Many companies simply are not willing to change or think they are done once they make a change. But the truth is technology, consumer demands, the way we work, human needs and much more are constantly changing.
MEDIA 7: You have had a remarkable professional journey of over 34 years, would you please like to give us a peek into it?
MICHAEL WALTON: Growing up my family was very poor, but very close in many ways. I wasn’t sure where to start my career but was certain I wanted to do something in Information Sciences. I pulled a computer from the apartment complex trash can one day and was able to get it working – I was inspired! I stayed home from school the next day and learned how to do simple code and wrote my first video game. It was basic, but I knew this was the industry I wanted to be in. Additionally, my father was a World War II veteran, and our family was very patriotic. I knew I wanted to serve in the military and others. I have lived my life doing exactly what I wanted to do… served in the military, served others, and worked in Information Sciences.
M7: Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Could you please share how does Microsoft execute this?
MW: Microsoft takes this mission to heart. It is at the core of all we do. Microsoft invests every day pushing our solutions and creating new ones to empower every person and every organization to be more productive. I see this in the manufacturers I work with where they leverage Microsoft Power BI, Dynamics Business Apps, TEAMS, Azure, and Machine Learning/AI to collect and analyze data for insights and predictions to better run their plants, supply chain, finance, and more. I witness them automating so many processes that historically were very manual, resulting in much greater efficiency. I am bearing witness to the Citizen Developer global community creating insights and efficiencies that used to take an army of consultants. Last but not least, the collaboration with TEAMS and other Microsoft tools has been so empowering for people during the pandemic. It is a truly exciting time!
I advocate business leaders get to know more about what AI can do and then leverage AI in proofs of concept.
M7: Could you please give our readers an insight into the upcoming event ‘Microsoft Ignite’ and what does it hold for the attendees?
MW: Microsoft Ignite is a chance to “Thrive in times of change by embracing opportunities to hone technical skills, create connections, and learn new ways to innovate.” It is November 3 and 4 this year. Anyone can attend from anywhere if they have a connection and it’s free! It is a first-class event to learn, explore, and network. Many great topics will be discussed such as Augmented Reality, Automation, Collaboration, tech skills classes & challenges, a special learning zone… all digital! Many of our great partners will be there as well. My personal favorite aspect of Ignite is NETWORKING! You get to meet and socialize with the very best of Microsoft Engineering, Product Teams, and Partners. You can connect with them on LinkedIn and collaborate potentially in the future with them. How cool is that! You can register here - Microsoft Ignite.
M7: Would you like to tell us about the latest innovative products offered by Microsoft?
MW: As I mentioned earlier, our mission is at the core of all we do at Microsoft. However, so is ‘accessibility and inclusive design’. This is absolutely key. I cannot share any unannounced innovations coming, but I would keep an eye out for many new hardware and cloud innovation announcements at Ignite. Many many exciting things are coming that are simply jaw-dropping!
To truly empower businesses with AI/technology business leaders must put it in the hands of everyone, not just developers and scientists, and it must be human-centric.
M7: What do you think is essential to stay competitive in a market that is going through constant digital transformation?
MW: A couple of things: the first is the willingness to constantly change. Many companies simply are not willing to change or think they are done once they make a change. But the truth is technology, consumer demands, the way we work, human needs and much more are constantly changing. We must meet or exceed this head-on. That requires constant change. That leads me to the second: Digital technology is so empowering on so many fronts, but for it to be empowering it must be for everyone. We must allow everyone to participate and have the opportunity to ‘achieve more.’ You probably thought I was going to say something about using AI, Machine Learning, Cloud, and more, but no - being able to create a culture that is willing to deal with constant change and empowering everyone with technology to deal with it, is my answer.
M7: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
MW: AI and its use are advancing at an unprecedented pace! I absolutely adore AI. There is no question AI is making an astounding difference in businesses. I have seen it solve many big and difficult problems. AI is having a profound impact regarding evolving business models. In order to prepare for this, I advocate business leaders get to know more about what AI can do and then leverage AI in proofs of concept. This will aid a business and its business leadership to further their understanding of AI and get a feel for how their company responds. There is a great resource Microsoft created called AI Business School to provide guidance on strategy, culture, responsibility, and other critical topics for key decision-makers across industries. As business leaders work through the AI Business School and in customer relationships, we’ve seen a few companies who set the bar for what an AI-powered organization can be.
Additionally, Microsoft created the Best of Business AI 2021: to showcase customers who have shown us what it looks like to have a comprehensive strategy and execute it across the organization to create business value and momentum with digital transformation. I learn best through anecdotal and factual based evidence. The Best of Business AI 2021 builds on the frameworks from AI Business School and features 10 customers who are accelerating their AI journey by connecting a strong leadership approach to their business goals and technical capabilities. As I stated earlier, to truly empower businesses with AI/technology business leaders must put it in the hands of everyone, not just developers and scientists and it must be human-centric. At Microsoft, we have ethical AI reviews to ensure the AI being created is responsible. Here is a link to learn more about Responsible AI principles from Microsoft.