It seems an unlikely leap that, as Director of the Developer Experience & Evangelism Division of Microsoft Australia, I have become quite passionate about oyster farming. But when you learn about oyster farming through the lens of digital transformation it makes a little more sense.
The Yield is an AgTech solution company and an innovative partner for Microsoft. Working with the State of Tasmania they have developed a transformative solution which focuses on the Australian oyster industry, a $100 million industry that was losing about $25 million due to rain related closures of their business. This loss was occurring when it rained and pollutants washed down from the land into the ocean and contaminated the oysters. Historically the farmers would have to attempt to predict the weather and get the oysters out of the water before the crops were impacted (and potentially infected with viruses). Weather prediction is not a precise science and often entire crops would need to be destroyed because they were not rescued in time.
The Yield harnessed IOT (Internet of Things) technology to implement a solution in partnership with Microsoft and Bosch. This solution has sensors in the water in and around the oyster farms that essentially monitor water temperature, salinity and a whole lot of other data perspective inputs. This data comes together and ultimately informs the farmers when it is time to pull the crop out of the water and save the oysters, ensuring they are fit for sale and consumption.
The solution uses Microsoft Azure IOT Hub with Azure machine learning to power this solution. Because of the nature of machine learning the solution gets better and smarter over time and has already saved the Tasmanian oyster industry over $7 million a year just by reducing the closure of the farms. It has also reduced incidence of the virus that can affect the oysters by around thirty percent.
It is this kind of truly transformative story we will be looking for in the Transform Your Products Award category of the Microsoft Partner Awards, a story of a partner that excels in reinventing products, services and business models using digital content to capitalise on emerging revenue opportunities.
Digital transformation is taking place right across the technology industry, this transformation is both inevitable and mandatory for organisations of all shapes and sizes. The blurring and the blending of the physical and the digital worlds (even oysters and digital technology) is having significant impact across multiple industries as we enter what’s fast becoming known as the fourth industrial revolution. Digital transformation of business is number one on the priority list of every customer and partner we deal with and there is no other technology company that has the breadth and depth to have the type of dialogue that customers are looking for with credibility, more so than Microsoft.
Digital transformation involves not only understanding how individual business is being changed by technology, but how core business models are being changed by technology. If we look, for example, at the changes in the auto industry with driverless cars or the taxi industry with the introduction of Uber, we can see that these industries are not transforming themselves, it’s the companies within those industry that are transforming; and even within those companies it is the business processes that are transforming the company itself.
At Microsoft we have put together four keys areas we believe make up a successful digital transformation strategy - engaging with your customers, empowering your employees, optimising your operations and reinventing your products and business models. Companies need to work through these four areas in a continuous feedback loop in order to drive efficiency or stay competitive. In order to ultimately transform their businesses, they need to learn and adapt quickly and keep that feedback loop going.
The most interesting of those four areas for me is how we are seeing companies transform the products they build and the services they deliver to their customers to take advantage of this digital economy. This is the area I will be most focussed on during the lead up to the Microsoft Partner Awards
With only five awards on offer this year at MAPA, we know that competition will be tough, but we also know our partners have great stories of how they have completely transformed their customers business with a cutting edge app or solution. Our partners are doing incredible things in terms of revolutionising the world. This is their chance to share those stories.
Toby Bowers | Director of the Developer Experience & Evangelism Division | Microsoft Australia