Neil Holloway and Susan Hauser: Convergence EMEA 2015

Remarks by Neil Holloway, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Business Solutions, and Susan Hauser, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Enterprise and Partner Group, at Convergence EMEA 2015 in Barcelona on Dec. 2, 2015.

ANNOUNCER:  Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Business Solutions, Neil Holloway.  (Applause.)

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So, good morning.  It’s my great pleasure to be your host for day three.

What I thought I’d do is actually spend a little bit of time just reflecting on what’s happened in the last two days.

Jean-Philippe in his presentation on day one talked a lot about the principle around how to think about in your business, kind of the concept of your business.  Talked about the capabilities that you’re going to try and build and the culture.

Certainly, for me, when I heard about the Forrester report, it was very interesting just to reflect on that when 93 percent of the people who responded talked about the transformation of the business.  But the question for me was really:  Are they talking about the transformation of the business?  They’re talking about how they’re going to transform which businesses they’re in, or are they talking about how to think about being disruptive or handling disruption that’s happening inside their industry?

When Chris talked, Chris really framed this whole concept of moving systems of record to this concept of systems of engagement, but more importantly now, the idea of systems of intelligence.

And two of our ambitions as a company, we kind of bring together this concept of reinventing productivity and business process and intelligent cloud.  And Chris talked about the bring together of this kind of unstructured work we do around teaming, communication and collaboration, and then brought together this view of how we bring in the business process and think about the whole concept of adaptive systems.

And, really, in this world of kind of where we think about systems of intelligence, reasoning of the data in a very intelligent way.  And as we heard from Heineken, the transformation they’re going through in a very important place, which is called sales, right?  How to think about using the communication and collaboration and business processes coming together.  Right?

So both through the Heineken example of kind of bringing together Office and communication.  Right?  And well as the focus which we talked about around things like Skype for Business, it gave you a sense of how to think about some of these elements together.

But think when Scott talked about it, when Scott brought together this idea of saying so much about data, but what do you do with that data and how do you turn that data into insight and then into action?  And this whole concept of the intelligent cloud and kind of bringing together this reinvention of the business process through an intelligent SaaS.

He talked about the unique value proposition we have as a company that really has this hyper-scale infrastructure.  And sitting on top of that, data where data comes from the Internet, data comes from systems like Office, but data comes from both the existing kind of installations of business applications you have as well as new, and bringing that together in the concept of the intelligent SaaS.

Now, Real Madrid may not be the most popular football team in Barcelona, but apparently, as we heard, its second-largest fan base is here.  But more importantly, when they talked about building the relationship with their 450 million fans, and talked about the transformation they’re going through, it gave you a sense.

But for me, one of probably the best examples I’ve personally heard in the last kind of couple of days was the Caterpillar one.  Now, high-end machines may not be as sexy as kind of football teams, right?  But the idea that in that there, what was happening was data was coming from a variety of different sources.  It was coming from the Internet of Things.  It was coming from taking the data they have in their existing systems and from third parties, immersing that data into a business application, using machine learning to get that insight, and then turning that into action.  And then using tools such as Power BI and then linking that even into Cortana really gave you a sense of what an intelligent SaaS can look like.

And while we didn’t, obviously, demonstrate the connection with this unstructured working, you can imagine those three roles which we talked about, then using Office as a way of communicating, collaborating both internally and with the dealers themselves.

Metro Bank, for me, is also a fantastic example of obviously an industry which has historically been highly regulated.  But the transformation they’re going through in changing the experiences for those consumers in the U.K., using modern technology.

So, today is all about innovation and trust.  We want to talk a little bit about disruption.  What I drilled down on in this area of forging new frontiers, the importance of the trust, what it means when we really talk about compliance, control and security.

And, finally, if it’s all about the customer and the customer’s customer, having another look, another fantastic example of an organization which is really focusing on the customer engagement.

To me, yesterday, while it was fascinating to listen to the views from Peter and how he thought about what was going to happen in the financial services industry, an industry which you could say has existed for forever, which is about how to kind of share money, loan money, right?  And his views, what’s going to happen in the next 10 years.

What I thought I’d do is also today starting with a customer, look at another angle where new technology is really changing something we’ve done for thousands and thousands of years.  Please run the video.

(Video segment:  Growing Underground.)

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So it gives me great pleasure to welcome the co-founder of Growing Underground, Richard Ballard.  Richard.


NEIL HOLLOWAY:  Hi, how are you?  (Applause.)  So, Richard, I think the video kind of gave us some sense of your business.  Probably a couple things.  One is maybe share a little bit more about the business.  And then, secondly, I’m always fascinated how entrepreneurs like you really just come up with the idea of doing something as amazing as this.

RICHARD BALLARD:  Thanks, Neil.  As you saw from the video, we’re an urban farm.  And we’re growing in a World War II air raid shelter that’s 33 meters under the streets of London.  We’ve got about 6,000 square meters of space to grow into, which is probably about the size of this room.

And we are growing with hydroponics and LEDs and the produce, we’re growing microgreens, which are a tiny —


RICHARD BALLARD:  About this big.  Tiny shoots of greens of herbs that are packed full of flavor.  These are then shipped into the local wholesale market near Covent Garden, which is about a mile down the road.  And then this is a process that takes about four hours.  And then the produce is distributed from there.

All of our power is coming from a renewable resource over the grid from a company called Good Energy.  And we’re working towards a carbon-neutral accreditation.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So that’s incredible, but how on earth did you come up with this idea of kind of growing kind of these amazing little plants that have this phenomenal flavor 100 feet underground in London?

RICHARD BALLARD:  Well, about six years ago, I moved to London to embark on a film degree.  And when I moved to London, I was really interested with the history of London, especially what was underground.

This combined with my interest in sustainability and the future of cities led me to make a film about the futurist Jeremy Rifkin, whose ideas about the third industrial revolution really resonated with me.

For this film, I posed the question:  How are we going to feed and power cities of the future with a growing population and a trend of people moving towards urban concentrations?  And through my research, I looked into LED lights and saw that it was possible to grow purely without the use of natural daylight.

I did some calculations.  I spoke to my friend Steve, and Growing Underground was born.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So I’ve been fortunate in my career to be involved in a couple of startups.  And, for me, the view of a startup is you probably find sometimes a garage, maybe even an office, and your first desk is the cardboard box that you got your computer out of.

But, again, just a bomb shelter.  So what was it like going down to a bomb shelter?

RICHARD BALLARD:  Well, we first approached TFL, which is Transport for London, a government organization that run the transport system in London, as well as owning lots of property.

We first approached them in 2012 and they were really intrigued with our idea.  Prior to that, they had a lot of interest from nightclubs or hotels, and they were never going to get planning permission.

So they showed us the space.  It was a commercial size.  We realized we could work within that space.  And our hydroponics director, Chris Nelson, said, “You need to get in there and see if you can grow something.”

So we asked TFL and they were very obliging and handed us the keys.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  And they didn’t come down with you?

RICHARD BALLARD:  They didn’t come down with us.  When we first went down, there was — you’ve got to think that there was very little light in the tunnel.  There were a few lights sporadically distributed around.  There are 180 steps that go into the tunnel, so it’s good exercise getting down and up there without a lift as well.

So the first time we went down, Steve and I went down, brought a small hydroponic system with a couple of LED lights, set this up, and then realized it’s not economical for us to keep coming down together, we’re going to have to break this into shifts, because we need to check on the nutrients, the PH, and the well-being of the plants where we’re doing this.

So we broke it into shifts, and the first time going down on my own was, I’ve got to be honest, was really quite scary.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So you have no fear of the dark?

RICHARD BALLARD:  The underground actually goes above you.  So when you’re down there, you get this rattling of the underground which is above you, four stories above.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  There’s no rattling of rats, you should be OK.

RICHARD BALLARD:  No.  (Laughter.)

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So tell us a little bit about could you have done this without modern technology or what?

RICHARD BALLARD:  Technology in any business is paramount today, especially for a startup.  We were able to — using a package like Excel, we were able to analyze and calculate our financials and our yield data, which led to our margin, way before we even got to the point of building this space.  And these days, we use analyze and collaborate — collect and analyze data using our Surface Pros.  This is transferred, using the cloud, to the rest of the people in the organization using OneDrive and Microsoft 365.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So tell me kind of that role of the cloud and again, obviously, some of this is a lot about data.  I mean, obviously, you need to control that environment, but so much is about — what role does the cloud really play in your business?

RICHARD BALLARD:  So we’re working with a company called Priva, who have presented here the last few days, and they are a software and hardware company that produce software for controlled horticulture environments.  This will enable us to control over the cloud in Azure all the variables within the tunnel from air movement to temperature to heat to water movement to the nutrient levels that go into the plants.  And this is then communicated to us and this can be controlled by myself while I’m standing in the hotel in Barcelona.  I don’t think my farm manager would be too happy with me interfering with that sort of data, but yeah, this is possible.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So, again, a lot of very smart ideas, a lot of use of technology where the analyzing of that data and being able to control it without having to do the 180 steps and stuff.  So what’s kind of next for the business?

RICHARD BALLARD:  So our plan is to grow into this space over the next two years and increase our product range.  At the moment, we’re doing microgreens.  This can then expand into baby leaf, possibly miniature vegetables, heritage crops, tomatoes.  And then working with our suppliers and improving the technology and improving efficiency of what we’re doing, and that’s our aim for the next few years.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  And the attention here, as you said, is actually to grow things in a different environment actually with a different taste.  And where it may not feel disruptive, you are changing kind of how restaurants in London would acquire these amazingly tasty herbs.  Therefore, that is very different.

So tell me a little bit — obviously, there’s been kind of the conference in Paris this week and a lot about sustainability and new uses of energy and how businesses can think about this.  So what do you think — how do you foresee kind of this part of the food industry moving forward and what roles do you see kind of partners kind of play?

RICHARD BALLARD:  Sustainability is very important for any business, but it was one of our key drivers to start this business that it had to be sustainable.  So all of our power comes from a renewable company from green energy, which is offsite wind and solar.

We use a hydroponic system which uses 70 percent less water than conventional open-field farming.  And all our waste goes through a biomass or to compost.

We’re also, with the location, we’re not using any pesticides.  But there are two main concerns environmentally for the food production and for agriculture as I see it.  And that is food miles and food waste.

I read the other day that a space the size of Canada is being used to grow food and support livestock each year is being not consumed.  The food waste that isn’t consumed goes into landfills and creates methane, which is very, very damaging to the environment, much more damaging than CO2.

But there is technologies that are happening that companies are working on that are coming up with solutions to this.  One company, Valoya, who produce our LEDs, have re-created the light unit that can re-create any light spectrum.

Now, with the IOT, sensors could be put into a field in Indonesia to measure the light which they’re interested in as a light company, but also humidity, wind flow, and that could be — you could re-create that environment in a lab in London.  And the benefits of this are huge.  The future of developing new crops, new hybrids of crops, climatologists could use this to re-create weather patterns that we’ve not yet experienced to grow different crops for the future if there is problems with climate change.

This could be — could see further in down the line us growing Peruvian coffee in a warehouse in London to the taste of Peruvian coffee.  Or the way I like to see it, with the measurement of the Internet of Things and cloud computing, taking data from various agriculture zones all over the world, we could see in the future re-creating the perfect vintage wine year every year.  The future of agriculture, the IOT and cloud computing is very exciting.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  Great.  And it’s interesting, I love the quote that you had in the video at the end when it talked about this is not just an idea you want to keep to yourself and an idea which actually, if there were kind of hundreds of people around the world doing the same thing, that would be a brilliant thing.

RICHARD BALLARD:  Yeah, I mean, the difference in the food industry — and I’ve been in a few industries — there is a bit of competition between other companies, but we all eat food, and everyone needs food.  So the more the merrier that are doing this.  So we welcome that, and we learn from each other.  So it’s an interesting industry to be in.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  It certainly is.  Well, I want to thank Richard and, obviously, kind of share in the story.  A fantastic example of using innovation in something we’ve been doing since we kind of started as kind of human beings is the importance with regard to kind of growing food.  Certainly, and obviously in a city like Barcelona, if you’ve enjoyed the dinners as well, they’ve been fantastic, just shows you how we can continue to evolve the experience and how things are produced in a very different way.  So thank you very much, indeed.

RICHARD BALLARD:  Thanks very much.  (Applause.)

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  Thank you.

What I want to do now is kind of transition.  Transition to this whole principle where kind of technology plus innovation is giving new possibilities.

And I’m sure there’s not one person in the room who doesn’t feel that the business they’re in, the industry they’re in, is being disruptive in some type of way.

So it’s a great pleasure to introduce Susan Hauser.  Susan used to be the leader of the enterprise business until about a week ago.  And during that role, she had many, many thousands of experiences talking to businesses globally around this transition.

Susan in a new role is actually corporate vice president for business and corporate responsibility.  In many ways, some of these kind of themes kind of come together.

So Susan is going to share with you her views of the experience of disruption in customers and industries.  Susan Hauser.  (Applause.)  Hi, how are you?

SUSAN HAUSER:  I am doing fantastic.  It’s so great to be here, thanks for having me.



NEIL HOLLOWAY:  OK, thank you.

SUSAN HAUSER:  Well, hello out there.  How is everybody doing?  Hope you’re having a good few days.  Really appreciate you spending these three days with us.  I know we’ve had a lot of great discussion as well as feedback.

And so I want to maybe a bit of context-setting before I get started.  Over the last few days, we’ve had the opportunity to talk a lot about transformation.  And as you think about transformation and as we’ve heard from so many of the different speakers and customers, the fact is that transformation is accelerating much quicker than ever before.

And there are a lot of reasons why that transformation is happening in a much, much, much faster pace, including the fact that there are customer expectations that have changed dramatically that is influencing transformation.

And what we’re seeing is businesses and governments around the world, every single industry is looking at how can I accelerate my transformation to a digital business and be able to participate in a digital economy and grow my business?

You’ve also had an opportunity to hear from us over the last few days how Microsoft thinks about the importance of transformation and how we anchor that on three major pillars.

One is around building the intelligent cloud.  We talk a lot about cloud and the importance of cloud, and cloud has a lot of benefits, including the fact that cloud provides lots of efficiency, elasticity, allows you to be able to spin up and spin down businesses.

But what’s really exciting and what you’re going to hear more about today is about how the intelligence from cloud, how you can draw from cloud the intelligence of the data to be able to make decisions faster, smarter and also to create new business models.

In addition, the second pillar is about creating more-personal computing.  And that is the fact that it’s not about a mobile device, so to speak, it’s about the fact that the device proliferation and the new kinds of devices like sensors and beacons are allowing us to have a much more customized experience and also allowing us to create new business models.

And the third one, which we’ll spend the most amount of time, is around reinventing productivity and business processes.  Now, you might say we’ve always had productivity, but it’s really about how do we reinvent productivity for both our internal customers, our external customers, and even more importantly, as we reinvent productivity and create new environments, the modern workplace environment, it’s how do we step back and really think about the processes that we’ve used in the past and really rethink about how do we drive new processes to create new opportunities.

And as we anchor specifically around reinventing productivity and business processes, what’s really exciting is thinking about that, you really want to anchor on what’s really driving that?

No. 1, it’s really about how do we reinvent and how do we reimagine that whole customer journey?  The experiences that we all have, whether it is getting to the airport and having that experience of being able to use your mobile device to be able to check in.  That whole experience is so important about how we together can reinvent the whole customer journey to create, again, better experiences as well as new business models.

These new business models that we’re creating together is allowing us to expand beyond the current business.

And it’s so interesting.  As I speak to customers around the world, very often we talk about the fact that transformation is really exciting.  I had one large international bank, the chief operating officer say to me, “You know, Susan, this transformation is really, really exciting, but there are days when I wake up and I feel like I’m trying to change the wheels of the car while it’s moving.”

And I don’t know if you all feel thought way sometimes, but I have felt that way.  But there’s so much opportunity.  And how we together, it’s our partnerships together embracing the new technology, looking at how we can actually accelerate the transformation is where we see, again, so many great stories, one we just heard.  I love that story about how they reinvented the bunker there to be able to grow vegetables and hydroponic vegetables.  How exciting is that?  Who would have thought?

But there are a lot of other reasons why companies and governments around the world are accelerating their focus on the transformation and moving to a digital world.  This disruption is happening around many, many different industries.  And we’re seeing a lot of the disruption coming from some of the startups.

So, for example, Uber, how interesting is that?  Look at Uber.  The market cap combined of Hertz and Avis does not outpace Uber.  Uber’s market cap is greater than both Avis and Hertz put together.

Now, what’s fascinating about that is that Uber doesn’t even own a car.  So you think about what does disruption mean?

Another great example is Airbnb.  You know, it started out truly being focused on college kids looking for a couch and being able to maximize the ability to be able to offer rooms from your own apartment or house.  But now it’s become evolving to even business travel.

I have spoken to a number of corporate accounts that have said that they’re now offering Airbnb as an option for travel.

Now, that is a very specific type of traveler, but again, it’s disruptive and it’s changing new business models and really helping us to think about new ways to deliver experience.

But we’re also seeing lots of companies from around the world that are also coming in with great disruption and disrupting their own business.  And a great example is ABB.

ABB is very well known in terms of being a very large and innovative company.  They have just recently embarked on a very interesting new project around electric vehicle chargers.  And with that we, Microsoft, and ABB have come together to develop a partnership.  And it’s about bringing the best of both worlds, bringing the expertise that ABB brings around electrical vehicle chargers and having fast chargers, along with Microsoft’s ability to provide analytics as well as machine learning.

Now, why is that so important both for commercial as well as governments?  Governments around the world are looking at how do we drive sustainability in cities?  How do we improve people’s lives around transportation?

And so as you think about it, it’s not just an exciting new offer from ABB, but it’s truly having an impact in terms of our world and our lives that are so critical.

So I can actually talk about ABB, but what is better than me having a conversation and describing how ABB is?  Let me also bring out the customer and let’s bring out Joost and have him give us a little more about his journey.

With that, let’s bring out Joost.  Come on, Joost.  (Applause.)  There you are.


SUSAN HAUSER:  How are you?


SUSAN HAUSER:  OK, good, well, please come sit down.


SUSAN HAUSER:  We’re just here sitting here amongst a few of our friends.  So get yourself comfortable.

Well, it’s really exciting.  I shared a little bit of a backdrop of ABB and a little bit about the electrical vehicle charger project, which you lead.

So, perhaps, why don’t we start out and tell me a little bit more about the project itself and how is technology truly transforming the offer that you’re building?  And one other point I’d make is I really like the way you talk about the fact that it is an electrical vehicle charger platform.  And what does that mean?

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  All right.  So let me start.  We started seven years ago as a startup company based in the Netherlands.  And we were acquired, I guess, four or five years ago by ABB.

SUSAN HAUSER:  So you started out a small company and then you were acquired by ABB?

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Correct.  Four or five years ago, indeed.  And the journey basically started in the Netherlands.  And — sorry — I’m getting confused now.  (Laughter, applause.)

SUSAN HAUSER:  No, it’s fine, exactly.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Thanks, I appreciate that one.  But during that journey, we had one golden rule, the charger needed to be connected, always connected to the platform, as you mentioned.

And the reason why is basically very simple.  This is a new industry.  We’re talking here about EV fast charging.  That’s for many people today still a very new business.  Imagine how people were thinking about us five years ago.  Nothing was existing at that moment in time.

And we said, well, this is a new business.  There’s one thing that we are absolutely sure about, nothing is fixed, and you need to be able to adapt.

So with having that connection from the charger to our platform allows us to look at the charger from an operational point of view, look at the charger from a product innovation point of view of improvement, basically, but also launching new kinds of services that we don’t think about today, but we will need them, let’s say, tomorrow.  And we can basically launch that automatically via the remote connection to the charger.

So we do have that platform that’s absolutely key for our development.  And we strongly believe if we don’t have that platform, we would not be the No. 1 in the market.

SUSAN HAUSER:  Because in some ways, I guess a couple of things as you’ve described it, one, the word “fast charger” is critical because in a lot of ways — I’ve talked to many individuals that are very interested in perhaps going to an electric car, but yet there’s a lot of concern in terms of how long does it take to charge?  Is it really viable to have an electric car?

So this fast charger approach, that will solve some of the — I guess the concerns?  And maybe even speed up, do you see, the embracing of electrical cars?

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Oh, yeah, absolutely.  Absolutely.  So it’s all about fast charging.  I think many people know the Tesla example.  That’s a fairly large battery.  And if you have a large battery, there needs to be a lot of capacity to charge the car.

You cannot do that with low power.  You need higher power on that one.  So that is one development.  Batteries will be getting larger and larger.

We are able to do a quick charge, so in 20 minutes do a full charge.  And if you have a longer range, you will have, I will say, overcome the biggest hurdle that people are afraid — the mileage that you can get with a battery.

SUSAN HAUSER:  I know you’re also working with cities in terms of being able to put more of these fast charger stations in more places.  So that would also probably help.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Yeah, absolutely.  I think there are a couple of examples.  I think the video showed Estonia, that’s a nationwide network of fast chargers.  But think about the Netherlands.  Every location — 201 locations near the highway will have four fast chargers.  Denmark is a good example, but also the U.S.  We have a customer building up a very large network across the U.S.  It’s not Tesla, but it’s a separate one, to have multiple charging options, I would say, for customers.

SUSAN HAUSER:  Let me ask you.  You mentioned that you were acquired by ABB.  How do you integrate with the rest of ABB?  And how much influence?  And have you been able to continue the innovation in terms of building out and being able to deliver this new innovation?

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Yeah.  So for us it was an absolute need to be acquired by a large company.  As a startup company, it’s really cool, but this is a worldwide business.  We’re doing business in China, in the U.S., in Europe.  And if you are a startup company, you cannot sustain that one.

So with ABB, we have a worldwide service organization.  We have a worldwide sales organization.  That is really key to keep the growth.  And, of course, there’s strong R&D.  Yes, we are the experts, but with having the ABB family around us, it helped us quite a lot.

SUSAN HAUSER:  You know, as we’ve been talking about, you mentioned, again, electrical vehicle charger platform.  What does that mean in terms of how you’ve been able to partner with Microsoft?  And what is sort of the value you see Microsoft bringing?  It’s sort of — could be a little unusual.

I think a few years ago, you know, if we had sort of been discussing and saying how Microsoft was partnering to build electrical vehicle chargers, it might have been an unusual partnership.  But, clearly, we have a very strong partnership.  And it would be great for you to share a little bit about what value and what role Microsoft plays.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Yeah.  I think there are two aspects to our partnership.  One is my biggest — one of my biggest challenges is to keep up with the growth.  Not only from a size point of view, so having a reliable platform available —

SUSAN HAUSER:  Reliability is critical, right.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Yeah.  Indeed.  But also meeting local requirements.  Think about going to China.  There are different regulations.  With our partnership, I’m able to have also a service in China, for example.

But I’m certain that a bit of the basics,, I would say.  It is not the differentiator.  The differentiator is this, in my opinion.  Microsoft, you have a strong software background.  ABB has a bit more, I would say, hardware background.  And here, two industries are joining forces.  And that leads to innovation and that leads to new products.

Giving you an example, without our partnership and without cloud technology, we would not be able to do predictive maintenance.

If you now look at a charger, that charger reports an error.  I believe that’s too late because if somebody wants to charge and the charger is not functioning, you have a problem.

Combining your technology with big data, for example, and our charger where we have all the data available, allows us to think about predictive maintenance.  Wouldn’t it be great if an engineer gets a message that with 90 percent probability that charger, that component will have an issue in the next 24 hours?

Think about that one.  That will allow us to have a different kind of service offering to our customers.  So the service engineer can have a guaranteed uptime, for example.

SUSAN HAUSER:  And in a lot of ways, as you described that, I mean, what a powerful opportunity that is to provide a service not only as you think about the charging aspect of it, but it’s also about keeping the vehicle running properly and being able to do that in a way that is predictive.  And we’re seeing lots of companies in a variety of different kinds of industries really shifting their business to become more about predictive maintenance.  And that is so valuable for a customer to see that kind of service.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  As I should mention, it allows our support teams, our support department, to have a different kind of discussion with our customers.  Or you talk about having a standard SLA, in many industries is well-known.  Or you can have a different kind of discussion that you say, you know, when we get this message from the charger, we will go out and we will give you a guaranteed uptime, but for a different price, for example.  These are options, indeed.

SUSAN HAUSER:  How do you foresee, as you mentioned this being a platform, do you see yourself working with other companies to build on top of your solution?  Or do you see yourself keeping this as a silo?

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Definitely not the last one because, again, ABB is a hardware-oriented company.  We are not good in software and we don’t want to compete, for example, with companies who make mobile apps for making a reservation on a charger.  That’s not our business.

So, basically, we have the charger, we have the platform, and there it stops.  And that platform is something that we have jointly, but above that one, that’s for the market.  So giving you an example, if a company has a good idea about making an app for reservation, as I mentioned, or credit card payment via mobile phone, that’s not us who will provide that solution.  That’s not our industry.  We are not good at that.

But what we are good at is providing all the possibilities that you can interact with the charger based on the cloud platform.  So it stops there, and then enabling different industries, basically.

SUSAN HAUSER:  That’s fantastic.  And as you think about cloud in particular, what do you see as sort of the advantages for you in terms of speed to market?

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Oh, that’s absolutely key.  As I mentioned, it’s a fairly new industry.  A lot of people don’t even know about fast charging.  So we look at the market, we look at how things are moving, and we want to act quickly on those changes.

If we don’t have the cloud technology, we would not be able to launch quickly products.  Giving you an example, in China, in certain market segments, it’s very important to have an integration with WeChat pay.  We looked at that one in the summer, we made that decision I believe late summer, and we are now two months later and we have that product available.  Simply —

SUSAN HAUSER:  Two months?

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Yeah, two months.

SUSAN HAUSER:  So two months, sort of speed to market and the agility is clearly there for you.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Yeah.  And then we have the product, we can launch it via the cloud, distribute it to the charger, and it’s available for the Chinese market.

SUSAN HAUSER:  I’m just curious.  I’m just going to ask the crowd.  You know, in the next three years, how many in this room would evaluate or think about getting an electric car?  Just raise your hand.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  There’s enough potential for us.

SUSAN HAUSER:  Yes, actually, I think things are good.  And a fast charger on top of it.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Yeah, it must be fast.

SUSAN HAUSER:  That’s great.  It really was, just by the show of hands, it was probably more than three quarters of the individuals in this room raised their hand around considering, I didn’t say buy, but considering electric vehicle.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Yeah, but that’s also the market trend that you see, that more and more people are interested in electric cars.

SUSAN HAUSER:  Yeah, I was reading something.  I think it was last year was over a million, and then there’s, again, a prediction that that’s exponentially growing.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Yeah.  Correct.  And as I mentioned, the batteries will increase, the size will increase, so you need to have higher power.  There will be more charging stations available, so I think that’s a correct way to move forward.

SUSAN HAUSER:  So I know you’re always sort of thinking about what’s next.  So my final question is:  What is next in terms of what’s the next plan that you can share amongst our friends here?

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Yeah.  So with the partnership, we will launch new products.  When it comes to big data and all kinds of stuff.  But for me, what’s more important is if you look at the platform, we have now the fast charger connected to it.  But can you imagine if you connect, for example, a solar inverter or a battery storage system to that platform?  Think about the possibilities that you will have.

So if the energy price is too high, you will take the solar energy into your storage and use it at 6:00 when you’re at home to charge your car.  These kinds of possibilities are there.  So where we connect more devices to this platform, and the industry is picking up on these kinds of smart solutions, that is what we are focusing on next.

SUSAN HAUSER:  That sounds great.  It’s making me more to be one of those people to raise their hand about looking at an electric vehicle now as well.  So this is great.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  Good.  And if you then buy a fast charger, that’s excellent.

SUSAN HAUSER:  Absolutely.  I’m definitely going to go for a fast charge.  I want to thank you, but before that, let me summarize as I think about our conversation here.  It really is about how technology is really accelerating the new transformation and new business models.

But, truly, it is about putting the customer at the center.  The way you describe, again, understanding how people will use the technology and bringing together the fast charger with the analytics together is truly bringing something that’s really unique.

And then I think that the fact is that you’re capitalizing, as well, so much on the fact that we need to, as a society, have a big focus on sustainability.  And more and more cities are looking at how do you improve transportation, really drive that sustainability.  And so, first of all, thank you so much for taking the time.  Please, help me join and thank Joost for sharing this wonderful story.

JOOST VAN ABEELEN:  You’re welcome.  (Applause.)

SUSAN HAUSER:  I really appreciate it.


SUSAN HAUSER:  Thank you so much, and I will see you later, thanks.  (Applause.)

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  Thank you, thank you.

What I want to do now is change the theme to the theme of trust, right, and how important trust is in the cloud environment.

Obviously, if you’re a bank and the first thing you do is invest in a safe, because if you can’t keep the money safe, you can’t have a bank.

And therefore as a hyper-scale infrastructure provider to the market, we as a company have to invest in the privacy, security and compliance that’s required.  We absolutely believe that if customers when they use a technology, they don’t trust it, they will not use it, right?  And they will not use technology they don’t understand.

And therefore for all the innovation that we do and for all the conversations which we want to have with you, enabling you to transform your business, it is totally dependent upon the word around trust.  And we have to kind of bring it together in what that means.

So there are four kind of pillars that you want to think about.  One is the area of compliance.  This is all about us meeting your obligations, about managing your data in accordance with the law that you have to abide to.

There are two levels to think about this.  One is today and one is tomorrow.  Certainly, today, when we think about the regulatory landscape that exists, both at the country level and industry level, this is a very important topic.  And as a company today relative to the marketplace we have the largest compliance portfolio in the industry.

But probably more importantly my message to you is not how we’re compliant and enabling you to be compliant today, it’s more important about the journey we’re going to go on together, right, the work we have to do together in a very collaborative way, both with governments, with industry bodies, and ensuring as we go through that collaborative approach we absolutely also kind of challenge governments and bodies, where needed, to ensure the relevance of kind of compliance.

And you heard that yesterday from Robert in the session in the morning with regard to how sometimes it’s the lack of knowledge of people who are making some of these decisions that are actually holding back.  But the whole area of compliance is absolutely kind of critical.

The second one is around control.  Now, this is very clear.  This is your data, and it absolutely is under your control.  Just because it sits in our datacenter doesn’t mean to say we control your data, right?

Recently, the industry formed another standards forum, which is the ISO 27018 — 18, 27018 standard, right?  And this is all about how you can control.  And we’re the first company in the industry which adheres to that kind of industry standard.

It’s also so important for you to understand that even as consumers, right, how we process your personal data is only in accordance with the instructions you give us, right?

The third, in Europe, right, certainly it’s about choice and control, right?  As Jean-Philippe mentioned on day one, us announcing kind of our datacenter strategy in Germany, right, and what we’re doing there, and first from an industry perspective, is around the data trustee model, right, to abide by the German law in Germany.

The fact that we announced the same week datacenters in multiple cities in the U.K., and really expanding in Europe kind of the datacenter hubs out of Ireland and the Netherlands, it’s so important to provide you the choice, right.

As a company we have about a thousand — 100 datacenters worldwide in about 24 regions, and about 40 countries, and provide the breadth of choice to you with regard to where you kind of store your data.

Security, absolutely committed.  There’s a lot of focus, quite rightly, in the security of the data which exists in the datacenters.  But in many ways, though, the challenge we all face is not the data in the datacenter, it’s actually the devices which touch the data in the datacenters and the people who do that and can touch those devices.

The other interesting thing as we go on this journey together, certainly I think now as people better understand how these hyper-scale datacenters are managed, there’s some sense of realism in many ways by the IT directors and the operations people that in many ways the datacenters that we own are actually more secure than their own.  Now, that’s obviously a decision which any company would make because it’s relative to how they control their own datacenters.  But the whole focus of security is absolutely critical as well.

But also what is so important is transparency.  It’s so important for us to be transparent to you how your data is stored, how you control it, how we help you control it, right?

It’s important to understand in today’s environment how what law enforcement requests are being made on that data, and also share if there’s any kind of third-party requests that are being made on your data.

And also it’s very important for you to understand where the data resides and who gets access to it.

So this is a journey which we’re all on together, and as you heard yesterday, in many people’s views in 10 years’ time the debate, the question will be, well, why to have the debate?  It’s a very natural thing to have this debate.  Yet it needs to be done in a very collaborative way around the world relative to different kind of markets around the world.

So why is trust core for us, right?  I think building this trust really together allows you to have the opportunity to find new businesses.  In many ways the natural thing to do is to start with something less risky and build upon that and prove the case and built the trust and then move ahead.

I thought it was fascinating listening to Peter yesterday from Temenos when he talked about kind of the 50,000 regulated deposit banks kind of globally today, and where he believes that’s going to be in 10 years’ time.  That is the journey, right?  And he talked about in many ways starting with one process, one bank, and one regulatory body at a time.

And that’s probably the journey we’re going to go on, but it’s a journey together as we absolutely need to address this concern with regards to trust of your data and how that data is managed.

So I thought what we’d do is actually have a customer come up and talk about.  It’s certainly a customer who is betting very big in this area, one which absolutely is betting on the promise of a secure and intelligent cloud, and absolutely is one of these businesses which is reinventing itself, right, in the opportunity which we have in the financial services marketplace.

So it’s a great pleasure to introduce Kai Klatt from Wincor-Nixdorf.  (Applause.)

So I think most people in the audience obviously have heard of Wincor-Nixdorf, but again I think it’s just interesting, Kai, just to maybe share the journey which you’ve been on as a business.

KAI KLATT:  OK.  So good morning, everybody.  So Wincor-Nixdorf is a young company with more than 60 years of business experience.  So we’ve been founded by a computer pioneer, Heins Nixdorf, in 1952, had a journey together with Siemens in the ’90s, and since 1999 we are independent and known as Wincor-Nixdorf.

So today, we are one of the world’s leading providers of IT solutions and services towards retail banks and the retail industry.

Our portfolio is focused on hardware, software and services.  And it’s made to optimize the interface of businesses towards their customers.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So it was fascinating just to kind of talk about kind of how you are transforming, because you really are as a business transforming yourself from what you did to what you now want to do.

KAI KLATT:  Yeah, you have to understand, so we are not only German-based, so we are really a global company.  So we have more than 9,000 employees worldwide in more than 42 countries with our subsidiaries, but serving our customers in more than 130 countries.

And our challenge in our business is on the one hand, our customers are suffering a tremendous cost and optimization pressure, and on our side we are suffering from more and more commoditization of our hardware business.

So our customers have to transform their businesses, and so do we in order to support them.  So our market requires holistic end-to-end solutions, and we are growing our business through customer-centric IT services and software.

So one of the examples is — and I’m pretty sure we are not known for this because you already know Wincor-Nixdorf.  I guess everybody has touched a device from Wincor-Nixdorf in the past like ATMs or POS systems for retail.  But we’re also doing transactional management like to our customers at Shell where we do integrated cash management.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So again very different from a world of hardware to a world where really you are a software kind of company, as kind of Scott talked about, a software services company in the new world.

It’s very, as we said in the last two days, every time you want to talk about security and privacy, the natural thing to talk about is, OK, let’s talk about financial services.  So tell us about how you think about from your business the security concerns and how you think about the priorities around that.

KAI KLATT:  So in our industry security is a must.  And we as Wincor-Nixdorf have a long proven track record to deliver the highest possible security requirements to our customers and to comply with all relevant regulations in the market.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  And so with regard to — so you really have embraced the cloud as a business platform.  I mean, that’s — as we’re seeing, that’s a trust thing.  But it’s also — so why?  Why have you taken that approach?
KAI KLATT:  I do not see a contradiction there.  As Microsoft is complying with the famous EU Model Clauses, and we are operating our cloud in the European cloud.  So we are using Microsoft European cloud for all services.  So this gives us trust.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  Good, good.

Well, it’s interesting, because one of the areas you are again focused on is just the productivity of the sales process actually as well.  I mean, tell me a little bit about the profile of the sellers which you have, and maybe again how you’ve embraced those different types of salespeople, different types of sales process.

And obviously yesterday, we talked a little bit about — on Monday we talked a little bit about this kind of area of culture and kind of how does culture evolve in a world where businesses are transforming.

KAI KLATT:  So our business is not different than all the other businesses.  So in sales you typically find a couple of archetypes.  You have the problem-solvers.  You have the challengers who are always challenging customers, challenging the organization, ask questions and want to move forward.  You have the relationship-builders, those guys who are known to play golf with the customers.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  Are there many of those left?

KAI KLATT:  You also have some lone wolves which you can never control, which are extremely hard to steer but can also deliver a lot of added value.

So our big challenge is, and as all the companies around also have, how to make those people work on the same sales process and stick to the sales process.

Our answer to that is you have to deliver benefit to all relevant stakeholders in sales.  So everybody has to get something out.  Management, of course, loves the transparency they get.  They love the real-time dashboards, the drill-down capabilities.

But the poor sales guy at the frontline, he needs benefits as well.  So for him the process has to get easier, more efficient, faster.

And we are enabling our sales guys also with mobility.  Instead of doing their homework and updating the CRM system when they have their spare time, they can just do it on the go.  So they use the mobile apps, update the opportunities as well.

Of course, we are not only management and frontline sales.  There is in between sales support.  And sales support takes massive benefit out of the collaboration possibilities, which are happening today on the customer in CRM.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So kind of in many ways, as you said, the sales process, while sometimes we think it’s very different across industries, a lot of the way you described it, Kai, is very similar to what was described by Heineken on day one.  Obviously, what you sell is different, but the example, the demonstrations which she showed on Monday, particularly this integration between kind of the reinventing productivity and the modern business process.  What you’re doing here is in this kind of very regulated industry, is doing the same, but recognizing that the data and everything which you would have is against relative to kind of more slightly more sensitive.

KAI KLATT:  Yeah, yeah.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So what about the challenges in transformation?  I mean, sometimes there’s a lot of conversation about, well, I have to go to get an MBA to do a business case that justifies kind of the transformation and changes I sometimes need.  Tell me about how kind of Wincor-Nixdorf and you and the leadership team kind of thought about that part of the transformation side?

KAI KLATT:  So we are obviously in a transformation phase, and this is a longer phase.  So it’s a longtime investment on the one hand.  On the other hand, in financially difficult times it’s always hard to get funding, proper project funding if you want to achieve something.

So in fact, the funding has never been questioned for us, as the business transformation is being supported by our CRM system, and the CRM system really puts customers into our focus.  And this is a lot of value to us.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  We were talking yesterday as well about how you kind of connected this sales process using CRM, but also how you’ve connected it to the values which you have as an organization.  I think it’s interesting.  Can you kind of share that as well?
KAI KLATT:  Yes, sure.  So we have four core values, and we have connected our system, our approach, our CRM approach to those values.

First of all, it’s customer impact.  We want to contribute to our customers’ success.  And how do we do this?  We need to have the customer in focus of our whole organization.

On the other hand, we are one company.  So one company means we are selling a very complex portfolio.  It’s from 500 Euro hardware to 100 million Euro outsourcing deals.  So everything is in between.  You have to work in a matrix organization, you have to collaborate, but you have to stick to certain rules.

And CRM is guiding our users through the sales process, and they take benefit of being advised what are the next steps, what is to do, so we speed up passion and performance.

Yes, we are innovation leader, so it’s natural for us to use the cloud solution, and we’ve obviously decided for Microsoft.

Last but not least, it’s integrity and respect.  There is no value on the system when nobody shares information.  So it’s about sharing information, about being open, collaborating with your colleagues on one platform.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So I think you know the next question, because it’s the obvious question.

KAI KLATT:  The one the others also asked, so what’s next?

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  Yeah, it’s the last one we always do.

KAI KLATT:  OK.  So what’s next?  Neil, I’ve changed my mind.


KAI KLATT:  I’m extremely impressed by the PowerApps and definitely my team and myself, we have to dig into that.  So one of the next steps will be a deep dive into PowerApps.  I see really great opportunities for us there.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  I think actually as you were saying backstage, the PowerApps was something new we’ve announced, and I think it certainly just embraces this whole concept of how do you do something very — it’s almost like a “snappable” app, right?  So rather than have a long evaluation of a business process that’s going to take you six, nine months to get the project there, that ability to do something very simple but get a lot of value out of very quick is obviously what we’re all looking for.

So I really do appreciate, we have a fantastic partnership, appreciate you sharing with the audience today this kind of journey which you’re going on, the balance between kind of your transformation as a company, as well as how, as you said, more importantly how you’re enabling your customers to transform, and how you’ve embraced the use of the cloud and really the blend between the concept, the capabilities and the cultural side, the values part.  Really do appreciate it, so thank you very much indeed, Kai.

KAI KLATT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So let’s kind of switch back again to the final kind of customer, and obviously certainly so much of this is about the relationship with your customers or your customers’ customers.  So please welcome back onstage Susan and her guest, the head of marketing from Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

SUSAN HAUSER:  Welcome back.  We’re back.  We’re back.  How are you?  It’s so great that we have an opportunity to also hear another great story.  And this little video in the back is playing here, was very, very cool, which I am so excited about, is hearing about the seven-star hotel that’s from your company, Jumeirah.  It’s interesting to hear.  I wasn’t even aware that there was such a thing as a seven-star hotel.  I know it’s now on my list to be able to go on my next vacation.  I definitely want to check out what a seven-star hotel means.

But for you as well it is all about customer intimacy, as well as experience.

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  That’s correct.

SUSAN HAUSER:  And so as part of the discussion we’ve had today around transformation, around disruption, it truly is about that customer journey.  And there’s no better person for us to have this dialogue about your journey.

So with that, perhaps we’ll sit here.  As I said —

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  Yeah, thank you for having me.

SUSAN HAUSER:  — we absolutely have Abdullatif, we have our friends here, and so we’ll just have a nice conversation here.

First of all, your title in itself, Customer Relationship.  You and I had a chance to meet and spend some time.  You’ve had a history of being focused around customers.

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  That is correct.  Yes, that is correct.  And I’ve got a really interesting role within Jumeirah.  I’m in what most people would say is how do we actually have, how do we make our customers loyal to our brand.  But in Jumeirah we look at it differently.  And I think managing this seven-star hotel, Burj Al Arab, made us think differently.  So we actually see how can we, Jumeirah, be loyal to our customers, so flipping that around.  So it’s probably the same outcome, but I think the internal processes would change.

SUSAN HAUSER:  So really you flipped it around.

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  That is correct, yeah.

SUSAN HAUSER:  Interesting.

And so tell me a little bit more about your role.  And specifically what does that mean in terms of driving customer engagement, and what does that mean being loyal to your customers?

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  Yeah, it’s more about understanding who our customers are, acknowledging that there are individuals, they come to our hotels not for our rooms, specifically for that memorable experience.  So it’s us as a company trying to understand how can we serve them better, how can we create those new experiences that they actually want.

SUSAN HAUSER:  You know, we talk a lot about the fact that there’s lots of competition and disruption.  How have you thought about disruption, and has that motivated you to think about how you engage differently with customers as they have that experience in these incredible hotels around the world?

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  Yeah, definitely.  I mean, customers come to us for the service.  As I mentioned, it’s not necessarily for the assets.  They might come the first time because we have iconic buildings, but they return for the service and the experience.

And, of course there has been change in how customers actually shop today, especially with this digital era.  It’s long gone where a customer would actually — or a traveler would actually go to a travel agent and say, “Book my holiday.”  Now they shop around.  And we know, based on research, a traveler would actually go to 30 websites before actually making that choice.  So for us that’s very important to be on that digital area.

SUSAN HAUSER:  And as you think about the engagement itself, like as an example, like what would be that experience that — and I know a lot of the individuals in this room travel a lot, just like I do.  You know, how would you describe sort of the experience from the moment you come into the hotel?  What’s different about it?
ABDULLATIF AWADH:  Yeah, I mean, Jumeirah, if you stay at a hotel, it’s probably going to be a totally different experience if I stay at the same hotel, and that’s what we cater for.  And what actually brings up our brand is the people who work in the hotel.  It’s not anything else apart from that.

So what we wanted to do is actually align that with all the different channels that the customer actually goes through with our brand or engage with our brand.  So that could be our telephony, that could be our digital space, and so on and so forth.

So we have that five-star luxury service in a hotel, but how can we actually get that five-star luxury experience outside the hotel?

SUSAN HAUSER:  So after someone leaves the hotel, is that —

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  That is correct.

SUSAN HAUSER:  So what would that mean?  Is your continued sort of connection with the guest once they leave as well?

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  Yeah, so what we’re trying to do is actually create that relevance, but there is no disruption in the conversations that the brand is having with the customer.  So whatever happens after the stay is actually a continuity of the experience they actually had.  So the content is relevant, the channels are relevant, which we are communicating to them.

And it’s different.  We understand that each customer has a different path in their journey with our brand, and we start to recognize —

SUSAN HAUSER:  So it’s not one size fits all.

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  Oh, definitely not, yeah, definitely not.  So we try to understand who they are with different personas and actually change our internal processes to match with their journey.

SUSAN HAUSER:  You also had mentioned the individuals who work for the hotels and the importance of their — in a lot of ways what I had mentioned earlier, culture plays a big importance.

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  That is correct, yes.

SUSAN HAUSER:  More and more it’s amazing how the word “culture” keeps coming up as part of disruption and as part of transformation and the importance of not just introducing new technology to be able to do predictive maintenance or predictive customer offers.  But how do you actually engage your employees, and what is the employee experience?

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  Yeah, I mean, all our employees are trained with that golden thread of Jumeirah standards.  And us coming from Dubai, hospitality is in our DNA as Arabs.

And I would just give you a quick story on how this is linking to the brand.  As Arabs if you are wondering in the desert and you just pass by to a village, you actually can stay in any house you wish for three days and no one is — and you are welcome to the house.  So that’s the spirit and the hospitality of the Arabs.  And so us being an Arabic brand, it is within our DNA.

SUSAN HAUSER:  That’s amazing, and so great in terms of the experience and how people truly take that as part of their commitment as well.


SUSAN HAUSER:  I know that as we worked together between our companies as well, you’ve implemented Dynamics CRM, and really with the focus again about your customers.  Can you talk a little bit about the capabilities that you’ve been able to leverage and use and what the impact has been?

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  Definitely.  Yeah, I mean, we’ve done a lot of work in understanding who our customers are, and to understand there’s a lot of different segments.

What we needed was a platform that actually assists us in actually communicating the individualized or personalized messages to all those different customers.  If we don’t have that platform, actually it would require a huge team, and marketing would actually have to create probably 50 content different email creatives just for one messaging.

But with Dynamics marketing and CRM what we actually do today is we actually create one creative, but that has multiple versions, depending on who the recipient is.  So that helps a lot.

SUSAN HAUSER:  And are you seeing impact on the business, any kind of like — you know, because I know that obviously we all are embracing transformation, but we also need to be fiscally responsible and show results.


SUSAN HAUSER:  Are you seeing results?

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  Yeah.  I mean, it’s just been a couple of months since we’ve made this implementation, and we actually are tracking on two things.  One is the engagement metric, and we’ve seen that we have actually doubled the engagement metric before this exercise and after mostly we have the exercise done, and also implementing Microsoft Dynamics.

SUSAN HAUSER:  You actually doubled the engagement?

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  That is correct, yeah.  So we had things like open rate around 24 percent, and now some segments actually increased to 50 percent on open rates.

Not only that, we also measure year on year revenue increase by month, and we’ve noticed that since we started after the implementation, we actually have months, you know, the first month was around 10 percent year on year increase, and then the third month was 40 percent year on year increase.

SUSAN HAUSER:  That’s amazing, and that’s —


SUSAN HAUSER:  — just in months.

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  That is correct, yeah.

SUSAN HAUSER:  That’s nice.

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  And that’s in the initial stage of us embracing digital transformation, and this is just the first phase of a long journey.

SUSAN HAUSER:  Oh, that’s great, because, I mean, it’s always exciting and inspiring, but it’s also great to hear results as well.


SUSAN HAUSER:  And I’m sure that everyone in your company is very happy with that as well.


SUSAN HAUSER:  So let me ask you a last question.  So what’s next?

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  A lot of things.


ABDULLATIF AWADH:  But I think what’s important for us now is actually we kind of understand our customers when they’re within our brand, but what we wanted to do is actually connect the dots across the whole customer journey, and make sure that we continue the conversations regardless of the channel they’re in.


ABDULLATIF AWADH:  Whether it’s on social media or whether it’s on our telephone or even front office.

Other things that we are also looking at is how can we have CRM actually personalize the room automation, the room experience across all our hotels.  So if a customer actually goes to one of our hotels and they like a specific type of temperature and so on and so forth, how can we automate that so when he goes to any other hotel it is kind of the same. So this is still that we’re exploring on this, but I’m sure there’s a technology that can assist us, but that’s what we’re thinking of.

SUSAN HAUSER:  So you’re going beyond and to really expanding that experience on individual hotels.

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  That is correct.

SUSAN HAUSER:  That is just fantastic.  I really love this story.  And just let me sort of maybe summarize some of the points.  As I hear you speaking, it really is about putting the customer at the center and the whole journey is around the customer.  It isn’t about a one size fits all but how do you efficiently be able to provide that level of customized experience.

And I love the fact that it doesn’t just stop here.  You’re looking at more and more ways in terms of how do you differentiate being a luxury really line of hotel.  We had talked about the fact that, of course Airbnb is not at all a distractor for you.  This is a very different experience.  And the fact that as you’re continuing to invest in channels, as well as new ways of experiencing.

Well, I don’t know about all of you, but I definitely know which hotel I’m going to next.

ABDULLATIF AWADH:  We’d love to have you there.

SUSAN HAUSER:  So with that — definitely — with that, help me say thank you, and thank you all for giving us a chance.  Thank you so much.


SUSAN HAUSER:  Thank you.  Thanks, everyone.  Thanks.  (Applause.)

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So thank you, thank you.

So just briefly before we wrap, a couple things.  One, please fill out your evaluation forms.  The feedback is so important.  This is an event which we’ve been doing for many years.  We continue to evolve the event.  And getting your feedback from both the content, this dialogue, how we do the presentations, probably more importantly the meeting environment is so important.  For every time that you complete an evaluation we do donate money as well to the World Animal Protection.

Let me leave with you just a few things to think about.  This digital transformation you’re all going through is a journey.  The question maybe is kind of why Microsoft.  I’d think about three things.

One is this whole uniqueness we have between the hyper-scale infrastructure between the communication and collaboration tools which we have from a productivity perspective, and then the intelligent cloud and how we would connect that back into business process makes us very unique in the industry.

Probably more importantly, though, as well, I think in a world which is kind of mobile-first and cloud-first where mobility means mobility of the experience and cloud is the data source which you have to fuel the data from data to kind of insight into action, right, the openness which we have done in the last 18 months with regards to the relationships which we have formed in this space demonstrate our commitment to the openness from a technology perspective, but also the trust in the cloud.  We absolutely understand our responsibilities around the trusted cloud and what that means for your business.

And finally, I think the third thing is the strength of the ecosystem which we have, from the largest system integrators, the management consultants in the world, all the way through to kind of the very boutique kind of smaller partners that we have in every country in the world makes us unique with regard to enabling that value proposition to come together, but in a very open way and in a trust way.

I just wanted to leave you with a few words from our CEO, Satya Nadella, who wanted to share his views on this digital transformation.

SATYA NADELLA (from video):  For us at Microsoft everything starts with our mission.  Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

And when we say empowerment, we mean empower through digital technology and digital transformation.

And that’s why I think digital transformation is not just an adjunct nice to have, but it’s at the core of whatever business you are in, in retail or healthcare or energy or manufacturing even.  Digital content and digital transformation is at the center of it all.

And so therefore it’s super important for every decision-maker, every business leader to take advantage of this technology and drive their own transformation.  And if they don’t, they face the obvious issue of some competitor taking advantage of that technology and disrupting them.

So hopefully throughout the conference you heard from many of your peers on how they are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in their industry, in their business using digital technology, and that, you know, is something that I think each one of us can take away and be inspired by.

The biggest takeaway from Convergence should be that this is the time for you to really capitalize on some amazing technological capability that is being democratized, but it’s also the time for you to be at your creative best in being able to use it to advance and transform your businesses.

I’m really looking forward to what you all do leaving this conference in Barcelona, and driving your own digital transformations, and us celebrating together what you achieve with your transformation.

NEIL HOLLOWAY:  So let me thank you for the trust you’ve put in us and the investments you’ve done already with the current technology.  And the fact that three out of four of you in the room are already using a cloud service from us in many ways says a lot, right?

I also want to thank you for all the learnings which you’ve given us in all the meetings.  Certainly in every meeting I’ve been in over the last two days I’ve taken many notes of how we can be better as a company and better as a partner for you.

We at Microsoft really look forward to kind of partnering with you as you go on your journey of transformation, and we really hope that we can play a very important kind of enabler in your own transformation.

So thank you for your time, look forward to the rest of the conference, and safe travels home.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)