Microsoft Envision 2016: Digital transformation meets business

Last month, Microsoft held an inaugural conference, Envision, dedicated to business leaders of all types, from all different industries, from all parts of the world. More than 6,000 attendees came together in New Orleans—joined by tens of thousands more online—for three days of interactive meetings and presentations focused on business transformation and the role of technology.

In his opening keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared a particularly inspiring story about the marriage of analytics and productivity technologies, and the resulting improvements to organizational efficiency. As he mentioned, one company was able to save $30 million simply by cutting a single meeting. By using analytics and big data technologies to mine data stored in Microsoft Office, the company learned that it was spending over 300,000 working hours in 162 meetings to prepare for its annual management gathering. When the company measured the importance of the meeting against the $30 million price tag, it was clear that change was necessary.

This is a wonderful example that illustrates the power of technology to truly transform business operations by using data that already exists. It’s an area of tremendous potential in many different industries, but especially in the public sector.

The connected government

At Envision, I had the pleasure of speaking to packed rooms of business professionals in the government and healthcare sectors. We discussed the current technological revolution and its accompanying capabilities that are transforming government agencies and healthcare organizations the world over.

In an interactive panel session on connected government, I was joined by Girish Chhugani, vice president of strategy and innovation at Spruce Technology and a senior advisor to the commissioner and CIO of New York City; Daniel Hoffman, CIO of Montgomery County, Maryland; Jesse Berst, founder and chairman of the Smart Cities Council; and Rick Holgate, research director at Gartner.

Daniel Hoffman shared news of the inspiring work from Montgomery County, Maryland: by harnessing the power of IoT, the county is helping local farmers be more efficient and in compliance with federal and state reporting regulations. Thingstitute, the name of the county’s living laboratory, will allow participating farmers to gather data via sensors placed on their farms, capturing vital information on everything from ground temperatures to pesticide levels.

Girish Chhugani shared his experience as a senior government leader for the city of New York. During his tenure with the city, he saw and experienced things that many of us have only read about: after 9/11, he played a major role in helping the city rebuild and played a pivotal role in the creation of an emergency operations center. During Hurricane Sandy, he built the Office of Housing Recovery from the ground up and implemented the NYC Build-It-Back case management system, one of the largest Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Azure implementations in the city.

Learn more about Microsoft in Government.

Digital transformation in healthcare

Later in the day, I met with a group of healthcare professionals to discuss the ways that technology is enabling a new era of healthcare services. Lynn Dunbrack, research vice president overseeing IDC’s Health Insights, joined us to discuss topics such as clinical mobility and mobile health, remote patient health monitoring, and aging in place.

As Lynn shared, the health industry is transforming rapidly, and changing delivery models are exerting pressure on current systems. At the same time, the emergence of new technology platforms in virtual health, remote health monitoring and precision medicine, are mixing into a heady cocktail of change and opportunity. At the center of this is the need to protect data and ensure patient information is kept private and confidential. I discussed these issues against the very personal and human impact of technology, and what we can do to keep information safe against increasing threats of both accidental and nefarious exposure.

I shared an inspiring story of the way Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City is using technology. The care team is using an LTE-connected Surface 3 running Windows 10 and Azure to help save the lives of infants with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. In fact, for 30 families who tested the solution, the mortality rate for infants dropped from 20 percent to 0. Stories like these are a reminder of the power of technology to transform outcomes in healthcare.

Learn more about Microsoft in Health.

Dream big

At Envision, I had many thought-provoking conversations with business leaders in many different industries. But it was Captain Scott Kelly of NASA who said something that still resonates in my mind. He said, “…dream big, work hard, put the resources behind what [you’re] trying to achieve, and then we can do anything, whether it’s going to Mars or curing cancer. We just have to dream big.”

I couldn’t agree more.