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Microsoft Showcases Customers Using Azure Cloud for Digital Transformation

Microsoft this week showcased customers that are investing in the company's newest cloud-based offerings such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning using predictive analytics.

At an event held in New York called Microsoft's Digital Experience, the company showcased more than a dozen companies that have committed in some form to piloting or implementing a number of new wares aimed at either rapidly accelerating an existing process and/or enabling new revenue opportunities.

Companies that Microsoft said are using such Azure-based technologies include Bank of America, Hershey, Fruit of the Loom, Geico, Maersk and UBS. For example, Hershey is using Azure Machine Learning and Azure IoT to better predict temperatures in vats based on feeds from sensors to reduce waste in the process of manufacturing Twizzlers by using PowerBI and Azure ML.

"This is a beautiful correlation plot that we run in Power BI, said George Lenhart III, senior manager of IS innovation and disruptive technologies at Hershey. "We turned on the machine learning, and by adjusting every five minutes with the prediction of whether it was going to be heavy or light, we were able make changes accordingly."

Maersk Transport and Logistics, one of the world's largest logistics providers, plans to use Microsoft's technology to automate its supply chain and with the goal of shaving tens of millions of dollars from its costs by bringing information to management and customers and predicting activities that may be the source of delays. "It's all about speed -- how do we go to market faster, how do we do much more with less and how do we increase our return on investments," said Ibrahim Gokcen, Maersk's chief digital officer.

Gokcen said Maersk started using the Azure Machine Learning IoT suite and other services about a year ago and has decided to engage in a long-term effort to build out an Azure-based digital marketplace. Maersk is also considering the potential of Azure Stack and running it on the more than 1,000 ships which could be anywhere in the world.

"It will be great because as we build applications in the cloud, we will be able to just drop them on premises and do some streaming analytics on data that we generate on the vessels that can't be transmitted to the cloud when they're in the middle of the ocean. Then when they reach a port they can replicate and synchronize the data."

Patrick Moorhead, principal of Moor Insights and Technology, said the event is a sign that Microsoft is making more progress with customers than it often gets credit for. "I think they're making a lot more progress with their customers than people realize. And if there's one thing I can fault Microsoft for, is I think they need to be telling this story more," Moorhead said. "They have infinitely more customers using Google cloud and AWS."

Microsoft's talk at Digital Experience included results from a Harvard Business Review study  that Microsoft had commissioned. Based on a global survey of 783 people with various roles in business operations and management, the survey found only a handful, 16 percent, considered themselves fully digital operations, though 61 percent said they have started going down that path. Only 23 percent said their business rely on many digital technologies. The survey is available for download here.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/28/2017 at 12:59 PM


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