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Microsoft Canada JumpStarts its digital transformation strategy

Microsoft Canada's Vinay Nair at the first ever Innovation Nation Summit in Toronto

TORONTO – Microsoft Canada, at the Innovation Nation Summit, outlined a new national strategy on digital transformation where it hopes to bring together business leaders, IT professionals and people who do not traditionally work in IT.

According to Vinay Nair, the director of Microsoft Canada’s Dynamics Business Group, Canada’s most valuable natural resource is now data.

“The national strategy is more of a movement. We want to start and create a dialog on digital transformation. People don’t associate data with creativity, but I beg to differ. It does take a level of creativity look at AirBnB, Facebook and Uber. These companies have turned their industries on their heads,” Nair said at the Innovation Nation Summit in Toronto, a show focused on the proliferation of disruptive technology for the Canadian marketplace.

From a Microsoft perspective this strategy will be supported by Office 365 and Cortana Analytics moving into a one-platform service. Nair said the key is for Dynamics 365 breaks down silos between ERP and CRM, and leverages the Advanced Analytics (Cortana Analytics) and Productivity platforms (0365).

Besides products, Nair added that markets segment such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, cloud, and may even include areas like robotics.

Also the pace of new releases from Microsoft coming into the Canadian market will be a part of the strategy. Updates are being planned to arrive on a monthly basis instead of annual or even semi-annually model.

Business futurist Greg Verdino said updates every couple of months is happening now because of the cloud. He added that Microsoft Canada engaging with business leaders and other non-IT people is a wise move in this strategy.

“The key point for business leaders is change and the only constant through the history of time is change and today change has become more of an accelerated rate of business change. Change has always been incremental but it’s moving toward exponential and the challenge for business leaders is that we are not wired for this type of change,” Verdino said.

The old strategy of dusting off last year’s business plan and adding 10 per cent will not work anymore, he added. “Companies like Spotify and Uber have completely disrupted industries because of it.”

From a training standpoint, Nair introduced three new programs specific for market segments on digital transformation called JumpStart. These JumpStart programs are being made available to channel partners. Currently there are three programs in the series: Dynamics 365 JumpStart plan, Jumpstart for Advanced Analytics and JumpStart for Internet of Things.

“These programs help create a new set of digital advisors and will include a number of channel partners,” Nair added.

JumpStart for Dynamics 365 is a short-term, advance planning engagement that can help define Dynamics 365 deployments. The program includes people, processes such as a change management framework, solution blueprints and tools. Microsoft Canada’s services team will work with the partner or customer to determine the degree of fit for Dynamics 365.

JumpStart for Advanced Analytics attempts to reduce costs by developing a self-service data exploration process. With the program, people can work independently to visualize data for better informed decision making. This also includes predictive modeling as well as Azure machine learning models.

Finally, the JumpStart for IoT reviews a customer’s business challenges. From there it maps out solution pillars on the Microsoft stack. It includes Architectural Design Sessions, storyboarding and the development of a working pilot.

Joe Belinsky, vice president of technology infrastructure services for Moneris Solutions told CDN he is looking for products such as SQL to push the envelope for business. “We are looking to eliminate any kind of wait times. Shaving milliseconds in the line up to pay is critical. We work internally to squeeze out performance and databases and data engines are really important,” he said.

Verdino said that AI is now everywhere because of the cloud. IoT has become a massive business opportunity. “These two things are changing the way we live and work. And, this is not just an opportunity for the unicorns. Large organizations are adopting these technologies because they have the data in their hands. It is radicalizing the old business models,” he said.