This morning, we woke up bright and early and hightailed to East London’s ExCel Centre for Future Decoded – Microsoft’s future business and tech exhibition.
With some fantastic speakers, a loaded exhibition floor and cool venue, it’s clear that Future Decoded – now in its second year – will be back next year, and bigger than ever, if this year was anything to go by.
We spent a morning listening to some of Microsoft and partners’ key speakers, and the key message seems to be digital transformation through empowerment of every organisation and individual. In other words, productivity (and, surprisingly, not Windows 10). Here’s what we mean.
The day was packed full of impressive keynotes, but it began with Microsoft’s Chief Storyteller, Steve Clayton, taking to the stage to introduce himself as the day’s host.
As well as introducing Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO to the stage, he spoke briefly about the future of technology and business in a general sense.
In the main, he described the workforce as “unengaged”, explaining that to help people be more satisfied at work, there would need to be a “digital transformation”.
Microsoft is keen to demonstrate how its technology is helping to transform people’s lives, but before they did that at Future Decoded, they brought out Richard Reed, boss at Innocent Drinks (the smoothie guys) to try to tease out how to engage a workforce.
7 Things He Found to Be True…
Reed’s presentation was characteristically charismatic; based pretty much entirely around a 7-point plan his organisation use to ensure high engagement:
The Longaberger Company
- Keep the main thing the main thing. In other words, if your company makes baskets, working out of the building above is a great idea.
- Think entrepreneurially. Our favourite quote was: “If you’re 70% sure, go for it.”
- Create a community. Reed made it clear that at Innocent, community wasn’t just some ethereal concept, it’s actually directly linked to pay, promotion, training etc. Basically if you’re an amazing person, you’ll do very well there. They also make sure to get rid of rubbish people who don’t share your company values. Reed pulled out a fantastic quote by Apple’s old Head of Talent, Dan Walker, explaining “I’d rather have a hole than an asshole.”
- Start small, think big. Every idea has to come from somewhere, so be open to criticism and feedback, regardless of who’s dishing it out.
- Work the details. Another great quote from Reed, here: “It’s not the elephants that get you but the ants”, or, the devil’s in the details.
- Ethics help – the best, young, talented people care about the world and everything in it. They’re socially aware. If you want to fill your company with great people – and why wouldn’t you? – make sure you’re reflecting strong ethics internally, as well as externally.
- Listen up. An obvious one, but using social media and listening to your employees and customers is vital.
Do all this, Reed claims, and you’ll be well on your way to galvanising your employees, and therefore driving engagement through the roof.
Then it was time for Satya Nadella to take to the stage to tell us about Microsoft’s efforts to empower individuals and organisations through digital transformations.
It might be well-trodden ground by now, but Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s general message throughout his keynote was that digital transformation would require a mobile-first, cloud-first revolution.
The driving principle behind this is that for people to be more engaged at work, they simply need to be able to get on with whatever they’re doing, whenever they want to do it, and on whatever device.
As Nadella phrased it: “Work isn’t a place you go to, work is about making things happen wherever you are.”
As you can see from the image above, there were three main ways that Microsoft would apply their mobile-first, cloud-first philosophy in ways that would help make people more productive at work:
All three points are about using technologies like Azure, Dynamics CRM, AX, GP and NAV and Power BI to take large amounts of data, and transform it in meaningful ways to improve people’s efficiency.
Nadella provided plenty of personal examples about how new Microsoft software and platform innovations, driven by mobile-first, cloud-first are improving his personal and working life.
For example, he described how Outlook groups enables him and his wife to share important family engagements, notes and dates. On the work side, it helps him stay in the loop with the other Microsoft executives on all their projects, regardless of whether they’re in the same room or scattered across the world.
Software like Power BI for Office 365 turns raw data into easy-to-digest analytics and Delve Analytics provides important feedback on how you’re using your time, helping you achieve that all-important work-live balance.
This sort of revolution in data technology is enabling new platforms like Microsoft Band, HoloLens and Smart Ink to develop, cue our favourite Nadella catch phrase: we’re now living in an era of “ubiquitous computing”. It’s this, and only this that can deliver real, true empowerment for every organisation, and every individual. We’ll have to see if Microsoft can deliver it.
While those of us with Microsoft Dynamics jobs might be left feeling slightly deflated from the lack of hard tech chat coming out of the morning, Future Decoded suggests it’s all good news for those working with CRM and ERP tools.
Dynamics is at the forefront of the mobile-first, cloud-first revolution at Microsoft, and that doesn’t look to change anytime soon.
For more Future Decoded updates, follow us on Twitter. If you’re now feeling inspired by the future of technology at Microsoft and are ready for a role change, visit our Microsoft Dynamics jobs page today.