We paid a visit to Microsoft’s highly anticipated Future Decoded event, which took place over the course of two days on our home turf – at ExCel London. We attended day one, where the theme centred around exploring technology as an enabler. This blog will look at some of our personal highlights from the inspiring morning keynote.
Microsoft’s North Star mission
To kickstart the sixth annual Future Decoded conference, Cindy Rose opened the morning keynote with a positive anecdote about the way technology is making our world a more connected place. She talked about AI showing up in unexpected places – even in mapping Shakespeare plays; highlighting highs, lows and plot twists within the narratives.
‘We have no doubt that AI will power the next wave of digital transformation. Microsoft is working with companies in every sector who are already using AI to improve productivity and create new revenue streams. AI could add up to £230 billion to our economy. It’s critical to the future prosperity of the UK. It will be game-changing.’
Cindy spoke with excitement about customers and partners who have modernised their environments and transformed their culture by using the Microsoft technology platform to drive social and economic impact. She outlined Microsoft’s mission: to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.
That mission at Microsoft is our North Star – it is the bedrock of our culture and our values. But more than that – it’s really helped us to redefine success.
Success, defined here as the social impact that Microsoft delivers, was seen all around us at Future Decoded – as many social enterprise companies championed AI technology as the backbone to their capacity for doing good. This included companies that used the Microsoft platform to deliver social impact in areas like environmental sustainability, public health and humanitarian aid.
Accelerating competitive advantage with AI
Dr. Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation in the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London and Founder of the Centre for Creative and Social Technologies, continued this theme by talking more about the research Microsoft had released that morning. He explained that Microsoft occupies a unique position with the world of AI, as it attempts to strike a balance between responsibility and opportunity. Microsoft, he stated, are looking at how to capitalise on the benefits – while applying it to benefits of the workforce and humanity at large.
We learnt that the UK is in the top 5 globally for:
- AI research
- AI entrepreneurship
- Investment in AI
- Government readiness in AI
Brauer explained that other nations are gathering momentum and that, in his view, companies in the UK would need to be assertive to avoid falling behind foreign rivals. He then revealed a new report, Accelerating Competitive Advantage with AI, and shared some of the findings with us:
- Organisations currently using AI are outperforming those that are not by 11.5%, which is up from 5% a year ago
- Almost three quarters (74%) of business leaders asked did not think the UK has the right structures in place to fully capitalize on its position as a leader in AI
- Less than a quarter (24%) of UK organisations have an AI strategy in place
These statistics show us that while UK companies are benefiting from AI usage, many business leaders still have doubts about the UK’s ability to lead the way in AI implementation.
To become an AI-enabled organisation, Brauer continued, companies must move from experimentation to implementation, create a culture of participation by empowering employees, and make AI work for everyone.
Get on the bus of AI. 59% of the workforce are willing to use AI, they want to engage with it meaningfully in their jobs. It will free them up to the parts of their job they really want to do.
For us, this statement summarised the core message delivered at Future Decoded 2019. If businesses want to get the most out of AI and their workforce, they need to take their workforce on the AI journey with them. Businesses must embrace the potential of AI, consider the ethics and develop the skills we need for tomorrow – today.