Keynote talks come and go, and often they are more misguided sales pitches than actual keynote talks. That wasn’t the case at Microsoft Ignite this year, when CEO Satya Nadella spoke about a more significant change (it’s worth watching) in 30 minutes than most others talk about over several years of keynotes. He spoke about a coming massive data-center pivot, the increasing ability to alter perceived reality, a change in how data is handled to massively shorten the time to respond to the next pandemic, the final elimination of passwords and a massive change in employee management and development.
What is a little frightening is that this is just the beginning of the massive pivot we call the Fourth Industrial Revolution, suggesting even bigger things are coming.
Let’s talk about the big takeaways from the CEO keynote at Microsoft Ignite.
The Distributed Cloud
Nadella said that the industry has reached maximum centralization. Those cloud efforts are now decentralizing and becoming more ubiquitous, moving resources closer to improving performance and better compliance with localized regulations. This shift would drive a better balance between consumption and creation by enabling new creators and new media forms to consume. In effect, eventually, everyone will be a creator of some kind, contributing to the global whole more seamlessly.
Trust By Design
This new distributed architecture will drive a concept called Trust by Design. Trust by Design is a strategic change moving customers from a focus on product sales to delivering success to their customers. This outcome will result from the growing realization that the most successful companies assure their customers’ success, not those focusing on just selling products and focusing on short-term revenues. Every company looking to buy tech is pivoting to both adopting and building what they need at a frantic pace to better deal with the pandemic and better position their firms for the future.
Microsoft Mesh is a blend of technologies that will help creators imagine and design products virtually across long distances, potentially eliminating 90%+ of the need for business travel. According to Microsoft, once mature and 18 months out from that maturity, it will deliver a remote experience nearly indistinguishable from being at the location in person. Mesh will drive a redesign of collaboration rooms to mirror each other to make them easier to use and better integrate with remote locations participating in the related mixed reality meeting. I can imagine a future where new homes have these collaboration rooms that will be more popular and more widely used than the last decade’s home theater craze. I can even imagine a possible future where, once you put on the headgear, your home office looks and feels like you were on location, and the only group office you’ll ever know only exists virtually in the cloud.
This virtual workspace capability will lead to the concept of a hybrid-workspace one that effectively is wherever you are, where you can shift seamlessly during meetings from fixed to mobile resources and continue, increasingly without anyone else knowing, so you can deal with the events in your home or life while continuing to function in your virtual office. Office buildings will evolve to be more for ad hoc meetings and collaboration so that those who don’t have the home space for these virtual meetings can find a place to meet–yet, on those ever more rare times, personal meetings can still be held. All displays will be connected, and any display can be used to gain access to a collaboration session if a mixed reality headset isn’t available. I can imagine a time when you are in your autonomous car, and the display in the car is used when you are just listening in to a meeting, but where you can still put on your mixed reality headset if you need to participate more deeply.
No more passwords
If you genuinely want this experience to be painless and seamless, we’ll need to get rid of passwords and find a more secure and more accessible way to get authenticated. Microsoft announced Azure ID, a passwordless way to authenticate using technology rather than your memory to keep track of your credentials.
Over the 40 or so years I’ve been working in tech, the industry has been trying to eliminate passwords; with Azure ID, we may finally get to the point where we can.
Individually, each of these elements is huge. Together, they imply a change where our systems know who we are, auto-provision for whatever we need and provide an even richer experience from wherever we are. This new set of concepts will create a world where we’ll mostly travel via Holoportation rather than planes, where we can better balance work and life, and where we can truly trust the solutions that enhance and enable our jobs. It will be more secure, more productive, more pleasant and customized to our unique needs and desires on how we want to work and live.
I can’t tell yet what this world will look like–much of it will be virtual after all, but once this is clear, it won’t look anything like we have today. I kind of think that is a good thing.
Rob Enderle is a principal at Enderle Group. He is a nationally recognized analyst and a longtime contributor to eWEEK and Pund-IT. Enderle is considered one of the top 10 IT analysts in the world by Apollo Research, which evaluated 3,960 technology analysts and their individual press coverage metrics.