Spokesperson– Ahmad El Dandachi, Enterprise Commercial Director, Microsoft UAE
- What emerging technologies or trends do you believe will have the most significant impact on Microsoft’s future and how is the company preparing to capitalize on them?
I think that the answer to this question is perfectly captured in GITEX Global 2023’s theme of ‘The Year to Imagine AI in Everything’. So, Artificial Intelligence, especially generative AI, is really top of mind, not only for Microsoft but every individual, every enterprise, across all industries. Everyone wants to explore how Gen AI can benefit his or her organization by driving more business, as well as boosting productivity and efficiency. So really, it is all about how Gen AI as a platform can be leveraged to welcome the future.
The questions that are now being asked are: what is the roadmap that we can leverage; what are the use cases; and what are the scenarios? This is exactly what we are showcasing here today at GITEX Global 2023 through ‘Mai’ the Citizen Companion, which is a digital assistant bot, powered by generative AI. She is our showcase of what the future of government services will look like. So, I think that from a technology perspective, as well as an innovation perspective, Gen AI is not only a game changer, but it is also going to be the next big innovative thing that every single organization is going to leverage in the future.
- Microsoft has made substantial strides in sustainability and environmental responsibility. Could you share some key initiatives or goals in this area and how do you envision Microsoft’s role in addressing global environment challenges?
Great question and the answer is very simple – ESG. Sustainability has been top of mind for us for a very long time. I’ve been in Microsoft for over 20 years so I’m a kind of a veteran of the company. Since 2010, we as a company have set ambitious targets to be carbon-negative by 2030, water-positive by 2030, and zero waste by 2030. These are the kinds of aspirations that we had for 13 years now and we put a lot of effort into achieving these goals.
So, sustainability is top of mind, and I think it’s becoming really top of mind as well for our customers. Every single enterprise, every single CIO and CEO we meet, has brought sustainability to the table and is asking how they can achieve significant reductions in their carbon emissions and ultimately bring them down to zero when possible. All of these companies have set a timeline for these objectives by 2030 by 2040, depending on where they are in that journey.
For us, as Microsoft, we have been partnering with companies around the world to help them achieve those sustainability goals, by identifying KPIs for water waste, energy management, and how they can reduce their energy consumption. These kinds of KPIs are super critical for customers to measure, track, report, and reduce. And we’ve put a lot of effort and innovation into coming up with a platform called Microsoft Sustainability Manager.
This will be the main solution for customers to really track this type of data. They will have access to all the dashboards they need to report the data and to get the right insights to make informed decisions. On the topic of sustainability,
Also, on the topic of sustainability, there is a lot of excitement around COP28 which will be welcoming global sustainability experts from around the world to Dubai on November 30. We look forward to witnessing all the innovative solutions that will be showcased by our partners, as well as all the invaluable insights around climate action that will be shared at the event.
- Collaboration and competition in the tech industry are constantly evolving. How do you see Microsoft’s role in shaping the technology landscape? In the next decade, particularly in light of growing competition and regulatory changes?
That is a very interesting question and a very complex one. It is not really my field, but I will try to give you my perspective. I believe that technology is an enabler for a lot of things that we are doing today. I can give you many, many examples of how technology is helping people in various sectors like healthcare and finance become more efficient, more productive, and able to do more things remotely. This is super critical for any organization, however, you need to make sure that you have the right governance framework around it. You have to have the right regulations to ensure that the technology is being used responsibly. Especially now, organizations are looking at the legal aspects of leveraging AI because there are large amounts of data that are involved and data privacy, security, and sovereignty have to be at the forefront.
From a Microsoft perspective, we describe this as technology for good, or more specifically, AI For Good and Responsible AI. I am sure that everyone has heard a lot about responsible AI and this is something that we take very seriously. We have put in a lot of investments and effort to bring the whole partner ecosystem, as well as regulators, country heads, government entities, municipal authorities, and the main stakeholders to make sure that we are complying with all the country regulations and specific laws around the responsible use of technologies such as AI.
A great example is how we’re doing this in the UAE; we have been bringing this technology here for many years through our data centers. This is all part of our efforts to ensure that all this technology in the UAE is compliant with the regulatory framework established by the authorities and the government. To ensure this this is the case everywhere means a lot of collaboration, and this is where I think our partner ecosystem, which we have built so far, has been instrumental in enabling organizations to be successful. Witnessing their success is what drives us to continue and strengthen our commitment to the region’s digital economy.
- Microsoft has been a leader in artificial intelligence and machine learning, how do you see AI shaping the future of Microsoft products and services and what ethical considerations guide the company’s approach to AI development and deployment?
I think I covered this in my previous answer, but AI for Good, Responsible AI, and our Responsible AI Standard which is built around the principles of fairness, reliability and safety, privacy and security, inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability.
We see AI and generative AI as the future. I mean, if you look at all the hype here at GITEX, every booth has a kind of AI showcase. Everyone talks about generative AI and how this new technology is going to shape the future. But again, as I said before, it’s all about how we govern this in a safe and secure manner; and sovereign as well, based on the country’s regulations.
Everything has to be done in a responsible way because it’s not only about the technology, it’s about the people who are behind it and who are impacted by it. It has to be about the human being and their privacy, your privacy, my privacy. There are a lot of elements to consider, and I think that this is going to be one of the biggest challenges in the coming few months and years ahead – how AI is going to be used in a responsible way as we unlock its full potential.
Responses Received Over Mail