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Last month at Microsoft Build 2023, we unveiled new capabilities and a copilot framework to empower organizations to achieve more with generative AI using their own data or data from a third-party they have access to. From Azure OpenAI Service to Microsoft Fabric, it’s clear this technology can accelerate innovation among builders of all skill levels, increasing the value and relevance of big data through the power of natural language.
Amidst all the announcements at Microsoft Build 2023, I also value the focus our Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott placed on product fundamentals. Yes, generative AI is exciting and enables meaningful advances in application development, speed, and cost efficiency, but that “does not absolve any of us of the responsibility of thinking about what good product-making looks like.” Like every platform shift before, generative AI will impact how builders build. It should not change why we build: to solve real-world problems.
I recently explored the context and impact of the monumental platform shift we are facing in the Wall Street Journal, followed by my thoughts on how leading companies are using generative AI to drive business value and how other organizations can assess and plan for AI success. These articles were the culmination of countless conversations with customers and partners that recognize AI readiness as a continuous journey. And since we’re in the early days of this new platform shift, learning from peers is essential as we embark on the journey together.
In this month’s blog, I’ll highlight recent product updates and spotlight great customers and partners who are putting Azure to work to solve real problems in innovative ways. I hope these examples inspire you to put Azure to work at your organization. If you are a Microsoft partner, please join us July 18 to 19, 2023 at Microsoft Inspire for in-depth learning on how you can drive customer success with the latest innovations from Azure.
Customers expanding productivity, accessibility, and innovation with Azure AI
A quick reminder: Microsoft runs on Azure AI. It’s a point of pride for our company and an incredible pressure test that translates to accelerated learning and industry-leading innovation on behalf of our partners and customers. Microsoft was recently recognized as a Leader for the 4th year in a row in the 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Cloud AI Developer Services, placing furthest for Completeness of Vision. This month, a new Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study conducted by Forrester Consulting, also revealed that Azure AI customers have collectively witnessed a 284 percent ROI over 3 years. We are committed to making Azure AI the trusted AI platform for every developer to invent with purpose, whether extending a Microsoft solution or building something net new from the ground up.
San Raffaele University and Research Hospital transforms clinical research and delivers precision medicine using AI
San Raffaele University and Research Hospital is one of the largest of its kind in Italy, as well as a pioneer of cutting-edge translational research and technology adoption at both a national and international level. During COVID-19, the organization saw an opportunity to start using AI to better triage incoming symptomatic patients and identify their future reaction to the virus. Fast forward to today, the pilot project has been turned into an intelligent data solution powered by AI—which San Raffaele is using to transform clinical research, improve the end-to-end patient journey inside the hospital and accelerate its own move towards precision medicine.
Reddit improves accessibility and SEO through Azure Cognitive Service for vision image and caption generation
Reddit is a community of communities where millions of users across the globe find and share images and other content around their interests, hobbies, and passions. The company sought to enhance the search engine optimization (SEO) of its images in an effort to broaden the site’s accessibility, particularly for users who are blind or have low vision. Using AI, Reddit was able to quickly generate accurate alt text for its vast catalogue of images; applying their solution to existing images on the platform as well as the thousands of new images added daily.
ERM combats corporate ‘greenwashing’ with ESG assessment tool powered by Azure Machine Learning
In pursuit of helping companies around the world achieve net-zero carbon emissions, ERM, the largest global pure play sustainability consultancy, has built a standardized software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool that can rate companies based on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks for private capital investors. ESG Fusion combines machine learning and subject matter expertise to provide peer reviewed ESG reports to ERM clients. Powered by Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, ESG Fusion can provide a comprehensive assessment of a company’s ESG risks and opportunities within two business days—a big step in promoting sustainable business practices around the globe.
Customers modernizing their data to fuel advanced analytics and intelligent applications
Powering organization-specific AI experiences requires a constant supply of clean data from a well-managed and highly integrated analytics system. One of our biggest announcements at Microsoft Build 2023 last month was Microsoft Fabric, an end-to-end, unified analytics platform that brings together all the data and analytics tools that organizations need to bring their data into era of AI. With Fabric, customers don’t need to piece together different data services from multiple vendors. Instead, they can enjoy a highly integrated and easy-to-use product designed to simplify their analytics needs—complete with a single purchase model allowing customers to use their analytics budget for the components of the analytics value chain they are most focused on. Learn why customers like Ferguson, T-Mobile, and Aon are excited about Microsoft Fabric.
American Airlines gains speed and boosts reliability by flying real-time data to Azure SQL
American Airlines wanted to move its real-time customer data domain from an aging on-premises datacenter to the cloud. After evaluating several possible routes, the airline’s Customer Hub team chose Microsoft Azure SQL because it satisfied every one of their demanding requirements. The complex process unfolded in multiple phases to shift both data and apps to Azure, giving them greater flexibility, automated maintenance, and alignment with the airline’s transformation goals so that American Airlines can deploy solutions to customers faster.
Rockwell Automation transforms industrial business with Azure Cosmos DB
Rockwell Automation, a leader in the industrial automation space, embarked on a digital transformation journey to offer their customers a more seamless and productive SaaS platform. This WIRED article explores how Rockwell set out to deliver a cloud-based, collaborative data environment that is available anywhere, anytime, for both their employees and customers. They used Azure Cosmos DB and Azure Kubernetes Service to scale automatically and keep costs in line with growth.
Rx Health makes sense of data from millions of health wearables with Azure Cosmos DB
Managing terabytes of wearable-generated health data is a difficult task without the right tools. Azure Cosmos DB is helping developers of medical Internet of Things (IoT) applications bridge the gap between the structured world of health record systems and the more dynamic world of non-relational databases and IoT. For example, Rx Health, an automated care coordination company, uses sensor-based technologies and Azure Cosmos DB to power a heart failure program which monitors congestive heart failure patients at home and provides educational and motivational messages from medical professionals directly to their mobile devices.
Xbox combines AI and Azure Cosmos DB to provide better gaming experiences
Whether it’s generating more realistic opponents or more helpful allies, AI is changing the way games are played. In a recent video by Ars Technica, Haiyan Zhang, General Manager of Gaming AI at Xbox, highlighted how AI and real-time player and game data is being used to balance and improve game play. For content safety, Xbox uses Watch For, a Microsoft media AI platform that analyzes images, videos, live steams, and other media content in real-time and is powered by Azure Cosmos DB. Using Azure Cosmos DB, Watch For processes hundreds of millions of requests and billions of classifications each month for safer game play.
Aware propels platform performance and enhanced customer experiences with Azure Cosmos DB
Aware is an industry leader in contextual intelligence, transforming digital voices at scale into actionable organizational insights that help business leaders address the growing unstructured dataset of enterprise collaboration tools. To manage the vast amounts of data its platform needs to ingest, the company turned to Microsoft Azure Cosmos DB to augment and support its traditional Azure Database for PostgreSQL architecture. The company now has fewer issues with large content data, better platform performance, reduced costs, and a more consistent experience for its customers.
Dentsu builds an Azure-supported analytics platform to modernize data across the organization
Dentsu is a marketing and advertising network dedicated to brand partnership that delivers meaningful progress and growth through unique and innovative media campaigns and bespoke data-driven solutions. The global organization spans more than 145 markets with 65,000 employees and serves 11,000 clients. To accelerate business insights across the organization, Dentsu invested in a modern data analytics effort that would take their business transformation to the next level. Now, Dentsu has a stronger data culture, supported by a reporting and analytics ecosystem that users can trust for business-critical decisions.
Swedbank migrates big data platform to Azure Cloud for enhanced security and scalability
Swedbank is a multinational bank with a 200-year history. Recently, the company took the bold decision to migrate its big data platform to the cloud in search of greater scalability and security. With Azure Databricks functioning at the core of this solution, the successful migration has brought the bank a wealth of benefits. From reduced time-to-market and cost savings to significant improvements in its ability to detect fraud—it has set the bank and its 7.7 million customers on course for a more secure future.
Recent product announcements from Azure Data and AI
In case you missed it: we had a lot of announcements at Microsoft Build 2023 in May! You can see the full rundown in our Microsoft Build 2023 Book of News. To close this month’s blog post, I’ll highlight some other recent announcements to support your development of even more intelligent applications.
- Azure OpenAI Service on your data is now available in public preview. This feature allows you to harness the power of OpenAI models, such as ChatGPT and GPT-4, with your own data in the Azure AI Studio. This revolutionizes the way you interact with and analyze your data, providing greater accuracy, speed, and valuable insights.
- Custom Text Analytics for health is now in public preview, available as part of the Azure Cognitive Service for Language. This feature extends the capabilities of Text Analytics for health, a pre-built natural language processing (NLP) solution for extracting and labelling medical information from unstructured medical text. Now, customers can build their own healthcare entity extraction model using data from specific medical domains or unique organizational data such as abbreviations.
- Accelerate content discovery and insight extraction for video and audio files using ChatGPT and Azure OpenAI service with Azure Video Indexer. This feature will allow you to enable deep search on video archives and can be especially useful for organizations that need to quickly review large volumes of video content for specific information. We listened to customer feedback and lowered the price on our most popular presets by 40 percent while also adding new advanced presets to improve and add more AI capabilities. Soon, you will be able to unlock content discovery and insights anywhere including on-premises, with the Azure Arc enabled extension.
- Pronunciation Assessment is now generally available in 19 languages in Azure Cognitive Service for Speech. This update extends support from English to 18 additional languages and quality enhancements to existing features, including accuracy, fluency, and intonation assessment. This feature supports comprehensive language learning solution for learners and educators worldwide, enabling learners to receive detailed feedback on their pronunciation skills and identify areas where they need improvement. Berlitz and HelloTalk are both utilizing pronunciation assessment to help facilitate language learning on a global scale.
Thank you for reading and we’ll see you again next month. If you’re a partner, I hope you will join us July 18 to 19, 2023 at Microsoft Inspire for more announcements, case studies, and expert guidance tailored to help your business succeed with Microsoft.
Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud AI Developer Services, Jim Scheibmeir, Svetlana Sicular, Arun Batchu, Mike Fang, Van Baker, Frank O’Connor, 22 May 2023. Gartner is a registered trademark and service mark and Magic Quadrant is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and are used herein with permission. All rights reserved.
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