Microsoft Envision hosted several in-depth conference sessions outlining the latest updates in artificial intelligence and showcasing how decision makers can capitalise on the opportunity to lead AI transformation in their organisations.
The event began with an opening session hosted by Judson Althoff, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Microsoft, who provided explanations and real-time demonstrations of Microsoft’s 365, GitHub, Sales and Security Copilots, as well as Microsoft Fabric, which was launched at Microsoft Build in May 2023. According to Althoff, investment in data is required before AI can improve operations, and Fabric helps to organise that data.
“No system can be any more intelligent than the data,” said Althoff. “Generative AI gets us through moments of uncertainty [and] provides answers faster, at lower costs.”
Althoff invited Accenture’s managing director Karen Odegaard and Sainsburys’ chief technology officer John Elliott onstage to discuss their experience of Microsoft 365 Copilot via the early access programme. Both firms are using Copilot to provide meeting summaries and create content but stressed that it is important for organisations to coach teams on how to learn generative AI tools and to engage with their legal teams on responsible usage.
Accenture and Sainsburys have been using Microsoft 365 Copilot to improve operations (image credit: LinkedIn/John Elliott)
Across several breakout sessions, Microsoft executives shared how AI is improving productivity across industries, as well as to meet environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals and to tackle the cybersecurity challenges.
For example, Colette Stallbaumer, general manager of Microsoft 365 and future of work at Microsoft, shared how Microsoft 365 Copilot will lift the weight of work, unleash creativity, unlock productivity and help upskill employees.
“The pace and volume of work has increased exponentially in the past few years,” said Stallbaumer. “It’s really outpacing humans’ ability to keep up, and we call this digital debt.”
Snyder, senior director of Microsoft Teams, gave real-time demonstrations of different Copilot use cases in applications such as Outlook, Word, Teams and PowerPoint.
Emily He, corporate vice president of business applications and marketing, discussed the potential of AI to innovate and optimise business results across an entire organisation, spanning sales, service, finance, supply chain and low code.
She emphasised the need for low-code tools to help ease the developer shortage by enabling non-developers to create applications.
AI and advanced analytics can help organisations to meet ESG goals too, according to a panel that was led by Jed Griffiths, chief digital officer at Microsoft UK.
“One of the challenges regulation brings is that often it can be forced on a lot of organisations,” said Musidora Jorgensen, chief sustainability officer at Microsoft UK. “Thinking about it as an opportunity to innovate is where we can collectively make progress.”
A Microsoft-led panel discussed how organisations can use AI to meet their ESG goals]
The role of AI in security was also a hot topic. Alym Rayani, vice president of Microsoft Security explained how the security landscape is rapidly changing and how “breaches are everywhere” but zero-trust strategies can help to combat this.
Microsoft’s Alym Rayani explained how zero-trust strategies are helping firms to protect against cyber breaches
In addition, Wendy Carstairs, partner technology strategy leader at Microsoft, joined Rubrik’s field chief technology officer Pierre Francois Guglielmi and field chief information security officer Richard Cassidy to discuss practical use cases for incorporating AI into cyber recovery strategies.
“AI is an entirely new weapon,” said Cassidy, identifying how it can detect and close attacks significantly quickly. The session covered how firms need to use AI to counteract AI-powered cyberattacks such as phishing and social engineering.
From left: Rubrik’s Pierre Francois Guglielmi and Richard Cassidy, with Microsoft’s Wendy Carstairs