Data in Azure means High Performance Capabilities
South African companies will start realising significant business benefits by using the high-performance computing capabilities of the locally available Microsoft Azure data centres. Of course, they must ensure their data has been migrated to the cloud to fully experience all the relevant innovations open to them.
There is a range of capabilities available in Azure that simply do not exist in an on-premise environment. These include artificial intelligence (AI) and data science applications. Therefore, by moving its data into Azure, an organisation can get access to things such as Azure Databricks capable of running complex machine learning scripts at incredibly high speeds and performance that would not be possible using on-premise systems.
Furthermore, these services can be run at a fraction of a second and turned off when not required. Seeing as the cloud works on a consumption model and the business therefore only pays for usage, there are no expenses associated with servers sitting idle.
The likes of AI, automation, real-time data analysis, and other sophisticated technologies available through these Azure data centres will make it easier for companies to embrace becoming more innovative.
Today, decision-makers have a variety of options available to them to extract business value. While they can still develop solutions themselves, they can also use pre-built offerings sitting on top of their data. For example, cognitive services that have text-analysis capabilities built in. These can look at company emails and analyse customer sentiment and main keywords to provide the correct context, potentially flagging bad customer experiences. Similarly, companies can conduct image recognition automatically that can identify people or extract information from scanned documents.
The cloud makes this a more natural way of doing business. Companies will therefore start embracing it to gain competitive advantage as they do not have to develop solutions from scratch or buy expensive hardware. The focus turns to delivering business advantage faster and more cost effectively.
Putting into practice
An example of this innovation being used locally can be seen at an insurer. The business required a way to fast track emails where there is a high annoyance factor by the way the customer has written the message. Using cognitive services combined with robotic process automation (RPA), the company has been able to automate the process as emails arrive. The system checks if a customer is upset and flags it accordingly. Additionally, image recognition is applied to all attachments. So, if a claim comes in with photographs attached of a damaged vehicle, certain rules can be applied to push it through the correct workflow mechanism.
Similarly, the insurer uses a forms recogniser feature in the cloud that takes data from a PDF or other documents and converts that into structured data that can be manipulated in the system. This saves the time of having someone do it manually and eliminates any human error associated with the process. Other examples include the voice to text transcription features available in Office 365. While not perfect, it does enable a business to edit data more efficiently than previously.
Even if a company is hesitant to migrate all its data to the cloud, the business can start experimenting with limited features first. So, the message is to not move all its data and applications to the cloud but start exploring a few aspects of these high-performance capabilities and what the impact can be to the organisation.
Of course, once data is in the cloud there are massive opportunities awaiting the business. The best of all is that the cloud is democratising innovation for organisations of all sizes. An individual might use an Azure Databrick to analyse their credit card payments and sort them into different categories. The cloud can therefore work effectively for tiny things or a massively complicated business process.
And the ability to activate these innovations as and when required, means the business only pays for what is used. This year, the expectation is that more people will start getting interested in AI that could result in even more interesting projects. All of this would be possible through high-performance computing.
This article was originally published on IT-Online.
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