Last week I went to Microsoft in Seattle and Redmond, together with 40 other architects, CEO’s and CIO’s, developers and data specialists from the Netherlands. Three days packed with meetings and sessions from Microsofts leaders and technical product specialists. The main topic was Data and AI. The subjects ranged from Artificial Intelligence and cognitive services, data storage and analytics, Machine Learning, Bots, Internet of Things, Containers, Identity and Security and more. We talked about the future and everyone’s vision of it. And what did I learn? Primarily one thing: data is everything.
Skill with data has always been an evolutionary advantage. It started with that people who were able to communicate, they would survive. Then came writing, creating books, printing and distribute them, and then came internet. Companies who were able to use these skills the best, became the most powerful. And now we have the next revolution: the cloud with it’s democratized smart technologies and compute-power.
With each revolution there are new skills to learn, it’s the difference between living or dying. If you don’t take these changes seriously, you are going to be poor very fast.
So what does this mean for companies and IT departments who are currently successful in i.e. the business of delivering workspaces and infrastructure?
Workspaces: enable users to work with the new democratized productivity and data tools, i.e. Office Groups, PowerBI, Flow, and smart company portals which improve collaboration and access to information. The next step is to get insights on the usage of all these tools to understand how you continuously improve user happiness, productivity and creativity. Adoption is the key to success. Bots the way to improve customer service.
Infrastructure: everything is about getting the right data from all kinds of sources – the intelligent edge (IoT) and data in applications (mobile / web / traditional) – in the right place – the cloud – in the right type of storage – data lakes, noSQL, SQL, Hadoop, blob storage, queue storage, table storage – so that you can use intelligent tools – AI & cognitive services, machine learning, Warehouses, BI tools – which are used by modern agile applications – built on containers, functions, service fabric, mobile apps – to serve your customers in new competitive ways and continuously improve yourself.
All components needed are available and continuously being developed in the clouds – Microsoft, AWS and Google. You just have to come up with an idea, and then start using the right services of the cloud which fits your needs and philosophy most.
To do this you need the right people: cloud infrastructure specialists, developers, data scientists, adoption consultants, scrum masters. You can recruit them – what have you got to offer to these highly sought-after people? You can join forces with another company – creating strong partnerships is more and more the way organizations go. Or you can buy a company.
Either way, you have to make sure the culture of your company fits with what you are about to do, as culture eats strategy for breakfast (Peter Drucker).
The mission the leader of the company is to see the external opportunities, and the internal capabilities and culture – and all of the connections among them – and respond to them before they become obvious parts of the conventional wisdom. This is an art form, not a science (- Satya Nadella). This requires a growth mindset, not a fixed one.
The good thing is that if you are not into data, there is still time. It just depends on if you want to survive the current revolution, or not.