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Satya Nadella at Ignite: “We collectively have the opportunity to lead in this transformation”

We live in a time where the profound impact of technology in everything that we do is so much deeper, so much broader, whether you’re talking about precision agriculture, or precision medicine, the future of connected products, smart cities or smarter factories.

“There isn’t a single industry that isn’t being transformed,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told those gathered at Microsoft Ignite. “We collectively have the opportunity to lead in this transformation.”

In the midst of this monumental change, our timeless values help us stay grounded in the things that matter most. How do we empower people? How do we bring about economic growth without degrading human dignity? How do we use tech to promote inclusiveness?

Accessibility is an amazing example. We live in a golden age where technology can enable more people to participate in our technology and in our society.

This is what grounds us in our mission: to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

When we think about the application of technology — it’s not technology for technology’s sake, it’s about the impact that it can have. It’s what you do with the technology we create, moving our economy and our society forward.

While our mission remains constant, technology paradigms come and go. Where before we held a worldview of a mobile-first, cloud-first world, that worldview is evolving to the new technology paradigm of the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge.

Three characteristics define this shift: the move to multi-device, multi-sensory interactions; artificial intelligence driving predictive insights across devices; and a new fabric of serverless, or distributed, computing power.

In this new era, Microsoft is building systems of intelligence, virtuous cycles and new feedback loops that help create data and refine how you reason over this data to gain insights from information.

These systems of intelligence and how we bring about the technology, how we bring about this cultural shift, is what Microsoft is focused on, with four core ingredients. We call them solution areas: modern workplace, business applications, applications and infrastructure, and data and AI.

These ingredients transcend product category definitions and business models.

Together, we are building a modern workplace, which starts with empowering everyone in an organization to be more creative and collaborative, and ultimately apply technology to help shape the culture of work. And importantly, secure your organization’s digital estate. It’s this cultural shift that’s top of mind for every leader and every organization, and that’s what we want to enable with Microsoft 365.

We aim to unlock the creativity in all of us, so that you can bring out the best in everyone in your organization.

Ford, for example, is not only breaking down organizational boundaries, but is simultaneously breaking down geographical boundaries as well by using the power of mixed reality to brainstorm, design and develop new vehicles.

This represents a sea change at Ford. In the past, designing a new car involved building a clay model that weighed 5,000 pounds. This required moving it around in order for people to see it. But what if you could create a digital feedback loop where everyone is collaborating simultaneously? That’s the kind of innovation we’re unlocking with the modern workplace. And when you add mixed reality, the very nature of collaboration changes.

Microsoft is transforming the data and intelligence that powers the modern workplace, and the Microsoft graph is perhaps one of the most important data assets — core to thinking about how customers unlock value.

Today, we’re announcing the first phase of integration between the LinkedIn graph and the Microsoft graph. With this rich platform and rich data graph you can start building AI-first applications. You can bring the power of AI, the power of natural language, the power of deep learning to the enterprise and unlock it.

As we aim to empower people within an organization, Microsoft is taking it a step further, to ensure we’re also transforming the processes and functions surrounding them. Bing for Business combines data from the enterprise with public Web results to produce a seamless experience that’s intelligent, personal and contextual.

Now, adding Dynamics 365 to this connected graph, we have an opportunity to redefine what customers can expect from their business applications.

Every business process is being digitized, from relationship sales, talent and people processes, operations, customer service, field service and more. For this evolution to be successful, we must move from monolithic suites and disconnected data silos to modern, modular apps with a common data model. You need a platform approach.

One way this is coming together is in the combination of business applications, mixed reality and IoT.

Consider mining as an example of how the role of business applications is fundamentally transforming an industry. Mining has complex engineering requirements, stringent health and safety policies, and very significant up-front capital expenses. To stay competitive, mining companies have invested in technologies like AI, sensors and geospatial analytics to digitize their operations and become true data-driven businesses.

But the connected mining operation is taking transformation one step farther by using Microsoft Teams, Microsoft HoloLens, Dynamics 365 and Azure to bring everyone together, from management to the geologist to help people succeed in ways never before possible.

These innovations can be applied to any business and across industries when data, software and mixed reality come together to drive digital transformation.

Data is driving this change, but what if we started with the data we already have and started reasoning over it to create new levels of automation?

Microsoft is infusing AI into our business applications to transform customer care and equip customer support agents with intelligence to best serve their customers’ needs.

Applications and infrastructure, data and AI are the solution areas that enable our partners and customers to build specialized apps into the core of business, AI- and MR-first apps and solutions in this era of the intelligent edge and the intelligent cloud. Azure is the platform that brings these solutions to life. It is one fabric that is truly distributed and supports hybrid computing.

And the pace with which customers partners and developers are driving innovation is unprecedented.

The cloud fueling AI is helping partners and customers like Tetra Pak, Land O’ Lakes, Epic, Trimble and the University of Washington, and Addenbrooke’s Hospital transform and build systems of intelligence, to build their own AI.

Today, we’ve seen how organizations across industries are transforming – how we are infusing AI and mixed reality experiences into each of these solution areas, enabling customers to transform, build their own intelligence capabilities and create immersive new experiences — things not thought possible just a few years ago.

It has been said that we tend to overestimate what we can achieve in the short run, but underestimate what we can achieve in the long run. We see this in how customers, partners and developers everywhere are pushing the frontiers of what’s possible with mixed reality and AI and creating solutions that are changing the world.

Yet despite of all this abundance of computing, all this new technology, some of our most pressing global challenges are still unresolved: How do we efficiently capture carbon from the atmosphere – creating a path to combat global warming? How do we enable a high-temperature superconductor to create lossless power grids? How could we apply AI to customize drugs to truly enable personalized medicine for each individual?

Even if we combined all of the worlds computational power, these challenges would still take longer than the lifetime of the universe to solve. But what if we could build a new kind of computer?

A computer based on quantum physics could take us beyond the limitations of traditional, transistor-based computers. A quantum computer that doesn’t just go beyond Moore’s Law, but can create entirely new laws, and would be so powerful it’s able to model nature itself.

The key to making this possible is massive parallel computing capabilities derived from the fact that a bit in a quantum computer, a qubit, can be 0 and 1 at once, holding 2 bits of information at the same time. When you keep scaling like this, you can hold exponentially more information and enormous power to compute in parallel.

Microsoft’s work in this field is focused on three areas: mathematics, physics and computer science. We are creating a “topological” qubit, a unique approach where the quantum building block is naturally protected against errors, using topology to hold the information.

Topological matter means electron fractionalization. The electron acts as if it has broken into separated pieces. Physical separation makes their shared information nearly immune to environmental disturbance.

We’ve been working to invent a universal, programmable quantum computer and to identify revolutionary applications that will run on it. In addition to the qubit, this also requires a cryogenic classical computer that must operate at minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit. It also requires vastly different software than we have today.

Quantum bits, or qubits, need to be at stored at very cold temperatures. Researchers use a dilution refrigerator, where a quantum device is inserted into a “puck” that will be cooled down to millikelvin temperatures.

At Microsoft we are taking a “full stack approach”, including programming and controlling the quantum computer at scale. And we want to empower developers and engineers around the world to develop these types of solutions.

What’s more, Microsoft has created an entirely new domain specific programming language optimized precisely for exploiting scalable quantum computers, a language that’s deeply integrated into Visual Studio.

Through quantum computing, we can unlock solutions to problems in areas such as artificial intelligence, clean energy, global warming, materials design and much more. At Microsoft, we’re on the cusp of empowering a quantum revolution with our unique, topological approach.

The impact quantum computing can have ties back to our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.

Sometimes we can get sidetracked by the technology itself, forgetting that the technology is a means to an end. Microsoft is not in this to win a race or to declare our own supremacy. We are in this for you, for anyone out there who dreams about solving some of the most vexing challenges of mankind — and we will not declare success until we empower others to do the same.

With you, we seek to unlock the unimaginable, and to solve the impossible.