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Data as a strategic asset: modernizing our data estate for machine learning and AI

Big data is everywhere these days. Data is collected along every step of an organization’s activity, including product development, manufacturing, supply chain, operations, sales, and customer support. Businesses today experience no shortage of data in terms of quantity; the challenge is tapping into the enormous potential of that collected data and extracting value from it as a resource.

The days when siloed, monolithic data stores were the rule are long gone, and those that are still standing are insufficient for business needs in today’s digital world.

As part of our digital transformation at Microsoft, we started asking a new question: How can we unleash the power of AI? By modernizing our data estate.

Modernizing our data estate has meant uniting data from across our entire enterprise, making it discoverable, trustworthy, understandable, and trackable. This has allowed us to optimize it for the advanced analytics, machine learning, and AI that have transformed our business. Join us on a journey into the steps Microsoft has taken towards modernizing our data estate and unleashing its full potential.

Modernizing strategies

At Microsoft, much of our data historically operated in silos. Keeping data in disparate systems forced our teams to make isolated decisions. While this approach is a common result of organic growth over time, it made it difficult to connect the pieces and optimize the whole of our data estate. Applying advanced analytics and machine learning were in turn even harder, and deeper insights remained out of reach.

But data no longer needs to be relegated to individual business groups and siloed for internal business applications. Instead, the modern data age demands a carefully planned strategic infrastructure to deliver on the promise of deep, transformative insights.

Modernizing a data estate isn’t always easy; it involves introducing fresh processes, using new tools, and champions to see cultural changes through. We’ve been going through this shift ourselves at Microsoft. We worked to start treating our data as a strategic asset and take full advantage of the opportunities presented by AI. Here’s the story of how transitioning to a fully modernized data management framework became a key factor in our overall business transformation.

Data platform

One of the building blocks of digital transformation is a modern data and analytics platform that harnesses data’s power to reveal patterns and make predictions. Being able to understand and tap into these predictions helps fuel digital transformation for enterprises worldwide, including here at Microsoft.

Implementing a modern data and analytics platform allows us to gather, store, and process data of all types and sizes from any data source. 

This deeper data understanding unlocks valuable insights, making it easier to identify trends and risks that help us ship on time, provide a quality product for our customers, cut down on business costs, and optimize internal operations.

At Microsoft, our data and analytics platform drives our business forward. Here’s how we use a modern data platform to run our business in the modern age.

Transforming through AI and machine learning

With the power of AI and machine learning at their fingertips, businesses across the globe are transforming the way they handle the breadth and depth of big data. At Microsoft, applying these technologies to our modernized data estate has helped uncover profound business insights that we never knew existed.

In addition to unearthing actionable insights, approaching data with advanced analytics allowed us to report more accurate financial forecasts, discover new product and service opportunities, streamline operations, and enhance our customers’ experience. Here are some of the ways Microsoft mines our rich data estate to empower employees to be more productive, delight our customers, and optimize the way we run our business.

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