Future Decoded is held annually, by Microsoft, at the ExCel centre in London- delivering keynotes, sessions and partner experiences with the aim to help empower your digital transformation journey. The overall two day event features over 130 breakout sessions, and 42 sponsor and partner experiences. We made our way over to day 1 of Future Decoded to see if it’s really worth it.

Firstly on the agenda was the morning keynote presented by CTO Michael Wignall.  The opening keynote speakers were from Cindy Rose, Jason Zander, Chris Brauer and Chris Bishop. Microsoft UK’s CEO, Cindy Rose was the first keynote speaker to kick off the event, explaining how AI is showing up in places we would never imagine. Rose linked AI to powering the next digital wave and shared significant statistics on the £230 billion increase to the UK economy from the use of AI.

I found the usage of AI especially interesting.  During her keynote, Rose showed how AI is even being used in Shakespeare plays. Her example of the emotional volatility of Romeo in ‘Romeo and Juliet’, displayed how AI using sentiment analysis was utilised to identify and track this.

Next up was Jason Zander talking about the intelligent cloud and how it can be brought into our everyday life. He revealed Microsofts investment in Azure and its rapidly growing locations and customers such as; Shell and ASOS. Following Zander was Chris Brauer, who ran a panel session with senior staff from KPMG, Confused.com and Transport for London. This showed a new perspective on how large businesses are reacting to AI and wanting to embrace is to ensure their business is adapting.

Stop Playing, Start doing. – KPMG

Machine Learning

One of the most fascinating parts of the morning keynote was Chris Bishops view on AI through machine learning. Bishop is a Lab Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge. His approach to the subject opened minds to the idea of Moores Law being an entryway to teaching machines how to learn and solve problems. Bishop made his points easy to understand by linking the historical elements and journeys software has taken. The most significant part of his keynote however, was how AI  is adapting and learning to decode the immune system to diagnose disease. It was really a moment, in my opinion, that made me go “wow, this is insane!”.

The reality of what AI is becoming settles in, showing us its extreme potential and opportunity to help and better our lives. It shows that AI, as Chris Bishop said; ‘isn’t about Hollywood or killer robots’, it’s about creating new technology by allowing machines to be adaptive.

Sessions at Future Decoded

Following the keynote, sessions at Future Decoded took place all afternoon. These were around the entire venue giving freedom to join a subject that catches your eye – away from your agenda. The sessions were highly informative and useful. Sessions ranged from ‘role modelling change for women in technology’ to ‘Is this the End if Email?: The Rise of Intelligent Collaboration’. The sessions gave opportunity for discussion, debate and learning; within the subject of technology and its future. Our Cloudserve team had around 8 sessions on the agenda. Although, we didn’t manage to make it to all of them, the open plan of the event allowed us to experience sessions that we didn’t realise would have been of interest. All of the sessions were highly informative, sparking a change on how to take a business further.

Experiences at Future Decoded

The expo hall at Future Decoded created a space for the sponsors and partners to showcase and promote their business, ideas and tools. Time exploring the hall provided time to network with companies and try out new technologies. An interesting use of AI in the expo hall was Microsoft Azure identifying what your perfect juice is. It’s hard to say how accurate this was but even so, the concept of a computer recognising your slight change in facial expressions from looking at different images was quite compelling. Aside from juice, the hall featured a chance to experience VR, Console Games, HoloLens and lots of freebies.

Surface Studio at Future Decoded
Surface Studio at Future Decoded

Finally, we went to the afternoon keynote  where we were pleasantly introduced to Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock.  Calling herself a self- certified lunatic, she talked about the power of crazy dreams. Her talk was inspirational yet hilarious as she discussed her dreams, as a child, to go to the moon but was knocked down due to her dyslexia. Following on from Aderin-Pocock, Michael Caine took the stage with Chris Brauer as interviewer. Caine was a delight to watch and surprisingly hilarious especially at his grand old age of 85! Both Caine and Aderin-Pocock focused on the importance of encouraging young people to dream big and strive for what they really want to do. A clear contrast from an entire day of tech talk, yet, completely important to have had included in this event as it concentrated on the future.

Michael Caine at Future Decoded
Michael Caine at Future Decoded

Overall, Future Decoded was a fantastic day full of information and experiences to help us all strive.  The Microsoft Event highlighted the need for AI in our lives to maintain success and above all, shape our future.

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