas of impact below.

Rethinking cloud infrastructure
Microsoft has led with groundbreaking advances like partnerships with OpenAI and the integration of ChatGPT capabilities into tools used to search, collaborate, work and learn. As we accelerate further into AI, Microsoft is rethinking cloud infrastructure to ensure optimization across every layer of the hardware and software stack.

At Ignite we are announcing new innovations across our datacenter fleet, including the latest AI optimized silicon from our industry partners and two new Microsoft-designed chips.

  • Microsoft Azure Maia, an AI Accelerator chip designed to run cloud-based training and inferencing for AI workloads such as OpenAI models, Bing, GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT.
  • Microsoft Azure Cobalt, a cloud-native chip based on Arm architecture optimized for performance, power efficiency and cost-effectiveness for general purpose workloads.
  • Additionally, we are announcing the general availability of Azure Boost, a system that makes storage and networking faster by moving those processes off the host servers onto purpose-built hardware and software.

Complementing our custom silicon, we are expanding partnerships with our silicon providers to provide infrastructure options for customers.

  • We’ll be adding AMD MI300X accelerated virtual machines (VMs) to Azure. The ND MI300 VMs are designed to accelerate the processing of AI workloads for high range AI model training and generative inferencing, and will feature AMD’s latest GPU, the AMD Instinct MI300X.
  • The preview of the new NC H100 v5 Virtual Machine Series built for NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPUs, offering greater performance, reliability and efficiency for mid-range AI training and generative AI inferencing. We’re also announcing plans for the ND H200 v5 Virtual Machine Series, an AI-optimized VM featuring the upcoming NVIDIA H200 Tensor Core GPU.

Extending the Microsoft Copilot experience
Over the past year we have continued to refine our vision for Microsoft Copilot, a set of tools that help people achieve more using AI. To go beyond individual productivity, we are extending Microsoft Copilot offerings across solutions to transform productivity and business processes for every role and function – from office workers and front-line workers to developers and IT professionals.

Microsoft is the Copilot company, and we believe in the future there will be a Copilot for everyone and for everything you do. Some of our Copilot-related announcements and updates include:

  • Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365: This month, Copilot for Microsoft 365 became generally available for enterprises. Already customers like Visa, BP, Honda and Pfizer and partners like Accenture, EY, KPMG, Kyndryl and PwC are using Copilot. We continue to bring new value, based on learnings from our Early Access Program and other research channels. The new Microsoft Copilot Dashboard shows customers how Copilot is impacting their organization – with insights like those found in our Work Trend Index. We’re introducing new personalization capabilities that help Copilot offer responses that are tailored to your unique preferences and role. To empower teamwork, new features for Copilot in Outlook help you prep for meetings, and during meetings, new whiteboarding and note-taking experiences for Copilot in Microsoft Teams keep everyone on the same page. And customers who need it can now use Copilot during a meeting without transcription retention. When you give Copilot a seat at the table, it goes beyond being your personal assistant to helping the entire team – check out the Microsoft 365 blog for updates across the suite including PowerPoint, Excel, Microsoft Viva and more.
  • Microsoft Copilot Studio: AI transformation begins by tapping into an organization’s unique data and workflows. Microsoft Copilot Studio is a low-code tool designed to customize Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 by integrating business-critical data and build custom copilots for internal or external use. Copilot Studio works with connectors, plugins and GPTs, allowing IT teams to steer Copilot to the best data sources for specific queries.
  • Microsoft Copilot for Service: The newest copilot to provide role-based support helps businesses accelerate their AI transformation of customer service. Copilot for Service includes Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 and helps extend existing contact centers with generative AI. In customer interactions, agents can ask Copilot for Service questions in natural language and receive relevant insights based on data sources from knowledge repositories, leading to faster and smarter resolutions.
  • Copilot in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides: Combining the power of generative AI and mixed reality, this copilot helps frontline workers complete complex tasks and resolve issues faster without disrupting workflow. Available first on HoloLens 2, the hands-free copilot will help service industry professionals use natural language and human gestures to offer interactive guidance through content and holograms overlaid on the equipment.
  • Microsoft Copilot for Azure: This is an AI companion for IT that simplifies day-to-day IT administration. More than just a tool, it is a unified chat experience that understands the user’s role and goals, and enhances the ability to design, operate and troubleshoot apps and infrastructure. Copilot for Azure helps IT teams gain new insights into their workloads, unlock untapped Azure functionality and orchestrate tasks across both cloud and edge.
  • Bringing Copilot to everyone: Our efforts to simplify the user experience and make Copilot more accessible to everyone starts with Bing, our leading experience for the web. Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise will now simply become Copilot. With these changes, when signed in with a Microsoft Entra ID, customers using Copilot in Bing, Edge and Windows will receive the benefit of commercial data protection. Over time, Microsoft will also expand the eligibility of Copilot with commercial data protection to even more Entra ID (formerly Azure Active Directory) users at no additional cost. Copilot (formerly Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise) will be out of preview and become generally available starting Dec. 1. Learn more here.

Reinforcing the data and AI connection
AI is only as good as the data that fuels it. That’s why Microsoft is committed to creating an integrated, simplified experience to connect your data to our AI tools.

Microsoft Fabric is part of that solution. Available now, Microsoft Fabric reshapes how teams work with data by bringing everyone together on a single, AI-powered platform that unifies all those data estates on an enterprise-grade data foundation.

Copilot in Microsoft Fabric also integrates with Microsoft Office and Teams to foster a data culture to scale the power of data value creation throughout the organization. We’ve made more than 100 feature updates since Build and expanded our ecosystem with industry leading partners, and have over 25,000 customers including Milliman, Zeiss, London Stock Exchange and EY using it today.

Unlocking more value for developers with Azure AI
We continue to expand choice and flexibility in generative AI models to offer developers the most comprehensive selection. With Model-as-a-Service, a new feature in the model catalog we announced at Microsoft Build, pro developers will be able to easily integrate the latest AI models, such as Llama 2 from Meta and upcoming premium models from Mistral, and Jais from G42, as API endpoints to their applications. They can also customize these models with their own data without needing to worry about setting up and managing the GPU infrastructure, helping eliminate complexity.

With the preview of Azure AI Studio, there is now a unified and trusted platform to help organizations more easily explore, build, test and deploy AI apps – all in one place. With Azure AI Studio, you can build your own copilots, train your own, or ground other foundational and open models with data that you bring.

And Vector Search, a feature of Azure AI Search, is now generally available, so organizations can generate highly accurate experiences for every user in their generative AI applications.

The new GPT-3.5 Turbo model with a 16K token prompt length will be generally available and GPT-4 Turbo will be in public preview in Azure OpenAI Service at the end of November 2023. GPT-4 Turbo will enable customers to extend prompt length and bring even more control and efficiency to their generative AI applications.

GPT-4 Turbo with Vision is coming soon to preview and DALL·E 3 is now available in public preview in Azure OpenAI Service, helping fuel the next generation of enterprise solutions along with GPT-4, so organizations can pursue advanced functionalities with images. And when used with our Azure AI Vision service, GPT-4 Turbo with Vision even understands video for generating text outputs, furthering human creativity.

Enabling the responsible deployment of AI
Microsoft leads the industry in the safe and responsible use of AI. The company has set the standard with an industry-leading commitment to defend and indemnify commercial customers from lawsuits for copyright infringement – the Copilot Copyright Commitment (CCC).

Today, Microsoft takes its commitment one step further by announcing the expansion of the CCC to customers using Azure OpenAI Service. The new benefit will be called the Customer Copyright Commitment. As part of this expansion, Microsoft has published new documentation to help Azure OpenAI Service customers implement technical measures to mitigate the risk of infringing content. Customers will need to comply with the documentation to take advantage of the benefit.

And Azure AI Content Safety is now generally available, helping organizations detect and mitigate harmful content and create better online experiences. Customers can use Azure AI Content Safety as a built-in-safety system within Azure OpenAI Service, for open-source models as part of their prompt engineering in Azure Machine Learning, or as a standalone API service.

Introducing new experiences in Windows to empower employees, IT and developers
We continue to invest in and build Windows to empower people to navigate the platform shift to AI. We are thrilled to introduce new experiences in Windows 11 and Windows 365 for IT and employees that unlock new ways of working and make more AI accessible across any device. To further our mission of making Windows the home for developers and the best place for AI development, we announced a host of new AI and productivity tools for developers, including Windows AI Studio.

Announcing NVIDIA AI foundry service
Aimed at helping enterprises and startups supercharge the development, tuning and deployment of their own custom AI models on Microsoft Azure, NVIDIA will announce their AI foundry service running on Azure. The NVIDIA AI foundry service pulls together three elements – a collection of NVIDIA AI Foundation models, NVIDIA NeMo framework and tools, and NVIDIA DGX Cloud AI supercomputing and services – that give enterprises an end-to-end solution for creating custom generative AI models. Businesses can then deploy their models with NVIDIA AI Enterprise software on Azure to power generative AI applications, including intelligent search, summarization and content generation.

Strengthening defenses in the era of AI
The threat landscape has evolved dramatically in recent years, and at Microsoft Ignite we are introducing new technologies across Microsoft’s suite of security solutions to help defenders make the world a safer place.

Microsoft Sentinel and Microsoft Defender XDR (previously Microsoft 365 Defender) will be combined to create the industry’s first Unified Security Operations Platform, with embedded Security Copilot experiences. With built-in generative AI, it’s a single, powerful experience focused on protecting threats at machine speed and aiding defenders by simplifying the complexity of their environment.

Additionally, the expansion of Security Copilot embedded within Intune, Purview and Entra will help IT administrators, compliance units and identity teams simplify complex scenarios. In Entra, identity administrators can quickly troubleshoot identity access. In Purview, data security alerts deliver rich context to help resolve problems faster. In Intune, IT administrators can use “what if” analysis to keep business running while improving governance and compliance.

And that’s just a snapshot of what we’ll be announcing at Ignite. As a reminder, you can view keynote sessions from Satya Nadella, Rajesh Jha and Jared Spataro, Charlie Bell and Vasu Jakkal, and Scott Guthrie live or on-demand.

Plus, you can get more on all these announcements by exploring the Book of News, the official compendium of all today’s news, and the product blogs below.


Watch the keynotes and get all the latest photos, videos and more from Microsoft Ignite

The online event for Microsoft Ignite

With a systems approach to chips, Microsoft aims to tailor everything ‘from silicon to service’ to meet AI demand

Introducing new Copilot experiences to boost productivity and elevate customer experiences across the organization

Simplify IT management with Microsoft Copilot for Azure – save time and get answers fast

Introducing Copilot Studio and New Features in Copilot for Microsoft 365

Announcing general availability of vector search and semantic ranker in Azure AI Search

GPT-4 Turbo with Vision on Azure OpenAI Service

Azure AI Content Safety helps mitigate harmful content

Windows AI Studio helps enterprises and developers jumpstart local AI development

Making the world a safer place in the era of AI

The post Microsoft Ignite 2023: AI transformation and the technology driving change appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog

Startups to access high-performance Azure infrastructure, accelerating AI breakthroughs

Startups to access high-performance Azure infrastructure, accelerating AI breakthroughs

Today Microsoft is updating its startup program to include a free Azure AI infrastructure option for high-end GPU virtual machine clusters, for use in training and running large language models and other deep learning models.

Y Combinator (YC) and its community of startup innovators will be the first to access this offering in private preview to a limited cohort. YC has an unmatched reputation as a pioneering startup accelerator helping launch transformative companies including Airbnb, Coinbase and Stripe. Now YC startups will have the technical resources they need to quickly prototype and bring to market cutting-edge AI innovations. Our close collaboration with YC provides valuable insights into the infrastructure needs of early-stage AI companies, ensuring our offering delivers optimal value to additional startups going forward.

“With the overwhelming infrastructure requirements needed to do AI at scale, we believe that providing startups with high-performance capabilities tailored for demanding AI workloads will empower our startups to ship faster,” said Michael Seibel, Managing Director of Y Combinator.

We are also working with M12, Microsoft’s venture fund, and the startups in M12’s portfolio which will gain access to these dedicated supercomputing resources to further empower their AI innovations.  Over time, our vision is to partner with additional startup investors and accelerators, with a goal of working with the ecosystem to lower the barrier to training and running AI models for any promising startup.

Microsoft Azure offers cloud-based scalable AI infrastructure, built for and with the world’s most sophisticated AI workloads, from delivering the largest and most complex AI models including GPT-4 and ChatGPT through Azure OpenAI Service to developers to infuse AI capabilities into many apps. Azure AI infrastructure is fueling groundbreaking innovations. Infrastructure requirements to do AI at scale are often overwhelming, but with Azure’s global infrastructure of AI-accelerated server offerings with networked graphics processing units (GPUs), startups building advanced AI systems will be able to leverage these high-performance capabilities to accelerate innovation.

On top of world-class infrastructure, we will also provide tools to simplify deployment and management through Azure Machine Learning. This enables easy low-code or code-based training of custom models and fine-tuning of frontier and open-source models, simplified deployment and optimizations like Low Rank Adaptation, DeepSpeed and ONNX Runtime (ORT).  Further, startups can deploy AI solutions with peace of mind knowing all deployments are secure and backed by Microsoft’s principles for Responsible AI.

Empowering startups to build transformative solutions powered by AI

AI is transforming industries and startups are leading that innovation, creating new business and societal value quicker than many thought possible. According to a recent KPMG survey, the near-term demand is real, with 75% of U.S. CEOs stating that generative AI is a top investment priority, 83% anticipating an increase in generative AI investment by more than 50% in the next year, and 45% saying investment will at least double. For startups, this represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring groundbreaking impact to a market hungry for change.

To help startups meet this opportunity, last year we introduced Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub – designed to help founders speed development with free access to GitHub and the Microsoft Cloud as well as unique benefits including free access to $2,500 of OpenAI credits to experiment and up to $150,000 in Azure credits that startups can apply to Azure OpenAI Service. Startups also receive 1:1 advice from Microsoft AI experts to help guide implementation. The Microsoft Pegasus Program, an extension of Founders Hub, links enterprise customers with startup solutions for immediate deployment. Seventy-five percent of Pegasus startups have landed deals with Fortune 1000 companies via increased reach across Azure Marketplace.

Startups using Azure AI to develop cutting-edge solutions for today’s problems

Whether you have a product in market or just an idea, Microsoft provides startups with the tools they need to rapidly build and scale AI solutions. Already, we are seeing the results of empowering startups to innovate with AI to improve customer support, detect and address health conditions and advance immersive gaming experiences. Here are just a few examples of the cutting-edge innovation happening now:

Commerce.AI dramatically increases call center productivity with Azure OpenAI Service
Commerce.AI uses Azure OpenAI Service and Azure AI Services to make call centers more efficient. Azure Cognitive Services uses a Commerce.AI model to transcribe interactions in real time, including into multiple languages. After the call, Azure OpenAI Service creates a summary with customer contact information, topics of conversation and embedded sentiment analysis. The system selects next steps and follow-up action items from pre-generated options, and the customer service agent exports the information to Microsoft Dynamics 365 in one quick step.

Inworld: The next-generation AI character engine for immersive gaming
Inworld, a Silicon Valley startup, is a fully integrated character engine that goes beyond language models to give users complete control over AI non-player characters (NPCs). With Inworld, users can customize their characters’ knowledge, memory, personality, emotions and narrative role. Inworld uses Azure AI technologies like Azure OpenAI Service to power its advanced natural language understanding and generation.

BeeKeeperAI is helping catch rare childhood conditions early
AI tooling company BeeKeeperAI enables AI algorithms to run in a private and compliant way in healthcare environments. The company is pioneering an effort to leverage confidential computing to train an algorithm for predicting a rare childhood condition using real patient health records. By encrypting both the data and algorithm and using Microsoft Azure’s confidential computing, the company has enabled the algorithm to analyze identifiable health information in a secure, sightless manner.

YouTube Video

Calling all startup founders — Start building the future todayGraphic Microsoft Startups Founders HubThe AI landscape is developing at breakneck speed, and Microsoft is ready to assist startups in seizing this opportunity. If you’re a startup founder evaluating partners, we invite you to join us at Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub and discover how we can accelerate your immediate success.

The post Startups to access high-performance Azure infrastructure, accelerating AI breakthroughs appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog

Honoring veterans and recognizing their value and contributions at Microsoft and beyond

Honoring veterans and recognizing their value and contributions at Microsoft and beyond

Group of military veterans at Microsoft
Microsoft honors service members and their families today and every day.

Since 1996, the month of November has been commemorated by presidential proclamation as National Veterans and Military Families Month in the United States with the observance of Veterans Day on the 11th as a central moment of celebration and appreciation. Throughout the month, you can expect to see American flags, camouflage and other patriotic or military decorations everywhere you look as communities celebrate one of our greatest national treasures: Our military veterans and those who make their service possible.

As a leader at Microsoft with deep personal appreciation for the military community that goes beyond my role as executive sponsor of the Military at Microsoft Employee Resource Group, I am grateful that this month is dedicated to honoring those who have answered the call to serve. The month provides an intentional reminder to step back and think about our veterans and all they contribute to our community and to our business. At Microsoft, we recognize the intrinsic value that veterans bring every day. The entrepreneurial mindset, team spirit and creativity that are cultivated out of necessity in ambiguous and often-challenging military operational environments are the same fundamental characteristics required to drive rapid innovation in technology. Across career stages and disciplines, the contributions and capabilities of our military veterans are clear.

While we are celebrating living veterans in the United States, other nations mark Nov. 11 as a moment for remembrance of those lost in war. That date in 1918 marked the end of hostilities and an initial step toward ending the First World War. In the years following the war, Armistice Day served as a moment for nations and people around the world to remember the sacrifice of their fallen service members and the heavy price that each nation paid with the hope of establishing an enduring peace. Great Britain, the Commonwealth and many countries across Europe continue to observe Nov. 11 as Remembrance Day or Poppy Day, a day dedicated to honoring fallen service members.

Honoring service past and present

At Microsoft, the week leading up to Veterans Day is filled with events focused on honoring, celebrating and expressing gratitude for veterans and military communities around the world both inside and outside of Microsoft. Along with these celebrations, I believe one of the best ways Microsoft continues to honor the service and sacrifice our veterans and their families willingly make on our behalf is to do its part — to provide the support they need to thrive while still in uniform and after they have hung up the uniform for the final time.

Meet a few of our remarkable veterans who continue to make a difference and embody Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Shannon Llenza, Assistant General Counsel

Female soldier on boat
Shannon during an exercise with the Coastal Riverine Forces (now the Maritime Expeditionary Security Forces) around the Port of Djibouti. Photo courtesy of Shannon Llenza.

Shannon joined the United States Navy in March 2000 while she was in law school. Upon graduation in May 2001, she began active-duty service as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer.

After completing nearly five years of active-duty service, Shannon transitioned into the Navy Reserves in 2006 – where she continues to serve as a commander. She plans to retire in February 2024, after completing 20 years of service.

During her time in service, Shannon deployed to Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, Africa — the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa which supports a variety of missions and operations in the region.

She served as the legal advisor to the commanding officer of the base, providing legal counsel on a wide range of issues.

She shared that one highlight of the deployment was the opportunity to participate in the Grand Bara, which is a run across the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, with about 200 other service members.

Shannon was a full-time employee at Microsoft during her deployment to Africa. She shared that “Microsoft has a good program set up for service members who deploy and for reservists who must fulfill their commitment of drilling two weeks a year with their unit. Microsoft supports and values the contributions of its military employees, which allows them to fulfill their service without having to think about their employment while they are away.”

Female runner amid other runners
Shannon participating in the Grand Bara 15-kilometer run in Djibouti. Photo courtesy of Shannon Llenza.

She has also been involved in the Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs (CELA) Military Employee Network since she started at Microsoft.

She said, “it has been a great way to meet people in the community and the network has been instrumental in providing resources and education on all things Microsoft for its members.”

For Shannon, her experience in the military has shaped how she approaches issues in her civilian career. “The military teaches you how to get things done, how to work in ambiguous environments, and how to step out of your comfort zone.”

Chas Jeffries, Principal Product Manager

Chas joined the U.S. Air Force in 1991, retiring on Oct. 29, 2023 after 30 years of service and achieving the rank of major general.

Entering service in the computer/communications officer career field, he served for six years on active duty in the Air Force before joining Microsoft and transitioning to the Air National Guard.

Soldiers with flag in background
Chas, center, at his change of command ceremony in 2017. Photo by Airman 1st Class Timothy Tweet. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Chas said, “the experience I gained in the Air Force gave me a foundation in software engineering that enabled me to transition to civilian employment at a company like Microsoft.”

Joining Microsoft as a full-time employee in July 2000, Chas began serving in the Washington Air National Guard’s Information Warfare Team and continued to serve in the Air National Guard while working at Microsoft for 23 years.

Over the years, Chas experienced an incredible synergy between his roles at Microsoft and in the military. In both staff roles and in command, Chas has taken his knowledge of high-performing teams in the military and applied it to his civilian role.

Chas was part of the “start-up” team that would eventually form the foundation for Cyberspace Ops Squadrons and a Cyberspace Ops Group in the Washington Air National Guard. While serving in these units, Chas gained training and experience in information dominance and cybersecurity operations which he was able to directly apply to his work helping Microsoft build and launch sovereign clouds.

Man at a podium
Chas speaking at a 2023 cyber executive seminar. Photo by Sgt. Matthew Lucibello. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

In addition to the experiences that he gained through leadership roles and operational roles, Chas said, “I’ve also benefited from a wealth of executive leadership training afforded to me. I’ve had the opportunity to attend Department of Defense-sponsored executive leadership courses at Harvard and MIT on topics including national cybersecurity policy and AI.”

Chas was deployed with the Air National Guard to Afghanistan in 2008 and with U.S. Forces Korea for multiple 30-day deployments between 2014 and 2017. When asked about the ways Microsoft has supported him as he continued to serve while working as a fulltime employee, Chas said that “Microsoft is an industry leader in its support of military members who chose to continue to serve.”
For Chas, the robust Military at Microsoft Employee Resource Group community has provided him with tremendous support.

He also recognizes the incredible impact of Microsoft’s Military Affairs organization which provides an invaluable resource to military veterans and current service members. Like many teams at Microsoft, Chas has benefited directly by hiring amazing veterans from the hiring and skilling programs the company supports.

Supporting the military community at Microsoft and beyond

As a company, we endeavor to honor the commitment to service that Shannon, Chas and others like them demonstrate through our commitment to train, hire and support our veterans and their families. In addition to supporting employees who continue to serve in reserve components, Microsoft also dedicates resources to help service members transition into careers in tech through mentorship, skilling programs and fellowships.

This year, the Military Affairs team at Microsoft is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) by featuring 10 tech professionals who got their start with MSSA and continue to make an incredible impact in the industry today. MSSA is a 17-week training program for veterans and transitioning service members for high-demand careers in cloud development or cloud administration. Program participants have an opportunity to engage directly with Microsoft recruiters, connect with alumni and receive resources and education on Microsoft roles, how to apply and the overall hiring process. Historically, this program made a tremendous impact with over 3,600 graduates and 98% of those graduates are employed or pursuing continuing education. The Military Affairs team continues to look for ways to best serve the community and recently announced new benefits for alumni and a resource center for MSSA alumni as part of their 10th anniversary celebration. I look forward to seeing how MSSA and other programs Microsoft offers for the military community will grow and continue making an impact for service members and their families.

As an executive sponsor of the Military at Microsoft Employee Resource Group, I have the distinct honor of serving our incredible global military community within Microsoft. In this capacity as well as in my business leadership role, I am fortunate to work alongside members of the military community and bear witness to their incredible ongoing impact within our organizations. The unique qualities and values that compel individuals like Shannon and Chas to serve their country are the same that make them invaluable members of the Microsoft team. Selfless service is one of the most noticeable traits of the ethos that follows veterans wherever they go, and you can see it in their dedication to team and mission above self.

To our veterans: Today, and every day, thank you.

The post Honoring veterans and recognizing their value and contributions at Microsoft and beyond appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog

New study validates the business value and opportunity of AI

New study validates the business value and opportunity of AI

As AI becomes more woven into society, its economic impact will be significant, and organizations are just starting to understand the extent of what’s possible. For companies to invest in AI though, it must make good business sense. Business leaders and decision makers need to understand the industry and line-of-business use cases that are best positioned to drive value within their organizations, what the return on investment will be, what time to value to expect, and how to get started. In short, they need help demystifying the business case for AI.   

To help companies understand the opportunities AI can unlock, Microsoft commissioned a study through IDC that provides unique insights into how AI is being used to drive economic impact for organizations. IDC surveyed over 2,000 business leaders and decision makers from around the world who are responsible for bringing AI transformation to life within their organizations. The study, which builds on the results from Microsoft’s Work Trend Index focused on workplace productivity, examines how companies are monetizing their AI investments, from generating new revenue streams to delivering differentiated customer experiences, to modernizing internal processes. Key findings from this study show*: 

  • 71% of respondents say their companies are already using AI 
  • 92% of AI deployments are taking 12 months or less 
  • Organizations are realizing a return on their AI investments within 14 months 
  • For every $1 a company invests in AI, it is realizing an average return of $3.5X  
  • 52% report that a lack of skilled workers is their biggest barrier to implement and scale AI   

The study illustrates that AI has demonstrable business value, and we are seeing this surface in core use cases within areas like employee experience, customer engagement and internal business processes, and how AI can help bend the curve on innovation. With generative AI, that value gets exponentially greater, as we’ve seen in the past year with generative AI technologies from OpenAI such as ChatGPT.  

“IDC is projecting that generative AI will add nearly $10 trillion to global GDP over the next 10 years.** Calculating the value of new investments in GenAI requires building the business case by simulating potential cost and responsible value realization,” said Ritu Jyoti, Group Vice President AI and Automation for IDC.   

This wave of innovation has accelerated the pace of AI adoption in ways that are changing and augmenting how we work and live, and Microsoft customers are increasingly embracing AI opportunities for business transformation. 

Enrich employee experiences: Employees in every industry are dealing with an increasing volume of digital debt and administrative burdens that slow down productivity and get in the way of meaningful work. To address this challenge, AI is being used to bring together unstructured data like social media, product details and customer engagement to better tailor communications, enable more intelligent insights and solve problems faster. Additionally, employees are using Azure OpenAI and Microsoft Copilot in Microsoft 365 to augment their copywriting capabilities for things like presentations, website content, case studies, blogs, press releases, search engine optimization and digital art.  

Reinvent customer engagement: With the heavy competition for customer acquisitions and retention, organizations have struggled to keep pace with the increasing amount of customer signals, and to deliver personalized service to customers in real-time. To drive greater customer loyalty, organizations are applying the AI capabilities of Dynamics 365 in contact centers for real-time assistance and guidance on suggested responses. Employees are also using AI to summarize conversations, guide on next steps, and get coaching feedback. Azure-powered virtual assistants are being used to deliver all kinds of hyper-personalized experiences across different verticals like healthcare for processing claims and entertainment for sports fans. Salespeople are using Viva Sales to help nurture leads and close deals. 

IDC graphic about AI and the bottom line
Reshape business processes
: Companies have pockets of valuable information scattered throughout their organization that can be difficult for employees to locate and use holistically. By finding and making connections across this information, AI can surface integrated insights that help to predict and accelerate workloads. This is particularly evident in cybersecurity, where employees are using AI insights to identify bad actors more quickly and better protect both employees and intellectual property. AI is also being used in manufacturing and operations, to create digital replicas of their supply chain environments so they can run simulations and optimize workflow management, resulting in enhanced supply chain efficiency.  

Bend the curve on innovation: This is an exciting concept as companies in every industry look to regain an edge. Organizations can deploy AI to stay ahead of changing business dynamics, and to exceed customer expectations. By not having to modernize every underlying system to achieve these results, and by putting AI directly in the hands of developers with GitHub Copilot, organizations can operate with agility and accelerate innovation.  Teams can leverage AI to help scale production and speed to market while being able to focus on higher-value activities.  

IDC survey data confirms that businesses are eager to adopt AI technology, with 71% of survey respondents currently using AI tools in their organizations, and 22% planning to do so within the next 12 months. However, even with this momentum and positive outlook for what AI can help them achieve, organizations are facing challenges when it comes to implementation. A shortage of skilled employees is holding companies back from accelerating their AI-based innovations, with 52 percent of those surveyed reporting a lack of skilled workers needed to implement and scale AI initiatives across business functions as the top blocker.  

To help address the skilling gap, Microsoft has already engaged over 6 million people globally in learning activities in the last 12 months and has ambitions to provide skills to everyone using our AI technology. We have also empowered our ecosystem of more than 400,000 partners worldwide with the skills needed to implement AI technology responsibly and to deliver greater customer value.   

No matter where you are in your cloud and AI transformation journey, Microsoft can help. To learn more about how customers across industries are shaping their AI transformation with Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Cloud blog which shares real-world examples of business impact being driven by AI, as well as resources and skilling opportunities you can use to build your readiness to lead the era of AI.  



About the study
The IDC study, commissioned by Microsoft, is based on results from 2,109 enterprise organizations totaling more than 13 million employees worldwide across 16 countries globally. Through the questionnaire, respondents were identified as the decision maker for AI within their organization.   

Source: *IDC Infographic, sponsored by Microsoft, The Business Opportunity of AI, IDC #US51315823, November 2023. **Generative Artificial Intelligence: A New Chapter for Enterprise Business Applications, IDC Perspective #US50471523, March 2023. 

The post New study validates the business value and opportunity of AI appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog

Microsoft’s 2023 Diversity and Inclusion Report: A decade of transparency, commitment and progress

Today, I am sharing Microsoft’s 2023 Global Diversity & Inclusion Report — our fifth consecutive annual report and the 10th year of releasing our global workforce demographic data. As we mark this milestone, a couple of key aspects about our company’s work on diversity and inclusion (D&I) stand out: Our journey is ever evolving, and our focus and progress are consistent, both of which are vital to delivering on Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

This year’s report shows that we continue to be a more diverse Microsoft today than we have ever been. Looking at this year’s data as well as our cumulative efforts, it’s clear that we are driving positive change. The data we share is also a powerful tool for us to understand with precision where we need to concentrate and accelerate our work. This year, amid an evolving macroeconomic environment, our company — like many others — made intentional organizational and workforce adjustments to meet the strategic demands of the business, which impacted our rate of progress in some areas. While there’s more work to be done, I am motivated by our ongoing progress and sustained efforts on increasing representation and strengthening a culture of inclusion, as detailed in this year’s report.

Key highlights

  • The representation of women and most racial and ethnic minority groups (Asian, Black and African American, Hispanic and Latinx, and multiracial employees) has increased at all levels over the past five years.
  • We maintained or grew representation within several leadership levels for women and U.S. racial and ethnic minority groups year over year.
    • The representation of women in Executive roles is 29.1%, a 3.2 percentage point increase year over year. This was the highest year-over-year Executive representation growth across women, men, and U.S. racial and ethnic groups in 2023.
    • The number of Black and African American Directors, Partners and Executives (including People Managers and Individual Contributors) rose to 107.8% of our 2025 Racial Equity Initiative commitment, up from 92.0% in 2022.
    • The number of Hispanic and Latinx Directors, Partners and Executives (including People Managers and Individual Contributors) increased to 74.8% of our 2025 Racial Equity Initiative commitment, up from 57.6% in 2022.
  • While hiring volume slowed, hiring representation was greater than or equal to representation for women and all racial and ethnic minority groups except Native American and Alaska Native.
  • At Microsoft, we are committed to the principle of pay equity, which accounts for factors that legitimately influence total pay including things like job title, level and tenure. As of September 2023:
    • Inside the U.S., all racial and ethnic minority groups who are rewards-eligible combined earn $1.007 total pay for every $1.000 earned by U.S. rewards-eligible white employees with the same job title and level and considering tenure.
    • Inside the U.S., women who are rewards-eligible earn $1.007 total pay for every $1.000 earned by rewards-eligible employees who are men and have the same job title and level, and considering tenure; outside the U.S., women who are rewards-eligible earn $1.003 total pay for every $1.000 earned by rewards-eligible employees who are men and have the same job title and level, and considering tenure.
  • Last year, we began voluntarily disclosing median unadjusted pay analysis, which gathers the total pay amounts for all employees across a company — regardless of factors such as job title, level or tenure — sorts those amounts by value, and then identifies the number that’s in the middle, or median, of all of those data points. The difference between that median pay amount for any two employee groups is referred to as a median unadjusted pay gap.
    • As of September 2023, our analysis shows that we have made progress in narrowing the median unadjusted pay gap for women in the U.S., women outside of the U.S., and Asian, Black and African American, and Hispanic and Latinx employees in the U.S.
    • As we continue to increase representation for women and racial and ethnic minority groups at more senior levels, and continue to ensure pay equity for all, the gap between the medians will continue to reduce.

New data

Hires data: As one of the most transparent companies of our size when it comes to the diversity and inclusion data we share, we are continually evaluating where we are now and where we aim to be. That is why, in addition to the extensive data we already share, we’re reporting on external hires representation for women and men globally and race and ethnicity in the U.S. for the first time. This data reflects the hires of members of a particular group as a percentage of total employee hires within the respective fiscal year. Hires representation being higher than headcount representation is one of the factors that could increase a group’s representation in the workforce. This past fiscal year, hires representation was greater than headcount representation for women as well as Asian, Black and African American, Hispanic and Latinx, and multiracial employees.

Self-ID data: At Microsoft, Self-ID helps us recognize the different identities, experiences and needs of the entire workforce. Through voluntary Self-ID, employees can help Microsoft make better-informed, more inclusive decisions about meaningful benefits and programs that meet their needs in various stages of life, flex to their interests, and enrich their lives. Self-ID is available globally in 46 markets with some variation, as dictated by local laws, practices and customs. We continue to evolve self-identification options for employees to be as inclusive as possible.

This year, we’re sharing more self-identification (Self-ID) data on Asian sub-identities in the U.S. to further highlight the importance of identity and the impact of self-identification. This comes after expanding the options for Asian employees in the U.S. who want to identify their backgrounds in additional detail last year. The Asian community is the single largest racial and ethnic minority group within our company, with more than 20 sub-identities.

Employee survey data

In addition to our demographic data, we share employee survey data in our D&I report each year, which helps us assess the impact of our D&I efforts so we can better understand how to close the gap between the culture of inclusion we aspire to and the lived experiences of everyone at Microsoft. We have continued to invest in experiences, behavior and organization changes, as well as prioritization of retention and development. This year, meaningful insights include:

  • This year, 96.4% of employees reported some level of awareness of the concept of allyship, which is a cornerstone of our growth mindset approach to D&I. This is up from 90.3% in 2022 and 65.0% in 2019, when we first started asking employees about their awareness.
  • The average score for the survey question asking employees if they understand what is expected of them to contribute to a more diverse and inclusive environment increased from 82 to 84 globally year over year, and from 80 to 83 in the U.S. Additionally, the average score increased year over year for men, women and every racial and ethnic group.

Inclusion spotlights

While data is important, it does not tell the whole story. Through six Inclusion Spotlights, this year’s report shares more details on some of the people, programs and initiatives that demonstrate how we invest in and innovate for D&I.

  • Global strategy, local implementation: We explore how the global Microsoft workforce activated around D&I this past year in ways relevant and meaningful to local employees and communities to drive positive change.
  • Inclusion from the start: We shine a spotlight on New Employee Orientation (NEO) as well as the Nuance acquisition and explore ways we introduce a culture of inclusion to new employees or integrate companies we acquire into our inclusive culture.
  • Self-expression in our products: We connect how technical and D&I expertise come together to inform new self-expression tools, including profile videos, pronouns and name pronunciation.
  • Innovative learning: We delve into some of our learning offerings, informed by a range of communities and experts, that enable employees to deepen their understanding and take intentional action for meaningful progress.
  • D&I Core Priority: We share the evolution and impact of the D&I Core Priority, an accountability approach that sets Microsoft apart.
  • AI & D&I: We look at how we build trust through our responsible AI strategy and inclusive AI solutions.

As we look ahead, we are unwavering in our focus to attract, develop and retain a workforce that reflects a diversity of backgrounds, skills and experiences. We support employees’ careers through intentional talent management, access and career mobility across all levels of our organization. To further support this, our team and my role have recently evolved to include talent development efforts in addition to global D&I work. This organizational alignment allows us to further embed D&I into all our talent practices in an effort to accelerate representation progress.

We believe our continued work to build diverse workforces and strengthen our culture of inclusion helps foster innovation and serve our business and customer needs. I am confident that our combined momentum and commitment will only fuel additional ways for us to leverage our resources with intention, driving progress toward a more diverse and inclusive Microsoft.

The post Microsoft’s 2023 Diversity and Inclusion Report: A decade of transparency, commitment and progress appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog

A change to Microsoft marketing leadership

Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer, shared the below communication today with Microsoft employees.

Marketing excellence at Microsoft is key to how we drive business growth and for the past ten years, Chris Capossela has done a terrific job as our CMO driving revenue and brand love for the company. The numerous accolades Microsoft continues to receive in terms of brand recognition and marketing awards are impressive and a testament to the strong team he has built. Chris and I have been working on his succession plan for some time, and as this new era of AI is upon us, we’ve decided this is the right time to put that plan into action.

I am pleased to announce that Takeshi Numoto is being promoted to Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, reporting to me. Takeshi has been at the heart of our Cloud transformation, he’s a fantastic systems thinker who works end-to-end across all functions from engineering to finance to operations to sales, and he’s built a great team of marketing leaders. I’m thrilled for him to step into the CMO role for Microsoft and drive our vision forward.

I’m also excited that Yusuf Mehdi is being promoted to Executive Vice President, Consumer Chief Marketing Officer. He will join the senior leadership team and report to Takeshi. Yusuf will serve as the champion of our end-user experiences and build on his work launching several of our AI-powered services to lead Microsoft Copilot product marketing. He will also continue to lead our Search, Ad, & News and Devices & Creativity Customer Solution Areas (CSAs).

And with our recently closed acquisition of Activision Blizzard King, we are doubling down on our Gaming business. To realize our growth potential, Ami Silverman and her Consumer Sales Organization will move to report to Phil Spencer, CEO of Gaming. Ami will continue to drive all our consumer sales including our Devices & Creativity CSA through our direct and partner sales channels.

After 32 years of dedicated service to our company, employees, and customers, Chris is leaving Microsoft. Over the many years we’ve worked together, I’ve known and respected Chris as a leader who has exemplified a complete, unwavering commitment to our mission and our culture. As a leader and a colleague, he’s always shown how deeply he cares about both the “what” and the “how” of driving our business forward. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with him and for the significant impact he’s had on our company through marketing leadership, championing our culture and D&I, and developing world class talent that will serve us well into the future.

Please join me in congratulating Takeshi and Yusuf on their new roles and extending a big thank you to Chris for all his contributions to Microsoft.


The post A change to Microsoft marketing leadership appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog