Industrial customers and partners bet on Microsoft, from cloud to edge devices

Industrial customers and partners bet on Microsoft, from cloud to edge devices

Innovations showcasing Industrial IoT, AI, cobotics, digital twins and mixed reality will be on display at Microsoft’s booth at the annual Hannover Messe industrial fair.

This week at the world’s largest industrial fair, I am honored to once again host nearly 30 customers and partners in Microsoft’s booth at the Digital Factory Hall at Hannover Messe. The progress manufacturers have made this past year is tremendous. Smart factories have already seen an average of 17 to 20 percent increased overall productivity. They have created higher-quality products at lower costs. They are building entirely new business models and service offerings.  But our customers’ aspirations are bigger and bolder. For example, by the year 2050, the demand for food is expected to outpace production by more than 70 percent. Agricultural stability is being threatened by receding levels of fresh water, decreasing availability of arable land and global warming, causing issues like toxins in our food supply. The workforce will continue to modernize and shift.

The next step is to use our Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled levels of intelligence to optimize the entire manufacturing process and solve for these challenges. There are three distinct themes that stand out at this year’s event:

Increased productivity and safety

What we have built with customers is driving tangible results. Today’s new data-driven manufacturing capabilities are not only lowering costs and reducing waste, but they are also keeping people safer and mitigating our impact on the planet. For example, Swiss technology firm Bühler AG, a leader in food processing systems, has worked closely with Microsoft to develop LumoVision, a revolutionary optical sorting system that not only significantly improves current food cleaning practices, but can eliminate nearly 90 percent of contaminated grain compared to 50 percent for conventional sorting machines. Empowered by the Microsoft cloud and IoT technology, this solution builds on Bühler’s advanced process expertise, and as a result, LumoVision is faster and more precise than other grain-sorting technologies.

Photo shows man demonstrating how a machine taller than he is works
Bühler’s LumoVision food processing machine

We will also demonstrate how Microsoft HoloLens has become an invaluable tool in taking digital twin technology to the next level. Thanks to the explosive expansion of Industrial IoT, digital twins have become cost-effective to implement and are helping companies head off problems before they even occur. Our customers are using digital twins to prevent downtime, improve equipment performance, develop new service opportunities and even plan for the future by generating simulations and visualizing their processes in mixed reality. For instance, Schneider Electric, whose industrial software business has recently combined with AVEVA, is leading the evolution of what the industry refers to as a “process digital twin.” Schneider and AVEVA are leveraging HoloLens to optimize ItalPresse’s entire manufacturing process by creating virtual prototypes even before a plant or manufacturing asset is built, which can provide significant cost and efficiency savings. Schneider will also showcase its recently announced traceability tool for the food and beverage industry, combining its knowledge of the food and beverage industry with Microsoft’s expertise in blockchain, given the growing complexities with tracing food products.

Additionally, one of our leading robotics automation partners, ICONICS, will demonstrate how a technician wearing a HoloLens can work alongside a factory robot while receiving instructions and key factory performance indicators displayed over his field of vision via HoloLens.

Increased monetization

Microsoft’s customers and partners are creating new value chains and services that simply did not exist five years ago. Tech innovations have allowed them to establish digital SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) teams, open new “one-size-fits-one” plants, and monetize things like predictive maintenance, 3D modeling and smart operations. For example, just last week thyssenkrupp announced it is expanding MAX, the company’s IoT-based predictive service solution for elevators, to Latin America. thyssenkrupp is confident that MAX can reduce elevator downtime by up to 50 percent, making its predictive models second to none in the global elevator industry.

ABB, a global leader in industrial technology, is leveraging Microsoft’s Azure cloud technologies for its ABB AbilityTM platform, one of the largest Industrial IoT platforms in the industry. ABB will showcase its ABB Ability Ellipse TM platform. Leveraging AI from Microsoft, it can empower organizations to optimize Enterprise Asset Management and automatically detect anomalies to minimize maintenance costs across its customers’ install base.

Bayer’s Environmental Science Business Unit is digitally transforming a decades-old pest control practice for trapping rodents with a smarter digital mousetrap that provides remote monitoring built on top of the Azure IoT platform. The solution collects information from sensors installed within each trap and immediately alerts pest management professionals when rodents are present, so they can head off infestations and increase the effectiveness of pest control programs.

Photo shows someone holding a silver box marked "interior rodent sensor" in one hand and a smart phone in the other
Bayer’s connected pest-management system

Increased collaboration

By 2020, IDC predicts that 60 percent of plant floor workers will work alongside assistance technologies that enable automation, such as robotics, 3D printing, AI and mixed reality. Several leading manufacturing and robotics companies have already created new and evolved “lean” processes that leverage these capabilities to help service technicians optimize tasks and lower waste and inefficiencies, while providing better customer service. For example, Toyota Material Handling Europe is planning its 10-year vision for the factory of the future by evolving its traditional lean processes. Its goal is to find more efficient ways to distribute intelligent logic across the factory and its robotic systems. Using AI capabilities like Microsoft AirSim and mixed reality, the company can train autonomous pallet drones to recognize patterns, automate processes and learn the flow on the plant floor safely alongside humans. This innovative solution would drastically reduce disruptions to warehouse operations, one of the key roadblocks to deploying autonomous systems. Toyota Material Handling Europe has also worked with Microsoft to develop T-Stream, a brand new, all-in-one solution. Built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud, it runs on Windows and utilizes Bing Maps and GPS systems to provide technicians with improved, proactive services that can carry out maintenance for customers before breakdowns occur.

Photo of a sleek blue drone with arms similar to that of a fork lift, and two people working at a conveyor belt in the background
Toyota Material Handling Europe’s smart pallet drone

Investing in Industrial IoT

As we partner with our manufacturing customers to empower their digital transformations, we continue to invest specifically in security and Industrial IoT innovations that meet their needs, where they need them most. This year we have a new set of robust Azure IoT features we will demonstrate at our booth, including:

  • Automatic Discovery Service for Connected Factory: We’ve simplified how manufacturers can onboard and secure industrial assets, which significantly reduces administration costs. It also includes an OPC (Open Platform Communications) UA (Unified Architecture) Global Discovery Server (GDS) interface for compatibility with existing clients and servers.
  • Azure IoT Hub and Device Management on Azure Stack: We are bringing Azure IoT Hub to Azure Stack, empowering customers and partners to build Industrial IoT solutions which run entirely on-premises or off, as well as collect and analyze near real-time data within their facility.
  • Azure Sphere: We’ve made an even stronger commitment to securing ‘edge’ devices by announcing a preview of Azure Sphere, the first holistic platform to provide industrial-grade security for connected microcontroller units (MCU) devices, 9 billion of which are expected to ship this year in machines ranging from home appliances to industrial equipment in factories.
  • Azure Time Series Insights: In response to manufacturers’ requests, Microsoft is planning a new update to Times Series Insights (TSI), a service that that adds massively scalable storage and data archiving capabilities and reduces storage costs.

Why customers and partners bet on Microsoft

Our cloud platform is now available in more than 42 regions across the globe and meets a broad set of international standards and compliance, including European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and intellectual property (IP) requirements, which are critical as the May 25 GDPR deadline looms. Additionally, we have one of the largest, if not the largest, partner ecosystems co-selling solutions with us at Hannover Messe. Partners are not only an important part of a complex Industrial IoT ecosystem, they are critical to how we do business. Today, Siemens announced its IoT ecosystem Mindsphere is now available on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, giving our joint customers the ability to make their IoT applications available on our cloud. More than 90 percent of our revenues come through our 8,500 trusted partners across the globe. Every major Industrial IoT provider, including ABB, Accenture/Avanade, COPA-DATA, EY, GE, ICONICS, Kapsch, OSIsoft, PTC, Rockwell Automation and Schneider Electric, have joined forces with Microsoft to integrate and offer their manufacturing services and solutions on top of our global Azure cloud.

There are many more reasons the industry is choosing to partner with Microsoft, but I invite you to come see the innovations first-hand in our booth in the Digital Factory: Hall 7, Stand C40 this week in Hannover.

Visit the the Digital Difference site for more information about Microsoft and its customers’ and partners’ presence at Hannover Messe 2018.



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Partners make industrial IoT factories more capable than ever at Hannover Messe 2018

Next Monday, Microsoft will once again have a major presence at the Digital Factory Hall at Hannover Messe, the world’s largest annual manufacturing exhibition in Hannover, Germany. As we started planning, it struck me that the reason our booth is one of the largest in the Digital Factory Hall is because our most important manufacturing partners will join us and our customers to showcase innovations that are transforming decades-old businesses and opening doors to revenue streams, new business models and service offerings that didn’t exist five years ago.

Partners are not only an important part of a complex Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) ecosystem, they are critical to how we do business. More than 90 percent of our revenues come through our trusted partners. Every major IIoT provider, including ABB, Accenture/Avanade, COPA-DATA, EY, GE, ICONICS, Kapsch, GE, OSIsoft, PTC, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric and Siemens are joining forces with Microsoft to integrate and offer their manufacturing services and solutions on top of our global Azure cloud. Among the reasons partners choose to run IIoT services on Microsoft’s cloud are its scale — more than 42 regions across the globe — and the investments we’ve made in supporting open-source software and compatibility, which take our support of OPC UA standards to the next level, as well as our commitment to security and trust. Our cloud meets a broad set of international standards, compliance and IP requirements so partners don’t have to build their own cloud infrastructure.

For example, ABB has placed a tremendous bet on our Azure cloud. Its intelligent factory in Heidelberg, Germany, has integrated artificial intelligence (AI) and IIoT technology into its robots to self-learn and self-correct. For instance, the various stations in the factory can autonomously adjust their actions as the cameras visually compare each component. If something is off, it will trigger a response and self-correct the process. As a result, ABB can produce three times as many products and handle more than 8,000 variants of product components.

Outlined below are three key IIoT priorities we will drive with partners over the coming months.

Helping partners secure the factory of the future

By 2021, edge computing is expected to be an $80 billion market, presenting tremendous opportunities for partners to build innovative solutions for intelligent transportation networks, integrated energy systems and, on display this week: even smarter factories. The importance of building holistic security solutions that can handle the complexity of IoT systems — from cloud to edge — cannot be understated. Earlier this week at the RSA security conference, we announced a preview of Azure Sphere, the first holistic platform to provide industrial-grade security for connected microcontroller (MCU) devices, 9 billion of which will ship this year in devices ranging from home appliances to industrial equipment in factories.

We’ve made strong progress as an industry securing IoT devices, but as an industry we can do more as they only represent a small fraction of the 20 billion devices expected to be connected by 2020.

Investing in partners

Earlier this month, Microsoft committed to investing $5 billion in IoT over the next four years. While the investments will be used for IoT and edge computing research and development, they will also be used to expand our partners’ efforts. With our IoT platform spanning cloud, OS and devices, we are uniquely positioned to simplify the IoT journey so any customer regardless of size, technical expertise, budget, industry or other factors can create trusted, connected solutions.

Driving down IIoT costs for partners

Manufacturers already rely on the Azure IoT Hub for connecting billions of IoT devices and powering production IoT solutions across factories and industrial plants. Our goal is to drive down the cost of IIoT for the entire industry as partners continue to build and develop IIoT solutions. With Azure IoT Edge as the foundation between cloud and edge, partners can build higher up the value chain. Eventually, partners will develop an entire ecosystem of edge offerings ranging from simple services to sophisticated solutions for customers around the globe.

Leading in the intelligent edge for partners

Manufacturers want the freedom to deploy their Industrial IoT solutions where they want, whether in the cloud, on-premesis or a hybrid of both. Microsoft is leading the industry by providing the most comprehensive and open on-premesis and hybrid support for Industrial IoT solutions. We have introduced the most open edge platform in the industry with Azure IoT Edge. It enables any customer workload to be deployed, activated and monitored using Docker containers, which creates open portability not present in other edge platforms. We’re thrilled to announce that Azure IoT Edge will be open source as well. Finally, we are taking on-premesis Industrial IoT solutions to a new level by bringing Azure IoT Hub to Azure Stack. This is currently in development, and we will have future announcements on preview and general availability timing.

Come see our partners if you’re in Germany

Check back on Monday, April 23, when I share our Azure IoT announcements that we’ll demonstrate with 20 partners in the Microsoft booth in the Digital Factory, Hall 7, booth C40. Innovations spanning AI, IoT, machine learning and mixed reality will all be on display, showcasing how cloud technology has become mainstream in factories and industrial equipment has become predictive, self-adjusting and self-healing.



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Using intelligence to advance security from the edge to the cloud

We are living in a world where almost everything is becoming connected, whether it’s the electrical grid, phone system, our cars, or the appliances that heat our home or chill our food.  As this Internet of Things (IoT) continues to proliferate, so does the threat of debilitating cyber-attacks, like last year’s devastating ransomware attacks that damaged, destroyed and disrupted systems around the world. And these attacks are only growing more sophisticated – and commonplace.  

We recognize that we and others in the tech sector have the first responsibility to address these issues. After all, we build the products.  We operate the platform.  We unfortunately are the battlefield in many ways.  We are the first responders.  At Microsoft and at many of our peers, our security professionals are the ones that answer the call, scramble onto airplanes, and stay by our customer’s side until their issues are resolved. Trust is the underpinning of our relationship with our customers, and we recognize that we must earn and maintain that trust every single day.  

That’s why this year at RSA in San Francisco, Microsoft is announcing new offerings to take security more squarely to where it needs to go and where it has not effectively gone before – the edge. Today we’re unveiling a series of new services and features that will better harden not only our intelligent cloud but also the billions of connected devices that live on its edge. And we’re supporting these advances with new offerings that will making security easier for our customers to manage.    

Azure Sphere: Extending security to the Internet of Things

Over the past 15 years, we’ve repeatedly taken steps to strengthen security protection not only for Windows and Office software, but also to harden our Xbox chipsets. We’re now combining this expertise and these advances to secure at the silicon level the billions of connected devices that will sit on the edge of the world’s computing network.

Applying new advances by our security researchers, we are introducing security protection for the next generation of cloud and edge devices powered by microcontroller units (MCUs). This growing class of cloud-connected devices – 9 billion of which ship every year – run tiny MCU chips that will power everything from kitchen appliances and toys to industrial equipment on factory floors. This next wave of connected devices is increasingly intelligent and connected. They will improve daily life in countless ways, but if they’re not secure, they will make people, communities and countries vulnerable to attack in more ways than ever before.

Today we’re announcing Azure Sphere, the industry’s first holistic solution for securing MCU-based devices from the silicon to the cloud. This solution brings together three critical pieces and advances: 

  • First, Azure Sphere is based on Microsoft’s development of an entirely new class of MCUs with more than five times the power of legacy MCUs. We’ll license the IP for these new MCUs royalty free to silicon manufacturers, removing barriers for silicon partners who want to develop and manufacture Azure Sphere chips. Already MediaTek is producing Azure Sphere-certified silicon, with more partners to follow.  
  • Second, Azure Sphere will bring to these new chips a new customized operating system built for IoT security. This OS incorporates a custom Linux kernel that has been optimized for an IoT environment and reworked with security innovations pioneered in Windows to create a highly secured software environment. 
  • Finally, Azure Sphere will feature a turnkey cloud security service that guards every Azure Sphere device, including the ability to update and upgrade this security protection for a 10-year lifetime of the device. Importantly, Azure Sphere will work alongside any cloud  private or proprietary so that customers can continue to use their existing data infrastructure while adopting Azure Sphere’s groundbreaking security for their devices. 

This combined approach to Azure Sphere brings together the best of hardware, software and services innovation. It is open to any MCU chip manufacturer, open to additional software innovation by the open source community and open to work with any cloud. In short, it represents a critical new step for Microsoft by integrating innovation across every aspect of technology and by working with every part of the technology ecosystem, including our competitors. We believe this holistic solution will bring to IoT devices better security, resilience and developer agility than anything on the market today. 

Simplifying security through new cloud offerings 

In the past, some enterprises were hesitant to move to the cloud because of perceived security risks. Today, customers appreciate that the cloud is almost certainly more secure than on-premise environments. The result is that customers trust the security of their enterprise to us, so they can focus on their core business.   

Over the past year we’ve focused on strengthening Microsoft 365 so it not only helps our customers be more collaborative and productive, but also makes it easier to secure IT infrastructure against a growing range of threats. Because Microsoft 365 is a cloud service, we’re able to rapidly develop and deploy new security innovations based on learnings and insights coming from our Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph. Today we’re announcing four cloud-based advances that will enable customers to use Microsoft 365 to strengthen further their security protection: 

  • The most time consuming and challenging work in security operations today is identifying and fixing threats before they spread. That’s why we’re announcing new automated threat detection and remediation tools to help simplify and streamline this process. With Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) automated investigation and remediation capabilities, in the upcoming Windows 10 update, systems can automatically go from alert to investigation to remediation in a fraction of the time it used to take. 
  • Another important aspect of responding to security threats involves controlling access to sensitive data without impacting productivity. We’re announcing a new step today to help ensure that compromised devices can’t access sensitive data on a customer’s network, by connecting a feature called Conditional Access to Windows Defender ATP for an added layer of device risk-level assessment. It means that customers can now limit access to mission-critical information if risks such as malware are detected at the individual device level, while automatic remediation tools address the problem. 
  • We’re complementing these advances with a new and advanced security tool to help customers manage their overall security environment. Microsoft Secure Score provides a single dashboard and summary score that makes it easier for organizations to quickly determine which controls to enable to help protect users, data and devices, as well as compare their results with other organizations with similar profiles using machine learning.  
  • Security increasingly is a team sport not only within an enterprise but across the customer network. Intelligence data, in particular, gets better with additional signals coming in, and so we’re increasing the ability for customers and partners to collaborate with us, with one another and with their own customers. Today we’re announcing the preview of a new Microsoft Graph security API for connecting to Microsoft products powered by the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph. The new security API provides an integration point that allows technology partners and customers to greatly enhance the intelligence of their products to speed up threat investigation and remediation. Already, leading companies like Palo Alto Networks, PwC and Anomali are exploring the security API for their own solutions. And because we’re committed to collaborating with customers and partners to enable integration between Microsoft’s security technology and the broader ecosystem, we are also announcing the new Microsoft Intelligent Security Association. This new program streamlines our engagement on all things security and allows technology partners to benefit from, and contribute to, the Intelligent Security Graph and Microsoft security products. 

Security is a shared responsibility 

All of the advances we’re announcing today reflect another essential fact of life. Security has become a shared responsibility. We believe that Microsoft has an important responsibility and is in a unique position to help address the world’s security issues and contribute to long-term solutions. But no one has anything close to a monopoly on good security ideas or expertise. More than ever, the continuing rise in security threats requires that we work together in new ways across the tech sector and with customers and governments.  

That’s why we’re committed not only to greater security collaboration at the technology level, but also to advancing the public security policies the world needs. 

RSA offers the entire industry an important opportunity each year to talk about the challenges of cybersecurity. We need more of these conversations. Even more, we need action. That’s why we continue to advocate around the world to interpret and build on existing international laws and ultimately establish a Digital Geneva Convention to protect civilians against cyber-attacks. And it’s why just last week we launched Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program, based on a new team at Microsoft dedicated to working with governments, technology companies, academia and civil society to address cyber-related threats and interference in democratic processes.   

Today’s big security challenges require bold ideas. Whether it’s strengthening our products, using data to better identify and disrupt threats, or working with customers on their own cyber-resilience, we are committed to delivering world-class security to customers and partners. And we are committed to working across the tech industry and public sector to improve our shared defense of the technology infrastructure on which the world depends.

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A new IP strategy for a new era of shared innovation

A new IP strategy for a new era of shared innovation

Every company today is becoming in part a software company – we see this every day at Microsoft. Whether it’s auto manufacturers, retailers, health care providers or financial services firms, our customers are not only transforming their own business operations with our software but collaborating with our consultants and engineers to create new digital products and services that run on our platform. As we look to the future, advancements and the adoption of cloud services, data analytics and artificial intelligence will only accelerate this phenomenon.

That’s why today we are announcing Microsoft’s Shared Innovation Initiative. It is based on a set of principles designed to address co-created technology and intellectual property (IP) issues that give customers clarity and confidence regarding their work with Microsoft. The initiative is designed to strike a healthy balance that will both help our customers grow their business through technology and enable Microsoft to continue to improve its platform products.

A good example of the digital transformation we’re witnessing is the 365mc Hospital in South Korea, which is improving the precision and safety of surgeries through a motion-tracking artificial intelligence (AI) application that it co-created with Microsoft. The hospital used sensors to collect data on more than 2 billion movements of surgeons’ hands during operations and used machine learning to identify patterns that can serve as a “GPS for surgeons.” This AI-powered system guides surgeons during operations and sends warnings and proposes countermeasures when it anticipates possible missteps, helping surgeons master skills while reducing patient risk. In addition to applying this technology to its own business, the hospital plans to now sell software and a training program to other hospitals, creating a new line of business and revenue stream.

As collaboration like this between tech companies and their customers increases, so will the questions regarding who owns the patents and resulting intellectual property. There is growing concern that without an approach that ensures customers’ own key patents to their new solutions, tech companies will use the knowledge to enter their customers’ market and compete against them – perhaps even using the IP that customers helped create. This article enumerates the steps on how to apply for a patent with InventHelp.

Illustration of ideas on paper

When we’ve encountered important questions or concerns in the past, we’ve found it helpful to formulate and publish principles to help guide and explain how we’ll conduct our business. We did this with our Windows Principles over a decade ago, and in the years since we’ve followed this with Interoperability Principles, Privacy Principles and most recently, our Cloud Trust Principles. Our newly published Shared Innovation Principles will cover seven areas:

  1. Respect for ownership of existing technology
  2. Assuring customer ownership of new patents and design rights
  3. Support for open source
  4. Licensing new IP rights back to Microsoft
  5. Software portability
  6. Transparency and clarity
  7. Learning and improvement

We’ve listed and provided more details on each of these principles below.

1. Respect for ownership of existing technology. We each own the existing technology and IP that we bring to the table when we partner together. As we work with customers, we’ll ensure that we similarly will each own the improvements made to our respective technologies that result from our collaboration.

More details: The co-creation of new technology in the world today seldom starts from scratch. At Microsoft we bring our existing products, IP and expertise, and our customers do the same thing, often reflecting their world-leading expertise in their particular field. Our ability to co-create relies on both companies respecting each other’s IP.

2. Assuring customer ownership of new patents and design rights. As we work together to create new technology, our customers, rather than Microsoft, will own any patents and industrial design rights that result from our shared innovation work.

More details: Among other things, this means that Microsoft will cooperate in the filing of any patent applications resulting from the new invention work. This also means that Microsoft will assign to the customer all of the rights, titles and interest in the patents we create together.

3. Support for open source. If our shared innovation results in the creation of source code and our customers so choose, Microsoft will work with them to contribute to an open source project any code the customer is licensed to use.

More details: Microsoft is an active contributor to open source development, and we welcome the opportunity to work with our customers to contribute work that we co-create if our customers so choose. At Microsoft we’ve contributed code to the Linux kernel and we’ve helped advance R, the statistical programming language used by data science experts around the world. Over 40 percent of the virtual machines running on Azure today use Linux. Some of our existing platform technology is produced in part with open source code, and Microsoft is bringing many of its flagship technologies to Linux, including .NET, Visual Studio and SQL Server. We’re finding that our customers often want to release deliverables under an open source license on GitHub as part of our engagements, and we frequently work with them to do so.

4. Licensing back to Microsoft. Microsoft will receive a license back to any patents and design rights in the new technology that results from the shared innovation, but the license will be limited to improving our platform technologies.

More details: For this purpose our own platforms include existing and future versions of Azure, Azure Services (e.g., Cognitive Services), Office 365, Windows, Dynamics, Enterprise Mobility and Management, Cortana, Bing, Xbox, Xbox Live, HoloLens, Systems of Intelligence (e.g., Customer Care Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Sales Intelligence), and code and tools developed by or on behalf of Microsoft that are intended to provide technical assistance to customers in their respective businesses.

5. Portability. We won’t impose contractual restrictions that prevent customers from porting to other platforms the new, shared innovations they own.

More details: In the world today, customers want to retain the contractual freedom to move the work they co-create to an alternative platform in the future if they so choose. We respect their right to do so. We’re committed to retaining our customers’ business by offering better performance and value than anyone else, not by locking customers in to something they no longer want to use.

6. Transparency and clarity. We will work with customers to ensure transparency and clarity on all IP issues as the shared innovation project moves forward.

More details: IP issues can get complicated, and shared innovation works well only if there is transparency and clarity for customers throughout the process. We’re committed to well-organized and defined processes that ensure that our customers always have clear and complete information. We’ll also each appoint executive sponsors to help address quickly any questions or issues that may arise during shared innovation work.

7. Learning and improvement. We’ll continue to learn from this work and use this learning to improve further our shared innovation work.

More details: In important ways, shared innovation projects represent the next frontier in developing cutting-edge technology. While we’re confident that these principles represent an important step forward, it’s hard to believe that they represent the last step we’ll ever need to take. We look forward to listening to and learning with our customers as we do more of this important work. We look forward to using what we learn to make future improvements to these principles.

Microsoft believes that our customers should chart their digital transformation with confidence. We first demonstrated this commitment when we announced the Azure IP Advantage program last year. Now, our Shared Innovation Initiative continues to build on that foundation.

We believe this initiative and these principles offer a path that will ensure that the co-creation of digital technologies creates new economic value to companies throughout the economy and around the world, rather than for just a few select companies in the tech sector. And of course, it’s a path that we believe will enable Microsoft to continue to grow as well. In short, it strikes a balance where we and our customers can each focus on what we do best, working together with trust and confidence that we will help each other become more successful.

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Accelerating digital transformation with the spring 2018 release for Dynamics 365 and Business Application Platform

Today I’m thrilled to announce the spring 2018 release for Microsoft Business Applications. We’re unleashing a wave of innovation across the entire product line with hundreds of new capabilities and features in three core areas: new business applications; new intelligent capabilities infused throughout; and transformational new application platform capabilities.

As I talk with business leaders to learn what draws them to Dynamics 365, the answer is almost always the same: they want to digitally transform and believe Microsoft is uniquely capable of helping them succeed on that journey. Microsoft is the only provider of a modern, unified and intelligence-infused family of business applications that span the breadth of business processes – across marketing, sales, service, operations, finance, talent and commerce; all powered by a business analytics and application platform, built atop a common data model, on Azure, our planet-scale public cloud, connected to Office 365 and the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn.

It is this collection of integrated capabilities spanning the Microsoft Cloud that supercharge Dynamics 365, creating what we believe is an unmatched platform for digital transformation.

Prescriptive guidance for digital transformation

Future growth across all industries, and the organization and business models of entire industries themselves, will be driven in large part by applying digital technologies to more intelligently engage customers, reimagine products and services, transform operations and empower employees.

At the center of this opportunity is data: from customers who visit our websites, comment on our brands via social media, visit our stores and use our products; from our products and services which are increasingly “connected” and provide direct insight into their use and health; and from our people who communicate and collaborate with modern productivity tools like Office 365 and who maintain their profiles, skills and business connections on LinkedIn.

This data from customers, products and people is fuel for intelligence to power transformed experiences, with those experiences further providing data to further refine interactions. We call this the digital feedback loop.

Accelerating digital transformation with the spring 2018 release for Dynamics 365 and Business Application Platform

Moving business forward with technology innovation across applications and platform  

Dynamics 365 is built around this data and intelligence – unlocking these powerful insights and efficiencies for organizations everywhere. Our spring 2018 release represents continued innovation that is the result of that focus.

Business process applications

We continue to deliver new capabilities and features in Dynamics 365 for customers and partners of all sizes, and for any degree of business complexity.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing is generally available as part of the spring release. This is a new marketing automation application for companies that need more than basic email marketing at the front end of a sales cycle to turn prospects into relationships. Visit the product page to learn more about how marketers can take advantage of this new solution.

To further simplify our Dynamics 365 offerings and increase ease of selection, today we are introducing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales Professional, a new streamlined version of our Sales application with core Sales Force Automation capabilities. From opportunity management to sales planning and performance management, the solution optimizes sales processes and productivity. More details can be found on the product page.

Intelligence infused throughout

Across Microsoft we’ve invested billions of dollars over the last two decades in cutting-edge AI research. These investments are infused throughout Dynamics 365 and are now available with the spring 2018 release. For example, in Dynamics 365 for Sales, new embedded intelligence capabilities include: Relationship assistant – helps sellers see alerts and reminders to move relationships forward; auto capture with Outlook – helps sellers save time by analyzing email to find messages relevant to specific accounts and then track in Dynamics 365 for Sales with just one click; and email engagement – delivers insights from email with customers, so sellers can prioritize the most receptive contacts.

We are also announcing Microsoft Power BI Insights apps, delivering out-of-the-box insights tailored to specific business scenarios – across marketing, sales, service, operations, finance and talent. Insights are generated by applying advanced intelligence to a subset of unique Microsoft data. Also, customers can easily incorporate additional data from a range of third-party sources to enhance relevance and accuracy. Power BI Insights apps can be customized in Power BI and further tailored by applying the full power of Azure data services.

Power BI for Sales Insights and Power BI for Service Insights will be available in preview this spring. Power BI for Sales Insights will include an embedded experience for Dynamics 365 for Sales, which allows customers to take advantage of: Relationship analytics – offering a single relationship health score, calculated from large amounts of data representing transactions, customer sentiment, emails and content exchanged, and frequency and level of customer interactions brought together from Dynamics 365, email, and social networks; and Predictive lead scoring – to predict what will happen in the future to help exceed quota attainment by prioritizing efforts on quality leads.

New Application Platform capabilities

Just as every business is constantly evolving, no app that is successfully serving the changing needs of a business is ever complete. That’s where the Business Application Platform comes in –  a foundation to extend, customize and build new applications alongside and on top of Dynamics 365 and Office 365 with PowerApps, Microsoft Flow and Power BI.

With the spring release, we’re announcing a significant update to the Common Data Service for Apps that ships with PowerApps and will enable a broad set of capabilities for modeling sophisticated business solutions. Combining these new capabilities with PowerApps existing high productivity point-and-click app development approach unlocks new potential for customers to customize existing apps across Dynamics 365 and Office 365, and quickly build new ones.

We’re also announcing a new capability in Power BI – the Common Data Service for Analytics. Integrating and analyzing data siloed across business apps and services can be challenging. Common Data Service for Analytics will help reduce this complexity with the addition of an extensible business application schema built on the common data model. Organizations will be able to integrate data from multiple sources and empower users with access to business analytics across all data relevant to them.

CUNA Mutual Group’s new AdvantEdge Analytics offering is a powerful example of how Power BI and Dynamics 365 will help Microsoft partners deliver industry-specific innovation in the cloud atop our Common Data Model. We are excited that CUNA Mutual Group will be the first Microsoft partner to create industry-specific extensions for the Common Data Model, combining their extensive financial services expertise with Microsoft’s expertise in business applications and analytics. Today, CUNA Mutual is announcing plans to develop a next-generation data platform that will extend Microsoft’s Common Data Model to meet the needs of the credit union industry. Standard connectors will populate the data model from the line of business apps used by credit unions, and AdvantEdge Analytics users will get deep insights into their business through Power BI and the ability to translate these insights into action through Dynamics 365. It’s exciting to see partners rallying around and extending the Common Data Model.

Accelerating digital transformation with the spring 2018 release for Dynamics 365 and Business Application Platform

Learn more

To see some of these new capabilities set in the context of the broader, global digital transformation opportunity across industries, please tune in to the livestream of Microsoft Business Forward event underway now in Amsterdam. At Business Forward, we are welcoming business leaders from a variety of industries to talk about the steps they’re taking to reimagine how they operate, innovate and compete. Visit the virtual event site here to receive event updates and attend this live web event.

If you are a current partner or customer, or if you’re interested in a deeper technical discussion about what’s new in the spring 2018 update for Dynamics 365, you can find a summary of new features across the Dynamics 365 apps and the platform in the spring 2018 release notes. We also invite you to attend our Business Applications virtual spring launch event on March 28. Register for the webcast and get a firsthand look at our how modern, intelligent technologies can transform your operations, improve engagement with your customers and help move your business forward.

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Source: The Official Microsoft Blog

Microsoft expands cloud services in Europe and into Middle East to meet growing customer demand

I’m thrilled to share that we plan to deliver the Microsoft Cloud from our first datacenter locations in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates, and we’ll expand the cloud options for customers in Germany. I’m also excited to reveal that the Microsoft Cloud in France is officially open with the general availability of Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365 today, and Dynamics 365 will follow in early 2019.

By delivering the comprehensive, intelligent Microsoft Cloud – comprising Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 – from datacenters in a given geography, we offer scalable, available and resilient cloud services for companies and organizations while meeting data residency, security and compliance needs. Microsoft has deep expertise protecting data and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements, including offering the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry.

We’re deepening our investment in the Middle East with these first cloud regions, which will be in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. We have long-standing expertise and deep local relationships in the Middle East. We strive to combine that knowledge with our cloud services to help public and private institutions scale to meet the tremendous economic growth and technological innovation in the country and across the region.

In Europe, we’re continuing to expand our substantial cloud footprint in response to customer demand and to address the needs of some of the world’s leading industries and organizations. Our engagement with financial institutions and regulators in Switzerland over the past several years has led to a deeper understanding of the market and the opportunity for locally delivered, trusted enterprise cloud services to meet their unique requirements. We intend to be the first global cloud operator to introduce cloud regions in Switzerland, which will be in the cantons of Geneva and Zurich. We are also expanding the cloud service options available with the addition of new cloud regions in Germany. This new cloud offering will complement the options currently available for customers today. The two new regions will provide enterprise-grade reliability, performance and business continuity combined with data residency within Germany and connectivity to Microsoft’s global public cloud network.

In France, the Microsoft Cloud is now open to thousands of customers, partners and ISVs with today’s general availability of both Azure and Office 365. With this milestone, Microsoft is empowering organizations like Naval Energies — a global player in renewable marine energies; Astrimmo — a leading provider of housing services in France; and Ercom — a French company specializing in cybersecurity, with greater scalability, agility and the opportunity to develop new cloud-based solutions. Also starting March 14, existing Office 365 customers from France and French territories will be able to opt-in to be moved to the local cloud regions in France.

Microsoft has a long history of collaborating with customers to navigate evolving business needs and has developed strategies to help customers prepare for the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We’re invested to make the Microsoft Cloud GDPR compliant when the regulation becomes effective on May 25, 2018, delivering innovation that accelerates GDPR compliance, and building a community of experts to help customers along their full GDPR journey.

Over the last three years, we’ve more than doubled the number of Azure regions available. As of today, Azure has more regions than any other cloud provider. We’ve announced a goal to be in 50 regions across the globe, including plans for 12 new regions.

Office 365 and Dynamics 365 also continue to expand the data residency options for customers with 17 geographies announced. The two products are the only productivity and business application platforms that can offer in-geo data residency across such a broad set of locations. Each datacenter geography, or geo, delivers a consistent experience, backed by robust policies, controls and systems to help keep data safe and help comply with local and regional regulations.

You can learn more about our transformative cloud solutions at Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365, or follow these links to learn more about today’s announcements in France, Germany, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.


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Source: The Official Microsoft Blog

International Women’s Day:  Three simple ways we can all #PressforProgress for women in STEM

International Women’s Day: Three simple ways we can all #PressforProgress for women in STEM

1976 photo of Mary Snapp
Mary Snapp, promoting science and technology in high schools in 1976.

Women around the world are taking to the streets on International Women’s Day to urge faster progress on gender parity in economic opportunity, education and other important issues. The theme this year, #PressforProgress, is perfectly tuned to the challenges society faces.

I know what’s it’s like to be the “first woman.” It’s really lonely! It feels like all eyes are watching you. I was the first woman hired by an auto company to give science and technology demonstrations at school assemblies in middle schools and high schools, on the road for months at a time. I was the first female attorney hired at Microsoft, supporting the engineering groups, and the “only woman in the meeting” far more times than I could count. Were it not for a few male mentors who took a chance to reach out over the years, I likely would have left my profession as a public relations professional, and later a lawyer. Now it’s an honor to “pay it forward.”

As a society, we have a responsibility to inspire the next generation of female science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) leaders. Today’s youngest students – known as Gen Z – are unlike any previous generation. They are digital natives with the creativity and confidence to use STEM to drive to positive change. Yet we are failing to keep them engaged and excited about the possibilities that STEM studies and careers provide. Unless things change much faster, many in this bright, hopeful generation will not enter these fields.

These are among the reasons Microsoft Philanthropies provides grants to nonprofits that prioritize increasing diversity in computer science, and more than half of beneficiaries are female. For the past four summers, we partnered with Girls Who Code, for example, to host high school girls enrolled in the nonprofit’s summer immersion program. Girls spend a portion of the summer on many of our U.S. campuses learning to build apps, games, websites and hardware. Microsoft women mentor the girls and often stay in touch after the program is complete.

Six girls wearing Girls Who Code Tshirts
Microsoft Philanthropies provides grants to nonprofits, including Girls Who Code, that prioritize increasing diversity in computer science. Photo courtesy of Girls Who Code.

Another nonprofit we support is Laboratoria, headquartered in Lima, Peru, which trains, in mere months, young women from low-income backgrounds to become web developers. Companies hired more than three-quarters of Laboratoria’s graduates into technology jobs that rely on computer science skills, and the average graduate triples her income.

“I always had that eagerness to help and advance myself,” Laboratoria graduate Lizeth Kenny Lopez Zamudio said recently about her experience with the program. She took a Microsoft Azure workshop where she learned to use new software platforms, programming languages and artificial intelligence. She now uses those skills at her job in a financial services company by programming customer service chatbots, working remotely on a virtual machine and presenting case studies on Azure.

Our education team also does excellent work around the world helping inspire girls to pursue computer science. Among many examples, a partnership forged with the United Arab Emirates help support girls as they participate in international technology competitions. Our education team also develops STEM curricula such as Minecraft: Education Edition, Hacking STEM and MakeCode, which help educators engage students with hands-on, immersive STEM experiences. The Minecraft tutorials they built for, a nonprofit that also emphasizes outreach to girls, has reached over 85 million people.

On International Women’s Day, and beyond, I’m calling on everyone – women and men – to take the first steps in encouraging younger women and girls to pursue STEM careers. Here are a few ways to get involved:

  • Mentoring: On International Women’s Day, several of our senior leaders will reach out to girls in our local community and elsewhere, to paint a relatable picture of what it’s like to work in STEM. Microsoft will also host more than 125 DigiGirlz events around the world, to give middle and high school girls opportunities to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. You can volunteer as a mentor through nonprofits such as and Girls Who Code’s Clubs Program.
  • STEM workshops and speakers: Microsoft stores will host DigiGirlz workshops and Women in STEM panels throughout March, featuring women in aviation, coding, gaming and space. Learn to code and meet internationally recognized, aspiring astronaut 16-year-old Alyssa Carson, in Garden City, New York and Troy, Michigan. Meet former astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, in Bellevue, Washington. Learn more at the Microsoft Store website.
  • Socialize STEM: Please share stories about girls doing amazing things in STEM, using the #MakeWhatsNext hashtag. Participate in the @MicrosoftEDU’s global tweetmeet using #MSFTEduChat, to share your ideas to motivate young women to pursue STEM careers.

Gender disparity in STEM fields is a multi-faceted problem. We should each do a small part, and stand up as proud STEMinists. If we each inspire at least one young woman to see the immense potential in STEM fields, progress will come faster, and we’ll all benefit.


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Source: The Official Microsoft Blog