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AI partner reveals customers' search for innovation

When asked about future technology, Microsoft is betting heavily on AI. AI dominated a presentation on future tech by Microsoft UK CTO Michael Wignall. He also wrapped ethical principles around his vision, perhaps because he is an optimist by nature. IoT on its own has been noticeable by its absence at this week’s Future Decoded event in London Docklands, aimed at customers and partners.

AI will primarily involve using technology for pattern and speech recognition, imaging and then using deeper machine-learning analysis for work such as diagnostics and data work to pull out valuable insights. "We are looking at an era of fourth industrial revolution and beyond when technology delivers new productivity levels once again," he says. 

AI has the opportunity to become a real pain, as anyone trying to work through an automated phone system will testify. ”You have to deploy it knowing the technology very well, including all about the customer and the customer's users,” says Adrian Thirkill, CEO of Microsoft partner GCI, one of the sponsors of the event. His company has been working with Microsoft on taking AI to customers.

If it is information gathering, then it works, he says; if highly technical then no. “I think that customers are using it well and buy our services to make it work for their customers. There will always be people who get it and some who don’t. Sometimes it depends on the sector – in a highly regulated environment such as law, you have to realise that some senior lawyers may never get technology, but they can underpin their business with people who do.”

It is all about time and investment. “The investment in education will help us and for the people coming out of education in future, this [use of AI] will be normal. We use it internally as well for our own people to be able to work together. It is not just about customers., but helping people work as a team. It is based on processes.”

The thing that is holding us back is a lack of a standard, and this prevents people understanding it and adopting it. “You can say IoT to a company, but they will respond ‘How do we use it?’ You can have all this data, but there may be systems that don’t support it and no way of acting on it. And technology is sometimes regarded as taking jobs away, whereas the opposite is true; by making people more effective, it makes them more valuable and means the business does better”

Other interesting technologies include IoT – both in the wireless mode and the very low end non-regulated world with low bandwidth, taking information that is stored on things. It is all about how you use this data.”