Joanna Grimbley Smith
15th April 2020 · 20 min read

Think fast:

Who do you look up to?

Who’s your business inspiration?

What drives your ambition, and makes you get out of bed in the morning?

I can take a guess that industry leaders are always on your mind when it comes to setting goals for your business.

Steve Jobs… Mark Zuckerberg… Bill Gates…

All are titans of business, and all represent a level of success I’m sure you’re eager to get your hands on.

(I know am, anyway!)

Your future is digital.

Question is, how can you reach this level of success?

How about working with them?

No, I’m serious.

The hottest new trend set to rock the world of business is ‘digital transformation’.

But if you can get a leg up on the competition by teaming up with the biggest business in the world, you can be sure to be streaks ahead.

And that’s exactly what my client wanted.

The thing is, they had no clue how to go about this.

They didn’t know the type of services or products their business needed, and they didn’t even know they needed a digital transformation!

That’s where we came in.

As a vintage clothing store that was fresh to the market, I knew that they needed products for a small retail business, and could point them towards their digital transformation.

7 months later, and they’re reporting back a 37% increase in revenue.

I know, right?

So, to save you the search for your latest business solution - and make sure you get the same results as my client did - I thought I’d let you in on everything you need to know about Microsoft’s services and products for digital transformations.

All you have to do is know your business!

(Easy.)

This article will take you through what a digital transformation is, what products and services Microsoft has on offer, which businesses should opt for which products and services, and take you through Microsoft’s DT ideas for each industry.

Outpace Competitors

Your business can't afford to be run by technophobes.

You need a technology-team beside you every step of the way.

Chapter 1
What Is A Digital Transformation?
Can you totally relate?

Isn’t it obvious?

A digital transformation (also known as a ‘DT’ or ‘DX’) is when digital technologies modify or create new business processes, business culture, and customer experiences.

It’s all about rethinking a business in alignment with the modern age.

Okay, fine, ‘transformation’ does sound a little extreme…

But this is actually a process that takes several years to complete, especially as it encompasses all sides of running a business.

Gone are the days of running a business from a pad of paper and clutch of sticky notes; a couple of taps on a phone is all it takes to build a business empire from the ground up!

Still with me?

Good.

‘Cause things are about to get a tad more specific.

What does a DT actually entail?

Digitalisation

When computers hit the markets, the move from paper and pen to the keyboard began. The processing of information only with a computer is typically the first step in a DT to ensure that the other processes can be carried out using large volumes of data.

Speeding Up The Processing Of Data

Efficiency is quite literally a million-dollar word. Who can turn down streamlining their business? Well, that’s the main aim of DT: having digitalised your data, technology can be utilised to speed up processing it. Not only does that get things moving along faster, it can allow your employees to see new ways of doing things thanks to constantly updated data!

Improving Customer Interactions

Efficiency isn’t the only term with a luxury price-tag - ‘innovation’ fits the bill, too. Rethinking your entire business - yes, all of it - might seem terrifying, but is key to keeping up with the competition. By having this up-to-date data at hand, reflecting on your business’ numbers can provide you with the insight you need to strategise the overhaul.

So, that’s DT defined.

(Wasn’t that bad, was it?)

What’s Microsoft’s take on it, then?

Microsoft outlines 4 key components of a DT:

“Defining a clear vision and strategy”

“Creating a unified and elastic culture”

“Amplifying your organisation’s unique potential”

“Developing your organisation’s capabilities continuously”

Did You Know?

The most critical priority for executives globally is to improve the experience of customers.

That’s why most digital transformations stick to customer service!

You don’t want to fall behind the rest of the business world, do you?

Or, simply put: empowering your employees with the right tech is what drives a digital transformation.

Well, according to this business giant, anyway.

Chapter 2
What Is A Microsoft Digital Transformation?

Let’s be honest:

You could add the name ‘Microsoft’ to any ol’ product, and it would be trending within mere minutes.

Who wouldn’t want a Bill Gates-approved guide to business success?

But with Microsoft’s digital transformation products and services, you can have just that!

No, that doesn’t mean you just rock up to your nearest Microsoft store and ask ‘em to make sure your business is down with the kids…

(Even if my client - you know, the vintage boutique one - actually tried it.)

Is this you?

You need to find the product or service that’s best for your business!

No two businesses are the same, correct?

Then why would their digital transformations be?

Problem is, now you have quite a decision to make.

You have to decide which of the 6 products and services on offer can work for your business’ digital transformation. Add on top of that your busy 9-to-5…

Wow - that’s a busy week you’ve got there!

So, I thought I’d cut to the chase for you, and point you in the direction of the product or service that your business needs.

All you have to do is be open to transforming your business.

Azure IoT Suite

This product is all about accelerating your IoT journey - all the while considering the pace of change your business needs.

Remote monitoring, Industrial Internet of Things and predictive maintenance might sound like they’re fresh from the latest James Bond script, but they can actually kickstart your DT.

But what sets this service apart from other contenders is the customisable option.

If you’re getting to grips with your business’ growth, this suite needs to be in your sights.

Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite

This product is for businesses looking to get to grips with big data and advanced analytics.

You can’t forget the ability to create apps with the Cloud, either!

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you can manage your environments, build solutions, and tailor them to your business.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

This product allows your business’ growth to accelerate thanks to the CRM and ERP applications.

By unifying your data, you can get predictive insights into your business.

(And you don’t even need a crystal ball.)

Serving all sides of your business - including sales, marketing, finance, and HR - this is best for bigger businesses looking for their own technological overhaul.

Microsoft BI

This product offers up analytics for enterprises, but the tool serves the individuals within a business, then scaling up to encompass the whole company.

With data visualisations, AI capabilities, and custom data connectors this can make sure your business has data integration at the top of its to-do list.

Plus, by allowing a greater proportion of your business access to data tools, the entire business can finally achieve a transformation.

Not sure if this product is for your small business? Given that Aston-Martin is a champion of this service, it might not be best for smaller businesses.

Windows for business

Whilst all that software sounds confusing, why not start with the basics?

Upgrade your devices and switch to Windows 10 products, teeing off your transformation.

And with different options for different business needs, such as enterprise solutions, or computers designed for workstations, the answer to your business needs is not a challenge to source.

Still not sure which DT product or service is set for your business?

Not to worry - digital transformations can be super-confusing.

(And I would know!)

So, to make sure that when you finish this blogpost you know exactly what you’re adding to your basket, I’ve summarised with Microsoft had to say on each industry, and which DT solutions you need for your business.

Chapter 3
What Microsoft Digital Transformation Does My Industry Need?

When my client first contacted me, they were in a sticky situation.

“We’ve heard of a digital transformation…

But we’re not sure if it’s for us -

Let alone the type of changes we need to put in place!”

It's okay - she worked it out in the end...

(The business owner, Sarah, even said she struggled to send that email to me.)

Sure, I might be the official expert on everything-digital-transformation, but I know the pain. Heck, I have to source new solutions every time I get an email in my inbox!

But this is where Microsoft makes things that much easier.

The first thing you see on the digital transformation portion of their website - okay, aside from the past customer testimonies, and apart from those useful links - is a list of industries.

That’s right.

All you have to do is know the industry you’re in, and click on it!

Did You Know?

Every year, $100 billion is wasted on digital (and business) transformations.

Why? Because they simply don’t fulfil what they promised.

If you don’t want to become another stat, make sure you’re only opting for the best services!

From there, you can see what Microsoft thinks you should do for your DT, examples of businesses just like yours that have transformed, the products and services dedicated to your business, and even a couple handy resources to help you make the decision.

Okay, that sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?

Well, this is where I come in.

Out of the goodness of my own heart (and my love for digital business solutions), I’ve decided to help you dip your toe in the water before you take the plunge!

I’ve summarised what Microsoft has to say so you don’t feel so overwhelmed when you click ‘checkout’.

Automotive Industry

Microsoft sees autonomous vehicles and smart mobility services as the future of the automotive industry and thus its digital transformation. Making things safer - and keeping up with the ever changing market’s pace - are set to headline the future of the sector.

Specifically, 3 components of the automotive industry’s DT have been identified:

“Transform mobility experiences”

Cross-platform mobility solutions built on Azure is the first step you should take in this industry.

With up-to-date insights from real-time data, the cloud platform can provide the connected vehicles your customers expect in an ever-connected world.

And you can’t forget the improved experience for the driver!

The innovation detailed is just one way to keep the customer satisfied.

“Accelerate auto industry innovation”

Dynamics 365 is cited as the product predestined to transform this industry by helping build an intelligent supply chain.

But there’s still room for AI to help simplify the complexities of the supply chain when it comes to manufacturing, delivery, and customer service.

Blending both employees and machines is the future of this industry, with the Internet of Things helping seal the deal.

“Enable new business opportunities” and “reimagine sustainable transportation”

Omnichannel customer experiences are also soon to dominate this industry thanks to Dynamic 365, but Azure also provides the data resource that innovation thrives off of.

With deep learning on the cards (alongside technology integration), this deck knows how to keep your business evolving.

This is also where Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform comes in. This is software dedicated to connected or autonomous cars.

Defence And Intelligence Industry

Creating a safer, more stable network of defence that encompasses the world is the future for defence and intelligence services. Well, that’s what Microsoft says, anyway.

Improving efficiency and sticking to secure tools that can keep up with the dynamic nature of this technology-driven sector is the key to unlocking this:

“Securely share information across joint operations”

When it comes to sharing information, ‘the cloud’ is the go-to buzzword.

But when you add on a layer of AI-based tech, you give individuals the ability to classify sensitive information and protect it, even when someone sends it off to a different environment.

Cool, right?

“Accelerate auto industry innovation”

“Create a collaborative, highly secure and adaptable workplace”

Creating sustainable and connected installations are key for intelligence personnel.

Keeping things in the cloud is clearly a trend in this sector, but by allowing collaboration across departments, the secure can be secured and the service can serve.

“Optimise defence and intelligence operations”

The cloud doesn’t just allow certain personnel to access and edit a private document…

The analytical side of the tech can breathe in a large volume of information and exhale up-to-date insights.

Now, that’s how you streamline complex processes!

Financial Services Industry

There’s two sides to the DT of the financial sector: there’s enabling customers’ access to their data in real-time, and there’s protecting this data using AI.

Question is, how does Microsoft recommend you go about this?

“Manage risk across the enterprise”

Gathering data from multiple sources and then using technology to process it is central to this sector’s DT.

(Especially given the sheer volume the banking sector has to deal with on the daily.)

Numerix FRTB is often used for this purpose, ensuring compliance with certain laws has been met.

“Drive real-time payments”

Cloud technology is at the forefront of ensuring payments occur in real-time, as well as securing your customers’ data.

Yeah, it’s that good.

The payment solutions do require very specific technology…

But Microsoft’s own tech can integrate with it.

“Modernise operations against financial crime”

It’s not all about giving your customer’s access to their money and data.

It’s also about protecting that money and data.

By using data analytics in real time, risk-scoring can protect customers from threats to the security of their data and dosh.

With technology like BioCatch and SparkBeyond on offer, this data processing is a simple addition to your business.

“Accelerate auto industry innovation”

“Deliver personalised customer experiences”

Personalise your customer service with Dynamics 365, adding value for every interaction.

The Banking Accelerator can also prove valuable by acting on new insights - and you gotta keep up with your customer’s cash!

“Empower your employees”

There’s only one way to improve efficiency and secure collaboration for your business.

And that’s by unifying your employees.

Why not take advantage of communication tools on offer and bring your business together?

Government

Just like the intelligence industry, collaboration across departments and protecting the data of citizens takes top priority.

Maintaining transparency for those that it serves is the name of the game in this sector, and Microsoft have a few tricks up their sleeve to score this.

“Engage and connect with citizens”

Collecting data on citizens efficiently - whilst also protecting them via improved privacy - is often the responsibility of the cloud.

But tax and finance software is also cited by Microsoft as key to claiming citizen engagement by delivering the swifter and smoother experience that sorting one’s own money is rarely associated with.

“Modernise the government workplace”

Microsoft likes to use the word ‘modernise’ a lot.

Stumped by this vague term? What they really mean is ‘collaboration’.

By improving collaboration across departments in government - especially in the judicial system - processes can be streamlined.

With employee accessibility at the forefront of this digital transformation, the cloud and paperless software is the way to go.

That’s why they suggest you add technology like Genetec Clearance and CaseLines to your shopping list.

“Enhance government services”

Keeping data up-to-date is pretty important for this part of the transformation.

It’s here that the Internet of Things takes centre stage - alongside supporting actors, remote monitoring and predictive maintenance.

To ensure public works are maintained, software such as Opinium DataHub (to manage environmental changes) and Intelligent Public Works (predict managing costs and predict repairs) are suggested to solve issues before they become a problem and control costs.

From your small business all the way up to the President - a DT is a must.

Health Industry

From village GPs to big city hospitals, healthcare is by no means a quiet industry.

Whether it's juggling huge amounts of patient data or trying to keep it confidential, this sector needs to take things digital.

“But how can it do that?”

“Enable personalised care”

Providing care to patients doesn’t end with face-to-face contact - being able to rapidly analyse their data and efficiently coordinate treatment should never go amiss.

With machine learning and AI on the table for this part of the DT, clinical analysis can pick up its pace, finding solutions to patients’ problems faster.

Combine this with greater centralised data storage, and all this insight can be shared with those that need it!

“Empower care teams”

By coordinating care from the individual doctors all the way up to the head office, patient data can be secured n’ shared in a way that boosts efficiency.

And with products and services dedicated to individual employees, this centralised data can be met with advanced messaging features that increased communication across the wards.

You can’t say ‘no’ to that in such a hectic environment!

“Improve operational outcomes”

While you’re there, why not bring together the benefits of data insight and communications to share key messages and analysis across multiple systems?

Whether its government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, or providers, bringing together the industry can eradicate complexity for good.

No vaccine required!

Did You Know?

A mere 27% of companies said their executives had the skills that could carry out a digital transformation.

Yes - that’s under a third of all businesses!

Why not skip out the training and let someone just do it all for you?

(Like us.)

Manufacturing Industry

Warehouse and factory work might appear threatened by digital transformations, but Microsoft’s aim for your manufacturing business’ DT is through product-as-a-service outcomes.

What Is Product-As-A-Service?

Let’s say you wanted an object constructed by a machine. To solve this, manufacturers would buy a machine that could perform that role, right? Product-as-a-service would mean the manufacturer would pay for the number of operations carried out by the machine, and not the machine.

But how does Microsoft suggest you go about this digital transformation?

“Deliver new services” and “Empower your workforce”

They start by suggesting you make the move from break-fix model to a predictive service, keeping you up-to-date with anything that might need fixin’.

Oh, and don’t forget to make the upgrade to the Internet of Things, too, to connect devices and reduce customer wait times.

And with the increased access to data, taking a step back and seeing where demand lies is the key to unlocking your next innovation.

Dynamics 365 is recommended for field service, as is IoT business-wide.

“Optimise digital operations”

Integrating your factory with disruptive tech is yet another way to storm ahead of the competition:

Merge your new IoT technology with cloud-based computing and AI to improve productivity on all sides of the business, and connect them with the cloud.

Scratching your head for the solution?

Azure IoT Connected Factory is the official answer to your woes, and means you won’t have to try and get your head around those new technical terms on your own.

“Reimagine manufacturing”

The cloud doesn’t just allow you to keep your documents all in one place…

It means manufacturers can easily design and validate products on-the-fly.

By merging IoT with new data-driven insights into customers and products, opportunities for innovation can be highlighted.

And for businesses exploring innovation beyond tomorrow, such as autonomous vehicles, Azure virtual machines are your best bet, creating the deep-learning AI the industry needs.

It's time to get to work.

Media And Entertainment

This industry might thrive off connecting creators with followers digitally, but that doesn’t mean those that operate in it should be ignoring the possibility of a transformation.

And how does Microsoft think you should go about this?

“Inspire creativity and collaboration”

Empowering creativity among creative thinkers might not appear a problem for the brains behind the computer screens, but increasing productivity and collaboration is just one way to secure it.

By supporting workflows, automating processes, and providing detailed data, efficiency can be sourced.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is recommended to ensure that creativity and collaboration are at the forefront of this industry

Products such as Azure Video Indexer can complete this process, providing accurate data regarding content engagement.

“Optimize the digital supply chain”

By harnessing the power of the cloud, content can be produced, optimised, and uploaded to any device.

From Azure Media Services (encodes and indexes large volumes of content), to Azure Content Delivery Network (secures and delivers content at a large scale), media supply is at the core of your digital transformation.

“Engage and monetise audiences”

Thanks to data driven insights, you can now detect what your audience wants and when they want it, allowing content creators to optimise what they put out on the web.

From here, content worthy of being monetised can be highlighted.

AI can also be applied to this industry, allowing personalised content and relevant advertising to drive up revenue.

Retail Industry

Such a far-reaching industry needs far-reaching solutions - and Microsoft knows how to provide them.

By focusing on the opportunities accessible by the retail sector, and selecting data protection as a central component of your DT in the current climate, a radical transformation in how you do business can be met.

And how should this be met?

“Know your customer”

A personalised customer experience doesn’t have to mean a dressing gown with someone’s initials on.

By identifying your customers’ wants thanks to reinvigorated data, their needs can be secured.

To this end, Microsoft suggests Dynamics 365 to create the personalised shopping experience, and Affinio to cope with quantifying customer data.

“Empower your employees”

The customer might always be right, but your employees need to be accounted for, too.

By equipping your team with the tools to both communicate data insights and collaborate, you can keep the ship running smoothly and moving forward.

Microsoft Teams can perform this role, allowing mobile-only features for employees working the shop floor and ensuring they can contact colleagues wherever they may be.

“Deliver intelligent supply chain”

As e-commerce tightens its grip on the world of retail, matching its strength - and sticking to it - is key.

Taking a wide-screen approach to your supply chain and reinforcing these insights with data can help you identify problems and how to push past them.

This can achieved with Dynamics 365 as it synchronises data across multiple locations and devices, QMobile Solution which allows you to optimise activities from the shop-floor to the stock-room, and Inventory Optimisation.

“Reimagine retail”

Rethinking this sector can take your business on a wide variety of paths.

Whether it’s brand new products or innovative in-store experiences, technology can provide for the evolving sector.

Sunrise Technology is partnered with Microsoft for this purpose.

Telecommunications Industry

The innovation set to hit this industry doesn’t stray too far from the retail sector, with improved insight, personalisation for customers, and better experiences at the centre of your business’ digital transformation.

But how are you going to achieve that DT?

“Deliver personalised experiences”

Match your newfound efficiency with improved employee satisfaction thanks to detailed data. By allowing the collaboration of multiple teams, a complete overhaul of customer experience can be achieved.

To meet this aim, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service and Insights can be utilised.

These services can differentiate your brand from the other players in the field, setting you up for a home run.

Even Azure AI can be used for this purpose, analysing huge volumes of data with a human perspective.

“Provide agile operations”

Why not skip out disruptions and head straight for increased efficiencies by utilising advanced analytics to detect lower cost opportunities and potential issues?

Mirror this shift with the changing scale of your business as it moves into the cloud. The IoT, alongside other new tech, can complete the innovation, and extend your service.

Azure Sentinel can also detect and prevent cybersecurity threats, protecting your customers’ data.

Dynamics 365 too is utilised for those working in the field as it provides connection with head offices, and can quickly resolve issues.

“Accelerate growth and innovation”

The final step towards your digital transformation is predictive and real-time insight into your marketing and services.

From here, you can understand your customers better and identify your next opportunity for innovation.

Fancy getting your hands on this?

The Azure products should be in your basket, then: Azure IA, computing and Media Services can provide the analysed data, intensive computing, and content delivery that your business needs.

Outpace Competitors

Your business can't afford to be run by technophobes.

You need a technology-team beside you every step of the way.

Conclusion

So - we know how Microsoft defines a digital transformation…

And we know the next step your business needs to make in its DT.

All you have to do now is get on with it!

If only it were that easy.

You could have a list of steps laid out, and you could have all the products in front of you; it still doesn’t mean you should take charge of your DT!

My client might know how to run a boutique, but did she know how to implement advanced AI analytics for her business?

(I think not.)

Get back to business, and let the professionals get the wheels of your DT turnin’.