Conference Notes

The Art of the Possible in London – with Automated Intelligence, Microsoft UK, and Others

Two weeks ago I was in London, Utrecht and Brussels for various events. On the Tuesday in London I attended and participated in The Art of the Possible, a one-day conference hosted by Automated Intelligence and Microsoft UK, at the new Microsoft premises at Paddington. Now I’m back in New Zealand and almost over jet lag, some notes from the day:

Mark Godfrey, CEO of Automated Intelligence, opened the day with some comments about how to get started in moving to Office 365, the great capability-drain that happened to UK firms with outsourced IT 25 years ago, and the strategy-lacking piecemeal-approach many firms take to IT now. Mark outlined the idea that in order to get benefit from Office 365 you have to fully transition from current state systems, such as file shares, to Office 365. He talked about the Automated Intelligence approach to helping clients achieve this.

Simon Cole, CTO of Automated Intelligence, went next. Simon talked about the live demo they were going to run over the course of the conference – analysing 50 million files using AI.DATAPOINT (an Automated Intelligence offering) to identify, catalog, and analyse what files existed on the demo file share, and prepare for a migration to Office 365. Simon talked about some big numbers – like the financial services firm that has 45 TB of data / 115 billion documents that need to be analysed and categorised in advance of migrating to Office 365. You can’t rely on human processing to get there.

Jeff Johnson, UK Azure Sales Director at Microsoft, talked about “Why Cloud Needs to Be in Your Digital Agenda.” His key points were: digital transformation is the next industrial revolution, Microsoft is investing significantly in Azure, and customers are leveraging Azure’s capabilities to quickly deploy and create new services. Among others, Jeff called out Aviva’s use of Azure to create a way of customising vehicle insurance for drivers based on their actual driving behaviours.

Steve Sharpe from LAN2LAN talked about how they are helping organisations with the transformation to Office 365. His key point was that it’s not a technology question anymore – it’s a new way of thinking (about value, about working style, about embracing trends in the market).

Fiona Durham from Automated Intelligence talked about meeting corporate obligations in a cloud-first world, with an especial focus on financial services organisations and the need for data integrity, governance, and security. One of her key points was that lots of unstructured data creates a problem for firms – and thus the need for the data analysis and classification tools offered by Automated Intelligence to reduce risk.

During the afternoon, Steve Durbin from the London Borough of Enfield Council talked about the council’s transformation journey, and some of the challenges experienced along the way. Michael Wignall from Microsoft UK addressed transformation in the public sector, and how Office 365 is a key enabler of this transformation. I gave a session on re-imagining transformation and productivity with Office 365, talking about how the capabilities in Office 365 can be used to change work practices and processes, which can have flow-through effects on organisational structure, culture, and business model. The afternoon was finished by Paul Donnelley from NHS Education for Scotland talking about their journey to Office 365, and how Automated Intelligence had made a large contribution to the journey.

One of the cool things about being at Microsoft UK was the 84″ Surface Hub in the conference room, which was used well by speakers throughout the day to both display data and act as a digital whiteboard. I hadn’t worked with an 84″ Surface Hub before – it was a nice piece of kit!

There were a lot of good ideas to hear during the day. It was great to be part of it.