The future is here—and the future will be driven by technologies such as cloud, 5G, the IoT (Internet of Things), sensors, edge, digital twin, AI (artificial intelligence), and so much more. While there is a lot of discussion about these technologies already, now it is time to start talking about the direction we are headed.
Nick McQuire, director of product management, growth innovation, and strategy, Microsoft, is tasked with working with the company’s Strategic Missions and Technology division, which was set up in November of last year. The objective is to be the connection point between Microsoft’s long-term research and current solution portfolio.
“Our role is to bridge that gap between our product in market and our long-term research, but ultimately to build, accelerate, and scale what we believe are the next-generation of $10 billion-plus businesses for Microsoft,” he explains.
We recently sat down on The Peggy Smedley Show to discuss how the company is focused on four key areas that are collectively shaping the future of the cloud: telecommunications and 5G, space, quantum computing, and solutions for federal government. Further, it is focusing on three major technology shifts: ubiquitous computing and the edge, advanced AI, and immersive experience through things like mixed reality.
On the podcast, he gave us two really great examples of how this might look in business. Consider the example of Ferrovial, which is a Spanish multinational infrastructure company. The company is building smart highways of the future based on 5G and involve integrated technologies such as the IoT, sensors, edge, digital twin, and AI.
“They are using these 5G networks to turn stretches of the highway into an API in order to improve safety, which is really the prime driver, but also to better communicate to a mix of—what they see as an increasing mix—of autonomous and semiautonomous vehicles that are populating our roads in the future,” he explains.
Essentially, the infrastructure will be able to adjust in realtime to changing situations on the roads thanks to the IoT-based cameras and sensors. The sensors will also be able to build a digital twin, which will help them to train advanced AI models to do some clever things like object detection for debris or broken-down vehicles on the road. This example is all about putting intelligence at the roadside to solve safety problems.
For years, I have been urging that we need to use technology to improve our infrastructure and our road safety. It is so exciting to see and hear examples like this one come to fruition.
Another passion of mine is leveraging technology to solve the climate crisis, and Microsoft is working with a company to do this as well. As we all know, wildfires are escalating all over the world—and technology can help. Edge communication, geospatial data, and models can predict outbreaks.
On the show, McQuire gives the great example of a major agricultural organization in a research capacity to build augmented intelligence for firefighters. The technology can equip firefighters at the frontline with realtime data intelligence and co-reason with firefighters. In the future, autonomous systems can improve the safety and response to the proliferation of wildfires.
It is that co-reasoning piece that McQuire brought up a few times in the podcast. He suggests we are going to see ubiquitous computing being expanded even further and we are going to see advanced AI and quantum at scale. Further, he suggests we are going to see a new paradigm of co-reasoning develop between humans and machines that are going to evolve this immersive reality.
The future is here. Many companies are already embracing technologies to improve safety on the roads and at the job. McQuire gives a good peak into the future of cloud and three major technology shifts that are happening now. How will your company respond?
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