As we rapidly approach the end of the year, we can now tick another major event off of our collective calendars: Microsoft’s Future Decoded passed with an impressive flourish of innovation, accessibility, and environmentalism.
Hosted at ExCel London over two days, Microsoft’s Future Decoded is an event we (and many other partners) always look forward to attending. A hotspot of technological innovation and announcements, Future Decoded is undoubtedly a highlight of the calendar.
This year’s Future Decoded didn’t disappoint, with an intriguing opening speech from Microsoft’s UK CEO, Cindy Rose, followed by a number of fascinating sessions to hold the crowd’s interest.
If we were to talk at length about every aspect we enjoyed in 2019’s event, this article would stretch all the way to 2020’s iteration, and so we’ll keep it short by highlighting just three of our favourite learning points from the two days. Here goes…
Putting the ‘AI’ in Amazing
Artificial Intelligence certainly had its moment to shine in the spotlight during Future Decoded’s two-day event. From Cindy Rose’s opening speech sparking discussion on “meeting AI concerns head on”, to revelation after revelation as to what AI can achieve in sectors such as healthcare and finance, AI was the dominant talking point.
Just from the agenda alone, it’s evident that AI is high up on Microsoft’s batting list – and for excellent reason. AI has become a battleground of innovation, fought between the entertainment industry, plucky young start-ups, and the sleeping giants attempting to involve technology in their organisational operations. As a result, development and application has been suitably supercharged.
At Future Decoded – known for being a stage upon which innovations can strut as they’re announced – we found out that NHS Trusts can now share their AI innovations for the first time. The collaboration comes as a result of a shared marketplace via Thoughtonomy, hosted securely on Microsoft Azure.
Elsewhere, the ‘Accelerating competitive advantage with AI’ report formed the cornerstone of many a further discussion around AI over the two days, and will surely continue to do so over the coming months, even as Future Decoded fades into the rear view mirror.
Saving the World is a Priority
From Greta Thunberg to the Extinction Rebellion, climate change and how we can help to curb our impact on the environment has been – excuse the pun – a hot topic of late. Microsoft took note in the planning of Future Decoded 2019, vowing to crack down on plastic ahead of the event.
In an effort to make 2019’s iteration the most sustainable yet, Microsoft tackled single-use plastics head-on, providing water filling stations, encouraging reusable bottles, opting for recyclable coffee cups and stirrers, and vowing to replant and recycle foliage used around the venue.
Of course, technology has a part to play in environmental impact, and that was a topic also suitably addressed over the two days. Away from Future Decoded, we recently learned that OceanMind is using AI to tackle illegal fishing – tying in nicely with Microsoft’s announcement on day one that it would open its doors to AI developers aiming to help the planet. The second ‘AI for Good’ programme will support twelve start-ups, charities, social enterprises, and small/medium-sized businesses on their individual social missions.
Making the World Accessible
The third of our favourite highlights is something that affects many of us, but only in recent years has it become a priority: accessibility. Visitors and commentators on Twitter were quick to praise Microsoft for using sign language and captions, and for ensuring digital accessibility in all slides used throughout the event.
Outside of Future Decoded (and yet inextricably tied to it, thanks to the prevailing theme of AI), Microsoft has been busy supporting innovators using AI to meet different users’ accessibility needs. From understanding non-speech patterns, to supporting children’s STEM opportunities, Microsoft’s grantees have all proudly contributed towards Microsoft’s accessibility mission – and it showed at Future Decoded.
Same Again Next Year?
With both 2018 and 2019 featuring an assortment of AI-based features, discussions, and announcements, can we expect 2020’s Future Decoded to be the same? It’s a possibility, but only because AI and its many, many potential applications are still being explored – and that’s a good thing!
Already, we’ve come on leaps and bounds from last year’s Future Decoded, where AI was showcased for its sentiment analysis of Shakespeare’s work, and a desperate plea for innovation was expressed.
In just twelve months, the conversation has transformed, with AI branching into a range of industries, helping to transform both the environment, and how we experience it. If there’s more of AI to come at Future Decoded 2020, then…great! We’re ready to hear all about it.
Did you get a chance to chat with our team at Future Decoded? If not, drop us a line and let’s talk all things Microsoft.