The Record - Issue 19: Winter 2020

38 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om Intelligent decision-making Business intelligence, big data and analytics are changing how organisations operate and make decisions. We find out how Microsoft and its partners are working to drive this data culture and what role the Power Platform is playing BY E L LY YAT E S - ROB E R T S T here is a fundamental change occurring across industries and organisations,” says Arun Ulagaratchagan, corporate vice pres- ident of business intelligence (BI) at Microsoft. “Data now comes from everywhere and everything – not just transactional systems of record, but also systems of observation meas- uring human interactions, product telemetry and more. Making sense of all these signals and arming customers with access to insights to make decisions is crucial to their competitive advantage. This is what we mean by helping our customers drive a data culture.” The need for intelligence has been exacerbated in 2020. “Businesses have had to adopt instantly, invent- ing new business processes to engage their cus- tomers and empower their employees,” explains Ulagaratchagan. “Driving clarity across the organ- isation has never been more important. “In addition, individuals have had to adapt to working digitally and independently. Teamwork and collaboration are done entirely through screens and entire organisations have become remote workforces. How we share and consume data must transform as well.” In 2017, Gartner first introduced the concept of ‘augmented intelligence’, the use of machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) to enhance data sharing, analytics and BI. Since then, this methodology has been cited frequently as a key driver for innovation within both commercial and civic settings. Microsoft is committed to delivering technology that will democratise access to the tools that will ena- ble organisations across the globe to adopt this approach and make better decisions, faster. “In today’s environment, there is simply too much that is coming at us at a velocity and variety that makes it incredibly hard to digest the information and extract the insights,” says Ulagaratchagan. “In order to be able to make sense of this information, we need to use artifi- cial intelligence and ML.” Microsoft employs over 5,000 researchers and engineers to work on advancing the state of the art in AI, as Ulagaratchagan puts it. “These researchers have made foundational improve- ments in vision, voice and cognition,” he says. “In the Power BI team, we leverage this inno- vation and focus it on understanding busi- ness outcomes and helping business users and COV E R S TOR Y “