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Digital optimism: Customers drive cloud and industry innovation with Microsoft technology

Among the prominent trends highlighted at Microsoft Inspire, our annual partner conference, was “digital optimism,” where the Microsoft cloud is playing an outsized role in many key areas defining the future of global business, including hybrid work, resilient global supply chains, inclusive economic development, global sustainability and cybersecurity. This optimism reflects how customers are increasingly seeking…

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Among the prominent trends highlighted at Microsoft Inspire, our annual partner conference, was “digital optimism,” where the Microsoft cloud is playing an outsized role in many key areas defining the future of global business, including hybrid work, resilient global supply chains, inclusive economic development, global sustainability and cybersecurity. This optimism reflects how customers are increasingly seeking ways to innovate and future-proof their business models with the cloud. It also underscores how Microsoft and our global partner community are co-developing digital solutions that help these customers create lasting value amid pandemic-related market shifts, despite industry or geography.

This past quarter highlighted technology’s critical role across industries. Microsoft acquired Nuance to address healthcare industry needs by combining our cloud, AI solutions and expertise. We are working with AT&T to move its 5G mobile network to the Microsoft cloud to support evolving customer needs, and Mars to optimize operational speed and intelligent manufacturing supply chains using Azure. We are co-innovating with Morgan Stanley by bringing together technology and engineering expertise to solve financial industry challenges and a have a partnership with Standard Bank, driving innovation and resiliency to promote economic growth in Africa.

The Met Office is building the world’s most powerful weather and climate forecasting supercomputer in collaboration with Microsoft.

In the public sector, our ongoing partnership with the U.S. Army used Microsoft’s HoloLens to create devices that fundamentally change how soldiers operate and redefine what they can do. Microsoft donated Azure credits to the National System of Unemployment in Brazil to help with economic recovery, skilling and sustainability, and Chile’s Immigration Department launched a digital transformation initiative so people can obtain an electronic visa quickly. We are also partnering with the Met Office to build the world’s most advanced weather and climate forecasting supercomputer to protect people, businesses and infrastructure in the U.K. from the impacts of extreme weather.

District of Columbia Public Schools expands the learning universe for students with Microsoft Teams and Surface.

In education, hybrid environments are the new normal and our technologies and devices break down classroom barriers. Dubai College built a new learning model to provide live video lessons and course materials using Teams, OneNote and Surface devices. The University of Wales Trinity Saint David is using a range of Surface devices to integrate mobility across multiple campuses, professional services staff and academics, and Washington State University is using Teams and Surface devices for student athlete coaching, academic support and team building. District of Columbia Public Schools shifted 117 schools to remote learning, while four of The Russell Group universities enabled secure remote learning with Azure Virtual Desktop. Beyond the classroom, Cogna Educação in Brazil used Azure cloud services to unify its entire academic management platform, and the University of North Carolina Charlotte developed an Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) and IoT technology-based solution to retrofit streetlights as multivehicle smart charging stations.

The NFL huddles with Microsoft Teams to digitize collaboration and deliver virtual game day experiences.

In media and communications, we partnered with WPP to launch Cloud Studio, an innovative cloud platform on Azure that will arm its creative teams with technology to collaborate and create anywhere. In China, Samsung deployed Microsoft Azure Metrics Advisor to improve customers’ entertainment experience. Multinational telecommunications services provider Telefónica is revolutionizing secure data management through on-premises mobile edge computing within a private 5G network for safer and more efficient data management. Malaysia-based Axiata Group is tightening its cybersecurity using Azure Sentinel and Microsoft 365, including password-less solutions, and Nokia built an app on Power Platform to generate more accurate reporting in less time, resulting in improved service delivery performance and customer satisfaction. We also partnered with customers across the sports industry to develop interactive fan experiences throughout the pandemic. Mexico-based events specialist AS Deporte consolidated its platform using Microsoft cloud solutions to strengthen and simplify its management and operations. Using AI and machine learning, LaLiga is reinventing interactive audiovisual experiences and formats, while the NBA is delivering fans powerful insights behind every shot, pass and play. The NFL is using Teams to digitize collaboration and deliver virtual game day experiences, the Los Angeles Clippers are engaging fans with a hyper-personalized game night experience using Dynamics 365 Marketing, and the Miami Dolphins are using Power Virtual Agents and Power BI for an automated and predictive website experience.

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Anheuser-Busch InBev is taking advantage of Microsoft technology to dramatically transform its operations and ensure the perfect sip is delivered to customers every time.

In retail and consumer goods, companies migrated to SAP on Azure to facilitate their business-critical workloads and increase scalability, including Campbell Soup Company, L’Oréal and Mondelēz International. Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev is creating the brewery of the future by developing a digital factory platform based on a unified AI and Azure Digital Twin environment, delivering the perfect sip to customers and transforming its operations. Kraft Heinz is using Teams to keep its workforce connected and products on shelves worldwide. Goodyear turned to Teams on RealWear devices to bring engineering experts into plants virtually for equipment installation or troubleshooting, and Hasbro is virtually testing Monopoly boards using real-time insights from families.

Humana is working to end food insecurity — 14 meals at a time.

Across industries, customers continue to embrace digital innovation. Japanese automaker Toyota is bringing together fusion teams comprising professional and citizen developers to build an internal vehicle delivery application. Nationwide is using Microsoft 365 accessibility features to build an inclusive culture that supports its customers and employees. Stanley Black & Decker adopted IoT and edge solutions to increase equipment efficiency, reduce operating costs and improve manufacturing agility, and thyssenkrupp Steel Europe kept its remote work and manufacturing process secure through an agile digital culture using Microsoft 365. Jefferies is using Microsoft compliance solutions to maintain financial services regulatory restrictions, while Royal Bank of Canada created a privacy platform on Azure Confidential Computing that relies on secure enclave technology to keep client information protected, confidential and highly secure. AXA is building a digital healthcare platform to simplify the healthcare journey and empower customers with an integrated ecosystem, and Humana is using leveraging Power BI and Azure for an assessment and tracking system with AI-powered predictive models to identify people lacking reliable access to food. Tetra Pak is driving organization-wide sustainability by implementing IoT solutions to create smart factories. Energy momentum continues as we partner with customers, including Williams, BHP and Chevron to achieve ambitious sustainability goals and increase efficiency. Microsoft also launched a new sustainable datacenter region in Arizona to enable state agencies and customers to run Azure applications securely and resiliently.

I am both heartened and excited to see how customers around the world are using digital technologies and embracing digital optimism to transform the way they do business — becoming more efficient, achieving greater agility and paving a path toward a more sustainable and secure future. Technology has a critical role to play in advancing businesses and industries forward, and I am grateful for the trust our customers continue to place in Microsoft as their digital partner of choice.

 

Tags: AI, Azure, Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Databricks, Azure HPC, Azure IoT, Azure Synapse, Cloud Computing, COVID-19, customers, Dynamics 365, Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, education, healthcare, Healthcare Bot, HoloLens, IoT, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Cloud, Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, Microsoft Inspire, Microsoft Mesh, Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Viva, mixed reality, partners, Power BI, PowerApps, Surface

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Facebook: Recognizing Global Accessibility Awareness Day

As an avid outdoor enthusiast and firefighter, Carly P. has always loved being active. After a life-changing injury paralyzed her from the waist down, she felt lost. Carly recaptured her passion for being outside and found a community of people like her through the nonprofit organization Catalyst Sports. Now, she uses Catalyst Sports’ Facebook page…

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As an avid outdoor enthusiast and firefighter, Carly P. has always loved being active. After a life-changing injury paralyzed her from the waist down, she felt lost. Carly recaptured her passion for being outside and found a community of people like her through the nonprofit organization Catalyst Sports. Now, she uses Catalyst Sports’ Facebook page to spread awareness and share local recreational opportunities for people with physical disabilities.

In addition to providing community to people with disabilities, we’re also working to make the digital world more accessible. 

We will demonstrate our latest accessibility features today at our annual Accessibility Summit. Join us at 10:00AM PT for this livestream on the Meta Accessibility Facebook Page. In addition to product demos and updates, we will host an interview with Molly Burke, a digital creator and blind advocate.

Through a video series on the Meta Accessibility Facebook Page, we’re highlighting how people with disabilities connect and build communities through our technologies, much like Carly. We’ve created both the captioned and audio described versions of these stories.

Today, we’re recapping advances we’ve made over the past year to make our technologies more inclusive. 

Meta Quest

  • Audio Accessibility
    • Audio balance: This option enables you to adjust the balance of the left and right audio channels for comfort, and to better match your ability to hear in each ear. 
    • Mono Audio enables you to hear the same audio from both the left and right speakers on your headset. 
    • You’ll find both features under the Accessibility tab in your headset’s Settings menu.

Product mock of audio accessibility on Meta Quest

  • Adjust Height  
    • This feature allows you to experience VR from a “standing” vantage point even while reclining or seated. This can improve the VR experience for people who use wheelchairs, have limited mobility or are unable to use the Quest headset while standing. 
    • We first introduced this as an experimental feature (called Raise View) last June and have now made it permanent after receiving positive feedback from the disability community. 
    • You can find this feature in the Accessibility tab in Quest’s Settings menu.

Portal

  • Video relay service (VRS)
    • In December, we began supporting video relay service (VRS) applications on Portal  for people who use American Sign Language (ASL), through a collaboration with ZP Better Together.
    • Through the ZP apps on Portal and human interpreters, people who use American Sign Language can now easily communicate in both English and Spanish. 
    • Portal’s unique AI-powered camera always keeps you in frame and in focus, even when you’re moving, so your face and hands can always be seen.
  • Captions
    • We’ve also added customizable closed captions for streamed content on TV and Touch, as well as added support for live captions into integrated work productivity apps Zoom and Workplace Live.

Instagram

  • Auto-generated captions for Feed videos
    • In March, we introduced auto-generated captions for Feed videos on iOS and Android in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, German, Turkish, Russian, Thai, Tagalog, Urdu, Malay, Hindi and Japanese to start. 
    • More importantly, captions are automatically turned on by default when a creator uploads a video to their Feed. Over 140 million videos were created with auto-generated captions in the last 30 days.
    • Creators retain the ability to turn captions off when they choose and viewers can turn captions on or off using on-screen controls.

Product mock of Instagram auto-generated captions

Stickers on Facebook and Messenger

  • We added alt text descriptions to the more than 10,000 stickers available on Facebook and Messenger, making it possible for people who are blind and visually impaired to understand and use them. 

Avatars

  • Earlier this year, we introduced the ability to have your same avatar across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Quest. 
  • There are also new avatar options, including over-the-ear hearing aids and cochlear implants in addition to more face shapes, skin tones, expressions, and stickers. 
  • Wheelchairs are now available as stickers on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger so your avatar can better represent who you are or who you want to be.

Product mock of accessibility features of Avatars

Open Source

  • Lexical is a JavaScript framework built to improve text editing on Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Workplace, with accessibility as a priority. 
  • In April, Lexical was released into open source to allow the rest of the world to benefit from these improvements. 
  • With this new framework, people can express their ideas in text via dictation, and readers can experience character-by-character navigation — a feature previously unavailable in similar editors.

Reality Labs Research

  • We’re exploring how improvements in audio quality can enable more realistic presence and perceptual superpowers in augmented and virtual reality— technological advancements that can also help us hear better in noisy environments. 
  • Our team of hearing scientists is also exploring how to reencode sound and present it through closed captioning.
  • While this is still early research, we are excited to learn more about how emerging audio technologies can improve the lives of people with hearing loss. 

Image showing audio research

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Facebook: Announcing New Products to Make Business Messaging Easier

The way people and businesses communicate is changing. One billion people message with a business each week on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct — whether it’s DMing brands, browsing product catalogs, asking for support, or interacting with stories. This consumer behavior is accelerating and it’s changing how business gets done. Today at Conversations, our inaugural…

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The way people and businesses communicate is changing. One billion people message with a business each week on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct — whether it’s DMing brands, browsing product catalogs, asking for support, or interacting with stories. This consumer behavior is accelerating and it’s changing how business gets done. Today at Conversations, our inaugural business messaging event, we discussed how messaging is transforming interactions between people and businesses, and announced new products to make conversations easier.

Introducing Cloud-based API on the WhatsApp Business Platform

Today, Mark Zuckerberg announced we’re opening up the new, cloud-based version of the WhatsApp Business Platform, hosted by Meta, to any business across the world. With this new API, we’re offering free, secure cloud hosting services so businesses and developers can easily access our service within minutes, build directly on top of WhatsApp to customize their experience and increase their response time for their customers. So now, whether a business wants to work with one of our 100+ partners or access our service directly, it will be much faster to get up and running on WhatsApp.

When growing a business, you need smart, robust and easy-to-use conversation tools. For smaller businesses using the WhatsApp Business app, we’re building tools so it’s easier to handle an influx of chats as they grow their customer base. 

Launching Recurring Notifications on Messenger

Today we’re announcing a new way for businesses to keep the conversation going with Recurring Notifications. As businesses acquire new customers and begin to scale operations, there’s incredible opportunity to build loyalty and trust — and we believe this is where the value of messaging really shines. This new capability makes it easy to re-engage people right in the messaging thread and deliver tailored messaging at the best time for customers, whether to hear about special promotions, new product drops or tips and tricks.

You can choose the topics you’d like to let people opt-in to, how often customers can hear from you and shape your content, so your messages are always on-brand and relevant. Recurring notifications will also be available for businesses on Instagram this fall.

We also highlighted our click-to-message ads to help customers immediately start conversations with businesses, our CRM platform Kustomer and Meta Business Suite for higher volumes of messages across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Read more about our product investments in business messaging on our Meta for Developers blog.

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Facebook: Introducing New Members of the Oversight Board

Today, Meta welcomes the newest members of the Oversight Board who have just been appointed — Paolo Carozza, Khaled Mansour, and Pamela San Martin. Per the Oversight Board Bylaws, we worked together with the board to identify and select these members over the last few months. Over the next few months we will continue to…

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Today, Meta welcomes the newest members of the Oversight Board who have just been appointed — Paolo Carozza, Khaled Mansour, and Pamela San Martin.

Per the Oversight Board Bylaws, we worked together with the board to identify and select these members over the last few months. Over the next few months we will continue to support and work with the board to select additional members. The new members reflect a wide range of views and experiences, and will bring a variety of perspectives to the board’s existing expertise.

The Oversight Board represents a unique model for social media governance. From its inception, we knew its impact would come not just from its decisions on individual cases, but also from broader recommendations on how we can improve our policies and processes. In the time since they began hearing cases and issuing decisions and recommendations, they’ve been playing a bigger role in setting precedent and direction for our content policies and how we enforce them.  We look forward to welcoming the new board members into this process.

We will update this Newsroom Post as additional members are appointed. We are grateful to all board members for lending their expertise to our content moderation efforts.

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