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Back to the Future
I have been on my travels again, taking in Microsoft's Future Decoded Partner Conference at ExCel, London, on Remembrance Day 11th November 2014. I also managed to stay on for the follow-on Tech Day whilst browsing the associated EXPO. The multiple tube journeys to get to the ExCel early in the morning tend to dampen spirits, but that was soon forgotten as delegates entered the conference arena lobby to come face to face with none other than the De Lorean from Back to the Future, one of my favourite movies of all time!
Once we were all settled in, the keynote from UK Vice President Michel Van der Bel and his team provided insight into the future of the IT Market, reinforcing the 'cloud first, mobile first' message that Microsoft delivered at the World Partner Conference 2014 in Washington DC, USA. I realised the biggest opportunities for Partners to embrace were Cloud, Mobility, Social, and Big Data.
Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer delivered an inspired session about the future of humanity, changing the process of work, unlocking the data dividend to predict the future, and positioned work in progress on Skype for real time translation of conversation. His colleagues took the plenary session forward onto Machine Learning, examples being an Office 365 Clutter Tool which will learn from user actions to prioritise attention and productivity, plus an XBOX Recommender System.
Throughout the event there were some 40+ breakout sessions to be had, too much for one person to take in, so I decided to focus in on the Social Track to gain insight into Social Media Strategy and Social Selling. Apparently 97% of decision makers are now using Social Media. While Social Media takes time to build momentum, research shows that a properly executed strategy (using an array of available tactics) can gain £2m pipeline in 3 months through LinkedIn alone! Sessions reflected on the challenges (time, resources, skills, guidelines) that need to be overcome and also concluded that this is not a start and stop operation - no room for latency in operation. Social Media is complementary to traditional marketing.
Social Machines, Open Data & Collective Intelligence
The Tech Day that followed commenced with a series of presentations on a diverse range of future themes. I thought Sir Nigel Shadbolt's presentation was interesting as he focused on the understanding of how the web is evolving and changing society, and how humans and computers can solve problems on a web scale - Social Machines, Open Data and Collective Intelligence. I also had the chance to listen to Michael Taylor's presentation which was reflecting on the contributions of F1 and sharing his thoughts on some of the most exciting innovations around the corner. The presentation provided a glimpse into the world of F1 and the sheer size of testing, data manipulation, and real time analytics that the world's largest global sport churns in order to out-perform the competition.
I also attended the presentation of David Braben OBE, which was on the subject of legends amongst gamers. He talked about what the future holds for the game of Elite. It was interesting to try to comprehend the sheer increase in computing power used for present day delivery. And not forgetting a presentation by the magnificent Professor Brian Cox OBE - who took us on a journey into the future, pondering the future of the universe and subjects closer to home such as fusion power as a sustainable energy source.
There were also a wide range of presentation tracks available in the afternoon: Cross Platform Apps, Discovering Big Data, Enterprise Mobility, Datacentre to the Cloud, Apps in the Cloud, Internet of Things, etc. I took the opportunity to home in on some Enterprise Mobility case studies and to learn how one police force is utilising mobile solutions in order for officers to meet the demands of modern policing and to provide on the go Event Dashboards, Ticketing, Officer Notebooks, Briefing Tasking, etc. using an integration layer for efficient delivery and to support aggregated search.
Back to C2
This was an exciting event which reinforced the mobile first, cloud first momentum of the IT industry. What was my final move you may ask? Well I went off to the EXPO to talk to Microsoft and then finally made the journey across London back to C2.