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Inside Microsoft’s industry cloud strategy

Microsoft dives deeper into its industry cloud strategy and what it means for enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region

Microsoft recently made a bigger push to strengthen its position in the cloud computing market with a slew of industry-specific cloud offerings for the financial services, manufacturing and non-profit sectors.

The move was driven by the growing need for organisations to build their own technology solutions to compete and grow, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a video address.

According to IDC, the industry cloud market represents one of the largest vertical growth opportunities for technology suppliers. More than 500 industry clouds have already been created globally, and revenue is this space is expected to exceed $20bn by 2022.

In an interview with Computer Weekly, Microsoft dives deeper into its industry cloud strategy, the components of its industry cloud stack and what it means for enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region.

How do the industry cloud offerings differ from what is already being offered to customers in different industries?

Microsoft industry clouds and our recent announcement is a demonstration of Microsoft’s long-term commitment to industries and investment in powering digital transformation for customers and partners, on their terms and specific to their needs.

The Microsoft industry clouds comprise new and released industry capabilities and were created by bringing together common industry data models, cross-cloud connectors, workflows, application programming interfaces (APIs), and industry-specific components and standards, with the breadth of Microsoft’s cloud services, including Microsoft 365 and Teams, Azure, Microsoft Power Platform, Dynamics 365 and security solutions.

Microsoft’s industry clouds are designed to:

  • Deliver more value in less time, enabling organisations to quickly adopt solutions built for their industry or augment existing ones.
  • Break down data silos, helping organisations take a data-first approach with a common data model that unifies information while adhering to industry compliance standards.
  • Maximise the impact of every person in an organisation with productivity workflows and business applications that provide the right information at the right time.
  • Use modular solutions with built-in industry standards that augment an organisation’s current investments and are extensible as business needs evolve and grow.

For example, retail industry specific capabilities would include connecting experiences through a modular framework that activates services like curb side pickup or standalone services like intelligent recommendations.

For healthcare, that would include electronic health record and platform integrations, implementation services, and healthcare software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. There is also the new Teams Electronic Health Record connector, which enables clinicians to schedule and launch virtual patient visits or consultations in Teams directly from their electronic health record system.

For manufacturing, Microsoft’s solution is designed to deliver capabilities that support the core processes and requirements of the industry. These manufacturing solutions bring together new and existing capabilities across the Microsoft portfolio as well as partner solutions that together can seamlessly connect people, assets, workflows and business processes, helping organisations become more resilient.

What does all that mean for Asia-Pacific customers, especially those in markets where there are no Microsoft cloud regions?

The cloud continues to be the foundation for the growth of our region, and organisations are increasing their strides toward the next generation of cloud. According to GlobalData, Asia continues to be a key growth region for cloud, with the market projected to grow from $133bn in 2019 to $288bn in 2024.

Our regional customers continue to reap the benefits of leveraging cloud and transforming into cloud-first organisations. These include Standard Chartered Bank, which is using cloud services to improve its ability to be agile and innovative, as well as e-commerce platform Myntra, which is leveraging Azure to develop innovative and personalised capabilities for their end-users.

It’s important to note that Microsoft industry clouds are not separate instances of Azure and are not logically or physically isolated. Microsoft industry clouds extend existing cloud services to provide industry-specific value through trusted and integrated capabilities. These capabilities deliver automation and efficiency on high value workflows, as well as deep data analysis for both structured and unstructured data, enabling customers to turn insights into action.

What are the components of the industry cloud stack? How much flexibility is Microsoft giving customers in picking different parts of industry stack?

Across the industry clouds, customers have the flexibility to adopt the capabilities they require.

In retail, for example, the solution is modular which allows retailers to adopt the capabilities they need like tapping on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Connected Store to know customers better or other features to improve at scale with other SaaS or platform-as-a-service (PaaS)-based solutions.

A second example is Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, that is powered by a common data model for the financial services industry and enables a robust partner ecosystem to easily extend the value of the platform with additional solutions and flexibly address the most pressing challenges each industry is facing today. 

What is the go-to-market strategy for industry cloud in APAC? 

Our industry clouds will come to market in the same manner as our cloud services and are extended through our global partner ecosystem for the last mile of execution.

Because of the breadth and depth of the Microsoft partner ecosystem, Microsoft industry clouds also provide new opportunities for our partners to strengthen and extend for the last mile of industry execution. Partners bring innovation and expertise to deliver tailored solutions for unique customer needs.

Each cloud will have its own localisation plan that we will announce at general availability, or soon thereafter. Regional availability will vary by cloud service. Public review engagement for any preview software for customers or partners is in US English only.

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