Future Decoded was a two day conference with great keynotes and over 70 breakout sessions were split into a specific business day and a more in-depth technical day; the audiences and speakers were very well matched to ensure the majority of attendees would leave inspired of a brighter and accessible data-driven future.

Unfortunately Prof Stephen Hawking was unable to attend however we were treated to a number of great and highly varied case studies. The pick of these was ‘Just Giving’ who are investing heavily in data science and Big Data to understand how to embrace the modern day donation community and inspire further giving. Utilising cloud resources, they have transformed their fundraising pages to learn, in almost real-time, about content, feedback, user preferences and image popularity and then personalise the world of giving; the numbers were impressive. Further examples of Digital Transformation success were provided by Centrica and RAC, showing how to drive out complexity in customer relationship and service delivery (AI, Voice Recognition, Internet of Things and Flexible Cloud all being key contributors from Microsoft).

A critical area of this first day was the issue of Cyber Security and Dr Ian Levy of the National Cyber Security Centre announced the latest publication of their work to ‘change the narrative’ and push the ownership to the business leaders (and stop pushing responsibility to individual users). He announced the publication of a National Cyber Security Strategy 2016-2021 which will be implemented as Defend, Deter and Develop; I suggest this should be read by any organisational leader looking to remove this roadblock to their own Digital strategy.

Later in the day Chancellor Philip Hammond expanded on the theme to explain the importance that the government is placing on the digital future of our country and that driving out cyber-crime was now the focus of a dedicated team.

As a Scot, I was exceptionally enlightened by Brian McBride, Chairman of ASOS and Wiggle and serial entrepreneur, explaining late in the day why disruption must be embraced for successful growth (or even survival) and that mobile, connecting to the younger generation and big data are all critical assets.

Reality was returned to our lives when Martine Wright provided a walkthrough of her journey since becoming the most injured survivor of 7/7 terrorist attacks in London– and now a Paralympian.

The breakout sessions were well organised, insightful and full of tips and case stories on Dynamics, Office365, Azure and PowerBI.

Technical day, hosted by Microsoft Technical Evangelist, Andrew Spooner, was full of amazing achievements in technology advancement however although fascinating many weere, for most businesses, too challenging for current strategy and culture change. For tech geeks Document DB, Intelligent Cloud and Facial recognition API’s were demonstrated through actual applications showing we must all get our business strategy and technology teams locked into defining our digital futures.