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Spark + AI Summit Europe - Developing from cloud to the edge

Posted on October 3, 2018

Corporate Vice President, Azure Data

Organizations around the world are gearing up for a future powered by data, cloud, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This week at Spark + AI Summit Europe, I talked about how Microsoft is committed to delivering cutting-edge innovations that help our customers navigate these technological and business shifts.

The driving force behind powerful AI applications is data – and getting the most out of AI requires a modern data estate. Organizations are using their data to extract important insights to drive their businesses forward and engage their customers in ways that were simply not possible before. One such example is the Real Madrid Football Club, one of the world’s top sports franchises with 500 million fans worldwide. Real Madrid built a global digital sports platform to engage one-on-one with fans, implement personalized promotional campaigns, and use data to track and analyze fan behaviors, among many other capabilities. This data-driven strategy has led to a 400 percent increase in installed fan base, and a 30 percent increase in digital revenue growth for the club.

“We used to pull data from just five sources before, but now we pull from more than 70 sources using our Microsoft Azure platform. This has enabled us to grow our number of fan profiles by about 400 percent in the past two years—it’s now in the millions.”

- Begoña Sanz, Commercial General Manager, Real Madrid

The influx of data powered AI opportunities is not only limited to the intelligent cloud, but we are also seeing a foundational shift in the computing paradigm to the intelligent edge. The intelligent edge enables you to package your applications into containers and deploy them onto the devices themselves, delivering the intelligence closer to the source of data. As we announced last week, we are continuing to invest in the intelligent edge with tools and services like Azure Sphere, IoT Edge, and Azure Stack, because we fundamentally believe that the impact of data and AI is made even more profound with the power of the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge. Customers like BMW are revolutionizing their customer experience with connected cars. DunavNET has brought the power of digital transformation to farmers to help them generate better quality food, higher yields, and increased profits. Rolls Royce, a leading manufacturer of aircraft engines, is using the intelligent edge to analyze data remotely and deliver real time actionable insights to airlines about engine performance for predictive maintenance. These are just a few examples of customers leveraging their data, wherever it exists, to turn it into breakthrough insights.

To enable developers and data scientists to build data and AI solutions, this year in March we announced the general availability of Azure Databricks, a fast, easy and collaborative Apache® Spark™ based analytics service on Azure. Since then we are seeing a huge momentum as customers continue to leverage the power of Spark to build machine learning and deep learning models. To build on the momentum, last week at Microsoft Ignite conference we announced the preview of Delta, service availability in 9 additional regions, and other exciting features that you can learn more about in the blog.

Azure Databricks along with the intelligent edge is enabling customers like Shell to build machine vision and AI solution at their gas station retail locations. This enables them to detect unsafe actions in near real time and alert staff so that they can intervene.

“We’re taking advantage of the Azure Databricks shared environment—we’ve made it our preferred collaboration platform, and it’s helping our data scientists and engineers share more and get to the next level of AI sophistication. Because Azure Databricks is highly elastic, we get really powerful spin up/spin down capabilities, and our developers love its neat, elegant user interface.”

- Daniel Jeavons, General Manager for Data Science, Shell

Azure Databricks has also enabled customers like LINX Cargo Care, a national supply chain and logistics provider, to transform their businesses. LINX was able to analyze customer payment behavior to better understand what was paid, owed, the gap, and payment history, revealing patterns or trends that can help LINX improve customer service and close the payment gaps.

“By using Azure Databricks analytics to understand payment patterns, our customer service reps will be able to make targeted, proactive collection phone calls... We expect to recover 90 percent of outstanding funds by their due dates.”

- Thomas Gianniodis, General Manager IT, LINX CC Group

Regardless of where you want to develop your big data solutions, Microsoft offers the most comprehensive data platform to make AI real for your business. Whether you want to use Spark on SQL Server 2019, build deep learning and AI models in the cloud with Azure Databricks, or deploy them at the edge with Azure Machine Learning service, we have you covered.

At Microsoft, we are committed to delivering AI into the hands of every developer and data scientist so they can unleash the power of data and reimagine possibilities that will improve our world.

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