Today I was lucky enough to be invited along by Microsoft to attend their Future Decoded – Business Day event. It really was a fantastic showcase of the services that Microsoft have been developing over the past few years and I got to see all the latest tech and gizmo’s as well as get some great insight into their mobile first cloud first strategy.
The day began with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadala’s keynote speech where he announced two new UK datacentres opening in 2016. This is a very important announcement as for the first time we will be able to guarantee data on Office 365 and Azure will not leave the UK. He also demonstrated how he works with his devices and Microsoft Cloud services. Going from an iPhone, to a Surface Pro to a Lumia 950 running Windows 10, he showed how he interacts with his teams and his wife through various applications and services. He even showed Continuum, which turns a Windows 10 phone into a desktop PC. The Universal App version of PowerPoint was impressive and it was like working with a PC. I even had a chance to play with this in the Expo that followed.
The Expo was a real highlight and I got the chance to talk to some Microsoft Engineers who really are at the top of their game. Highlights included:
• The Microsoft Surface Hub. An 86” beomoth of an interactive screen which was simply fantastic to use. This interactive display integrates into Office365 and allows you to have feature rich presentations and collaborative meetings. No more taking photos of whiteboards and writing up the notes later.
• The Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book hybrid PC’s were also very good. The quality of the devices is amazing and the Surface Book’s screen is incredibly light in tablet mode. Coupled with the pen this really is a much better performing and feeling device than the iPad.
• Windows 10 Mobile and Continuum. I had an up close demo of this and my initial scepticism was turned around. I was impressed with the multi-tasking capabilities as you can easily Universal applications on the big screen and still use the phone apps too. Very clever and I can see this being very useful for business.
• IOT (Internet of Things) was everywhere. It has taken over cloud as the industry buzz phrase. We appear to be on the verge of being able to monitor everything. There were examples of pressure sensors in beds to show if someone is in it, gas boilers to see if they are working efficiently and how we use energy in the home. There really is a sensor for everything and as the technology evolves so will the ways in which we collect and analyse the resulting data.
• Microsoft Health. This really is a priority that fits in nicely with IOT. There are a bewildering array of devices and sensors that now offer to monitor our bodies be it the exercise we take, how we sleep or the food we consume. Microsoft even have analytics for Office 365 which show how much time you spend on email, in meetings, on the phone, working or relaxing. This information is then presented using Power BI. It is amazing and a little scary just how much of who we are can be monitored and analysed.
There was a lot more besides and the overall feeling I took from today was Microsoft have delivered on their promises. With Office365 and Azure providing cloud services that enable businesses to take advantage of saleable solutions that enable new ways of working and collaborating. Then there is the amazing array of high quality, performance hardware with the Surface Pro4 and Surface Book and the new Lumia phones. It is an exciting time to be a Microsoft Partner and I look forward to delivering some of these new technologies to our customers over the coming year.