Nadella, in his opening Microsoft Envision keynote said “The very nature of work is changing.” He spoke about Microsoft reinventing productivity and business process through the Windows 10 platform and other products. With all of the abundance of technology, what is still scarce is human attention and time. Our goal in reinventing business process and productivity is to help you reclaim that time to grow your focus on things that matter the most to you and your organization.”
Astronaut Scott Kelly who spent nearly one year on the International Space Station, when asked what business people could learn about technology from his experience in space, said that, as he left the International Space Station for the last time, he was “absolutely inspired by what we are capable of achieving if we dream it — and that we have to put the resources behind it.”
Nadella and Lilian Rincon of the Skype team previewed enhancements to Skype that will include making Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, persistent within Skype. If you need to look something up, such as check your calendar, you will be able to click on the Cortana icon and ask Cortana to check your schedule without leaving Skype. Along with the integration with Cortana, Skype will also be able to interact with “bots” or automated artificial intelligence agents from other organizations. One example of bots included a hotel bot that helped with booking a room — all from within Skype.
Microsoft also announced an important new partnership with car manufacturer Toyota at the Microsoft Envision event. The new collaboration called simply Toyota Connected was touched upon briefly in Nadella’s remarks. The new initiative will deliver a connected car technology drawing in part from Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.
Microsoft is partnering with R3, a consortium of major banks around the world, to develop new blockchain technologies, leveraging the underlying approach from the Bitcoin digital currency to change the way they track transactions and offer financial services to their customers. The blockchain is a public ledger of transactions, and the R3 consortium consists of more than 40 banks, including big names such as BNP Paribas, Wells Fargo, ING, JPMorgan and Citi. Microsoft will work with the consortium to “develop, test and deploy blockchain technologies to modernize decades-old processes and streamline operations, potentially saving billions of dollars from back-office operations,” said Peggy Johnson, Microsoft executive vice president for business development, in a blog post explaining the news. Goals include faster trades of assets such as stocks and bonds, and direct transfer of ownership, which cuts clearing houses out of the processes, something that’s appealing to banks because it promises to cut costs and reduce the risk of fraud, Johnson said. The partnership could be a boon for Microsoft’s partners and its cloud platform. The consortium will use Microsoft Azure and also have access to more than 45 “blockchain as a service” technologies from companies that work with Microsoft. In addition, Microsoft says it will offer dedicated technical support and service to R3’s blockchain labs.
Paypal President and CEO Dan Schulman said Bitcoin is “not necessarily something that we’re betting on,” even though PayPal allows Bitcoin through the Coinbase bitcoin wallet. However, the underlying blockchain technology is “very interesting,” Schulman said. What blockchain allows is … theoretically a friction-free, cost-free way of doing transactions.” The key, he said, is to tie the blockchain into a currency that isn’t as volatile as Bitcoin.
PayPal is used by 180 million people worldwide. It’s also used by 14 million merchants, according to Schulman, the CEO of PayPal since the company’s split from eBay back in 2014. Schulman gave a fireside chat format interview with Peggy Johnson, EVP of Business Development at Microsoft. PayPal has two other brands. The company bought Xoom about a year ago. Xoom is an international money transfer service. PayPal is also behind Venmo, the digital wallet service with a social element to it. Venmo, which is popular with millennials and younger generations, is used four to five times per week on average by customers because of the social element and the ability to split the cost of payments for things like meals and entertainment. Whereas, PayPal is used on average by customers just a little over two times per month. Schulman foresees that Venmo and PayPal will be a seamless experience in the future
Clearly many prominent Dynamics partners have opted for WPC and don’t see Envision as a replacement for Convergence. The focus of this conference has massively shifted, as has Microsoft’s vision in general. Attendees included top company executives, department managers, and other decision makers. This opens up opportunities to see how the vision of “One Microsoft” can be achieved through the use of many products. For example someone attending because they are a Microsoft Dynamics AX customer had the opportunity to see how they could leverage PowerBI, Office 365, and Azure to create a more connected and efficient business environment.
Many big players announced new solutions built on top of CRM, and azure/Cortana based solutions. However relatively very few partner products were showcased. While many of the main partners had a booth, the expo floor was much smaller with very limited product selection. The attendance and the expo traffic was significantly lower than Convergence. the rationale may be that top executives focus on strategic, visionary sessions – not on deciding what third-party product would be a good match for their requirements.
Extension in Microsoft Dynamics is eagerly awaited its not yet available in the current RTW release but should be a features of the upcoming ‘AX 7 update 1’ . The ability to adapt queries for the processes of drafting or extending existing elements, without overriding into other layers. means that developers no longer need to customise elements; instead elements will be extended. All customisations and code are then stored in a separate assembly and are therefore not influenced during upgrades and tests.. This approach will significantly reduces upgrade cost and conflicts.
Microsoft announced the availability of two out-of-the-box Power BI content packs for different business users: Financial Performance and Retail Channel Performance. Both power packs can be selected from the service catalogue and be deployed ‘within minutes’.
If you missed out, then see available on-demand the keynote and several session videos on the new Microsoft Envision YouTube Channel.
They have 87 videos on the site and 16 playlists uploaded.