Computing is more distributed than ever before. There is a lot more of it, for a lot less cost and, importantly, it is now being applied at the experience layer, providing businesses with the opportunity to work very differently with consumers and clients.

This was one of the key points addressed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, during his onstage session with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen at the Adobe Summit in Las Vegas this week.

He made the remarks in the context of commentary around what he calls intelligent edge and intelligent cloud computing.

We have written before about the shift to edge computing, the next paradigm change currently in its early form, but which has the potential to significantly impact the way business works.

Nadella told delegates, “Computing itself being more distributed so that you have both the cloud and the edge. In fact, when I look at the autonomous cars, autonomous warehouses, the most interesting things that are happening are the edge.”

The second point he made is the economics of compute – the amount of computer power available at lowers cost has enabled the emergence of technologies like artificial intelligence.

“In other words you [need] large amounts of data to create this next generation of experiences. The breakthroughs that we are seeing in such things as language, are just so phenomenal. The question is how can we take these fundamental building blocks of AI and transform, use them in the context of these  various workflows.”

The final change is occurring at the experience layer, he said.

“You see it with your products itself. It’s no longer about a natural interface in one device. If you look at the HoloLens – [Microsoft’s VR headset] it’s pretty amazing to see what it’s done for UI. It’s instinctual UI.”

According to Nadella, “It’s not even about one device, but how can I have a meeting or a creative session that is spanning all the devices without even the space and time. That to me is the breakthrough.”

Such developments in experience offer potentially big changes in different vertical markets.

“Let’s take that and ask how does the shopping experience offline look? The reality is offline plus online is gonna be blended into one personalised shopping experience. Take manufacturing, one of the things which I feel where we have a lot of tech intensity is in manufacturing.”

He said manufacturers are putting much more computing on the factory floor and that when coupled with edge computing production lines can be made much more efficient.

“In financial services people are asking, how can I build new products?”

He gave the example of BlackRock where Microsoft helped to develop a product for people saving for their retirement and where he said, Larry Fink the CEO has a complete vision of creating new products using some of the breakthroughs in AI.

That spectrum of innovation that has been unleashed is having a huge impact across companies and industries, Nadella said.

“Every company and every industry is taking these world class breakthroughs and instantly converting it into product or service that changes the experiences they are talking about.”

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