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Adapt and thrive with Microsoft Azure for Industries – Part 1

Sjoukje Zaal

The way we work and live has changed. As a result of the recent global health crisis, many organizations are accelerating their digital transformation efforts to meet the challenges that they were exposed to. Employees around the world shifted to remote work, stores needed to shift to a buy online, pick up in-store model. In manufacturing, remote capabilities became key. Digital transformation has now become a requirement for business continuity, and digital technology has universally become key to business resilience and transformation.

This enormous pressure on digital transformation since the pandemic struck has affected all industries. A recent study from the Economist and Microsoft shows that organizations that had already started their digital transformation before the pandemic were able to adjust more quickly to meet customers’ new needs. The digital infrastructure that these industries already had in place allowed them to not only remain competitive in the market, but also to respond to societal disruption in a nimbler way. To meet the challenges of a rapidly changing economy across all different industries, merely adopting technology will no longer suffice. They need to build their own technology to compete and grow. And this makes every company a technology company.

We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security – we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything.”

Satya Nadella,

Over the past year, Microsoft has been working closely with leaders in every industry to help them navigate the crisis. They equipped them with the technology and tools to accelerate the digital transformation. Industry-specific solutions are the key to ensure business resiliency and accelerating growth.

In this first of a series blogs on industry solutions built on the Microsoft Azure platform, I’m going to focus on retail and healthcare solutions. We will focus on certain use cases and the solutions and tools that Microsoft has to offer to build the different practices.

Azure for retail

Gone are the days when retailers chose when, where, and what to sell. In this changing world, retailers are being challenged to figure out how best to engage with customers within new constraints. One example of this is adapting business processes to provide BOPIS (buy-online-and-pickup-in-store  services). Also, many retailers who are driving a more sustainable data proliferation model are including the ability to deliver remote sales and services and addressing the need to better equip store associates with technology.

With Azure for retail, organizations are capable of building personalized experiences, optimizing their supply chains, and reimagining multichannel retail using Microsoft Azure. This includes predictive AI, machine learning, IoT, hybrid cloud, computer vision, and analytics.

Azure for Retail includes the following tools and services:

  • Azure Synapse Analytics: With Azure Synapse for Analytics, retailers can gather, store, process, analyze, and visualize data of any volume, variety, or velocity to pave the way to intelligent retail.
  • Azure AI and Machine Learning: With these tools, retailers can build intelligent, personalized customer experiences and optimized systems powered by the proven, responsible, and secure AI that Microsoft Azure offers.
  • Azure Cognitive Services: Bring AI within the reach of every developer, without the need to require machine-learning expertise.
  • Azure IoT: Enabling smart retail through Azure IoT. Retailers can securely connect their assets and equipment to the retail cloud with the different IoT solutions that Azure has to offer to unlock real-time insights and enable system interoperability.
  • Azure Mixed Reality: Blend the digital and the physical worlds to create immersive and collaborative experiences.
  • Azure Stack: Build and run hybrid applications across datacenters, edge locations, and the cloud.
  • Azure Virtual Desktop: Deploy virtual desktops and apps to enable secure remote work.
  • SAP on Azure: Run your organizations retail operations with SAP workloads on Azure to increase agility, drive strategic innovation and perform at scale.

In the next section, we’ll take a look at what Microsoft Azure has to offer for healthcare organizations.

Azure for healthcare

The healthcare industry is highly regulated. In this field, digital change is driven by the need to lower the risk of delivering patient care while doing so at scale. The rapidly changing world is pressuring healthcare organizations to evolve how they deliver patient care as well. One example of this is that healthcare organizations are increasingly using technology platforms to shift to more telehealth services. This example is very spot on in the current pandemic. By meeting patients virtually, healthcare professionals can threat (more) patients while minimizing the risk of exposure to themselves and to others.

With Azure for healthcare, healthcare organizations can deliver better health insights and outcomes as they enhance patient engagement, empower health team collaboration, and improve clinical informatics and operational insights – all backed by a secure and trusted cloud. This includes hybrid cloud, mixed reality, AI, and IoT – to drive better health outcomes, improve security, scale faster, and enhance data interoperability.

Azure for Healthcare includes the following tools and services:

  • Azure Healthcare APIs: With Azure healthcare-specific APIs, organizations can securely manage different formats of protected health data, accelerate machine learning, and enable a secure exchange of health data within a global infrastructure.
  • Azure AI and Machine Learning: Deliver better healthcare outcomes with personalized, preventative care and intelligent systems powered by proven, secure, and responsible AI.
  • Azure Synapse Analytics: With Azure Synapse for Analytics, healthcare organizations can gather, store, process, analyze, and visualize clinical data of any volume, variety, or velocity to pave the way towards smart healthcare.
  • Azure IoT: Deliver personalized care, empower care teams and employees, and improve operational outcomes. Securely connect health devices and equipment to the cloud with healthcare solutions to unlock real-time insights and enable system interoperability.
  • High Performance Computing: Accelerate insights in genomics precision medicine and clinical trials with near-finite high performance bioinformatics infrastructure.
  • Azure Stack: Build and run hybrid applications across datacenters, edge locations, remote clinical facilities, and the cloud.
  • Azure Mixed Reality: Blend the digital and the physical worlds to create immersive, and collaborative experiences, across the operating room and other health facilities.
  • Azure Security: Protection from the edge to the cloud and stay ahead of risks with intelligent monitoring tools built with powerful AI.

Wrap up

Microsoft offers a comprehensive toolset for the retail and healthcare industries.

Implementing these cloud solutions on a large scale and embedding them into your organization, involves a structured approach, a cultural shift, and a solid and secure architecture. This also includes setting up a Cloud Center of Excellence, and embracing cloud-native technologies and the Microsoft Well-Architected Framework, which I describe in more detail in the following articles:

At Capgemini, we have a lot of experience implementing cloud solutions across different industries. If you’d like more information about how we do this for our clients, contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

You can read my other articles here.