Microsoft Launches Cloud-Based Marketing, Supply Chain and Retail Solutions


Beyond updates across Azure, this week at its Ignite 2021 conference, Microsoft announced additions to its Dynamics 365 applications and industries portfolio, including Microsoft Customer Experience Platform, a marketing solution that targets to help customers personalize, automate and orchestrate customer journeys. . Another, Microsoft Connected Spaces, is designed to enable organizations to leverage observational data to produce predictive insights, while Supply Chain Insights aims to proactively mitigate supply chain issues.

“[W]We are announcing an innovation in the Microsoft cloud that will enable every organization to create a hyperconnected business, providing the agility and flexibility for organizations and employees to thrive now and into the future, ”Alysa Taylor, vice president of the industry, applications and data marketing at Microsoft. said in a blog post. “To be successful in light of these trends, every organization must move beyond ‘business as usual’ and toward a new hyper-connected business model.”

Microsoft customer experience

Microsoft is introducing its Customer Experience as a Service platform to “deliver personalized and connected experiences from awareness to purchase.” By leveraging existing Microsoft Customer Insights and Dynamics 365 Marketing product assets, the goal is to understand and predict the intent to deliver the right content to the right channel at the right time, depending on the business.

When it comes to business, Epsilon found that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that offers personalized experiences – marketing or otherwise. Additionally, according to a Smart Insights survey, 63% of consumers will stop buying from brands that use bad personalization tactics.

The Consent-enabled Consumer Data Platform (CDP) feature of the Customer Experience Platform, currently in preview, allows data managers to use consent data to create customer profiles, manage known aliases and pseudonyms, ensure that Consumer data practices are compliant and protect data with confidentiality and security controls. Complementary B2B CDP combines customer data from all sources – including CRM software, email, websites, point of sale, partner systems, and social media – and performs resolution Identity at contract and account level to generate profiles of people and companies. The AI-suggested content creation and delivery tool automatically generates a set of “content snippers” to serve as inspiration for customer emails.

Taylor says customers, including Home Depot, Chipotle, and partner agencies like VMLY & R and Kin + Carta, are already using the customer experience platform in their organizations. “Numerous [businesses] struggle to manage, organize and gain insight into the large amount of data at their disposal, and for marketers this challenge is even more acute, ”she added. “[C]Customer data is the key to a personalized, relevant and timely customer experience.

Connected spaces

Another new service joining Dynamics 365, Connected Spaces, allows organizations to “gain a new perspective” on how people move and interact in almost any space, Microsoft says. With it, businesses can monitor security in high-risk areas and observe the management of queues, ranging from retail stores to factories.

“With Connected Spaces… organization[s] can easily exploit observation data, [using] AI-based models to unlock information about [their] environment and react in real time to trends and patterns, ”Taylor added.

At a high level, Connected Spaces provides analysis and information on trends regarding people, places, etc. For example, in a store, connected spaces can monitor foot traffic patterns, cashier queue lengths, stay times, and product display engagement. Microsoft says Mattress Firm has tested the technology to measure the effectiveness of its in-store promotions.

While the purported focus of products like Connected Spaces includes health, safety, and analytics, the technology could be co-opted for other, less humanitarian purposes. Many privacy experts fear standardizing higher levels of surveillance, capturing data on worker movements, and allowing managers to reprimand employees in the name of productivity.

Microsoft has not detailed the measures taken to prevent the potential misuse of connected spaces. Once the service is previewed, more details about it will likely be released.

Supply chain overview

The launch of the aforementioned Supply Chain Insights (preview) comes as businesses face historic sourcing challenges. According to one source, only 6% say they have full visibility into their supply chain. And 38.8% of small businesses based in the United States have experienced supply chain delays due to the pandemic.

“Customers like Daimler Trucks North America can gain new visibility into their supply chains across multiple levels of suppliers. They can get near real-time data, allowing them to assess risks and mitigate problems before a massive disruption occurs, ”Taylor continued. Supply Chain Insights also enables customers to enrich their own supply chain data with external signals such as global weather data to predict its impact on shipments, putting increased intelligence and predictive power at their fingertips. . “

With Supply Chain Insights, companies can reconcile data from third-party data providers, logistics partners, customers, and multi-tiered suppliers and create a supply chain ‘digital twin’ simulation, generating insights powered by AI. Numerical twin-simulation approaches have gained traction in many areas, for example helping SenSat customers in construction, mining, energy and other industries to create location models for them. projects they are working on.

Supply Chain Insights also enriches signals of external constraints such as environmental disasters or geopolitical events that could affect the supply chain. Beyond that, the service can automate and execute actions through existing systems for enterprise resource planning and supply chain execution, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft Cloud

Manufacturing

Building on the release of Supply Chain Insights, Microsoft introduces Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing, the latest entry in the company’s Industry Cloud line. Announced in February and now previewed, Cloud for Manufacturing brings together new and existing functionality in the Microsoft Cloud portfolio in addition to partner solutions to connect people, assets, workflows and business processes.

Manufacturing companies expect efficiency gains over the next five years from digital transformations, according to a 2020 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey. McKinsey’s research with the World Economic Forum puts the value creation potential of manufacturers implementing “Industry 4.0” – the automation of traditional industrial practices – at $ 3.7 trillion in 2025.

“The Cloud for Manufacturing… connects experiences across the end-to-end product and service lifecycle and illuminates the entire Microsoft cloud with capabilities specifically tailored to manufacturing,” Taylor said. “Customers including Johnson & Johnson are working with Microsoft on their digital transformation of manufacturing with tools like Azure, AI and Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing capabilities. “

Non-profit organization, sustainability, financial services and healthcare

Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit, a collection of tools, applications, cloud services and infrastructure geared towards nonprofit scenarios, is now generally available after a preview earlier this year. Designed for fundraisers, volunteer managers and program managers, as well as other roles unique to the nonprofit segment, it is designed to help tackle challenges ranging from voter engagement and supporters in the design and delivery of programs.

The closely related Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, previously a private preview and now a public preview, aims to bring greater transparency and data sharing, agreement on a common taxonomy and measurement methods, as well as standard practices for monitoring and reporting carbon emissions data. The solution uses a common format to connect data from various sources and obtain a company’s carbon footprint, as well as provide information to understand data, measure progress, meet regulatory and reporting requirements, and identify actions. necessary to reduce the footprint.

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services – its collection of solutions for the financial industry – is generally available, with new features on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform to help retail banks. to “improve customers and employee experiences.” At the same time, Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, launched last year, received several updates, including:

  • An improved patient view that allows providers to associate a patient record with other patient records (in preview)
  • A new waiting room for Microsoft Teams (preview).
  • Microsoft Forms Integration with Microsoft Bookings (in preview)
  • A programmed queue for virtual tours in Microsoft Bookings (preview)
  • Virtual Visits Manager, an autonomous Teams application to facilitate reporting on virtual consultations (preview)

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