New industry clouds offer launchpad for innovation

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Over the past year, we have experienced dramatic disruption around the world. Companies in every industry have turned to digital technologies for the resilience and agility necessary to survive. The urgency for entire industries to transform at scale has never been greater.

In response, we have accelerated our efforts to support and co-innovate with customers and partners — both now and long term — with industry-specific cloud offerings that can provide a launchpad for further innovations.

Today, we’re announcing another milestone in those efforts with three new industry-specific cloud offerings: Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing, and Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit. We are also announcing the first update to Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, and the public preview timing for Microsoft Cloud for Retail, introduced in January at NRF.

We created the Microsoft industry clouds by bringing together common data models, cross-cloud connectors, workflows, APIs, and industry-specific components and standards, with the breadth of Microsoft’s cloud services, including Microsoft 365 and Teams, Azure, Microsoft Power Platform, Dynamics 365 and security solutions. Through these industry clouds, we aim to empower everyone to deliver value faster, adapt quickly to changing conditions, build for the future and do all of this with security at the core.

Microsoft’s deep investment in industry solutions is not new. Across the company, embedded industry experts among our employee base are informing our priorities — doctors working alongside engineering teams on healthcare challenges, retail executives imagining new customer experiences, financial experts helping us understand fintech, banking and payments and nonprofit leaders shaping our vision and solutions to impact those helping others.

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Designed with industry challenges in mind, these clouds can enable organizations to jump ahead and deliver value at record pace. This is because they provide an on-ramp to the broader portfolio of Microsoft cloud services, enabling customers to begin with the areas where the need for technology transformation is most urgent.

Because of the breadth and depth of the Microsoft partner ecosystem, Microsoft industry clouds also provide new opportunities to strengthen and extend for the last mile of industry execution. Partners bring new innovation and expertise to deliver tailored solutions for unique customer needs.

Here’s what today’s announcement means for organizations in these industries — and why we believe these new clouds are a meaningful opportunity for our partners, too.

Financial services: Comprehensive services at customers’ fingertips with the highest security and compliance standards at the core

The financial services industry is deeply traditional and has been steadily disrupted the past few years by trends like e-commerce, fintechs and cryptos. The industry was already shifting from brick-and-mortar locations to digital services, but global lockdowns accelerated this trend.

Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services brings together Microsoft solutions, unique templates, API’s and additional industry-specific standards, along with multi-layered security and compliance coverage to deliver differentiated customer experiences, improve employee collaboration and productivity, manage risk and modernize core systems. Using these capabilities, retail banks can create a 360-degree view of the customer with greater insight and suggested next best action, embed digital collaboration into their process workflows to create real-time visibility to status and streamline hand-offs, enhance insights to help reduce fraud — all with the scalable and hybrid deployment options financial services organizations require to modernize their systems.

For example, a new feature called Loan Manager will enable lenders to close loans faster by streamlining workflows and increasing transparency through automation and collaboration — a critical function in the current remote-everything world. Public preview is planned for March 2021, and customers like ABN AMRO and Manulife are already taking advantage of some of its capabilities.

Woman viewing financial trading data

Manufacturing: Intelligent systems and agile factories

Manufacturers have been moving toward data-driven automation, IoT, machine learning and AI for years. If anything, 2020 showed just how critical those capabilities are. As factory floors ground to a halt, even the most sophisticated, just-in-time supply chains were impacted.

Available for public preview by the end of June, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing is designed to deliver capabilities that support the core processes and requirements of the industry. These end-to-end manufacturing solutions bring together new and existing capabilities across the Microsoft portfolio as well as partner solutions that together can seamlessly connect people, assets, workflows and business processes, helping organizations become more resilient.

Many of these capabilities were on display during the VentilatorChallengeUK, where a consortium of companies helped the U.K. increase ventilator production from 50 to 1,500 per week. Partners like Accenture, Avanade, PTC and Siemens responded using Microsoft’s cloud capabilities for manufacturing.

Nonprofit: Enabling and accelerating mission-driven impact

Nonprofits are addressing many of our world’s most pressing challenges, providing critical services and support to communities everywhere. Yet, nonprofits are often challenged with a patchwork of disparate systems and pockets of disconnected data. Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit creates a connected, intelligent platform to empower staff and volunteers to focus on the work that matters most — their mission.

Launching in public preview by the end of June, Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit connects the trusted cloud capabilities of Microsoft to the most common nonprofit scenarios such as constituent engagement, program design and delivery, volunteer management and fundraising, all brought together by the nonprofit common data model.

Right To Play is a global nongovernmental organization dedicated to protecting, educating, and empowering children using the power of play. Using capabilities of the Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit, the organization has scaled from 100 to more than 3,000 new monthly donors, deepening engagements and building better programs to serve more than 2 million children worldwide every week.

Woman shopping for produce in a market

Retail: Blurring the lines between the physical and the digital

Retail is a constantly evolving industry, and those efforts have taken on a breakneck pace over the past 12 months to accommodate record online sales, shifts in customer loyalty, a surge in “buy online, pick up in store” and curbside pickup.

Microsoft Cloud for Retail brings together different data sources across the retail value chain and uniquely connects experiences across the end-to-end shopper journey, using a set of capabilities that deliver more relevant personalized experiences and optimize operations for sustained profitability.

Using this industry cloud, retailers can build more targeted and relevant customer recommendations and notifications, expand their fulfillment options, simplify payment processing and benefit from comprehensive fraud protection. Currently in private preview, Microsoft Cloud for Retail will be available for public preview in March.

Athletic headwear company Lids is already using Microsoft products included in the cloud, like Dynamics 365 Commerce, to bring greater visibility into its sales and supply chain and modernize its point-of-sale system. “We are excited to explore Microsoft Cloud for Retail as another crucial tool to bring together our stores, product and marketing systems, and unlock the power of our data,” said Britten Maughan, senior vice president of product and partnerships at Lids.

Healthcare: Increased resiliency for the challenges ahead

With the expertise of partner Avtex, Mary Washington Health System is deploying a solution built on Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare that helps securely connect providers digitally with patients who have canceled or deferred important elective procedures. Solutions like this allow patients to reconnect with their healthcare providers and restart those procedures that have been delayed — while also helping providers recover in a post-pandemic world.

The core elements of our industry vision

Microsoft will always be a trusted advisor, partner and co-innovator to our customers and global ecosystem of partners. Today’s news is the next step on our journey to deliver industry-specific clouds that enable every organization to adapt to a constantly changing new reality. Across these announcements, we believe three key factors allow Microsoft to deliver on our industry vision unlike no other company.

First, our industry approach is core to our mission to empower people to achieve more. Every organization in every industry relies on the hard work and ingenuity of individuals to achieve its goals. With our industry-first approach, we are putting specific solutions in the hands of people closest to the problem. This helps organizations with whom we partner to act faster and make more intelligent decisions — ultimately providing better experiences.

Second, our approach proves the power of partnership. Our global partner ecosystem is unmatched in adding deep expertise and building high-value solutions for virtually any scenario or function. We work with industry-leading independent software vendors and system integrators to ensure our customers have the solutions they need to address their business challenges.

Finally, we have a deep commitment to security, compliance and trust. Our offerings incorporate industry-recognized standards from edge to cloud, with more than 90 certifications and more than 35 industry-specific compliance offerings. This creates value for partners too, allowing them to invest in opportunities and scale their business rather than apply for certifications. Additionally, our approach to customer data underscores our commitment to trust — customer data belongs to our customers, not to us.

The complexity of our world is increasing daily, and the lessons of 2020 are showing up as organizations everywhere learn to be more agile and resilient. They are counting on Microsoft to help them master this complexity so they can move faster, innovate thoughtfully and be positioned for success.

To learn more about the clouds, we invite you to join the coming previews and tune into dedicated sessions at Microsite Ignite next week and visit our industry site for more product information.

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