Microsoft Asia held its Analyst Day at the Microsoft Experience Center Asia in Frasers Tower, Singapore, a week after the company reported its quarterly performance ending December 2023, reporting a revenue of $62 billion, up by about 18% from a year ago.
Embracing the AI Revolution
The main spotlight of the Analyst Day was of course on AI, resonating with what Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, said in the recent earnings call: "We’ve moved from talking about AI to applying AI at scale. By infusing AI across every layer of our tech stack, we’re winning new customers and helping drive new benefits and productivity gains across every sector.”
In Asia, it is evident that the adoption of AI is rapidly penetrating across various sectors, barely after a year since the introduction of Generative AI to the masses. “The diffusion rate of this technology is at a scale and a rate that we haven't witnessed in several decades” said Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia, at Analyst Day. “And that is why this technology will create perhaps the most inclusive opportunity, for Microsoft, and for the world. And living the mission of Microsoft of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, is so much more real today.”
Leading sectors in the region include banking, retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and education. The University of Hongkong was among the cited examples, where Generative AI, such as ChatGPT, was initially banned but was then quickly embraced. Now, Generative AI literacy is considered as the 5th literacy by the University, along with oral, written, visual, and digital communication and has integrated Generative AI in the teaching and learning environment.
However, education is not limited to the academic space involving teachers and students. Equipping people through education, whether it is from business leaders to developers or from bureaucrats to citizens, is also pivotal to the AI transformation, which Microsoft plays a significant role in the region as well. Consumers may outpace enterprises in terms of learning and adopting AI, and businesses need to stay ahead of them to remain competitive, Mazhari added, using a customer’s feedback from the insurance industry.
In a different session, a guest speaker from a Singapore government department shared his perspectives, engaging in a lively discussion about the value of AI and its impact on his organization. A key highlight was on the types of challenges faced, and of developing strategies to keep pace and adapt to the exponential growth in demand for AI applications within the organization.
With AI adoption rates expected to rise sharply in the coming years, Responsible AI was naturally a key theme at the event. Dr. Jasmine Begum, Regional Director, Legal & Government Affairs, Microsoft ASEAN, and Ben Gilbert, Senior Corporate Counsel, Microsoft Asia, detailed how Microsoft AI products are designed to aid customers in navigating this evolving landscape and provided updates on recent developments.
For example, the newly introduced Microsoft Customer Copyright Commitment empowers customers to utilize AI product services without fretting over intellectual property risks; Microsoft pledges to defend against any legal action, subject to specific conditions. Moreover, the Azure OpenAI service has already been certified against 40 of the 103 compliance offerings that Microsoft measures globally. This commitment further underscores the company's dedication to its customers. Notably, the Microsoft Customer Copyright Commitment has recently been updated to extend protection to commercial customers utilizing the Azure OpenAI Service.