2020 was an extraordinary year for the world, including China. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation beyond our expectations, and our customers and partners have been affected across industries in their way.
At Microsoft, we see the world go through a journey in three stages: Response, Recovery, and Reinventing Life and Business after the Pandemic. China is currently in a recovery phase and many organizations have begun to reinvent their future in a new normal.
It has become clear that no matter what stage a country or organization is in, we will continue to exist in a changing and unpredictable environment. There is an immediate and holistic need for organizations to be innovative and agile, to build resilience that is key to survival and prosperity today and in the future.
Digital transformation trends that have emerged and are still present
The pandemic has unleashed many digital transformation trends that remain.
The modern hybrid workplace is perhaps the most conspicuous, as organizations of all sizes have had to adapt to working remotely like many closed countries. The bright side was that the pandemic forced organizations and employees to adopt and improve collaborative tools for business continuity, eventually integrating them with personal collaborative environments to increase productivity, resilience and agility that are now synonymous with resilience. Both operational and performance perspectives. One example of this is how Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant Teams reached 115 million daily active users (DAU) in October 2020, when collaborative technologies saw increased and sustained demand.
The digitization and integration of products and services is another important trend. We see companies like the popular engine manufacturer Cummins and General Mills, the parent company of the Häagen-Dazs brand, embrace this in response to the new digital reality.
Increasingly, we’re also seeing data-driven insights and AI innovation built into automation. This is evidenced by scenarios such as the deployment of a Decathlon robot, ThyssenKrupp’s leadership in predictive maintenance and field service solutions, as well as intelligent supply chains and DHL-SF Express logistics, among many other industry examples.
Ultimately, the most effective organizations embrace a culture of innovation, a commitment to continuous learning, upgrading skills, and democratic innovation, to remain relevant, competitive and resilient.
Data is the foundation of transformation and innovation
The only constant we’ve seen is how the pandemic has pushed organizations across industries to leverage data and take a data-driven approach to unlock value. From customer tag application in online store to offline store, RFID code in supply chain reads by IoT sensor, to quarterly sales margin graph arriving via smartphone from regional sales manager, data and insights that you can achieve with it – YOU DO By optimizing to create competitive advantage, drive innovation, agility, and business growth.
One of the key technologies offered for this reason is Microsoft’s power platform, which enables employees to analyze data, build solutions, automate processes, and create virtual agents using low / no-code development environments. As of June 2020, 97 percent of Fortune 500 companies use the Microsoft Power Platform, which has been commercially available in China since then.
The data journey begins with dismantling the data silos and allowing the data to flow freely through the digital feedback loop. The digital feedback loop is formed when the key business pillars connect with data and intelligence at their core, from your customers to your employees, from your operations to your products and services, to transform your business, and make them more flexible. And help create value for your customers.
Take, for example, the world’s leading beverage company, AB InBev. After adopting Microsoft’s comprehensive intelligent cloud offering for its IT infrastructure, AB InBev has seen a remarkable improvement in productivity and business process management through a robust digital feedback loop in 35 factories and over 19,000 employees in China.
Safety and compliance are now a strategic priority for every organization
Security and compliance are now strategic priorities for every organization – especially those exploring new markets – and the shift to everything remotely has increased the need for an integrated, trust-free architecture that reduces cost and complexity.
Microsoft offers integrated, comprehensive capabilities across identity, security, management, and compliance. We analyze over 8 trillion security signals every day to gain insights into security innovation across our customer protection platforms – the enterprises and small businesses that are often most vulnerable to attack.
We have more than 90 security and compliance certificates including China Domestic Trusted Cloud designation, and assisting clients with their compliance, which has proven to be of great importance to multinational companies in China.
As our clients and partners become digital companies, we use our intellectual property expertise and our patent portfolio to help them protect their innovations in the cloud and manage intellectual property risks, so they can focus on developing their business to succeed in their transformation. In 2017, we expanded Azure IP Advantage to China, to help companies meet the legal challenges that come with participating in the digital economy.
Ultimately, we understand that security and compliance are integral to the health and long-term success of our clients’ businesses.
Enabling multinational companies in China to innovate and expand solutions for global markets
Microsoft PL-200 helps organizations in China develop new products and services and create value for their customers, along with supporting an extensive partner network that has developed over 28 years. We have a network of more than 8,000 partners skilled in designing, developing, customizing and disseminating solutions to unique business challenges, and introducing fresh ideas for new lines of business and business models.
We run one of the nation’s most popular startup accelerators – Microsoft ScaleUp – that works with a select group of high-potential Chinese startups looking for rapid growth and global expansion, as well as a national network of business incubators and the company’s most comprehensive technology AI + IoT Lab in Shanghai . By connecting local startups with multinational clients, conducting hackathons, joint coding events, trial days, and even offering clients lab stays, we are helping multinational companies unleash innovation and create opportunity.
In the past 24 months alone, a total of 732 local partners have built 1,300+ apps for 1,000 multinational companies. Some notable examples include the global pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly’s accreditation of AI solutions to Microsoft Accelerator partner, AirDoc to help clinicians improve early diagnosis and treat diabetes with eye exams. Eli Lily has also created a chatbot system with our partner BeyondSoft to provide a cutting edge interactive knowledge base for their field representatives. Both innovations, which were first developed and tested in China, are now in use in global markets.
In addition to partners, Microsoft’s largest R&D facility outside of the United States is located in China, where engineers and scientists at Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA) create breakthroughs and help our customers and partners solve complex technical challenges. For example, Microsoft engineers are working with the multinational drug company, Novo Nordisk, to create a smart chatbot that helps educate people with diabetes and aid in diagnosis and treatment.
Microsoft simplifies the complexity of business in China
With nearly three decades in China, Microsoft understands the market opportunities as well as the challenges faced by customers who wish to enter it for growth.
With teams dedicated to facilitating complex contractual matters, compliance and intellectual property protection across geographies and legal entities, as well as members to organize resources between salespeople, clients, and partners, we have successfully helped clients develop in-house solutions that are now driven by impact across industries.
In the past seven years, we have helped thousands of clients of multinational companies, such as Coca-Cola, Walmart, Starbucks and ThyssenKrupp, through our programs, by enabling them to launch business systems, applications and innovations on our cloud services in China.
Empowering organizations and individuals to re-imagine a better future and achieve more
While the COVID-19 virus has caused unprecedented change and uncertainty this year, it has also highlighted how technology can help pave the way for recovery and economic and business growth.
Microsoft China brings together organizations and partners and works with them in a way that builds trust, inspires innovation, and empowers businesses across the ecosystem. We are committed to developing organizations in China and helping organizations and individuals reimagine and create a better post-pandemic future.
I am proud of how the Microsoft team in China contributed. I am also excited to welcome the brighter year 2021, as we will empower organizations and individuals to achieve more.