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Microsoft Ignite: Fueling Inspiration for the 4th Industrial Revolution, Part 1

Gordon McKenna

Gordon McKenna
CTO, Public Cloud

From Sept. 24-28, I had the pleasure of (once again) attending Microsoft’s annual Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida. It was a solid week’s worth of everything IT professionals love—new product announcements, thought leadership insights, inspiring sessions, and a peek inside cutting-edge technology innovations that delight our inner developer—plus special content for the C-Suite, delivered via the conference’s invitation-only Envision event. 

Part of my job as Ensono’s CTO of Public Cloud is to grasp what’s around the bend so Ensono and, by extension, our customers are prepared to take advantage of not only “what’s now,” but “what’s next.” Ignite and Envision certainly didn’t fail to deliver the very best of everything. In fact, upon returning from the show, I couldn’t be more excited about what lies ahead. 

Gazing Through the Lens of the 4th Industrial Revolution

We’re in the midst of an incredible time in our world’s digital transformation—cloud computing and peripheral technology is revolutionizing the way companies operate and compete effectively in an increasingly global marketplace. And it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. And my peers at Ignite and Envision agree that progressive organizations also ask how—and we’re taking the opportunity to reshape business models as well as the corporate cultures required to make the most of tomorrow’s technology, today.

This brings me to what Microsoft calls the “4th industrial revolution.” The first one, of course, was our move to steam, which made our world smaller. Then, electrical, which made our world faster. The introduction of the personal computer marked the third revolution—the biggest of them all, as we suddenly had “IT in the workplace” and new ways to communicate with each other, to process data, and begin to automate.

The fourth industrial revolution is about embracing digital disruption. This disruption is transforming and forcing companies to adapt the way they think, deliver and approach the market. We’re on its brink, still learning to navigate its possibilities. Just yesterday, a power outage could halt all business activity in an office or store, for example; today, with digital devices connected to cloud software, we’re able to keep moving ahead, accessing our data and apps—but, really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

To bring this concept home, consider these examples of cloud-driven digital transformation we explored at the conference:

  • Industry disruption: Look no further than Uber, which drove into the taxi market with a cloud-based app (but no vehicles!) and grew to have more value than any taxi company. It achieved market leadership on the wings of a great idea—and a brand-new way to deliver transportation services.
  • Getting ready for AI: Dr. Michael Wu expertly cut through the myths surrounding artificial intelligence, giving company leaders context for how this technology can and will change the way we work, process data, and rise to consumer expectations. Microsoft’s AI for Humanitarian Action, in fact, is committing itself to solving global problems with what’s going on in their data centers, putting AI to work and setting an example for others who want to take advantage of the technology.
  • Personal transformation in a rapidly changing world: Comedian Trevor Noah shared his entertaining (and on-point) take on how it’s one thing for a business to evolve with changing tech—and quite another for people to evolve alongside of it. It got me thinking about how to not become an irrelevant CTO in the face of digital transformation, and how important it is to address the deeply personal impact of technology and its role in innovation.
  • IoT and practical applications: Another area of imminent “explosion” in the cloud-computing sphere is the internet of things. While most of us are still waiting to feel its impact on daily life, we’re already seeing some industries, like insurance, tap into data from remote devices to influence everything from pricing to safety. Another trigger point will be 5G and the massive device connectivity that will come in its wake. Imagine the connected city of the near future: 5G will accelerate the adoption of autonomous cars, connected streets, and more.

These are simply highlights from what was one of the best conferences I’ve attended in recent years. What’s perhaps more exciting than the examples of digital transformations I’ve described is the fact that helping clients through this transformation has been a priority for us here at Ensono. In this new world of opportunity, we feel we are in a great position to help our clients drive digital transformation.

The insights I’ve brought back to the office from the conference will not only reinforce Ensono’s approach to digital transformation, but they will also help “ignite” our role as change agents for our customers. To learn more, stay tuned for Part 2.

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