As we head into the festive season, it’s time to reflect on the year that was: the highlights, the lowlights, and how to prepare for the coming year. For many customer-facing businesses, particularly those in retail and hospitality, this is one of their busiest times – managing demand whilst maintaining great customer service can be challenging. Across other industries, it can often ramp up as teams race to get things done before the Christmas shutdown, plan for the new year and revisit strategic priorities. But it’s also time to consider the technologies that will reshape business, government and society all over the UK in 2020. Recent Microsoft research reveals that there is a direct correlation between an organisation’s use of AI technologies and its ability to retain a competitive edge.

AI is at the heart of digital transformation, and at Microsoft we believe that when designed with people at the centre, AI can extend an organisation’s capabilities, freeing employees up for more creative and strategic endeavours to achieve more.

We’ve summarised our year in AI with a twist on the classic “12 Days of Christmas” jingle, from the state of the AI in the UK and what opportunities it presents, as well as practical industry examples from our customers and partners. We also talk about our own digital transformation journey and how we’ve put this in practice at Microsoft, then highlight how AI can be used for good to make the world a better place.

Let’s get started!

Infographic showing topics of the 12 days of Christmas blog series

On the first day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

A competitive edge in business.

At Future Decoded 2019, Microsoft launched its report into the state of AI across the UK. Accelerating Competitive Advantage with AI surveyed over 5,000 experts, business leaders, and employees, giving us all a full picture of the country’s AI scene. Clare Barclay, Microsoft UK’s Chief Operating Officer, then explored some surprising facts and stats in her blog, ‘AI-driven businesses surge ahead of competition’.

Read ‘AI-driven businesses surge ahead of competition’

On the second day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

Advice on rolling out AI in my organisation

Are you considering AI adoption? Have you started, but don’t know how to progress? Kate Rosenshine, our resident Head of Data & AI Cloud Solution Architecture, looks at the stumbling blocks that prevent organisations from implementing AI – and how you can learn from the experiences of other to make sure you launch the technology the right way.

Read ‘4 things holding businesses back from AI implementation (and how to address them)’

On the third day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

Practical tips to successfully implement AI

IT projects are notoriously difficult to implement – but with AI’s scale and scope, which touches upon every employee and department, it can be particularly difficult to get right. Dean Corney, COO at The Pull Agency, uses a simple five-step plan to guide his clients on bringing AI into their business. Now, he’s sharing his advice and experience, so you can, too.

Read ‘How to implement AI as a mid-sized company: 5 practical steps to success’

On the fourth day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

Innovative customer experiences

91% of customers are more likely to shop with brands that recognise, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations. In the age of personalisation, AI helps you offer a personalised retail experience. Alex Dalman, VCCP Kin’s Senior Account Director, looks at how the technology is meeting customer demands on their terms – and what you can learn from her experiences with EasyJet.

Read ‘How to use AI to innovate and transform customer experiences’

On the fifth day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

The future of marketing

Technology isn’t new to marketers – but how it’s incorporated into a business is. From speeding up transactions to marketing online, AI is helping retail companies reach more customers than ever before. Tom Crawford, an Azure Specialist intern at Microsoft UK, explains what the future of retail looks like, how that landscape will continue to evolve, and what it means for you, your business, and your customers.

Read ‘Reimagining retail with AI’

On the sixth day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

Opportunities across my entire business

For every challenge that a business faces, AI serves up a solution, an opportunity, or a new way to work. Janet Jones, former banker and a Microsoft UK Industrial Executive for the sector, highlights the key challenges for businesses looking to adopt AI, and the benefits it can bring – particularly in sectors where uptake of the tech is slow.

Read ‘Opportunities, challenges and fears of AI in financial services’

On the seventh day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

Better patient care

AI benefits every industry, and healthcare – arguably the most important sector in the country – is no different. Whether it’s addressing the aging population or the global shortage of healthcare workers, technology can now be used to alleviate pressures of the service. Stephen Docherty, Industry Executive for Health, uncovers the ways in which secured patient data can be used by AI to give healthcare professionals the time, resources, and tools to focus on better patient care.

Read ‘Time matters: 5 ways AI impacts healthcare’

On the eighth day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

Insights into overcoming AI barriers

AI has been a core part of Microsoft’s marketing for some time – and Paul Bolt, the company’s CMO, is keen to share some of the barriers faced when adopting the technology. He outlines the five barriers to full integration that Microsoft and other businesses have faced, and how your own business can get ahead of your competition based on learnings from his experience.

Read ‘5 barriers to AI adoption: learnings from our own journey’

On the ninth day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

Ethical and responsible AI delivery

Increasingly, concerns over how AI is used has dominated the conversation. It’s essential that businesses are sure that they’re deploying the technology, both ethically and responsibly. Phil Harvey, Cloud Solution Architect for Data & AI, is on hand to discuss the five key principles for implementing AI in an ethical and responsible way that works for everyone and leaves no-one behind.

Read ‘Ethical AI: 5 principles for every business to consider 

On the tenth day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

An opportunity to help the community

The charity sector has often been slower to take up new technologies like AI. This is in part because of rising costs and also a lack of understanding around the benefits it can offer. And that’s where Microsoft’s Ideas Generator day comes in. Victoria Oakes, Microsoft UK’s Storytelling & Digital Destinations Lead, details how our annual Ideas Generator helps charities recognise and overcome challenges through AI-driven solutions in a day that’s part team-building workshop, part digital exploration to empower society’s most vulnerable.

Read ‘Ideas Generator’

On the eleventh day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

Positive societal change

The power of AI promises to revolutionise the world – but it would be nothing without innovative ideas from purpose-driven organisations and start-ups. Clare Barclay, COO, takes a look at Microsoft’s AI for Good accelerator programme; an exciting four-month programme that gives organisations expert tools, support, and resources needed to really make an impact across four key areas: AI for Earth, AI for Accessibility, AI for Humanitarian Action, and AI for Cultural Heritage.

Read ‘Make a difference with our AI for Good Accelerator Programme’

On the twelfth day of Christmas, AI sent to me…

All the ways AI can change our futures

From saving lives to employee experiences, AI is changing our world – and businesses need to lead the pack in this digital transformation. Equipped with the right skills and support, your organisation can use AI to create an even better future.

Discover Microsoft AI: Amplifying human ingenuity with intelligent technology


We hope you enjoyed our 12 days of AI Christmas. It’s often all too easy to just focus on day to day activities. Taking time to plan how to implement AI in your organisation is just as important to set your business up for success in the future.

Have a Merry Christmas, from all of us at Microsoft UK!

Find out more

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