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3 tech trends to stay ahead of the competition

By Sarah Tierney, Digital Storyteller, Microsoft UK on 30/05/2018

Filed under Digital Transformation

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According to Deloitte, over half of UK businesses are looking to invest £10m in digital by 2020. More and more businesses are increasingly looking to disrupt their industry by using next generation experiences to drive and raise business value and increase customer engagement.

1. Bank on blockchain

Blockchain will challenge the way you think about exchanging value and assets, enforcing contracts and sharing data. It isn’t just for cryptocurrency anymore. By the end of 2024, the global blockchain market is projected to be worth US$20 billion.

How does it work? A blockchain is basically a transparent, decentralised way of storing and transferring data. Data is shared securely among a network rather than resting with a single provider. Adding a ‘block’ to the chain creates an indelible record that cannot be tampered or changed. Each block is added through cryptography and the data is distributed and not copied.

Because each encrypted block cannot be tampered with, people in the blockchain can see a record of the whole chain. No data can be replaced, only new ‘blocks’ can be added, meaning any anomalies or attempts to change a block will be flagged early and quickly. More importantly, because a blockchain is shared over a network, it removes the risk of a single point of failure and makes it harder for cybercriminals to access.

Blockchains also not only store data, but processes. Once fully automated, blockchain can enforce consistency, eliminate repetitive steps, assisting with dispute resolution, increase accountability, and deliver end-to-end transparency that will inform better business decisions and helping you stay compliant.

TurinTech, an investment AI company uses blockchain for trading. When a trade happens, an immutable and irreversible transaction is stored in a blockchain, resolving trade disputes and keeping them secure.

The blockchain also allows users to code and test algorithms on the TurinTech platform securely. The blockchain automatically compares codes that are placed as ‘blocks’ and when these codes are automatically compared, TurinTech identifies and removes the duplicate programming.

“TurinTech will be able to identify and remove duplicate programming tasks and downsize code by up to 50 percent. And if we’re looking at, say, 10 million lines, that’s a huge factor in reducing subscription costs,” says Fan Wu, Chief Scientist.

Blockchain on Azure can be used to create disruptive business models, efficient collaborations, and create smarter, more efficient supply chains.

2. Amplify human ingenuity

Technology shouldn’t change us, but it should help us challenge and transform the way we do things in the world.

Using AI and machine learning helps us innovate, empower, and accelerate business through different tools.

Microsoft’s Project InnerEye amplifies a medical professional’s ability to personalise treatment for patients. By using AI and machine learning to find tumours in 3D radiology images, it allows for faster measurement and diagnoses, treatment, and more precise surgery planning.

“With AI assistance, I can plan radiotherapy treatments in minutes rather than hours, whilst maintaining the same degree of precision I want for my patients. It goes beyond that, because after radiotherapy treatment is complete, I can use these tools to give me more information about how the cancer is responding to therapy for my patients,” says Dr Rajesh Jena, Radiation Oncologist at the University of Cambridge Cancer Centre. “These improvements will lead to better treatments and better outcomes.”

Watch Watch

AI is helping innovate agriculture, by helping people get the answers they need at the right time. By using AI powered by Azure technology it allows Agrimetrics to be ahead of the pack when it comes to improving the quality and yield of harvests, as well as forecasting next season’s harvests.

“We can predict in advance what is going to be the yield at the end of the season. This ensures farmers can get more potatoes of the right size and make bigger profits,” stated Mario Caccamo, Head of Bioinformatics at NIAB.

Meanwhile, Dixons Carphone is using AI to improve customer engagement.

“Through the research, we determined that artificial intelligence could be the key to offering our customers the differentiated, personalised service and cohesive customer journey we are aiming for,” says Antonia Colin-Jones, Strategic Partnership Program Manager for Dixons Carphone.

Cami, their chatbot is used by customers and staff alike to create seamless online and instore experiences, using data gathered from Cami to improve and stay ahead of their competitors.

It’s not far-fetched future tech, it’s all happening right now, with nine out of ten UK businesses planning to invest in AI in the next three years.

3. Connecting humans and connecting networks

Thanks to the cloud and the internet of things (IOT), businesses can now build and monitor a network of physical objects, collect data from this network to uncover new insights and opportunities, and predict needs before they rise, to act with precision whilst staying secure and compliant.

This is true for RAC, who has been providing roadside assistance in the UK for over 120 years. Now, instead of waiting for customers to call them when they break down, they can predict breakdowns before they happen, thanks to IOT and the cloud.

“Data is taken from the vehicle’s telematics device and sent over the mobile network into the cloud. There is a lot of intelligence in the Microsoft Cloud platform, with some sophisticated technology to analyse the data in real time, in order to produce the results we need to give to motorists,” says Nicholas Walker, Managing Director of Connected Services, RAC.

They can spot issues before the customer has one, or if they do, the data is used to send the right assistance and parts meaning cars can go back on the road quicker. Also, by using the data, they can advise customers how to drive more safely and more efficiently, saving fuel and reducing the chances of an accident by up to 75 percent.

The Met Office is also using the cloud and IOT to crowdsource the weather for better forecasting.

In the previous WOW system,” says Simon Gilbert, Head of Observations Partnerships for the Met Office, “we were only able to use information from a static site, and that worked really well when all we were looking at was weather stations in people’s back gardens. The new capability that we have by moving to the Microsoft Azure cloud allows us to get data in near-real time from a boat, a car, or a smartphone in someone’s pocket.”

“For the Met Office, it’s about having more sophisticated tooling to do more sophisticated jobs. When you are trying to solve grand challenges, like predict the weather, you need to use the best tools at hand. In this case, it is a blend of the tried-and-tested scientific method and cloud-based technologies from Microsoft,” adds Charles Ewen, Chief Information Officer.

By using the cloud intelligently in conjunction with IOT, businesses will have the best tools at hand to improve processes and maximise earning potential. They will also be more secure, as moving to the cloud removes your important business documents being stored in one place, causing a risk of a single point of failure.

Microsoft Cloud is built from the ground up to safeguard data whilst staying compliant and transparent. Azure benefits from the Security Development Lifecycle, which addresses security at every level and ensures the cloud is updated with the latest in security and compliance.

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