“The World Is Becoming A Giant Computer,” Says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

By Phil Rainsberger

At Microsoft’s recent Build event in Seattle for developers and customers, CEO, Satya Nadella used his keynote speech to describe how rapidly and how deeply advanced technologies such as cloud, AI, Machine Learning, IoT, and blockchain have morphed from experimental concepts to mainstream enterprise technologies.

As part of this high-speed evolution, Nadella said, vast amounts of computing power are being installed out at “the edge” via the interconnected Internet of Things, or IoT. That intelligence is now being infused into machinery, airplanes, oil wells, hospitals, buildings, medical devices, food products, factory floors, and many many other places.

The vast spread of this type of highly sophisticated intelligence has even enabled some of those physical things to become “autonomous,” or self-managing: cars, trucks, devices, robotics, machinery and much more.

And what is turning that evolution into a full-fledged revolution, said Nadella, is that these “edge” objects are beginning to move beyond having basic sensors that can only transmit data back upstream to a centralized computer—those things out on the edge are now being infused with significant levels of computing power so that they can, out on the edge, not only transmit data but also collect it, analyze it, make decisions about it, and trigger appropriate actions.

In the meantime, those objects are using AI to learn how to learn—so that as they collect and analyze more data, they’re able to make more-intelligent decisions more quickly and thereby enable intelligent, real-time processes to occur with little or no human intervention.

The result, says Nadella, is that “the world’s becoming a computer.”

Now, depending on how you feel about computers, that could be a good thing or a bad thing—but whatever your sentiments might be, the repercussions for businesspeople are clear:

1. The move to digital business is accelerating, and business leaders must be willing to take long, hard looks at all facets of their operations to determine where and how “the intelligent edge” will give them competitive advantages by being able to drive more value for their customers. Because that outcome isn’t a question of if, it’s a matter of when.

2. People are leaning on digital technology in more and more parts of our lives: how we work, play, learn, travel, communicate, shop, explore, consume entertainment, invest and more. So companies that fail to offer a rich and *customer-driven* range of digital services and models of engagement will fall farther and farther behind, and become less and less relevant—and less able to catch up.

3. The foundation for most of these advanced technologies in the cloud because it was built for digital technology, digital business, and digital innovation. And if a company hasn’t yet begun to move into the cloud, it has no shot—none—of being able to be part of this challenging but also exciting and high-potential world of digital business.

For Microsoft, the rather striking notion that “the world is becoming a computer” isn’t just some fanciful marketing-speak. Because as Microsoft sees it if the world is indeed becoming a giant computer, then that big honkin’ computer’s going to need some very powerful and popular software to run it. And why not Microsoft Azure, one of the most—if not the most—popular cloud software platforms in the world?

In that context, Nadella said later in his keynote that Microsoft is enhancing and extending Azure to in fact be “the world’s computer.” To be sure, we’re in the early days of this stunning cutover to a digital world, and Nadella’s surely positioning his company for the future with his suggestion that the world is becoming a computer, and Azure is the software that runs that giant computer.

But that focus on the future is a very good type of position for Nadella to take because the future is coming at us faster than it ever has before—and business leaders simply have to adapt to life in this dizzying new digital reality. Because the alternatives are not at all pretty.

It is time to start thinking about how to move your business into the digital transformation, and Tier1 is the perfect partner to get you started. We’re experts in the digital world and as a Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider, we can help you map out how you can use these remarkable new technologies to satisfy your customers, accelerate your operations, and grow your business.