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Microsoft Future Decoded event: We’re all wizards now

Humankind has had technology at its disposal since we mastered fire and learned to build claws that were stronger, sharper and deadlier than biology could ever bestow on even the fiercest of predators. We have been breaking through the limits imposed by our bodies and physical reality with the power of our imagination and our mastery of the physical properties around us. Whereas before we envied the bird who could fly away to greener pastures, we now travel the world hundreds of times over in the span of a single lifetime.

As the British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once put it, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

And magic there was at this year's Future Decoded event. As I left the event I could see the magic all around me; I was ‘woke’ to the technology that was making my life, both personal and professional, better – more connected – empowered.

As technology increases in power, our ability to make once complicated tasks simple also rises; our cognitive potential is unleashed and we are left free to explore the boundaries of reality. Take, for example, Panos Panay’s presentation on the modern workforce. As head of Microsoft’s devices division, Panay has incredible insight on the tools modern workers need in order to fully take advantage of the technological developments that have taken place not only in the last few years but in the last few months. The world is changing and it is doing so at a far greater rate than ever before in the history of humankind. Microsoft understands this and has focused on providing technology that supports our generation’s ambitions. From climate change through to education, health and business, Microsoft’s aim is to give us the tools we need to tackle the problems of this century – the issues that plague our time. Thanks to the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, every tool we use in the future will be a digital one: helping workers thwart the physical and intellectual complexities that currently bar them from achieving their goals.

We need not look too far into the future to see this technology in operation, in fact, we can see it today with tools like Office 365. With its ability to connect seamlessly to all devices and all relevant stakeholders, Office 365 ensures ideas and projects are no longer bound by the limits of our memory or the awkwardness of our geography: I, and more importantly my mind and the thoughts it produces can be anywhere they’re needed and stored securely. Likewise, the information I have access to is more precise than it’s ever been at any point in human history. With Microsoft’s cloud, Azure, a once desktop-bound application like Excel now has the capability to be powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) so that the data it’s producing is not only reflective of what has taken place but also predictive of what’s to come – taking into account variables and factors a human alone could not have imagined. As Panay pointed out, AI isn’t here to take over human intelligence, it’s here to enhance it.

Looking beyond what we have now, Microsoft is also working on developing the world’s most advanced computer: a quantum computer. This is huge news and unfortunately my pea-sized brain does not have the mathematical or scientific know-how to give you a precise breakdown of all the advancements this technology will bring, however, one thing was made explicitly clear at Future Decoded; quantum computers will help us process highly complex data sets which currently take even our most advanced computers around 100 billion years to process. Yes, you read that correctly. Quantum computing, which moves away from binary coding to coding in superposition – meaning data can be encoded simultaneously in a 0 and a 1, not just a 0 or a 1 – will reduce processing time from billions of years to weeks, days, and even seconds. What could be more magical than using technology to manipulate time in such a way that what once could have never been known to an individual in their lifetime, can now be known to them in the time it takes them to make a cup of coffee? If you're an SMB in the U.K., you might be thinking, “none of this applies to me”! I'm here to tell you that it does.

The game has changed and we, as its primary players, need tools that allow us to compete and win: we’re all in this race together, yes, even you. Future Decoded was full of examples of businesses, small and large, using cutting-edge technology to revolutionise their workplace. From accounting giant EY to London Midland Trains to small design firms in London, such as London 161, organisations such as yours are using this technology now, today.

Magic shouldn’t be confined to the imagination of an author or the skilful hands of an illusionist, and thankfully with Microsoft, it isn’t. We’re all wizards now.

If you’re ready to step into tomorrow and transform the way your business works then talk to us today.

Words by Camilo Lascano Tribin