Whether in a factory or working from home, educating students online or delivering care within the community, workers are benefitting from improved communication and collaboration, thanks to cloud technologies.
In 2021, over two thirds (68 per cent) of enterprises have spent over $2.4 million on cloud technology, and 36 per cent have spent over $12 million, according to the 2021 State of the Cloud Report from IT management provider Flexera.
The cloud has become an integral part of digital infrastructures and enabled organisations to pursue real digital transformation. Microsoft has supported this with the launch of multiple Industry Clouds over the past 15 months.
“Our customers and partners have told us that the cloud services we offer must support the specific needs and challenges of their industry, so we built Industry Clouds to meet their unique needs in a flexible, adaptable way,” says Kees Hertogh, general manager of global industry product marketing at Microsoft. “With our Industry Clouds, organisations can act faster and make more intelligent decisions, providing the agility they need to adapt to the evolving global pandemic and future challenges.”
Businesses in all industries can use the clouds to quickly adopt or augment solutions built specifically for the industry, break down data siloes, improve productivity workflows and use modular solutions with built-in industry standards to meet evolving business needs.
Many of these organisations work alongside Microsoft and partners to extend the platforms to every business need. “Having a rich partner ecosystem across the Microsoft cloud is vital to supporting customer needs across the entire value chain for each industry,” says Hertogh. “All of this is based on the notion of having a common data model, which allows services partners to better serve their customers with a pre-defined architecture from Microsoft, and independent software vendor partners to build their solutions deeply integrated with that data.
“With the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, for example, we wanted to create an industry solution that empowers our ecosystem of partners and leverages and extends our capabilities for personal care, patient insights and virtual heath. Through our partners, we can offer a more connected patient experience by leveraging technologies like Azure Healthcare APIs, which allows anyone working with health data to bring disparate sets of protected health information together, and connect it end-to-end with tools for machine learning, analytics and artificial intelligence.”
Industry Clouds can be complemented by the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability. According to Hertogh, Microsoft wanted to create an industry solution that empowers its ecosystem of customers and partners to add depth to their sustainability progress through vertical and industry solutions. “This represents a whole new category of offering and is an evolution of what we’ve done with cloud to date,” he explains. “It’s a solution for all customers across all industries.”
The value of Microsoft’s effort here cannot go unnoticed. As we all come to terms with a growing environmental crisis, this new cloud platform is important as a tangible response to the current situation and as an example to other global organisations. And Hertogh believes that the ability to aggregate data – specifically about organisations’ carbon emissions – is at the core of its value.
“Most businesses can only see a very small sliver of their emissions data because it is siloed and lives in various places,” says Hertogh. “Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability acts as a connector to aggregate the data, which provides accurate carbon accounting that organisations can use to benchmark against their carbon goals. We refer to the ‘three Rs’ in this process: record, report, reduce.
“Additionally, we are helping customers understand all points of the emissions value chain to bring unique insights on top of this aggregated data set to deliver on the overall ability to achieve net-zero emissions.”
Microsoft launched the Cloud for Sustainability as a stand-alone platform because “it’s relevant to all industries, and the data coming from it provides insights that are unique for each industry,” says Hertogh. “Sustainability is top of mind for every industry, and it will take all of us as a global set of organisations to come together to achieve the necessary targets.”
And with every industry rapidly changing, Hertogh believes that industry practices and services from Microsoft – that its customers and partners know and trust – provide a golden architecture that enables them to build upon digital capabilities that are relevant to their industry.
“With all the clouds, there is the opportunity for partners to expand into new scenarios and verticals, and for Microsoft as a company, industry is how we become a digital partner for our customers in the future.”
We asked a selection of Microsoft partners how they are using Microsoft’s Industry Clouds to deliver new services to their customers. Below are extracts from their responses, which you can read in full from page 50 of the digital edition of the Autumn 2021 issue of Technology Record.
Ravi Gopinath, chief strategy officer and chief cloud officer at AVEVA, says: “AVEVA’s industrial software portfolio combined with Microsoft’s technology will give connected workers the context, insight and guidance to interpret this information and serve the enterprise’s objectives.”
Melissa Topp, senior director of global marketing at ICONICS, says: “The exciting part about Microsoft’s Industry Clouds is they allow partners like ICONICS to provide solutions securely through the trusted Microsoft Azure platform.”
Chris Dobbrow, vice president of strategic partnerships at Augury, says: “By combining mechanical with operational data from Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing, more advanced digital use cases, such as predictive quality and energy reduction, are now within reach.”
John Oppel, chief technology officer at Maureen Data Systems, says: “These Industry Clouds, coupled with our seven advanced specialisations and various Microsoft competencies, have given us the competitive edge to give our customers the highest level of service and expertise.”
Wim Geukens, general manager of VeriPark Europe, says: “The new Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services that will be launched in late 2021 is a big opportunity, both for us and for our customers.”
Clay Westbay, vice president of delivery at Synergy Technical, says: “Our manufacturing customers are all using a cloud-first strategy when selecting their technology solution stack with a strong focus on sustainability initiatives as a driver to technology strategy.”
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.