Accelerate innovation in these difficult times
3AM Innovations uses Azure and IoT Edge to ensure the safety of firefighters via a situational monitoring platform
You joined Microsoft about 18 months ago. What brought you to the company and what were your main aspirations for the position of Vice President of the Public Sector at the time?
I’ve always been interested in the intersection of public policy and international relations, a path that led me to technology. I drew a lot of inspiration from the power of digital to make an impact in the public sector, seeing how technology can make the world a better place and improve public services for every community. I was honored to join Microsoft to help change agents with big and bold aspirations in the public sector break down barriers, unleash innovation, and harness digital as a force for good.
Over the past year, the world has witnessed the power of digital technology to enable public servants to do their jobs and deliver essential services during an unprecedented time of hardship, challenge and change. From economic recovery to sustainable development, public safety and beyond, our global public sector team works closely with partners to help the public sector meet global challenges – today and in the future. to come up.
You have faced a difficult year from the start of your term. Thinking back to those first 18 months, where do you think Microsoft has presented the greatest value for public sector organizations facing the challenge of a global pandemic?
There is no coating – the past year has been brutally tough for all of us. Thinking back to all that we’ve been through, both as people dependent on utilities and as tech professionals, one of the things I’m most proud of is when governments around the world had digital technology was needed most, our industry and our technologies were there.
Almost overnight, we saw entire countries digitize at a rate unprecedented in history. At the height of the crisis, our CEO Satya Nadella said he saw more digital transformation in two months than in two years. Many in the public sector have gone even further, observing that they have seen more transformations in two months than in 20 years because – for the first time – the risk of doing nothing has become more than the risk of doing. Something.
I’m incredibly proud that Microsoft and our partners were at the forefront of the tech industry’s response to the pandemic, alongside officials around the world to help government agencies connect with citizens, protect critical infrastructure. , support first responders, and allow justice and education systems to continue to function. From helping physicians provide safe and convenient treatment from a distance using the power of virtual reality, to deploying virtual assistants to quickly connect victims of domestic violence (which has tragically increased throughout the world). throughout the pandemic) with supportive services, our efforts have helped deliver the services people need, where they need them, when they need them.
What do you think are the most valuable lessons public sector organizations have learned about resilience during the pandemic and how will these lessons impact the evolution of digitally transformed public sector services in the future?
Under the pressures of the pandemic, public sector organizations all over the world have faced an urgent need not only to provide services remotely, but also to work remotely. Governments that had planned ahead and invested in digital capabilities and capabilities over the years were able to pivot quickly, evolving at a pace and pace that was once unthinkable.
Shared Services Canada, for example, rolled out a planned three-year transition to remote work within weeks, while the UAE leveraged its long-standing commitment to digital service delivery to shift across the country to online learning at the height of the pandemic. . Governments that weren’t as advanced quickly learned the benefit of becoming quick followers, working closely with organizations like the United Nations to adopt and deploy best practices from around the world.
Now that the innovation genius is out of the bottle and public sector agencies have experienced the value of resilient digital infrastructure, the challenge will be to rely on crisis adaptations to achieve a deep and sustainable digital transformation – powered by new and emerging tools such as cloud, data and artificial intelligence and, most importantly, underpinned by the principles of access, accessibility and inclusion.
Hard times tend to spur innovation. Can you give us some recent examples of Microsoft innovation – and working with partners – enabling positive results in the delivery of services to citizens in all areas of the public sector?
Whether it’s keeping the justice system running in Italy or helping homeless people access food in Brazil, our teams have worked tirelessly with our partners to help public sector agencies keep the providing basic public services to first responders and people around the world.
In Canada, Microsoft has partnered with ESRI and the Missing Children Society to develop an app that has helped law enforcement locate missing children and get them home faster. In the United States, we’ve partnered with 3AM Innovations to help firefighters leverage situation monitoring to stay out of harm’s way. In the Middle East, we’ve partnered with Classera on the Learning Never Stops initiative to keep learners learning. Around the world, we partner with companies like Accenture to help government agencies advance Microsoft’s vaccine management. I could go on, but even these few examples show how powerful our partnerships have been in helping governments around the world in these extraordinary times.
Finally, what are Microsoft’s plans and priority areas for the public sector for the coming year and what do you think is your most exciting professional challenge during this time?
I always like to remind people that, at heart, Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to accomplish more is the mission of the public sector. Our public sector plans and priorities for the coming year are all aimed at fulfilling this mission for governments and people around the world.
As I look into the next 12 months, I am incredibly excited about how Microsoft and our partners are in a unique position to build on the inspiring work we have done throughout the pandemic. For me, there is no greater professional challenge, nor a greater professional opportunity.
From helping economic recovery to sustaining hybrid work and learning, supporting critical infrastructure modernization and strengthening national security, the opportunities for Microsoft and its partners to help public sector organizations accelerate cloud adoption, deepen cybersecurity, and harness the power of new and emerging technologies. the technologies are limitless. I just can’t wait to get started.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of The Record. To receive future issues straight to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.
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