What role is Dynamics 365 playing in businesses?
First, it creates systems of intelligence that drive systems of action. Business-process automation is critical to that. But you also have to think about frontline field employees, your mobile workforce. They need to create, collaborate and communicate in Outlook and Office, which are part of the same platform as Dynamics. So, you have the structured view of a financial or customer-engagement system alongside the unstructured data coming from office automation, as well as social data from platforms like LinkedIn. We combine all of these information flows to create systems of intelligence.
In terms of market segmentation, will you be focusing more on enterprise or SMB with Dynamics?
For SMBs we have Business Central, an all-in-one commerce platform for the smaller business. It gives you financials, manufacturing, service and customer-engagement in one platform, along with AI services, Power BI and PowerApps. So, you’re really delivering AI in a business-application system for an SMB. That’s brand new for us. And Dynamics is a great fit for our public and commercial enterprise customers too. We’re part of their DT acceleration.
How is Microsoft redefining the urban future?
Our industry experts and public sector teams talk a lot about that. If you look at something like a small city and start thinking about how to improve someone’s journey, you might think about urban automation, for example. You might think, “How do these escalators and elevators fit into my journey with, say, a transportation system?” There’s a lot of data to collect and plough through, and obviously we’ve got great tools to do that. Then you have to separate out the logic of business processing. How do we deliver that in terms of the systems of action I talked about earlier? Dynamics blends CRM and ERP to give an intelligent modular business application to solve real-world business problems. When dealing with a small city, everything is process-driven, so you have to decide if it makes sense to consume from the Azure cloud from the point of view of customer experience. The demands of consumers have changed – there’s much less patience, and big deliveries are expected.
What happens after the data has been collected? How do we leverage?
After you collect the data, you’ve also got to be able to use it intelligently. I keep talking about systems of action, but I think that’s the most critical piece of the puzzle. Microsoft has a product called Power Platform, part of our cloud portfolio. But in the business applications setting, it offers the ability to create applications that, for example reduce paper usage, or that redefine the whole business process. I like the paper example, because when we walk around Dubai, there’s still a lot of people using paper processes. Power Platform allows you to take the paper process into an automated power app on a mobile device or desktop. Then you start thinking “What systems can I attach to that application?” Does it make sense to attach a business application in the background to drive a more comprehensive update, or do I just update tables? Of course, this goes back to the data centre. The Azure cloud has the common data layers that allow us to run things without worrying about big integration projects.