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Microsoft’s Julia White Talks Innovation and Transformation at Microsoft Ignite 2016 [Video Interview]

Digital transformation is one of the main things Julia White, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, wants you to take away from Microsoft Ignite.

I had the opportunity to catch up with her during a busy week at the conference, and we talked about IT no longer just standing for information technology – it also stands for innovation and transformation.

Check out our interview to for her tips on how to get started leveraging cloud workloads to lead transformative business experiences:

Microsoft Ignite is Over. Here’s Your Guide to What’s Next!

lessons learned from microsoft ignite

More from Dux Quax:

Video Transcript: Dux Raymond Sy (@meetdux) and Julia White (@julwhite) at Microsoft Ignite

Dux: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Dux Quax live here at Microsoft Ignite in Atlanta, Georgia. The energy is nonstop, and speaking of energy, we got the energy right here: Julia White. Julia, in case people don’t know you, could you tell everybody who you are?

Julia White: Absolutely. I am the Corporate Vice President of our cloud platform. For people who don’t know what that means, it means I lead the business for Azure, our security and management, and Windows server areas of technology.

Dux: Now, for this week, for Ignite, what’s your other side job?

Julia White: Yeah, my day job this week is to be the host of Ignite and awesome, super fun.

Dux: So how did you get that gig? I mean who’s your agent?

Julia White: Yeah, maybe you, you know? It’s one of those jobs that I told you, it’s like I get “voluntold” for.

Dux: There you go.

Julia White: I know, it’s what you sign up for. No, but it’s great. I mean, honestly, I’ve been in IT my whole career so this just kind of felt like a natural next evolution of like these are my peeps and I want to represent.

Dux: There you go and speaking of representing, so what’s the thought so far at Ignite? I’m sure you talked to a lot of people, customers, partners, so what’s the general vibe?

Julia White: Super positive and, obviously, you know, people will probably be nice to me when I ask, but people are great about last, the first Ignite, you know, there were some learning curves…

Dux: Absolutely.

Julia White: …we had logistics and other things to come together and I’ve heard very consistently this year, people are like, “This is it. Like, you’ve nailed it. It’s really an awesome event.” So it’s great.

Dux: Now, what about the feedback from folks like, “Well, this is great.” “It’s too much.” “A lot to learn.” I mean we have about, what, 1,500 sessions?

Julia White: Yeah.

Dux: So what do you think about that? What do you say to people when they come to you and make that comment?

Julia White: First of all, I say, “Go to that ginormous screen thing down in Hall C2…

Dux: There you go.

Julia White: …where you can actually watch multiple sessions at the same time if you want to be the ultimate multitasker.”

Dux: There you go.

Julia White: But I also think we did a better job this time at this event, the schedule management, and so people can actually pack in a lot more sessions than last time. So I like that.

Dux: Beautiful. For me, I think the most impactful were the keynotes yesterday. Awesome keynote, succinct, short, straight to the point. You raised something in the morning keynote, you talked about IT is not information technology anymore. You talked about IT is innovation and transformation. Can you expand more on that and why do you say that? You were sharing yesterday about this humbling experience you had, too.

Julia White: Right, I mean, ultimately, now where we are with the capabilities of the cloud technology and what IT can actually lead in terms of transformative business experiences. We’re finally in the place where IT has the tools to actually drive completely new business models, change our product lines for companies. Like Rolls Royce going from an engine manufacturer to a service provider.

Dux: That’s right.

Julia White: Like those, to me, are, you know, why I spend time talking about that. We need to shift the mentality of so many people who have been in IT or entering IT about what you’re capable of. And it really is, it’s not about keeping servers up and running stuff. I mean that’s part of it but now, now we’re all empowered to have the ability to think, “How am I going to fundamentally move my business forward, be competitive, and serve my customers better?” and that’s about innovation and transformation. It’s a mindset thing, I think.

Dux: I fully agree. I mean the other point around, you know, growth mindset, right?

Julia White: Mm-hmm.

Dux: And that’s a key part of it. I mean companies like GE with the partnership with…it’s exciting. With a lot of the Azure workloads around IoT, public sector agencies, it’s an exciting time and, you know, as somebody said yesterday, “The time is now.”

Julia White: It really is.

Dux: Even like the afternoon keynote yesterday. So, folks, if you didn’t catch it, make sure you go to Ignite website and watch all the on demand. What’s really exciting was the demo with HoloLens and Lowe’s and Pinterest and the Kitchen Design. And I was talking to somebody was like, “Now, it makes real. It makes sense.” It’s not just this, you know, pie in the sky academic exercise of augmented reality.

Around that, what does that look like in the day-to-day world? Are there visions or ideas around? If I bring HoloLens, for example, or AR or mixed reality, I think that’s the term, to my day-to-day work, what would that look like?

Julia White: Well, I do. I love that we now have a lot more of our tangible examples of, you know, another example with Japan Airlines of how they, you know, actually can do engine training on a HoloLens so people are not standing to a jet engine, which is, by the way, dangerous. A very practical application but also, you know, helping in a B2C kind of scenario. And I think if you’re retailing, you’re manufacturing, you’re healthcare, like as we’ve gone through this different industries, this mixed reality is a total game changer. And it’s, you know, we’re just on this very beginning of it. And I actually think it’s a little bit like the FPGA demo yesterday. It was more like, wow, that’s theoretically amazing and as, you know, next year we’ll come back and actually show pretty practical application of that in terms of where we’ll be.

Dux: Now, what would be your advice to companies who’s sold, bought on, “I want to be part of this transformation, I want to go to the cloud,” but what’s step one? What would you advise and recommend to folks watching and where should they start?

Julia White: I’m going to actually start with, since we’re here at Ignite, about the culture and the mindset because I think some people look at cloud and say, “Okay, I’ll just do back up or dev test or I’m going to do a lift and shift,” and all of that is great, but it’s just doing what you’ve been doing exactly the same in the cloud.

Dux: And putting elsewhere, right? Yeah.

Julia White: Yeah, which, okay, you’ll lower cost, you know, get some efficiencies there, but that’s not taking advantage of what the cloud actually can do for you which is doing, you know, advanced analytics, bringing out new insights, actually taking insights into action. And so I’d like to, you now, you can certainly just do it more efficiently but, gosh, really what I want customers to think about is, “How am I going to think differently…

Dux: Absolutely.

Julia White: …about the cloud and taking advantage of it. What’s possible that wasn’t possible with I did these server installations in my data center.”

Dux: Hundred percent. I mean workloads like machine learning through time intelligence suite, IoT hub, these are exciting things and when I talk to customers, they’re like, “How is Microsoft different than all the competitors out there doing cloud stuff?” You know, IaaS is great. Lift and shift is great. But, again, look at all these advanced works and see how it can help the business. New technologies like Dynamics 365 – that changes the game totally to enable the business.

Julia White: Right, all the graphs that are now possible because of the cloud and, again, this just new insight to take advantage of that lets you actually do different things.

Dux: Absolutely.

Julia White: And that’s the mindset to start with versus just I’m going to do the same thing in the cloud.

Dux: So let’s go back to Ignite here. What’s on your plate for the next two days?

Julia White: Well, my favorite part is just walking in the halls, going to the expo, just chatting people up, and I’ve just been asking everybody, “What are you doing? What do you want to be here? What are you learning?” And just hearing a huge range of conversations. But there’s one at last night at dinner, I went up to a guy, I’m like, “Hey, how are you doing? Where are you at?” He’s like, “Yeah, I do kind of our infrastructure work,” and then he said, “I’m not in the digital transformation part of the company, just to be clear.”

Dux: There you go, lines drawn.

Julia White: And I was like, “No, yes you are. Wait, wait, wait, we’re you not listening? You are, too.” So just having those kind of conversations is my favorite part by far, but I just did the 360 picture and everyone needs to do that, just to be clear, as well.

Dux: Yeah. And that’s in the expo hall aisle 900, right, or something?

Julia White: Yes, the one that doesn’t have a big line.

Dux: Awesome. Now, Julia, before I let you go, one important question. Other than Azure, if you’re a Microsoft product, what would you be and why?

Julia White: I’m going to have to go with Cortana.

Dux: Cortana?

Julia White: Because she’s the all-knowing, and I think there’s something pretty exciting about that.

Dux: That’s like big sister, is that what it is?

Julia White: Little bit creepy.

Dux: No, no. Well, Julia, thank you.

Julia White: Yes, always good to be here.

Dux: And, again, awesome time here at Ignite. Watch all those on-demand videos and, hopefully, we’ll see you again host Ignite next year.

Julia White: That’s right.

Dux: All right. Well, thanks again for watching and until the next episode. Bye.

What else did you miss at Ignite?

Join our panel of experts for our Lessons Learned at Microsoft Ignite webinar to recap announcements from the conference and a deeper discussion about what it all means for you.

microsoft ignite 2016 webinar

Dux Raymond Sy
Dux Raymond Sy
With over 20 years of business and technology experience, Dux has driven organizational transformations worldwide with his ability to simplify complex ideas and deliver relevant solutions. He serves as the Chief Brand Officer of AvePoint who has authored the LinkedIn Learning course How to Build Your Personal Brand, the book SharePoint for Project Management, as well as numerous whitepapers and articles. As a public speaker, Dux has delivered engaging, interactive presentations to more than 25,000 people at leading industry events around the world. He also hosts the modern workplace podcast #shifthappens that focuses on how leading organizations navigated their business transformation journey. Dux advocates tirelessly for inclusion, using technology for good, and philanthropic initiatives. Connect with him:


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