Interview with Dave Coplin: Microsoft’s Chief Envisioning Officer
Since joining Microsoft in 2005, Dave Coplin has worked across a wide range of industries and customers, providing strategic advice and guidance around the impact of technology on a modern society both at work and in play. As an established thought leader in the UK and having spent a considerable amount of time in both the public and private sectors providing leadership and guidance around key technology issues like Cloud Computing, Privacy, Big and Open Data, Social Media, Open Government, Advertising and the “consumerisation” of IT. Dave is currently working as the Chief Envisioning Officer for Microsoft UK, helping organisations and individuals envision the full potential that technology offers a modern, digital society.
- Microsoft have been around for a long time now, and seen much change in the world of IT Networking and Compute. With IDC now refereeing to The Cloud as the 3rd How does this relate to the changes Microsoft have made in their portfolio and pricing model over the last few years?
- In many ways, what’s happening with cloud is just a natural progression of a broad range of technologies, but and perhaps more importantly, it is coupled with an ever increasing aspiration from people that use technology to achieve more in whatever they do. Microsoft’s mission has always been about empowering people to do incredible things with technology whether at work or outside and as society’s aspiration for technology has changed so have the platforms and products we provide.
- On the back of cloud services a lot of the industry are also talking about IoT, Machine Learning and big data analytics. With more companies looking to achieve IT excellence and take advantage of these current trends, what part does Microsoft have to play in achieving these?
- Like so many technologies, it’s not the technology itself that’s exciting, it’s what you do with it that makes the difference. At Microsoft, we believe that organisations should be able to focus on their core business and the things that they are uniquely placed to make happen for their customers. Our goal is to empower people with world class technology that enables those using it to achieve better results without forcing them to become IT experts themselves. Our commitment to delivering our 3 bold ambitions – delivering more personal computing, to reinventing productivity and business processes, all powered by in increasingly intelligent cloud are the key elements of our strategy to making that happen.
- As these trends are developing a lot of CIO’s are starting to see the early adopters produce real and tangible results. However some of these CIO’s are not at large multinationals. Do you see small sized enterprises starting to adopt the mantra’s of big data analytics?
- Of course. The beauty of the cloud and cloud enabled services is that it effectively democratises the availability of key technologies like data analytics and machine learning. In the past, these technologies would have only been accessible to those companies that could afford big in-house teams of specialists to create their own capabilities but today, thanks to the cloud, they are available to every business regardless of size and location.
- Where do you see the future of the network and compute heading in the business world, has it truly reached the boardroom in a significant way?
- I think so. I think most business leaders are grappling with the technology led disruption (both positive and negative) that is on the horizon. Thankfully that is helping to move our industry out of a world of how you “manage IT” to a world of how we “empower the business”.
- In an interview with Computer weekly in 2014, you were talking about the deluge of data that workers were under. Do you feel that this is still the case, and what can CIO’s do to help take the strain off their teams?
- It’s very much still the case. As individuals we are increasingly bombarded with a dizzying array of information and data. We live in a world where infinite devices and infinite data compete for our finite attention. But things are getting better. As humans, we are beginning to learn new ways of working that help us cope with a world of unlimited access to too much information and as our capabilities grow. We are slowly becoming better at using technology to change what we do and how we do it (rather than just continuing to do the same old things a bit quicker or cheaper) and the tools themselves are become both more powerful and yet simpler to use. It’s this combination of human capability and huge technological advances powered by the cloud that make this such an exciting time to be around.
- How can IT leaders in their business, create change that will deliver the results that a modern IT platform will bring. Is it enough to dip their toes in the waters or should they really be looking at the larger picture and delivering rapidly?
- The reality today is that you absolutely have to look at the big picture and agility is more important than ever before. It’s not just that the technology is changing rapidly, it’s also that the humans using it are changing too. Unlike the “old” days, when people only used technology at work, people have high expectations and aspirations of what the technology can enable because for the most part that’s their everyday experience. This is a huge advantage because it means that people expect more from technology than ever before and this creates opportunities inside every organisation for IT Leaders.
- Your keynote today was titled “The Rise of Humans: How to Outsmart the Digital Deluge” and looked at the increase in data, devices and demand from end-users. What would you say are the key takeaways IT leaders should take from your keynote?
- The key takeaway from my keynote is that we have to realise that technology is only part of the answer. In order for organisations to be successful, they need to understand that there is a massive cultural shift that needs to take place inside the organisation to really be able to unleash the potential that technology has to offer. If businesses want to deliver transformational experiences to their customers, they have to understand that they can only be successful if every single member of the organisation is empowered to be transformational, that they can ask questions and challenge the established processes in order to make the outcome better. And in turn, those people will only be successful if they have access to transformational technologies that enable them to work in new and different ways that unleash the potential of all that technology has to offer. It’s that perfect combination of humans plus machine that will define the future success of any business.