Meaningful innovation: Human ingenuity, powered by AI – AI for Business

This week, I’ve had a great time in the 110-degree heat in Las Vegas at our Inspire and Ready conferences (well, maybe not enjoying the heat so much). I’ve had the opportunity to share the role of innovation and the power of artificial intelligence with partners and employees from every corner of the globe. This is a really exciting time to be at the forefront of the AI revolution, and it’s been great to be involved in discussions about the profound effect AI is having on how we live and work.

Making the most of AI in business

Making AI real, and delivering tangible impact from it, is something we must work together to achieve. Our partners play a critical role in making the most of the opportunities that are only possible through AI. All week, I’ve heard stories of our partners embracing the power of AI to differentiate their services and extend their capabilities to create new business opportunities for themselves and great business outcomes for their customers.

For example, there’s Xanterra – a customer-experience-driven business that hosts 26 million visitors all over the world. Their goal is to provide world-class service and personalization for their well-traveled guests, many of whom are repeat customers at their different global properties. Xanterra’s challenge was that their properties weren’t connected, creating a gap between the high-touch experiences the company delivers and the need to personalize those experiences for guests. Our partner, RedPoint Global, used Microsoft AI to help Xanterra create a detailed profile of each and every customer by connecting data from more than 100 different sources. Now, they use this information to anticipate their guests’ needs more effectively and generate relevant, customized offers to each. Because of this, the Xanterra team increased their revenue with each touchpoint, elevated the guest experience and is sending customer communications more efficiently.

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So how can we help unlock more opportunities for people to use AI? Our new Microsoft Azure AI Accelerate Program is helping our partners take advantage of the opportunities AI can bring to their business. It focuses on helping grow ecosystems and bridge adoption barriers to create more value for everyone. We’re also making it easier for partners to access AI Business School by connecting each learning path into the Partner Training Center. In addition, we are publishing the AI Business School in a Box in the Partner Marketing Center, a set of unique assets to enable partners to lead AI engagements with confidence.

Making the most of AI in society: AI for Good

While the opportunity that AI presents for our customers and partners is huge, the potential for AI to positively benefit society through ingenuity, vision and scale is even bigger. Microsoft’s AI for Good initiative already has more than 300 grantees across 63 countries. All of them are using AI to tackle some of our greatest challenges that go beyond business — including climate change, humanitarian crises and enabling greater accessibility for the more than 1 billion people across the world living with a disability.

One of my favorite stories, and one that I was honored to share at Microsoft Inspire this week, is the incredible work of Wild Me, one of the program’s grantees. They’re using the power of Microsoft AI to track individual animals to monitor the health of entire species in support of conservation efforts. As a result, they’ve been able to identify 10 times more whale sharks than ever before in human history. It’s truly awe-inspiring and vital work.

Wild Me’s story is one of many showing how AI is positively impacting society and transforming the world we live in. Building upon our commitment to use tech to make a positive impact on society, we just announced our newest AI for Good program dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of cultural heritage. Through our AI for Cultural Heritage program, we’re partnering with the people preserving places of historical and cultural significance for future generations – such as the work by nonprofit organization Iconem, which is using AI to digitally re-create at-risk locations in areas of conflict. The program will also help communities preserve languages that are at risk of being lost, such as the Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi in Mexico. Because of this, more people across the world will be able to enjoy historical artifacts – as exemplified by our recent partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, making its collection of 1.5 million works of art that spans 5,000 years more accessible to everyone.

The innovations from the grantees we’re working with through our AI for Good initiative reflect our belief in the use of AI to inspire and nurture breakthrough ideas that have meaningful impact and can solve some of the world’s greatest problems.

I’m humbled by the work of our partners and grantees, and being at Inspire reminds me just how fortunate I am to help and work alongside them as they create what’s next and do really powerful things with AI. Technology is just one part of the story, and empowering people to shape and transform the world and do good are at the center of it. By encouraging our partners and users to create their own meaningful innovations, we’re working together to embrace change and find solutions to all sorts of challenges – whether they’re business or societal ones.