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November 10, 2015

Microsoft Future Decoded: 5 keynote speakers who took to the stage

List: Martha Lane Fox, founder of lastminute.com, and others share their thoughts.

By Alexander Sword

As well as CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft brought out some of the best and brightest from the tech and business worlds to talk about what they had learned. CBR collects some of their thoughts below.

1. The future of the UK

Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of lastminute.com, said:

"I absolutely believe that we can make a big jump into the future if we have a bit more of a joined up vision for what the UK can achieve. The UK is a relatively small country, with a population that is only slightly greater than Tokyo. We’re geographically brilliantly located between the US, Europe and Asia, we have a very robust financial sector and we kind of get technology; we’re good at some aspects of it.

"We need to be much bolder, and we need to go much faster and we need to have a much more deep level of ambition of what we as a country can achieve across all aspects of the digital world. I don’t think there are very many countries that have joined up everything, from skills, to start-ups, to government, to gender."

2. Innovating around the customer

Craig Kreeger, Virgin Atlantic, said:

"When we look at innovation, we often look with an eye towards what will make it better for our people to deliver great services for our customers. This is how technology can make things better.

"If I can provide our people better information to engage with our customers, and they are already prone to engage without the information, then I can certainly enhance that experience even further.
We think the idea of using technology, always with an eye towards making things better for customers, is the right way to think about innovation."

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3. How mobility is enabling defence

Mike Stone, Ministry of Defence, said:

"Defence as a platform has got to support defence in all of the environments in which we operate. That’s air, land and sea, but also space and cyber. It’s got to support people in offices but also deployed out in the field. It’s got to support us in every one of the different security classifications.

"The aim of all of this is so that we can ensure that anyone with the appropriate permissions can log onto any of our tactical, deployed, or corporate solutions with a single set of credentials and experience something that is familiar to them. Not the same, but familiar. They must get the content and data that they need for the role that they are fulfilling at that particular time."

4. IT is a customer service function

Hywel Sloman, IT Director at Arsenal F.C., said:

"What’s always been important to us in the area is to provide an area that is appropriate to our business and business needs. I always try to be a business leader and technology leader second. I look to become a partner to the business and understand their issues and challenges as well as they do themselves.

"We are a customer service function, and if we are not quicker, better, more cost-effective and more pleasant to work with than third parties people will go elsewhere for their technology. 10 years ago, the IT department could block activities. This isn’t the case now."

5. What technology can achieve when underpinned by ethics

Richard Reed, Founder of Innocent Drinks, said:

"Having an underpinning of ethics helps [with business], especially in this day and age and especially if you want to recruit people who are switched on, clever and socially engaged. Most importantly, it is by what you do and the way you do it. This is not side stuff but the core nature of the product, and how you engage the team in what they do.

"There’s this great story of some Microsoft coders that went and volunteered in a Kosovo refugee camp to create within the chaos a bit of software for the NGO to use to solve what they saw as the data problem of the people who had lost their family members or identity papers. That bit of software that was coded in a refugee camp in Kosovo is now used in refugee crises around the world."

 

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