Microsoft is connecting the dots in the cloud, helping developers to see the bigger picture
Machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data were all in focus at Microsoft’s Transform conference in London. Taking place at a suitably frigid East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, Transform featured speakers from enterprise, government, non-profits organizations, and Microsoft themselves. The headliner was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who could probably deliver a slick, inspirational keynote in his sleep.
Catchy was there to find out what the latest progress in these areas means for developer program managers, and developers alike. Transform knew its audience well and was squarely focused on an enterprise based audience, but it’s clear that Microsoft’s vision for cloud based intelligence has big implications for developers of all stripes. Of most interest to developers, the availability of Microsoft’s cognitive services via API. Machine learning and computer vision have taken great strides in the last couple of years, and Microsoft seems keen to drive adoption by making them freely available to all. The cognitive services APIs will work when developing for both iOS and Android apps. Cloud based intelligence will transform what apps can do – the next battle is not over who offers the best apps or operating system, but whose cloud infrastructure and services will power them.
Vision, speech, language and video are all tasks that are hard to do locally, especially on a mobile device. In a ‘mobile first’ future, the more processes Microsoft can host from its cloud, the better. There are pre-requisites for building this kind of intelligence into apps, however. The first being the prevalence and standard of connectivity available, a close second is the all important trust factor. Both were recurring themes throughout the conference.
Andrew Spooner in his opening remarks mentioned that he teaches his kids that its ‘good to trust people with your data’, and the sentiment was echoed by the other speakers – with the caveat that that trust must be earned.
Matthew Gould, Director General for Digital and Media in UK government spoke about the role of infrastructure in both of these issues. “There is some good progress happening- internet connectivity will effectively be made a right for UK citizens.” Plans for 90% of the UK to have ‘superfast’ broadband are in the works, and a new national cyber security centre is being established to manage the obvious increase security related infrastructure.
Carsten Maple of the CPHC touch on another challenge, also addressed by Gould, which is the current skills gap brought on by an increased digital world. Referencing the Shadbolt review, he called out that by 2022 the UK will want 518,000 new workers to fill the roles created by a transformative digital economy.
For anyone involved in developer program management, this will be a key take-away. With demand for skills tight and getting tighter, attracting and retaining people for your developer program will be vital.
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