Future Decoded 2016: Day One – as it happened

  • Future Decoded held on November 1 and 2
  • Chancellor Philip Hammond and author Bill Bryson speak at event
  • Hammond: The tech industry is the future of the British economy
  • Chris Bishop, head of Microsoft Research Cambridge: AI will transform nearly every aspect of our lives
  • Thousands of people to attend at ExCeL, London
  • HoloLens, Bloodhound and Rolls-Royce also at event



That wraps up Day 1 of Future Decoded. We had Chancellor Philip Hammond talking about how we need to tackle cyber security, inspirational words from Paralympic athlete Martine Wright and Bill Bryson hailing the wonders of science. An amazing day.

Join us tomorrow for day two of Future Decoded. We’ll be covering it all live on the UK News Centre from 8am.

Thanks for reading.


Bryson: In the future, it will be wonderful when scientists can reach into cells and change them. It will transform the world, no more cystic fibrosis or disease. We can eliminate what will kill people.

My message to you all is we should all try to leave the Earth a bit better than how we found it.



Bryson: I have two-year-old granddaughters who can do more on a phone than I can. They can’t speak yet but they can do that. Everyone under the age of eight knows how to use technology already.

If I had a dinner party, I would invite Isaac Newton, along with Albert Einstein and a Neanderthal, just to see what they would be like.

I love my laptop. I’m amazed I can work from home, go out to an office or on a plane and pick up where I left off.


Bryson: The next thing I’m going to write about is the human body. I’m going to turn 65 shortly and I’m fascinated by the fact that I don’t know anything about how my body works. It’s going to be a celebration of the body, because for most of the time your body looks after you and keeps going.


Bryson: I wasn’t good at science or maths but I was always good with words.

Anything that generates knowledge and exchanges ideas has to be positive.

All the things that we take for granted is all stuff that no one foresaw when I was a child. I don’t know what will happen in the future but it will be exciting stuff. That’s what makes the world so exciting.



Bryson: Science tells us who we are and where we are going. We are all here because of trillions of drifting atoms came together to make us. There isn’t anything about science that isn’t staggering.

Britain has 1% of world’s population but 10% of world’s science papers.


Author Bill Bryson takes to the stage for his Q&A.


Wright: We may never know our path [in life] but it’s the way we deal with things. We need to accept change and become stronger from it. Make today the day you are the best you can be. Believe that anything is possible as long as you believe.



Wright: The hardest part was the memories of how you used to do things before. There’s some change you can’t predict.

We all have choices in life; maximise every opportunity you have and embrace change. Change brings opportunities. Good can come out of bad.



Martine Wright, 7/7 survivor and Paralympic athlete, takes to the stage. Huge round of applause from the audience.


McBride: Young people think fashion is a lifestyle, not just a purchasing choice. They are influenced by videos, pop stars etc. We are also a publishing company, and we understand the role content can play in our audiences’ lives. Pic of Geordie Shore star wearing ASOS dress helped that item sell out in four minutes after we retweeted it.

Kate Middleton wore ASOS dress to event, we tagged that on social. That week the store had its best week ever.

It’s about creating buzz and creating stories.


McBride: People using app spend more time on ASOS, spend more money, interact with the company more, more likely to buy. Twice as many ASOS views via apps than desktop computers. Mobile has changed the way people behave. Youngsters have 100 interactions a day on mobile, and they have an average of 30 apps on their phone, so it’s difficult to interact with them. But mobile is where it’s at for us. We know what customers like, when they like it; high street retailers just know their credit card number as they walk out the door.

We keep our data sets in Azure in the cloud and we can get answers to questions in seconds, more cheaply. We can perform five billion calculations in 2.5 milliseconds to narrow down searches from 2,000 to 20 for customers.


McBride: Disruption is here and it’s here to stay. Darwin said the most adaptable will survive, and that’s true in technology. I have three key messages: E-commerce is all about disrupting traditional retail; it’s all about mobile, especially the smartphone; and companies need to know their customer.


Ryan Asdourian, Windows and Surface BG Lead at Microsoft, back on stage to introduce the next speaker. Introduces Brian McBride, Chairman of ASOS.


Second round of keynote speeches, including a Q&A with author Bill Bryson, due to start soon.


Agreement that digital transformation requires strong leadership. Surprise that Microsoft report flagged up budgets as a potential hurdle to transformation.


Shearwater Systems says digital transformation, for them, is about giving patients control over their conditions.


Great roundtable discussion here at Future Decoded, featuring Microsoft, public and private customers and journalists. Talking about digital transformation and Microsoft’s report on the UK.

South London and Maudsley NHS Trust saying they have transformed into a delivery unit, getting away from paper to help frontline staff more. They have moved staff to Office 365 and those workers are now more mobile and more efficient.


Schoolkids working on their rocket cars. They look fast! Wales versus Scotland coming up.



This morning we heard speeches from chancellor Philip Hammond, RAC, Centric and Toni Townes-Whitley, among others, about digital transformation. More to come this afternoon, and we will have all the latest here, as it happens.


Lots of people trying to land a plane (virtually) at Cloud Direct’s stall. Great way to promote the transformational possibilities of cloud.



Unsurprisingly, everyone is loving HoloLens. We love watching people try this out, they always have a huge smile on their face.


Great Scott! Did we mention we have a Delorean at Future Decoded this year?



Don’t forget to read Decoding Digital Transformation, a blog by Microsoft UK CEO Cindy Rose that looks at how digital transformation is now embedded across the global economy.


Second stage of keynote speeches are coming up, but everyone is taking the opportunity to have a look around the exhibition hall, which includes stands from Surface, HoloLens, Azure and numerous Microsoft partners.



I never get tired of watching these rocket cars. Amazing use of the BBC micro:bit by schoolchildren:


The rocket car challenge involving schools from around the UK is well under way. These cars, made out of foam, can travel at up to 50mph:



That’s the end of the first stage of keynotes. Back to the exhibition hall!


Hammond: The national cyber security strategy is a major step forward in the fight against cyber attack. We at not complacent, we must fight for Britain’s share of exciting digital businesses in the year ahead. But we have a world-class tech base and highly-skilled workforce.


Hammond: We are creating a new cyber security research institute, a network of UK universities. This virtual institute will focus on hardware. We are building cyber security into education, making sure every young person has the cyber skills to use the internet safely.


Hammond: We have to respond to cyber threats. But in the UK, we are not starting from scratch. We established a permanent cyber committee. The creation of this has been an important innovation in how central government works together along with security agencies to tackle the threats we face. The UK is a global leader in cyber security. Today I am launching the Government’s national cyber security strategy: built on defend, deter, develop. Underpinned by £1.9bn of transformation spend over five years and international partnerships.

We will defend energy and transport, working with industry to reduce impact of cyber attacks. Our most sensitive information will be protected.


Hammond: We need a secure cyberspace, and business and Government must work together to provide it.



Hammond: As old jobs disappear, new opportunities open up and the economy retrains and reabsorbs workers. Technology has the power to make everyone in society better off, to improve our quality of life, to lower prices. Applying technology raises productivity and raises incomes. I am in doubt we must embrace change, not fear it. I want Britain to be the best place to found and grow a tech business.


Hammond: The tech industry is the future of the British economy. The UK is strongly positioned to be at the cutting-edge of the digital revolution. Our tech industry is growing at pace, up 42% since 2010, more tech unicorns than anywhere else in Europe, a world leader in e-commerce. Brits do more online shopping than any other nation.


Chancellor Philip Hammond walks out on stage at Future Decoded!


Trice: We removed complexity in our business, setting the table for digital transformation. Microsoft were one of the key suppliers for us, because of their innovation and cloud platform. They could offer the stability and security we needed.



David Trice, chief technology officer at Centrica, now onstage. Digital technology is changing the industries that we know very well. Centrica has created a smart boiler that can notify householder if it is beginning to fail.


Walker: We know proactively if a car has a problem. We have gone from a reactive business to a proactive one. In partnership with Microsoft, the technology part has been the easy bit.


Walker: People don’t look at cars the same way as they used to, they share cars etc. We have to change with that. We have innovated. We carry battery chargers for electric cars, for example. We have a successful, growing business. Around two and half years ago we started investing in telematics. You plug a device into a vehicle and get all kinds of data. It’s been successful. We have partnered with Microsoft, our telematics service now runs on the Azure cloud platform. We can remotely diagnose issues with cars using telematics.


Nick Walker from RAC now on stage talking about their digital transformation. They fix about 85% of cars at the side of the road. Best performer of the year gets a “P1 RAC” numberplate on their RAC vehicle for a year!


Levy: Cyber security runs on fear. We need to change that fear to data-driven evidence, where you can have a strategic effect on the country. Otherwise people will be too scared to use technology, too scared to get in autonomous vehicles.


Levy: The image of hacker is someone in a hoodie. This fear factor was the same in medieval times. We have to fix that. Hackers cannot do things that are physically impossible, so let’s change the narrative. Everyone has been told not to click links from people they don’t know. We are blaming the user, let’s fix that.


Dr Ian Levy from National Cyber Security Centre now on stage.


Bugeme: Our platform needs to be as real-time as possible, the “give graph” allows us to do this. We can now predict who was most likely to fund-raise and what event they are most interested in. Digital transformation has changed a lot of traditional ways of thinking. It is disrupting old ways of doing things. The algorithm knows people who care. Would you rather give or be engaged? Are you passionate about women’s education? Or women’s education in Afghanistan?


Bugeme: We expanded our fundraising pages, and data allowed us to understand what a page means to you. We could capture your story and understand why you decided to support that cause. We could also see how people respond to the target on the page. People want to be the first to help people, they want to help you be the one who gets you to that target. But our data is not enough. So we went to the richest source of data we could find, and we spent a lot of time with academics. This allows us to significantly advance to our goal of expanding the world of giving.


Mike Bugeme, chief analytics officer for JustGiving steps out to talk about how they have digitally transformed to help people to collaborate and communicate. You can update pics and words to make it more socially accessible. “We embrace new transformations – big data and data science. We wanted to harness the vast amounts of data being created.”


Townes-Whitley: We know policy has not caught up with technology. How many of you know that laws have not caught up with technology? So we put together a policy book full of recommendations on how to move law forward. These speak to the three fundamental rules of Microsoft: Trust, responsible and inclusive.

Technology is a means to an end, and the end is preserving our values.



Townes-Whitley: We see cloud as an engine and data as a fuel for the fourth industrial revolution. Every industry is transforming – health, education, government. We can solve cancer with machine learning and AI, using cognitive science to predict how tumours grow. How we might be able to program cells to fight disease. This is part of digital transformation that we can see, feel, touch and experience. With every opportunity comes a challenge, though. We know about privacy concerns, about hacking. About how jobs will be displaced by digital transformation.


Toni Townes-Whitley, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft, now on stage to talk about the mission of Microsoft.


Huge round of applause for Chris Bishop‘s demo of translating multiple languages in one conversation.


Microsoft Translator is translating Chinese, German, French and English.


Bishop: I want to show you a sneak preview of enhancements we are making to Microsoft Translator.

Olivier, from Microsoft Research, now on stage, revealing that Microsoft Translator now supports Russian and an API that offers speech translation. Now going to show a “world-first” that will launch by the end of the year – translating different languages in a single conversation.


Bishop: Today, AI is built to learn from large sets of data, not find answers on their own. We have built a supercomputer spread across five continents and 15 countries. This is expanding as we open new data centres. This is in large-scale use in Bing and Azure. One node in this supercomputer can translate War and Peace in two and a half seconds, it can translate Wikipedia into Russian in the time it take you to blink.


Bishop: Microsoft has been at the cutting-edge of speech and learning. Cortana offers a number of APIs to recognise emotions and faces and speech. One example is a partnership with Tate gallery.

tate, art, microsoft, IK prize, fabrica, recognition


SwiftKey now on stage demoing the neural networks learning in their app. SwiftKey enables people to switch seamlessly between different languages, and can accurately predict what you will type next. Click here for the full story.


Bishop: Our goal is not to replace doctors, the AI is complimentary to people. It is very fast, speeding up the time it takes to measure tumours from hours to minutes.


Cambridge Research team talking about how they are using machine learning to “solve cancer”. Read the full story here. Team says this will have a “massive impact” and opens up a field of personalised healthcare, allowing doctors to visualise tumours.


Bishop: We are infusing your applications with intelligence.

Bishop has invited colleague Richard on stage to talk about how this is helping to detect and treat cancer.



Bishop: Digital agents, will help with customers service and support. We are reimagining customer service, we need to do more than just build a chatbot, which can learn to reply but we’re trying to do something more challenging. The AI will say something useful to help the customer solve their problem.

Bishop shows how AI works in customer service.


Chris Bishop, head of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, now on stage.

“AI is a very powerful technology, and it will transform nearly every aspect of our lives.”



Rose: We will learn about the many aspects of digital transformation. We hope that Future Decoded will help people and business to achieve more.


Rose: We are on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution. That poses difficult questions. What will bots mean for jobs, public safety and privacy? Microsoft published A Cloud for Good last month, which contains 77 proposals for governments around the world suggesting the benefits of an inclusive cloud-enabled world that can be enjoyed by everybody. We 0published to stimulate global debate and action.

We also partnered with YouGov to understand digital transformation in businesses and organisations. Disruption is very real. Nearly half of business leaders believe their business model will be obsolete within five years. Change is happening faster than we thought.


Rose: Recent launch of UK data centres, we are delivering world-class reliability and data residency. Microsoft Research in Cambridge doing ground-breaking work and pushing the limits of AI.


Rose: Change has been the only constant in 2016. Brexit, a change at Number 10 and the election playing out in the US. That will have an impact across the world.



Cindy Rose, UK CEO of Microsoft, steps on stage.


Asdourian brings up Cortana on the giant screens, which creates a map showing where all attendees are from.


Asdourian: Data is the currency of today’s world. Change comes in many forms. Whether you’re in manufacturing, retail, services, the same lessons apply. We are here to understand change and explore transformation. We all need to be ready to embrace the next revolution.


And we are under way! Ryan Asdourian on stage!


This keynote room is packed! Getting ready for our host, Ryan Asdourian, Windows and Surface BG Lead at Microsoft.



Just 20 minutes to go until the speakers are on stage. In the exhibition hall, every stand is busy.


Attendees are liking what they’ve seen at Future Decoded so far:


We even have a band playing in the entrance as the Bloodhound rocket car challenge gets under way. Later, a school from Wales will take on a school from Scotland to decide which is the ultimate rocket car champion.



Today is Business Day at Future Decoded. We’ll hear from Martine Wright, Paralympic athlete; Chris Bishop, head of Microsoft Research Cambridge; Brian McBride, chairman of ASOS; and author Bill Bryson, among others. It’s a packed day.


Scott Allen, Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft UK, is excited about Future Decoded:


Tom Pilla, Microsoft’s head of PR in the UK:


The Exhibition Hall here at the ExCeL, in London is buzzing and it’s not even 9am yet! Keynotes get under way at 10am. We’ll have all the latest news here, as it happens.


The Exhibition hall is filling up. Love the spinning digital screen in the middle of the arena.




The exhibition hall is now open!

Meanwhile, Microsoft published research yesterday, on the eve of Future Decoded, revealing that half of nearly half of UK bosses believe they must transform their company or it will fail. The study found that while 44% of business managers understand that the sudden shift to a more digital society will require changes in how they work in order to survive, 46% believe their senior leadership is not yet willing to take such big decisions.

motherboard, chips, circuit, PC


In a blog post published this morning, Microsoft’s UK CEO Cindy Rose looks at how important digital transformation is for companies across the world:

“We are hosting Future Decoded at a moment when disruption is increasingly evident in many parts part of UK society and economy. According to Tech Nation – a Government-backed data project that highlights the growth of digital businesses – the UK’s digital tech industries are growing 32% faster than the rest of the UK economy. The digital sector is of huge strategic value to the economy and, over the next two days, attendees can look forward to rich and engaging discussions with experts in change and digital transformation.

cindy rose, microsoft

“With more than 10,000 attendees and 400 sessions, this year’s event looks better than ever. We have a number of fantastic speakers who will share their perspectives and stories about the nature of change and transformation, whether they are a digital transformation pioneer, a resilient Paralympian or tech sector innovator.”



This is the view on Prince Regent DLR Station this morning. Big Microsoft signs greeting attendees to Future Decoded.



Hello and welcome to Microsoft’s live blog of Future Decoded 2016. The two-day event, held at the ExCeL in London, helps companies transform themselves into digital businesses, and the thousands of attendees will hear from a range of speakers. These include author Bill Bryson; Martine Wright MBE, 7/7 survivor and Paralympic athlete; Microsoft Cambridge Research Lab Director Chris Bishop; Brian McBride, chairman on ASOS; plus many more. There will also be an exclusive HoloLens developer session, as well as stands run by Rolls-Royce and Bloodhound, the team planning to break the land speed record next year in their 1,000mph car (below).