'Remotely' speaking, anything is possible: Microsoft CEO Nadella

'Remotely' speaking, anything is possible: Microsoft CEO Nadella

The disruption experienced across the world forced in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has driven companies and tech providers to collaborate on a scale never seen before, and these partnerships have resulted in creative offerings for end-consumers.

More importantly, it has laid out the foundation for players to be more equipped for what the future would bring, a session on digital leadership discussed.

The Bosch Connected World virtual event — hosted by the German engineering and tech major — featured a panel of industry executives who tackled today's disruptive times and included the CEO of the world's biggest software company, Microsoft's Satya Nadella.

"The world has been through a lot; it’s hard to imagine that we’ve been in this pandemic state for over a year... and it’s bringing about fundamental structural change" in every industry, he said at the event.

During the initial phases, actions were all for resilience in order to sustain economic activity and life as we knew it in spite of all the constraints being experienced.

Nadella said understanding digital technology is "super-important" because, as the pandemic taught us, there's no way to guess what the next big disruption would be.

"Whatever that event will be, it will require us to have this tech for resilience," he added.

The shifts have been bold-faced. Nadella pointed out to the "real structural change happening" in retail, where he says that physical retail going forward will now always expect roadside pickup and contactless shopping, among other services that most of us were unfamiliar with in the past.

In healthcare, a would-be patient could register via an AI triage app and avail of a telemedicine session, both of which can already provide a significant amount of service — all even before actually going to a medical facility.

"Everything that can be simulated, automated or digital-twinned is being done," Nadella stressed, because "remote operations of everything is now possible."

"Systems that have been put in place are bringing about the next level of planning, execution and sophistication that we have not seen before."

Meanwhile, in the auto industry, discussions on new innovations are going on with such an intensity that it demonstrates how important software has become for its future, Bosch's board of management chairman Volkmar Denner said.

And while it's "very hard to predict" the future, he was sure of one thing that we're already getting a glimpse of today.

"In the future every car will be part of the Internet, [be] an IoT device," he said at the session.

"Everything that we predicted several years ago has come true. We are now in a hyperconnected world and we can see it everywhere — and the pandemic was a big push to all these trends."

There is also a need for an open and flexible software architecture, and while requirements will vary, differentiating parts in the eyes of the end customer, Denner suggests, will most certainly be controlled and developed by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Nadella concurred, saying that the transformation in the auto industry is going to become more digital and software-driven.

"That understanding of digital ecosystems or its manifestation is now going to spread in the auto industry, and software-defined manufacturing and mobility services are definitely what will require that approach of openness and flexibility," he added.

Bosch has come up with what Denner termed as a “central technology paradigm", which is a combination of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, or, as they would want to call it, AIoT. This is the driving force behind Bosch's efforts to advance its research and its subsequent implementation.

Nadella, on the other hand, pegs the present day's development as Software 2.0, "an important transformation" with his own very compelling explanation.

"In the past — Software 1.0 — when you thought about people writing the code, you actually produce the logic that is software," he said.

"With Software 2.0, you train the software to learn from data, a completely different way to approach it. A few years back we were writing it as a set of rules, whereas now it’s a reinforcement learning algorithm that is adjusting to the network in real time. It's really a profound shift."

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