Microsoft Stories of Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation is happening every day, everywhere around the world.

Business leaders are re-imagining what they can do in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.   They are exploring new ways to create and capture value, and how to expand to new customer segments in a globally connected world.  Cities are looking at new ways to connect with citizens and to re-imagine education, health, safety, and sustainability.

In this post, I’ll share with you a walk through of some of the interesting stories of Digital Business Transformation and Digital Transformation that are happening around the world.  While all of the stories are public, chances are you may not have heard of them unless you know where to look.  As we walk through the stories of Digital Transformation, I’ll leave signposts and a breadcrumb trail so that you can find your way to some of the key sources that you can use for finding more stories of Digital Transformation.

What is Digital Transformation

You can think of Digital Transformation as the digitization of processes, products, and services.

According to Wikipedia, Digital Transformation “refers to the changes associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society”.  Capgemini explains Digital Transformation as “the use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises”.  Altimeter defines Digital Transformation as “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.”

Howard King defines transformation as "a whole scale change to the foundational components of a business: from its operating model to its infrastructure" and digital as "as any technology that connects people and machines with each other or with information".  He then defines Digital Transformation as a visible wholesale restructure to avoid a tipping point caused by digital technologies and downstream market effects.


Before we look at automotive examples of Digital Transformation, let’s set some context for how the automotive industry is evolving.

According to Sanjay Ravi, Sanjay Ravi, Managing Director, Worldwide Discrete Manufacturing, Enterprise and Partner Group, the car is becoming part of broader Internet-of-Things (IoT) ecosystem around smart homes and smart infrastructures is definitely helping to drive industry transformation.  Microsoft is enabling the intelligent car and reinventing productivity in the car.  Along those lines, Microsoft is supporting and enhancing connected car and autonomous vehicle strategies with partners.

These innovations focused on Microsoft’s intelligent cloud, productivity tools, and personal computing technology are providing the technology platform for automotive companies to accelerate their digital transformation efforts and enable their cars to become “companions and assistants to your digital life”, as Sanjay puts it.

If you’re wondering what Microsoft’s role in all of this transformation is, as Peggy Johnson, Microsoft executive vice president of global business development said, “We are partnering to build mutual value, not to compete.”  Read more at Microsoft partners with automakers to change the future of driving with cloud-connected cars and check out the Microsoft in Discrete Manufacturing home.

  • Delphi.   Turn any car into a connected car with affordable, cloud-based telematics.
    • How Delphi Automotive transformed its business model with connected-car services - One of the best examples of a leader in this business transformation is Delphi Automotive. With 90 million cars produced worldwide, Delphi Automotive recognized the opportunity that today’s cloud technologies presented, to give drivers many exciting ways to remotely monitor and control their cars. And they created Delphi Connect to do that, which can turn any car into a connected car with affordable, cloud-based telematics.
    • Video: Delphi Turns Every Car into a Connected Car with Affordable, Cloud-Based Telematics - What if your car could text you when your teenager was driving where he shouldn’t? Or instantly turn into a Wi-Fi hotspot? Delphi Automotive created Delphi Connect to give drivers many exciting ways to remotely monitor and control their cars. Delphi used Microsoft Azure to develop the product and uses the Azure cloud to move data between cars and drivers. Using Azure helped Delphi succeed in a new market, offer richer features, reduce development costs (and pricing) by one-third, and scale the service globally.
  • Nissan.   Nissan can remotely charge your vehicle using the Azure cloud
    • Nissan selects Microsoft Azure to power Nissan Telematics System.  Nissan CTS is coupled to Azure, allowing a remote connection to the vehicle. With CTS, Nissan LEAF drivers can perform a range of functions on their car, while not even inside. These include using mobile phones to turn on and adjust climate controls and set charging functions remotely even when the vehicle is powered down. An onboard timer can also be programmed to start the charging event.  With the standard Hands-Free Text Messaging Assistant for all Nissan LEAF around the world, drivers can manage incoming text messages via voice control without taking their hands from the wheel or their eyes off the road. Drivers are alerted to an incoming text and, after initiating the system, can hear the text read out loud and respond by voice, or via the steering wheel switches using preset answers such as “driving, can’t text,” “on my way,” “running late,” “okay.” These experiences are powered by the back-end connectivity and support of Azure.  Nissan can also send over-the-air “point of interest” (POI) updates as they become available, enabling customers to have the latest information as the company continues to refresh its services. Connectivity to Azure allows Nissan to bring new connected features to market faster and offer flexibility for the future.
  • Quoros Automotive.  Chinese Car Company Puts IT Systems in the Cloud to Create the Ultimate Connected Car.
    • Quoros Automotive - What if you could design a car from a clean sheet of paper—no history, no restrictions? This was the opportunity facing Qoros Automotive, a new international car manufacturer from China, which chose to run its cars’ vehicle telematics system in Microsoft Azure. By using Azure, Qoros gained tremendous freedom to create a rich “connected car” experience for modern drivers. Qoros also avoided an 18-month-long effort and multimillion-dollar expense of building a datacenter and can expand much faster on a global scale.


Empowering cities & citizens.

Microsoft CityNext is an initiative that empowers cities to be more sustainable, prosperous, and economically competitive—with a simplified approach. It helps cities unlock their potential by delivering innovative digital services that can help citizens lead safer, healthier, and more educated lives.  You can read more about it at CityNext.

  • Independence Day.  3D Soundscape for the visually impaired.
    • Independence Day.  Microsoft’s 3D soundscape technology — an audio-rich experience in which the headset, smartphone and indoor and outdoor beacons all work together to enhance the mobility, confidence and independence of people with vision loss.
    • Microsoft Updates Navigation Headset for the Blind“In 2011, Microsoft UK teamed up with charity Guide Dogs to create 'Cities Unlocked,' an organization that worked to create a headset designed to help the visually impaired. That device came last year, but now it's received some major hardware and software upgrades. Although the original simply used bone conduction to send audio clicks and cues to guide the user around, the latest iteration is less of a practical tool and more of an information-rich service. It uses something called ‘3D soundscape technology,’ which is kind of like a GPS that describes everything that's around them, from local cafés to alerts telling them when a bus or train is approaching the stop.”
    • Video: Cities Unlocked: A Voyage of Discovery
  • City of Birmingham 311 Call Center.   Birmingham 311 Call Center Boosts Operational Efficiency, Avoids Higher Costs with CRM Solution.
    • City of Birmingham.  The City of Birmingham, Alabama, needed a new 311 call center solution to help route and track service requests from citizens. The call center’s previous system was expensive to maintain, difficult to use, and did not support how city departments worked. The city examined several solutions and selected Microsoft Dynamics CRM because of its technical flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and ease of use. In addition, licensing costs for the solution were just one-fourth of what established 311 software vendors demanded. With help from Microsoft Gold Certified Partner 2B Solutions, the City of Birmingham implemented the solution with custom workflows that supported processes at more than 20 different divisions. Just several months later, the 311 call center has improved service levels and dramatically increased employee adoption of the system, enabling managers to better track performance.
  • City of Glasgow.   Glasgow foresees a city of the future, where citizens have open access to big data.
    • How Glasgow is Reinventing Itself with Data.  In 2013, Glasgow City Council won £24 million in a competition to become a model for demonstrating smart city technology at scale. Here’s how the city is using the latest technology and open data culture to reinvent itself:
      • The city of the future is transparent. Glasgow realized straight away that you can’t take advantage of Big Data analysis tools unless you have loads and loads of data. Glasgow City Council moved to embrace an open data culture – declaring that all its non-sensitive and non-personal information would be open by default and freely shared. Initially, the council’s push for more open data was met with skepticism by some but the council persevered, saying open data is easier to analyze and share. They made their case using visualization tools, such as the PowerMap plugin for Excel, which helped stakeholders grasp the power of data analysis. As the appetite for insights grew, so did the willingness to share data.
      • The city of the future is responsive. Of course, it’s not enough to simply have access to troves of data. An organization needs to be able to store, sort, search and analyze data quickly and easily. That kind of capability would have required an expensive infrastructure investment in the old days of keeping everything on-premises. Luckily, Glasgow opted for a cloud solution: Microsoft Azure. Now they’ve got a powerful storage solution that scales, keeping costs contained.
      • The city of the future is an engine of growth. What does all that joined-up data get Glasgow in the end? For starters, services are more efficient, as analysis tools such as Power BI, let the city allocate resources more effectively. But that’s really just the start. Because Glasgow is committed to open data, people outside of city government can also access the data. Citizens can make better use of services and feel more engaged. Businesses can spot opportunities for growth. Communities can prosper.
    • Glasgow: A City of the Future
      • Ecosystem for Future City Innovation.  “We want to create an ecosystem of future city innovation in the city,” says Birchenall. “Microsoft was a really good partner for us, as they understood and shared this vision and are helping to put in place a foundation on which we can develop that ecosystem.
      • Internet of Things.  The emergence of sensors in everyday items offers new insights into city life. “Intelligent street lighting will help us to detect and record air quality, noise pollution and footfall all over the city,” explains Birchenall.  It’s not just the council or big business who will benefit. Anyone who has a vested interest will be able to understand the services people may need. “Even a one-man taxi business could change his pick up points to serve more customers and generate more income,” says Birchenall.
      • Community Insights.  Access to this new and precise data will influence the future development of Glasgow’s communities. “When planners meet with local leaders to discuss developments, they will understand the requirement better than ever before and will be able to make better decisions. In a time when budgets are tight, it is important to make every penny count and the aim is to do more with less,” explains Birchenall.
      • Insights from Everyday Activities.  Making it easy for people to access information is key and Birchenall envisages the emergence of many apps to fulfil this requirement. Birchenall says: “There are already several locally-developed, third-party apps in place, such as the crowdsourcing of traffic information and popular cycle routes which indicate the presence of cycle racks and unfriendly inclines. Using these types of apps will become part of everyday life.”
    • Reimagining Public Services: The Art of the Possible
      • Citizens’ expectations for government are evolving. Everyone is trying to do more with less. At the same time, the next wave of mobile devices, social networks, cloud platforms and business insights tools have as much potential to change the way we live and work.
      • In Durham, the local constabulary became England’s only “Outstanding” rated police force by using Dynamics CRM to more efficiently manage case files and solve cases faster.
      • At West Wakefield, doctors are using Skype for Business to hold remote consultations with patients, erasing barriers to care for people who would otherwise struggle to make it to a local surgery.
      • In Shropshire, a collaboration platform allows council staff to work from anywhere, delivering services faster and lowering the cost of transaction.
      • In Glasgow, the city council adopted an open data policy, encouraging greater transparency and helping citizens make better use of services. Tools like Microsoft PowerBI and PowerMap grant access to simple visualisations of city data that can be acted on in real time.
  • Kent County Council.  Reimagining Public Service at Kent County Council (UK)
    • Kent County Council.   Kent County Council (KCC) UK is responsible for providing public services in education, transport, strategic planning, emergency services, social services, public safety and waste disposal to 1.4M residents across 12 district councils and 300 town and parish councils. KCC wanted to rethink Citizen Services for a digital world that would improve health and social care, regenerate towns and cities, and grow its gross domestic product (GDP) by using technology as an enabler to help make people’s lives better.


Empowering every student to achieve more.

Core to our mission is creating immersive and inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning, stimulating development of essential life skills and supporting educators in guiding and nurturing student passions. We empower students and educators to create and share in entirely new ways, to teach and learn through exploration, to adapt to individual learning needs, so they can make, design, invent and build with technology.  You can read more at Microsoft in Education.

  • Tacoma Public Schools.  Predicting student dropout risks, increasing graduation rates with cloud analytics.
    • Tacoma Public Schools.  Tacoma Public Schools used Microsoft Azure Machine Learning to predict student dropout triggers and intervene on behalf to at-risk student early enough to keep students on a path to graduation. The result: graduation rates have increased from 55 to 78 percent.   Eventually, the district plans to use its Azure Machine Learning solution to make its original vision a reality. The end goal is a scenario in which a teacher or principal can log into a portal each morning to see a data view of each student, and then be proactively alerted by the system when a particular student is at risk of failing a course or dropping out. “We want to make it easy for a teacher or administrator to be notified if there’s something different about a particular student from one day to the next. Once they get that alert, teachers will be able to take action and intervene, all because of the data,” says Taylor. “That’s the point we think we can get to with Azure Machine Learning.”


Empowering health professionals and partners with the right technology to improve patient care and help save lives.

From an Advanced Analytics perspective, health analytics solutions from Microsoft and partners can give everyone in a health organization powerful new ways to work with data. They can empower health professionals to glean actionable insights from the mountains of data that patient care can generate.  From a care team perspective, Microsoft is providing care teams with easy ways to communicate, collaborate and improve productivity to ultimately enhance care efficiency and outcomes.

From a Cloud perspective, today’s organizations are looking for more agility, easier management, and access to more capacity to enable them to handle increased demands without increasing costs. Health organizations can benefit from Microsoft’s industry-leading approach to security, privacy, and compliance while minimizing cost and complexity.

From a clinical mobility perspective, Microsoft can enable health professionals to spend less time navigating technology and more time caring for their patients. Microsoft can provide a seamless experience that gives clinicians and other health professionals the information they need on a single, clinical-grade device.  You can read more at Microsoft in Health.

  • Dartmouth.  Population health at a glance.
  • Kent County Council.
    • Video: Kent Healthcare - The City of Kent has demonstrated a very pragmatic approach to “Consumerization of Healthcare” with a Patient-Centered Healthcare approach (and remote support for patients.)


“We’re a more connected company because we have better ways of communicating on local and global levels,” says Kevin Parlette, Vice President of IT at Dana.

  • Dana Holding. Modern productivity in manufacturing: the Connected Factory.
    • Dana Holding: Modern productivity in manufacturing: the Connected Factory.What have the Model T, London taxicabs, 18-wheel rigs, World War II–era Jeeps, giant earth-moving machines, and every car on the NASCAR racing circuit had in common? They have all relied on products from Dana Holding Corporation, which has a proud heritage of innovation in supplying the transportation industry—one that spans more than a century of creating ground-breaking products.  So how does a company continue to improve on its history? For Dana, the answer lies in operational efficiency. “We’re focused on removing constraints for our employees,” says Jeff Heyde, Director of Global Systems at Dana Holding Corporation. “In the past, employees had to stop and figure out how to share their prototypes, work effectively with offshore teams, and stay productive from wherever they were. Today, we’ve empowered employees to do it all without thinking about it.” Dana is optimizing more than its operational efficiency; it’s also investing in and deriving greater value from its full workforce. By using Office 365, Dana communicates directly with more employees because its 12,000 factory workers will be able to use kiosks on the plant floors to access everything from employee benefits to safety updates. They used to rely only on their managers to give them information or relay their feedback, but now they also use the intranet and relevant business applications to stay up to date. Plus, they can join other Dana employees, including the company’s Chief Executive Officer, and participate in the company’s enterprise social network, Yammer. “We’re a more connected company because we have better ways of communicating on local and global levels,” says Kevin Parlette, Vice President of IT at Dana.

Oil & Gas

As the oil and gas industry continues to grow in complexity with changes in regulations, tighter margins, and possible infrastructure threats, executives need an easy way to collaborate.  In order to succeed in a competitive environment, manufacturing organizations must continually deliver new products, improve processes, and find new ways to deliver value to customers.

Companies need to foster a culture of innovation that makes it easier for people to connect to people, share information, and work together across organizational and geographical boundaries. Use technology to collaborate and create content based on information, analytics, and insights from customer interactions, product performance, and social networks, with real-time availability to accelerate innovation. Provide devices and apps that support design and engineering needs. Enable teams to collaborate and communicate across geographic and organizational boundaries. Extract insight from disparate data sources.  Read more at Microsoft in Process Manufacturing.

  • M.G. Bryan.   M.G. Bryan Pioneers First-of-Its-Kind Cloud Computing Asset Performance Management System.
    • M.G. Bryan Pioneers First-of-Its-Kind Cloud Computing Asset Performance Management SystemM.G. Bryan Equipment Co., a leading heavy equipment and machinery OEM for the oil and gas industry, is using cloud computing for remote asset management of high-tech fracturing equipment. Designed and integrated with Rockwell Automation, M.G. Bryan’s new equipment’s control and information system leverages Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Azure cloud-computing platform to help provide secure remote access to real-time information, automated maintenance alerts, and service and parts delivery requests. With Rockwell Automation, M.G. Bryan designed a simple, user-friendly system using the cloud to improve productivity and business intelligence.
  • Schlumberger.  Big Compute for large engineering simulations
    • Schlumberger: Big Compute for large engineering simulations - If you are not familiar with Schlumberger, it’s probably because you are not too familiar with the oil and gas industry. Otherwise, I am certain that you would know them quite well (and you can probably skip this section). Simply put, Schlumberger is the largest oilfield services company in the world. It employs 115,000 people in more than 85 countries. Their products and services span from exploration through production. It supplies technology, integrated project management and information solutions to customers working in the oil and gas industry worldwide.  The accessibility and scalability offered by cloud computing should be the answer to the challenges mentioned earlier, but before this is true, the backend infrastructure must have the right technology to enable the simulator to really perform.  This is where Schlumberger and Microsoft working together have created and delivered the most appropriate technology solution, as Owen comments:  “The work done on both Azure VMs and Microsoft MPI to reduce the latency across nodes has meant that we can run scale tests using INTERSECT from several hundreds of thousands of cells up to a billion cells, showing the same kind of results and scalability as running on bare metal. We chose Azure for our commercial launch in North America and Europe because of their presence in those markets, their willingness to work tightly with our engineers to build a great solution for our customers, they have an offering that supports low latency networks over RDMA (InfiniBand) which has a notable impact on the scalability of MPI based applications. INTERSECT is our best in class reservoir simulator capable of scaling to a billion cells; it cannot effectively achieve this scale without fast low latency networks.”


“Robots serve as the link between IT and production, between humans and technology.” -- Dr. Christian Schlögel, CTO of KUKA

  • Kuka AG.  Building the intelligent future generation of robotics for manufacturing.
    • Kuka AG -   Microsoft and KUKA present intelligent future generation of robotics.  At Hannover Messe, Microsoft Corp. and KUKA AG, a leading manufacturer of industrial robots and automation solutions, are presenting a mutual application that shows KUKA’s Intelligent Industrial Work Assistant (KUKA LBR iiwa), built with Microsoft Azure Internet of Things (IoT) services.  Using precise movements and perceptive technology, this lightweight robot is able to sense its way around a complex task and perform precise automation movements safely and securely. This special feature enables KUKA LBR iiwa for human-robot collaboration. The combination with Microsoft Azure IoT services, Kinect hardware, and the OPC-UA communication standard leads to one of the world’s first showcases blending IT with robotic technologies into a smart manufacturing solution with new capabilities.  Movement data from the robot is streamed to the Azure cloud where workers can monitor progress and receive status reports from the factory floor. Errors in the supply chain are addressed in real time through Windows tablets, making the automated process faster and easier. Another benefit of the Azure cloud is that it allows users to view and act on data through a management dashboard, providing business analytics and trend intelligence. If a certain piece of the dishwasher is breaking more frequently than other pieces, for example, advanced data stream analysis can help understand what may be causing the issue or use predictions to recommend pre-emptive repairs with machine learning technology.  Read more at Kuka AG.


“For a number of industries, from long-haul transport, to mass transit, to forestry & mining, delays or disruptions in transportation can spell doom for their business. Any period during which equipment or vehicles are not functional due to technical failure, maintenance, or inefficient operations has an impact on the bottom line.

This is where transportation companies have a real opportunity to use technology to their advantage, by connecting their assets and offering performance analytics services to reduce downtime and increase revenues. Today, transportation companies can implement intelligent analytics services that predict mechanical and other issues before they arise, helping companies combat razor thin margins and grow their transportation business.”   You can read more at Scania Leads a New Era of Trucking Services with Data and the Cloud.

  • Scania.  Measures the entire transport flow of a mine.
    • Scania Leads a New Era of Trucking Services with Data and the Cloud - In the case of mining, successful transport is all about moving high volumes of heavy material at the lowest possible cost, particularly since transportation expenses often make up a third or more of the total mining operating costs.  In order to help mining companies tackle these costs, Scania developed a system on the Microsoft Azure platform that measures the entire transport flow of a mine, with data sent wirelessly every second from the trucks in the production flow to Scania’s field workshop. This allows them to calculate uptime and down times and have useful data to make decisions that affect operational efficiency in real time in their customers’ mining operations.

As you can see, Digital Transformation is all around you.

Now that you know what kinds of Digital Transformation are taking place, along with concrete examples of Digital Transformation in the real world, hopefully that inspires you to re-imagine what you can do in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

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