What we learned at Microsoft Inspire 2018: GDPR, Azure Stack and AI

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What we learned at Microsoft Inspire 2018: GDPR, Azure Stack and AI

By Julian Box on 1 August 2018

  • How is the modern workplace progressing with understanding their obligations towards data privacy?
  • Which new apps are strengthening our infrastructure?
  • What insights can data analytics and artificial intelligence give you to guide your business strategies?
  • Who is creating business applications that improve the customer or staff experience?

These were the four pillars of focus at Microsoft Inspire 2018, Microsoft’s partner-focused event in Las Vegas, Nevada.


With five days of presentations showcasing world-class innovation, and a chance to develop and grow relationships with Microsoft and other partners, we attended in force, alongside our partners Lenovo, to better understand how we could evolve our own data optimization services even further in order to support our clients’ data journeys best.


Here are our key takeaways from the event:


1. GDPR and data privacy – one of Microsoft’s new key focuses

Many of the representatives from global partners that we met shared an interest in a common topic: GDPR.


It is clear to see that businesses worldwide are feeling the impact of this regulatory change. We encountered many business who needed practical guidance on how this complex regulation applies to them and what to do.


Conversely, other more perceptive businesses had recognized that GDPR is simply the most notable of a wide variety of new data privacy regulations across the world. This creates a complex and potentially dangerous tapestry of legislation that demands expert understanding in order to ensure adherence.


As part of this, it is essential that businesses fully understand their entire data journey and the liabilities within it. This starts with responsible collection and prudent hosting of the data, including understanding and addressing any data residency requirements that may apply, and then ensuring that the business the express right to perform any intended processing of that data – especially where driven by analytics or AI.


Microsoft is seeking out partners who truly understand data’s journey in this way and can help their customers thrive in this new age of balancing innovation with individuals’ data privacy rights – part of what they term the “Modern Workplace”. Calligo is clearly a natural fit, given our heritage in data optimization and privacy, and were held up as an example of Microsoft’s vision for partner evolution.


Read our Tales from the GDPR Frontline – a collection of anecdotes from our Data Privacy Services team on the GDPR misunderstandings and oversights that they encounter with everyday clients.


2. Data optimization and artificial intelligence will become ‘de rigeur’

Recently, Calligo has delved deep into the world of Artificial Intelligence and is exploring the revolutionary ways that businesses can use AI to optimize their data.


Microsoft too has been paying this area a great deal of attention and judging by their investment and rate of innovation, they are not slowing down any time soon. Calligo and Microsoft are actively working on strengthening their partnership in order to bring these innovative technologies to market. Listening to Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft’s keynote, he described the advancement in technology in his lifetime and his vision when developing services like the Azure public cloud. He stated that the opportunities within the field of AI, which were historically thought to be impossible, are exceeding all expectations:


“The opportunities for us to serve our customers in this new era of the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge is far greater. I’ve sort of lived through the client-server, the Web, mobile, cloud, but what we’re going to see going forward is going to be even more profound.”

Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft


Learn more about our Data Insights service line here.

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3. The importance and broad usefulness of Azure Stack

One of the areas of the Microsoft portfolio with the greatest potential is the Azure Stack. An extension of the Azure public cloud, Azure Stack allows businesses to deploy Azure services and capabilities in local, jurisdiction-specific resources, safeguarding data residency requirements without sacrificing access to Azure’s highly innovative tools.


The opening of our new multi-tenanted Azure Stack in Toronto – the fifth in our network, making it now one of the largest multi-tenanted networks worldwide – gained significant interest across the event, as we discussed the issues that fellow partners and their customers were experiencing with meeting their global privacy obligations.


Azure Stack is of particular interest not just in data privacy, but also in developing and deploying new business applications, one of Microsoft’s four core areas of focus. A hybrid deployment of Azure Stack and public Azure creates a consistent environment where tools, applications models, DevOps services and APIs are all identical across both platforms. This allows developers to either build locally in Azure Stack first and then roll out globally, or take advantage of Azure’s scale and advanced toolkits for testing and development and then deploy on guaranteed local resources if there are sensitivities around the app or the data it uses. This makes application design and delivery faster, more efficient and more reliable, and allows more innovative and adventurous applications to be designed.


Find out more about Azure Stack and its use cases in our introductory download here.


There is therefore a single theme that ties these three takeaways together: responsible innovation. Microsoft’s thirst for invention continues relentlessly. But it is also keen to emphasize to its customers and partners that innovation – whether in AI, data analytics or new app development – must never be allowed to overstep data subjects’ privacy or regulatory obligations. And nor should the reverse be true – innovation should not be hindered by privacy concerns. This is why Microsoft is working hard to provide technologies that enable this fine balance, and why Calligo is an ideal partner to help businesses achieve it.

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