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Microsoft’s new mission is all about digital transformation

Microsoft has always tried to present itself as a “productivity” company that empowers people to achieve their goals. This mission statement is now being rethought as the race to new technologies such as the cloud and AI intensifies.
$4.5 trillion market
Increasingly, Microsoft is broadening its focus beyond individuals to encompass entire societies. At its recent Inspire partner conference, digital transformation was a theme throughout the entire event. As TechTarget’s SearchCIO blog reports, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is looking to take advantage of a market opportunity he values at $4.5 trillion.
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Widely, digital transformation refers to how emerging technologies will overhaul “traditional” industries and ways of life. It’s often the technology that gets the focus but, as Microsoft is keen to stress, increased productivity is the real goal.
Transforming products
Nadella sees digital transformation as having four main outcomes: engaging customers, empowering employees, optimizing operations and transforming products. Tellingly, none of these impacts directly relate to the technology that enables them. In fact, the same outcomes could have been cited during any of the technological revolutions of the past few centuries.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on stage at Inspire 2017

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on stage at Inspire 2017

For Microsoft, this shift away from being a pure technology company is highly significant. The company now wants to drive change on a scale that new software products and cloud services alone can’t enable.
“Digital cogs”
The company’s instead going to focus on tackling larger problems in society, modern industry and the economy, presenting technology as the enabler rather than the product. Technology will transcend beyond pure hardware and software to create a complete digital environment in which other systems interlink.

Microsoft Campus

Microsoft Campus

“With increasing digitization, where every part of our society and economy has been fundamentally transformed because of digital technology, the opportunity is greater than ever before,” SearchCIO reports Nadella said during Inspire. “Think about how every product, every service is going to have digital cogs associated with it. It’s no longer just about building an information system that keeps track of your products and services – the product and the service, itself, is digital.”
This shift won’t occur overnight. Microsoft itself is having to restructure so it can align itself with the concept. The company is overhauling its entire sales system around the idea of selling business advantages rather than technology.
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Microsoft’s also setting up dedicated industry lines with knowledge of the markets they target, including channels for finance, education and healthcare. These will allow the company to develop closer ties with different businesses, giving it a window into their digital transformation needs. It’ll then be able to develop new technological solutions, such as its recently-launched Microsoft 365 all-in-one cloud suite, that have the potential to revolutionise how they work.

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