Walking into Ingram Micro NZ’s Microsoft Elevate event this Thursday, it was immediately clear that something interesting was going on.
Everyday Lane lined the right-hand side of Shed 10 in the Cloud on Auckland’s waterfront - five booths, each with a banner that declared the name of the fictional Kiwi organisation they represented.
On the right was the more customary platform faced by dozens of beanbags, small ottomans and your classic seats; not to mention the holographic brain rotating above centre-stage.
Microsoft’s enterprise director Vanessa Sorenson began the evening session by stating Microsoft’s ultimate goal - to “empower every person on the planet to achieve more.”
A lofty goal but one, she says, that CEO Satya Nadalla and all of his company are passionate about. If there is any company with the resources to pull it off, it’s Microsoft.
The first keynote was a combined effort between Kiwi ex-pats, Microsoft Surface product marketing manager Jordana Murray, and senior product marketing manager Tom Batcheler.
Together they described how two-thirds of CEOs now have “transformation at the heart of their strategy.”
They outlined the three agents driving these changes:
- The complexity of a modern business, with the rise of companies being ‘born in the cloud’ over the last five years, as well as mounting customer expectations.
- The shifting of workforce expectations to mobility and being provided with the latest ‘beautiful’ tech to feel that the company is investing in their success.
- The way working together has changed from a linear, problem-solving approach to 83% of employees reporting that they expect to be creative on a daily basis, and the need for devices to enable that.
That is the thinking that went into Microsoft 365, a solution designed to work on any device (although, they say, it is better on a Windows PC).
The various aspects were delved into deeper in the sessions at the booths between the speakers.
Looking to the future, they talked about quantum computing, pulling back the curtain on Microsoft’s billion-dollar-breakthrough around ‘topological qubits’, stating this will lead to quantum computing changing the face of how we work in the next 3-10 years.
They left us with a clear message - “Start planning now.”
Be.Accessible CEO and founder Minnie Baragwanath took the stage next among a flurry of accolades including the 2017 Women of Influence Diversity Award and being a finalist for Kiwibank’s Kiwi of the Year.
Baragwanath made an inspiring appeal for organisations to consider the huge potential resource pool that is the community of access-needs talent.
“The 21st-century workplace is accessible to every single one of us,” she said, outlining that one-quarter of New Zealanders have access needs.
Not to mention her highlighting the $12 billion potential value that is lost due to designing systems that unintentionally exclude that massive section of the population.
After the rotating sessions in the booths, The Instillary chief product officer Jeremy Nees and founder Mike Jenkins took to the stage to give advice about making the most of the cloud from the point of view of a successful Kiwi start-up.
Finishing with the customary networking and drinks, the event reflected the demonstrations of the Microsoft offerings throughout the day - despite the occasional technical hiccup, it was smooth, engaging and showed how innovative thinking can make for a great experience.