Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) announced significant developments to its Office productivity suite, Teams, Azure cloud computing, among othersat its Ignite conference at Orlando, FL. The improvements were primarily based on artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, edge computing and Internet of Things (IoT). Notably, the conference is scheduled from Sep 24 to Sep 28.
New Open Data Initiative
Microsoft announced partnership with Adobe (ADBE - Free Report) and SAP (SAP - Free Report) in a bid to add value to data and obtain more effective consumer data insights. The open data initiative is aimed at eliminating data silos to obtain a single view of consumer data.
The initiative will facilitate enterprises with customer data exchange within Dynamics 365, Adobe’s Experience Cloud and Experience Platform, and SAP’s S/4HANA and C/4HANA platforms. The fact that the data service is deployed on Azure provides the developers with a secure as well as privacy compliant infrastructure.
It is anticipated to unlock immense business value, particularly for retail companies, including the likes of Walmart, The Coca-Cola Company and Unilever, among others. Consequently, Microsoft ups its ante against Salesforce with this initiative aimed at enhancing customer experience platform.
Simplifying Security Measures
The new Microsoft Threat Protectionin Microsoft365 offering provides a comprehensive solution to identify cyberthreats, and mitigate them in real time.
For the enterprises, the new Microsoft Authenticator app offers “password-less login” for the Azure Active Directory connected apps. The passwords are replaced withsimple unlock features combining phone with face, fingerprint, or PIN.
Moreover, the company announced that Azure confidential computing will be released in early October on new Azure virtual machine (“VM”) family named DC series. Notably, the new VM series is supported by Intel’s (INTC - Free Report) SGX technology. The new service attempts to offer a secure architectureto safeguard the confidentiality of customer data.
Meanwhile, the new Microsoft Secure Score service, an improvement over Office 365 Secure Score, provides enterprises with a comprehensive report for cybersecurity. The service enables the businesses to evaluate the required changes in real time.
AI Tools Strengthening Services
With a view to boost engagement and provide personalized Cortana experience, Microsoft unveiled the new Cortana Skills Kit forEnterprise. The new platform will assist businessesto benefit more from Cortana byenhancing workforce productivity.The service can be availed by invite only and Microsoft plans to provide it to developers and companies on request, going ahead.
As part of the company’s AI for Good initiative, Microsoft introduced AI for Humanitarian Action at the event. It is a $40 million project spread over fiveyears aimed at addressing disaster management by leveraging robust AI technologies.
Microsoft also integrated various AI tools across its services in a bid to make them smarter. For instance,Microsoft 365 with Microsoft Search, Office 365 with Ideas, Excel with Data Types and new meeting features in Microsoft Teams.
New IoT Developments in Azure
Microsoft strengthened its Azure platform with new features by leveraging IoT technology.
The new Azure Digital Twins IoT platform allows developers to build digital models that can virtuallyresemblethe physical world in a bid to provide personalized solutions to optimize the use of physical space.
The availability of Azure IoT Central, enhanced Azure Maps with Map Control API and Azure Sphere remain notable developments in this space.
Microsoft also announced the new Azure-supported Windows Virtual Desktop service at the event. The service which offers a virtual Windows 10 experience is compliant with Office 365 ProPlus.
The new multi-user service will enable customers to benefit from the security and compliance features of Azure cloud platform.
Further, the company also stated that it will introduce Surface Hub 2S in the second quarter of 2019. Surface Hub 2S can run on both on-premise as well as hybrid architecture and support Microsoft Teams.
The company will launch Surface Hub 2X in 2020. It will enable the user to rotate and adjust the screen as required. It will also support multiple user login.
Both Surface Hub 2S and Surface Hub 2X feature a 50.5-inch display, 4K camera and enhanced microphones.
What the Investors Need to Know?
Microsoft is increasingly focused on enhancing services by leveraging AI and other emerging technologies. We believe the tech giant’s push in this domain will help it to compete against peers like Amazon, Alphabet, to name a few.
Shares of Microsoft have returned 35.8% year to date, substantially outperforming the industry’s rally of 29.6%. The stock has also fared better than the S&P 500 index’s rise of 10.7%.
In fact, per a report by MarketsandMarkets, the AI market is anticipated to hit $190.61 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of approximately 36.6% from $16.06 billion valued in 2017. The report reinforces Microsoft’s intention to tap into the immense potential of AI.
Microsoft is putting its best foot forward to get ahead of the curve by capitalizing and enhancing AI and IoT use, across majority of its offerings. The new initiatives, in this regard, are expected to bolster company’s top-line, going ahead.
Microsoft carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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