Top enterprise trends for a digital world

Digital businesses have already begun to dominate global industry, and here’s what companies are doing to future-proof.

Over the past year, there has been a dramatic change in the way businesses are reimagining products, services and even entire business models in today’s cloud-first, mobile-first world.

Strategic conversations are no longer limited to technology’s role in digitizing traditional processes. Instead, enterprises are exploring what’s possible in an all-digital environment where information and intelligent systems are available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Here’s what we’re talking about: Toyota reimagined the workplace of the future and engineered its own social revolution, coming together as “One Toyota” to deliver a consistent productivity experience across every work device. KUKA Systems Group reimagined a new fast-lane manufacturing plant and connected 60,000 devices and robots to a central data management system. Nedbank created the bank branch of the future today by reimagining face-to-face banking, now engaging 40 percent of their clients with a groundbreaking video-banking service. BT has reimagined field service productivity with modern devices and apps. And Delta Airlines transformed the airline experience with new traveler conveniences, as well as putting an electronic flight bag in every cockpit.

In 2014, CEOs must focus on leading their organizations to think like—and become more like—“tech” companies, because within a few years, digital business capabilities will dominate every industry.

Raskino, Mark. CEO resolutions for 2014—time to act on digital business. Gartner, Inc. March 5, 2014.

These companies have embraced digital disruption, partnering with Microsoft to reimagine the enterprise in the digital age. But it’s not enough to enable transformation; one must live it. As a tech company, we’re betting big on cloud and mobile technology across all of our devices and services. That big bet has necessitated reshaping the company as a digital business that constantly improves our customers’ experiences—as well as becoming faster and more responsive as an organization.

As ubiquitous computing—and ambient intelligence—continue evolving over the coming decade, the businesses that survive and thrive will be those that foster a culture of continuous innovation: those that embrace the new normal of digital.

Top enterprise trends for a digital world

Microsoft has long had a “first and best” mindset and has always been an early adopter of our own technology. In 2011, we set an internal goal to run 80 percent of our application infrastructure in the cloud. Two years later, we updated that mission to be all of Microsoft operating in the cloud. While cloud computing technologies continue to advance quickly, betting on the cloud—early—has enabled greater flexibility and adaptability throughout the organization. Moreover, it has provided the business with improved agility, reduced risk and more predictable outcomes.

Today, the Microsoft IT organization supports a diverse and mobile workforce of 180,000 people at 513 locations in 113 countries. We’ve also committed to being carbon neutral in our operations, which places a premium on reducing travel and enabling people to work effectively from anywhere. Lync allows people to do just that as the unified communications solution that enables every employee to stay in touch from anywhere, using any device, not just the ones we make—including Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, Mac, and Android smartphones. Integrated voice, video, presence and screen sharing capabilities enable an increasingly digital business, supporting 4.5 million remote connections and 6.6 million Lync calls each month.

Top enterprise trends for a digital world

On a more personal note: the transformation to an increasingly connected, digital world is an opportunity to become more connected with our own customers. One of the ways we’re doing this is through the Customer Insights Center, a social media outreach program for 18 brands across 64 social channels. This team actively listens to and engages with customers and takes what they learn back into Microsoft to help improve our products, programs, and services.

It is essential for all businesses to improve customer experiences, and one of our opportunities is galvanizing change with big data. The entirely voluntary Customer Experience Improvement Program collects information about how our products are used by millions of people, detailing issues that they encounter. But knowing what customers think is only half of the story if that precious insight isn’t used; our development teams use this valuable information to solve problems and wrap the findings back into enhanced products and features.

The digital age continues to provide us with different opportunities to connect with our customers. Our CIO Network on LinkedIn is an exclusive and highly-regarded network for senior IT executives to connect with peers and Microsoft leaders. Social networks on Yammer enable customers to interact directly with Microsoft teams, exchanging insights about current developments in business and IT. Conversations on these networks have been instrumental in improving customer experiences, such as evolving our field staffing models to better serve customer needs, influencing the Enterprise Strategy services we offer, and improving local events and networking opportunities around the world.

Top enterprise trends for a digital world

Becoming more responsive as a company is fundamentally linked to a broadening social strategy that joins employees into a functional web of sharing and ideas. After the selection of Satya Nadella as CEO in February 2014, there have been a number of articles written about the changing culture at Microsoft. Since that time, Office 365 is now used by over 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies. 57 percent of the Fortune 500 use Microsoft Azure, and seven of the top ten use Microsoft Dynamics. Solutions with embedded social technologies have emerged as the gold-standard with which the enterprise is restructuring its work environment.

When we acquired Yammer in 2012, the team brought a concept and a culture of working out loud with them. Today, more than 85 percent of the Fortune 500—as well as 100,000 people within Microsoft—use Yammer to work transparently and real-time, making better, more informed decisions. We’re transforming ourselves into a responsive organization where customers and partners become community, the office and office hours become anywhere and anytime, and responsiveness is valued over efficiency. Connect with us and other enterprise customers by joining the Yammer network and sharing your ideas and success stories.