Microsoft’s transformation in the last few years has been nothing but remarkable. Under Satya Nadella, the Redmon giant has regained its momentum as one of the lead innovators in new technoogy markets such as virtual reality, internet or things or artificial intelligence(AI). Nadella’s famous slogan of Microsoft becoming a “cloud-first, mobile-first company” guided Microsoft’s strategy in recent years. However, Microsoft’ has been slowly shifting its attention to a new and ambitious goal of becoming an AI-First company.
Not a week goes by in which we don’t hear about another important AI initiative by Microsoft. A new AI foundation, the release of an AI-First testing tool or a corporate reorg to improve the focus on AI technologies have been some of the highlights of recent weeks. Let’s do a quick recap:
— Project Springfield: Under the radar, Microsoft announced the release of Project Springfield. Incubated by Microsoft Research, Project Springfield is a cloud service optimized for “white fox buzz testing”that uses AI to generate different inputs to a software in order to uncover vulnerabilities or induce failures.
— New AI and Research Group: Recently, Microsoft announced the creation of a new division that combines Microsoft Research and more than 500 engineers working on AI technologies at the company. The goal of of the new group is to improve the collaboration between research and engineering on Microsoft AI products.
— New Partnership on AI: Together with Facebook, Google, IBM and Amazon; Microsoft announced the Partnership on AI, a new foundation to advance AI research as well as to improve the regulatory environment around it.
These are just some of the most recent headlines on Microsoft’s AI strategy. While the race in the AI technology market is intensifying with companies such as Facebook, Google, IBM or Amazon as well as dozens of AI startups, Microsoft has some very unique assets that can result in a competitive advantage in the space.
Five Key Assets of an AI-First Microsoft
Windows: AI-First OS
By incorporating Cortana an dother AI technologies, Windows is starting a transition towards becoming an AI-First OS. The widespread adoption of Windows in the enteprrise can result on a very unique distribution channel for Microsoft’s AI technologies.
Azure: AI-First cloud
The release of cloud services such as Azure Machine Learning(ML), Microsoft Cognitive Services or even the recently announced Project Springfield are examples of Azure’s transformation towards an AI-First cloud platform. While Microsoft is facing strong competition from PaaS providers such as Google, Amazon and IBM, it has already managed to achieved meaninful traction in the space.
Office 365 & Dynamics: AI-First SaaS
Office 365 and other SaaS products such as CRM Online has been steadily incorporating AI capabilities. With companies like Salesforce entering the AI-First SaaS race, we can expect Microsoft to become more active and competitive in this market.
Skype: AI-First Messaging
Language translation, bots and natural language processing(NLP) are some of hte recnet AI capabilities added to Skype. the popularity of Skype as well as its global user base can become a unique distribution channel for Microsoft’s AI technologies.
LinkedIn: AI-First Social
If Microsoft is able to complete its acquisition of LinkedIn, it will add several very sophisticated AI and data intelligence capabilities to its technology portfolio. Recently, LinkedIn has been aggressively investing on AI technologies in areas such as messaging, recruiting and sales tools.