What’s New in Azure Data & AI: Partners make more possible

August 18, 2023

Microsoft has 400,000 partners around the world that enable us to deliver on our collective mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. This month, we kicked off our new fiscal year with Microsoft Inspire 2023, our largest partner event of the year. The event featured keynotes, breakout sessions, and expert Q&As that provided partners with fresh perspectives and insights to strengthen their practices, as well as partner-led sessions and local networking events where partners learned more intimately from each other. We also celebrated our Partner of the Year Award nominees and winners like EY, Celebal Technologies, and Motifworks, who have consistently helped customers achieve their business goals in innovative, collaborative ways.

Startups are a critical part of the Microsoft partner ecosystem, and we see incredible opportunities for startups to drive innovation amidst today’s massive platform shift. If you’re building a startup, the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub can help you radically accelerate innovation by providing access to industry-leading AI services like Azure OpenAI Service, expert guidance, and essential business technologies. As your startup grows towards product-market-fit, our Pegasus Program offers additional support that uncovers leads, drives sales, and accelerates growth.

I know how crucial partners are from personal experience. Before I joined Microsoft, I co-founded a partner organization that bet everything on Azure. By tapping into one of the largest partner ecosystems in the industry, ranging from technology providers to consulting practices and everything in between, I discovered one of the lesser-known benefits of such a vast, expert network was the opportunity to collaborate closely with other partners. If you’re a customer or a partner looking to get more out of Azure, let us help you find a partner that fits your needs.

Partners at Microsoft Inspire 2023 got a first look at some of our biggest announcements this month, where Azure AI continued to lead headlines. Highlights included:

  • Meta’s Llama 2 family of large language models is now available on Azure AI, as well as the Falcon family of models created by Technology Innovation Institute (TII) and hosted by Hugging Face. Developers can discover, customize, evaluate, and deploy these frontier models, their own models, and a number of other pre-built and customizable models from Microsoft, OpenAI, and Hugging Face from Azure AI’s model catalog. We’re also excited to announce that Azure AI’s prompt flow is now available in preview to help streamline the entire development cycle of AI applications powered by Large Language Model.
  • Vector search is now available in public preview in Azure Cognitive Search, enabling developers to build generative AI solutions that find and use contextual data effectively, for more relevant and accurate outputs. Customers can use vector search to create generative AI applications that combine their own data with large language models, or to power novel semantic search scenarios such as image or audio search.
  • OpenAI’s Whisper model will be available in public preview later this summer in Azure OpenAI Service and Azure AI Speech. The model offers cutting-edge speech recognition in 57 languages, translation into English, and delivers precise and efficient transcriptions.
  • You can now use Azure AI Document Intelligence (formerly known as Form Recognizer) to ingest documents and extract metadata for Azure OpenAI Service to analyze and use in a variety of ways, including new document content generation, report summarization, value extraction, and knowledge mining.
  • The new Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program provides partners with a comprehensive portfolio of investments for all partner business models at every stage of maturity, so they can take advantage of everything that this AI age has to offer, and drive business growth for themselves and our customers.

Responsible AI is at the heart of the Microsoft approach to AI and how we partner. For years we’ve invested heavily in making Azure the place for responsible, cutting-edge AI innovation, whether customers are building their own models or using pre-built and customizable models from Microsoft, our partners, and the broader open-source ecosystem. If you’re looking to build enterprise-ready applications with large language models responsibly, I highly recommend this latest guidance from Sarah Bird, our Responsible AI Lead for Azure AI.

Skill up with new Data and AI resources for business leaders

As technologies evolve, so do businesses, industries, and individual careers. Staying at the forefront of evolving technology is a crucial challenge and opportunity for partners and customers alike. Microsoft and our partner ecosystem are ready to help you and your organization leverage best practices to stay one step ahead. Microsoft first launched our global skills initiative in 2020 to make competence development opportunities available for more people around the world. Last month, we launched an AI Skills Initiative to help people and communities around the world meet this moment in AI more specifically. The initiative includes new, free coursework, including the first Professional Certificate on Generative AI in the online learning market.

For business leaders, Transform Your Business with Microsoft AI is a new self-paced learning path, designed to close the divide between AI technology and business strategy. Business decision makers will gain the knowledge to map out critical AI decisions for their business. A fantastic new white paper by Keystone, Enabling Collaboration: Strategies for Bringing Business and Technical Teams Together, also explores research conducted across a variety of industries on how top organizations foster a culture of collaboration across business and technical teams. Finally, I recommend our Insights Tomorrow podcast, particularly if you are a data leader. Host Patrick LeBlanc and his guests discuss the evolution of data and AI and how to get organizations set up for success using data as an absolute asset.

To close, let’s look at some recent examples where Azure partners helped customers solve real problems in innovative ways.

Partners co-innovating with Azure Data and AI

SymphonyAI helps financial crime investigators be more efficient with Azure

The cost of financial crime is a significant burden on the economy and has an enormous impact on people and organizations. SymphonyAI’s new Sensa Copilot helps financial crime investigators fight back by automatically collecting, collating, and summarizing financial and third-party information, identifying behaviors associated with money laundering, and helping investigators analyze those activities as quickly and efficiently as possible. The solution is built on Azure infrastructure, Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Azure OpenAI Service, and other Azure AI services.

DeepBrain AI turns to Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service and Azure AI services to power its groundbreaking AI-charged avatars

Since 2016, DeepBrain AI has been on a mission to design AI that helps people be the most creative and meaningful versions of themselves. Their portfolio includes DeepBrain AI Avatar, a library of photo-realistic and virtual avatars that businesses use for training videos, news broadcasts, marketing videos, and more. Today, DeepBrain AI harnesses the vast computational capabilities offered by Azure OpenAI Service and other Azure AI services to process and analyze massive amounts of data more efficiently and to build sophisticated deep learning models in natural language processing (NLP), computer vision, and other AI domains. Many recognizable brands have already taken advantage of their AI technology, including Lenovo and SK Telecom.

Jacobs Solutions Inc. builds Alluvial Platform with Microsoft Fabric and Power BI

Jacobs Solutions Inc. (Jacobs) is focused on creating a more integrated and sustainable world with their innovative and advanced engineering solutions ranging from advanced manufacturing, infrastructure, health, life sciences, and more. Recently, Jacobs used Azure to build an end-to-end platform, Alluvial, that puts data and AI at the core of their operations. From financial analytics to performance metrics to real-time Internet of Things (IoT) data, Jacobs has leveraged Alluvial to support a diverse range of both internal and external solutions. The power of Alluvial, combined with Microsoft Fabric, is showcased in the broad spectrum of client solutions Jacobs has been able to deliver. 

Datadog transforms cloud-scale monitoring capabilities and increases customer confidence with Azure​

Whether companies want to modernize, expand their presence, or reduce downtime, Datadog brings powerful observability capabilities together to help companies drill down into what’s going on in their environments. For its Azure-based customers, Datadog pulls enhanced telemetry data from Azure Monitor and collects additional metrics across all of the customer’s Azure services, including Azure App Service, Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), and Azure Functions, Azure Arc, and Azure Cosmos DB for PostgreSQL. This massive amount of data is enriched with data from more than 600 integrations so customers can see across all their systems, apps, and services.

Profisee and Microsoft collaborate to support unified data governance

Profisee is a leading provider of master data management (MDM) solutions with a deeply integrated suite of offerings that provide a unified approach to data governance. The Profisee MDM solution is natively integrated with Microsoft Purview for governance, works with Azure Synapse Analytics for advanced analytics, and has a dedicated connector with Power BI. This gives users a native connector to Profisee master data as a starting point for any enterprise reporting and analysis—without having to configure additional permissions or navigate to the Profisee database.

Reply Valorem helps Wunderman Thompson say goodbye to paper-based feedback processes

Wunderman Thompson unites nearly 20,000 professionals in 90 markets globally, around one shared vision: To inspire growth for ambitious brands. To help their employees continue growing in their careers, Wunderman Thompson wanted to offer a global tool, called THRIVE. With the help of Valorem Reply, Wunderman Thompson implemented the new intelligent application to help employees capture their personal brand through self-reflection, feedback, and goal setting, saying:

“Reply is not just a technical partner, but a true thought partner invested in helping WT and our employees derive the maximum value out of the solution we’ve designed and built together.”

ASC Technologies offers regulation-compliant documentation for the financial sector in Microsoft Teams

Investment consultations are recorded as a matter of course, as stipulated by finance laws and policy regulations such as Markets in Financial Instruments Directive in Europe, the Financial Conduct Authority rules in the United Kingdom, and the Dodd-Frank Act in the United States. This means that around the world, millions of consultation recordings have to be stored, secured, and analyzed in compliance with legal provisions—otherwise, financial institutions could receive hefty fines or even lose their banking license. To simplify compliance with legal requirements for online consultations that take place on Microsoft Teams, ASC Technologies developed its Recording Insights digital solution. The solution relies on Azure AI, Azure Cosmos DB, and integrates with the Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, adding yet another layer of trust for financial services customers.

What’s next?

It was so exciting to kick this fiscal year off with partners, and this coming year we look forward to connecting even more customers with partners who share their ambitious goals. In the meantime, please visit Microsoft Learn to explore our growing library of skilling resources and Microsoft Events to see upcoming in-person and virtual events.

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