5 takeaways from Microsoft Build 2021
Once more a 100% digital event, Microsoft Build 2021 was chock-full of exciting news about AI services, IoT, and business applications. These technologies shifted during the pandemic, and they haven’t lost steam.
As we hang up our digital passes, let’s recap a few exciting announcements from Microsoft Build 2021:
1. Updates and expansions to Azure Applied AI Services
Azure Applied AI Services were a highlight at Build 2021. This is essentially a suite of turnkey services built by combining Azure Cognitive Services, such as speech and vision, with task-specific AI models to help businesses customize and integrate AI faster in their solutions.
Azure Applied AI Services include:
- Azure Form Recognizer
- Azure Metrics Advisor
- Azure Cognitive Search
- Azure Bot Service (formerly known as “bot framework”)
- Azure Immersive Reader
- Azure Video Analyzer
Azure Video Analyzer is especially interesting. This service (previously Live Video Analytics) enables organizations to extract AI-powered insights from real-time video at the edge. The potential use cases abound and some immediate ones will probably be related to processes optimization (such as production yield optimization, supply chains, etc.), as well as workplace and in-store safety or shrinkage monitoring.
2. Support for natural language programming on Microsoft Power Platform with GPT-3
GPT-3, a natural language model from OpenAI, will be integrated into Microsoft Power Apps. This is the first customer product powered by GPT-3, and it opens the door to many AI-powered features. One of which is having the AI translate spoken language into code, helping more users create and explore complex data queries without advanced programming knowledge. This will help accelerate the transition to the creation of more user-generated applications.
Learn more about GPT-3 in Microsoft Power Apps.
3. Digital Twins, Autonomous Systems, and Azure IoT
Mixing physical and digital worlds, sensors and AI models, human operators and computer vision, have created an exciting space for the industrial, energy, and manufacturing fields.
Digital twins, a mix of simulations and IoT connections, are gaining momentum for modeling complex environments, such as a factory floor. Not only can these be used to create simulations for analytics, they can also help train AI agents for Autonomous Systems.
There are also exciting developments around Azure IoT and edge computing for the industrial and retail spaces. Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows, for example, offers more hybrid capabilities, bridging the gap between Linux (where most computer vision development takes place) and Windows (where most compute devices run).
4. Azure Synapse Link for Microsoft Dataverse
Next is the Microsoft Dataverse. Previously called the Common Data Service, the Dataverse allows data from Power Apps, Power Automate, and Dynamics 365 to be seamlessly collected, standardized, and stored for easier management and deeper insights.
With Azure Synapse Link, users can now bring their Dataverse environment to Azure Synapse to perform end-to-end analytics. This provides better access to data across Microsoft business applications to accelerate analytical and predictive insights.
The Dataverse can be leveraged by other solutions, too. Neal Analytics’ CustomerIQ, for example, adds Azure Machine Learning models on top of Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, which uses the Microsoft Dataverse. Access to this data allows a business to tap into a wealth of data and extend that value with customized models, dashboards, and more to get a better view of their customers.
5. Updates to Azure Cosmos DB
Microsoft announced a range of updates to Azure Cosmos DB, such as the general availability of Azure Cosmos DB serverless, the preview of integrated cache, and the general availability of Azure Cosmos DB’s expanded free tier.
The Office vibes in Scott Hanselman’s demo in the Day 2 keynote. The adventure of Scott returning to the office in-person to meet with his team and discuss new collaborative coding features for Visual Studio Code and GitHub felt like a sitcom. Dry jokes, TikTok videos, a shout out to the eSheep desktop pet, and fourth wall breaking “look at the camera” moments made for one very entertaining demo.
Feature image courtesy of Microsoft.