Microsoft’s latest Azure customers revealed; Hershey, Maersk, UBS, and more

Microsoft has announced a slew of new customers using its Azure cloud services at its Digital Difference event in New York, including financial services provider UBS and confectioner Hershey.

The customer announcements came alongside the release of a new study, sponsored by Microsoft and put together by Harvard Business Review (HBR), which found less than half of business leaders have a coherent digital strategy despite 80% saying their industry will be positively impacted by digital transformation within three years.

The message from Microsoft was clear: one, digital disruption is happening, through cloud computing, the Internet of Things, machine learning, and much more besides; two, your organisation needs to keep pace; and three, here’s how we’re helping organisations keep pace. As a result, the primary interest here is not the fact Hershey, Maersk, UBS and others are using Azure, but how they are using them.

Hershey, for example, is using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors which feed data into the cloud, which is then analysed via Machine Learning in Azure, in order to gain greater insights and trends. UBS is using Azure to power its risk management platform, which can ultimately save 40% in infrastructure costs, while Maersk – who readers of this publication may also recognise through their blockchain initiatives with IBM – is doing various things, from its supply chain business Damco building solutions on Azure, to building an app store on Microsoft’s cloud.

Other companies announced as being Microsoft shops at Digital Difference were clothing provider Fruit of the Loom, with the company developing predictive models for consumer behaviour through Azure, and automotive insurer GEICO, who is opting for more of a hybrid cloud strategy.

“Companies are choosing Microsoft to empower their digital difference,” said Judson Althoff, EVP of Microsoft’s worldwide commercial business in a statement. “Microsoft has the edge in development in the cloud, IoT, advanced analytics, mixed reality and artificial intelligence. We understand companies’ needs for innovation, speed to market, and the importance of continually transforming and re-evaluating how business is done.”

Elsewhere, the HBR paper argues the models and strategies for digital disruption are still evolving, but once companies go all-in with a ‘major commitment’ to digital as a primary revenue driver, they are more likely to elevate and centralise digital efforts. “Most respondents recognise the opportunities the digital revolution is bringing, with the two biggest prizes being enhanced customer relationships and greater value chain integration,” the report notes. “The highest digital priority, by far, is creating an exceptional, highly relevant customer experience.”

You can read the full report here (pdf).

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