Microsoft Federal Government Briefing – September 2016

Today I attended a Federal Government briefing at the Microsoft offices in Canberra.

The agenda covered a wide area of topics, all relevant to Government and other sectors.  These are my raw notes, taken during each session.  I apologise in advance if they appear incoherent; I was put to task doing manual labour at home the past two days and my hands kind of refused to co-operate when I was madly trying to write things during each session.

Briefing Agenda:

  • 4th Industrial Revolution
  • Digital Transformation
  • Security and Trust
  • Service Delivery
  • Workplace Modernisation, and,
  • Cognitive Data Analysis

The 4th Industry Revolution

What does it mean when everything is connected?  When everything is digital.  Lines blurring between natural and synthetic.
Merged natural/synthetic/AI –is the 4th Industrial Revolution.  Computers provide control, 4th revolution provides AI.

Demo: CaptionBot, EmotionBot*

Deep neural network underpins AI APIs*
*Requires the Cloud

Skype translate went live in 2015 and provides real-time language translation underpinned by AI learning

Video: AI power accessibility

NDIS: progressive scheme to address disability.  Designing for the exception.
4th Industrial Revolution provides support for designing within constraints, new ways of thinking.

Biodiversity is severely at risk; Data centres are carefully located to reduce carbon footprint.  Deforestation offset when building data centres; use renewable energy sources.
Data centres being tested in the ocean!

Many alternative sources of power, key is to combine them effectively.  Need to eliminate fossil fuel use.
AI ML can learn a house’s power usage patterns.  Use Tesla battery as data source.

Industrial decline is not a given in Australia; there will be disruption, but also opportunities.  Automation needs maintenance; training.
Baxter: automated industrial automation.  Can learn and adapt, low cost per hour (<$5/hr); just the tip of the iceberg.

Oyster farms can take advantage of salinity sensors and AI to understand when to harvest.
Automation does threaten many traditional jobs. Unemployment rises perhaps unavoidable without growth/redistribution.  GDP and wage rises decouple; standards of living plateau?
Work adapts to be outcomes driven; redefine”work”.  Retain, re-educate.

Demo: HoloLens

HoloLens teleportation.  Record and replay interactions from multiple locations.  3D rendering can repay in different scales.
Minecraft with an AI layer sits on top.  Minecraft Malmo(?).   Train AI in simplified world.
The summary.  Harness the disruption.  Reduce the wealth gap.  Technology as a tool now advanced to augmented tooling.
Augmentation can allow breakthroughs in health, medicine; cure or relax disabilities.  New hospitals now considering Cloud options to unencumber the physical facilities; concentrate focus on patients.

Freedom.  What if we could passively read thoughts/emotions?   Ethics.  Surveillance.  Privacy.  How do we make the digital world safe and private?  Humans won’t trust technology without controls/privacy.
Technology might be the easy part.  Applying it safely and earning trust is the hard part.

Digital Transformation

Skills.  Employment.  What’s the future?
Economic growth-> advance society->environmental sustainment

Government is compared (measured against?) the private sector.

NFC, advanced web technology.  Singapore government has a single digital identity.  2FA, multiple channels.
Tick and flick tax returns due to seamless digital integration.  Reduction in manual labour.

Characteristics of change:

  • Experiment,
  • risk getting it wrong,
  • improve,
  • iterative

Chatbots introduced as cognitive services; launched with a Singaporean Government, supports transactions too.
Worried about sovereign borders, Estonia has established a digital embassy in the cloud.  You can become an electronic citizen of Estonia.  Electronic services available to service online citizens.

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Another innovation: Blockchain used to determine the expenditure of grant money.

Chatbot reference architecture; lodge KBs into a knowledge base and use AI to leverage broad data sources.  Augmented by humans.
Translation bots, sentiment, spell check, LUIS (determine intent).  Give the client multiple channels to interact.  Services (apps, traditional e.g. Email).  Cyclic feedback loop.
Chatbot can answer questions based on KBs and can lodge applications, transactions.  In future, phones could detect you’re at an airport and automatically lodge paperwork.
Does technology start to make us dumber by doing these tasks for us?  Who knows the details underpinning Machine Learning?  How do we stay educated and intelligent.

Demo: UrbanAir

Real-time air quality analytics.  Cross referencing data to interpolate.  Traffic, weather, monitoring stations.
American version of Beijing data shows different thresholds for quality reporting.  Chinese version classifies lower grade of concern.

Digital Transformation: efficiency, transform, empower, engage
Do more with less, meet expectations, harness knowledge, engage citizens
Cloud, cloud, cloud

Data sovereignty, privacy, security.  Emergencies drive change sometimes.  Case: Mexico
3 months to overhaul their tax system.  Concerns about sovereignty.  Time overrides concern.  Hybrid architecture; data at rest in Mexico.  References anonymised in cloud.
Jurisdictions have found a way to make it work.  Hybrid solutions possible.

Case: UK NATS – literal cloud implemented in the cloud.  Data incorporated into cloud for analytics to build predictive model.  Leverage insights.

Summary: Digital Government maturity model (Gartner).
Global competitiveness index.  World economic forum.  Institutions lagging behind.

Security and Trust

Four points:

  • Transparency,
  • privacy,
  • compliance,
  • security

Transparency – Customer data is only for the customer.
Privacy – Compliance with privacy laws.  Implementation of security controls
Compliance – A number of compliance features, particularly to empower clients to be compliant.  Security by design
Security – Designed by default

What is Cyber Security?

Context is the key.  Environment, meaning, management.  Cyber – cyberspace (an environment) where things happen.
Threats: social engineering 52%, insider: 40%, advanced persistent threat: 39% – source: ISACA
As budgets increase, threat detection is better.  Better monitoring means more accurate reporting.
Transparency is improving.  How to respond to an incident is key.

Video: 4 Corners – Cyber threats

State sanctioned threats, targets any organisation.  Digital espionage has changed, wide audience.
Phishing is prevalent.  Turns an attack into an insider threat.
Interconnected world makes this a lot more powerful & dangerous.
Analysis of a phishing email (read my blog for more on this).  Telstra phishing scam looks very similar to the legitimate email.
What’s the Government doing?

ACSC – Australian Cyber Security Centre
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (was ACC/ABCI?)

Business, Individual, Government
1. National Cyber partnership
2. Strong Cyber defenses
3. Global responsibility

Funding is in the early stages of maturity

What is Microsoft doing?

Platforms, intelligence, partnerships

Video: (from WPC) – data sources, passive and active defenses.  Vulnerability detection in real time

Protect/Detect/Respond = Security posture
Assume breach: new thinking; expect vulnerabilities, plan responses

Platforms – Identity, Device, Apps & Data, Infrastructure (think beyond physical/virtual).  Devices can empower identity and authentication
Windows/Azure/Office365/Server Products

Intelligence – Growth of data.  Generation of content.  Data points.  Attack vectors.  Patterns of behaviour.  Machine Learning, analytics.  Monitoring.

Cyber hunting teams
Analytics improve understanding of threats, improve responses

Can’t ignore people.  Work with peers, industry partners, Government (all partners)
Cyber security is a team sport.  Share, support, transparency.  Goal is to make you a hard target, no one is invulnerable.
Attribution shouldn’t be a primary focus when dealing with an active incident.

Defence in Depth, Cybersecurity, Cyber Kill Chain (proactive, reactive).
Cyber Kill Chain: Delivery, exploitation, command and control, actions on objective
Advanced Threat Analytics – Azure/OnPrem

Service Delivery/CRM

Empowering Dynamic Government

An interactive session

86% of CEOs surveyed believe Digital is their #1 priority.

What is Digital (in Government)?
How is transformation occurring?

Continual change.  Transform products, Empower (people/staff), engage citizens, optimise operations.

People interacting with one arm of an organisation might be relationally important to other arms, without anyone knowing
Consumer experience is important.  Social media, consumer opinions online.  Customers are inclined to pay for a better consumer experience.  Customers will leave a brand due to bad experiences with customer service.
– Improve interactions
– Gain deeper insights
– Do more with less

Interactions have changed/transformed significantly.  Workers expect modern tools, efficiencies.  Less repetition.  Old technology doesn’t address today’s needs.

Cap Ex -> Op Ex is a challenge for Government to absorb.

Close the gap.  How to address the multiple channels in a lean fashion?


  • Transactions to interactions
  • Privacy/security/trust
  • Legacy (systems, process, thinking)
  • Understanding business value/case (e.g churn rate of staff, cost of interactions)

Vision for Government:
– People centric
– Value
– Manage costs

Exceptional Citizen Services
Aggregate fragmented data, provide consistent experience across multiple channels

Dynamics 365 in Australia

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Real World examples – DIBP


WA Main roads – Field One

– reduce duplicate data
– planning and visibility
– simplified data entry


– off the shelf product
– rapid deployment
– configure v code
– massive time reduction for deployment
– focus on reusability,

Microsoft offers business viability / value assessment.  Proven assessment process, scales to a range of customer situations, structured (tooling) to provide specific outputs based on a long history of expertise.


The Modern Workplace
Traditional bricks and mortar approach is out of date.  Modern workplace favours flexible arrangements.

Productivity as work – presenteeism is the new absenteeism

1. People
2. Place
3. Technology

People = empowerment, culture, trust, flexibility.  Culture is the key.
Place  =  must be conducive to flexibility.  Returning floorspace saves money
               added breakout rooms, collaboration spaces
               flexible attachments doesn’t necessarily mean hot desks
Technology = must be accessible, provide capabilities,

Example Flexible workers: Students

Profile – tech savvy, collaborative, grown up with social media, mobile.  Don’t fit well into traditional workplaces.
Modern hardware (e.g auth with Microsoft Hello) represents productivity advantages over standard SOE workstations (5 seconds to start working vs. 5 minutes).

The Modern Workspace: Microsoft (Office 365 and more)

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New age licence model replaces traditional licencing models.

  • Yammer introduces social media as an Enterprise tool.  Good company engagement.
    Huge focus on mobility.  Works on many devices, single credentials, access same data across different devices and platforms.
    Collaborate, intranet and extranet options, removes IT maintenance aspects
  • Skype/Lync implantation enables video, IM, unified comms.  Telephony solution, cloud based coming.
  • OneDrive as a ‘user home drive’, cloud based.  Access anywhere.  Unlimited storage.
  • Security- IRAP certified, eDiscovery, email scanning, rights management, legal hold retention, multi factor auth.
  • Video – deals with codecs, compatibility
  • ATP (advanced threat detection) detects malicious attachments, determines attachment behaviour using virtualization
  • Groups expands on collaboration functionality, relationships
  • Delve – helps surface relevant content.  Delve brings content to the surface based on context.  Tasks being undertaken, job, activities.  Similar to pInterest.
  • Cloud PBX – PBX in the cloud.  Cost saving, outsource underlying management costs
  • Sway is an intelligent designer, content editing tool
  • Power BI – Democratisation of BI data.  Self service analytics, draw together good data.  Cost effective.  Low barrier of entry.  Large collection of starter templates, solutions.  Natural language querying.  Intelligent formatting of results.
  • Broadcasts through Officer 365

Product Reviews:

  • Demo: Delve

Weighting algorithm matches information relevant to business activities.
Delve analysis shows distribution of time/effort/collaboration
Drill down into the activities performed during meetings (as an example).  Email habits, interaction histories etc.  Drives positive productivity.
Privacy concerns mean deployment is individually focused
Video viewing stats, summaries, shows revealing information about how long users are engaged, drop off rates etc. Corporate YouTube 🙂

  • Planner: Office365

Looks like Trello, or VSO planning wall.  Looks very similar to VSO, especially dashboard.  Integrates into the full suite, Exchange, etc.  Full mobility support.

  • Power BI

See my previous notes on Power BI 🙂

Microsoft Fasttrack – onboarding and adoption support as part of licencing.
Customer Immersion Experience (CIE) can provide access to demo full suite.

Cognitive Services & Data Analytics

Machine Learning, analytics

A lot of data captured today can not be natively understood by humans (only by machines)

Yesterday: static reports, data visualisations, drill down, causality
Recently: predictive analysis, tends lines
Today: intelligent decisions (automation), recommendations, interactive dashboard

Cognitive Services

  • Easy to use – get started quickly
  • Flexible – integration options
  • Supported – documented, SLA, proven


– Data as a commodity
– platform approach (any tool, device)
– enables decision automation
– elasticity and scale (availability, learns)
– rapid innovation (speed of Cloud)

IoT: distribute data sources

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Vision API can match drivers licence to face, text OCR for details.

Can measure emotion, generate descriptions.

Cortana: personal experience, assistant, learns, included in Windows 10

Speech cognitive services – learns/understands speech input.  Multiple languages, intent, emotion can be trained for specific words and phrases

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Case Study: TAFE NSW & predictive student drop outs

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Bot Framework launched this year

Idea: build a bot for Sanders Technology so people can ask for article recommendations!  Use articles as source to help readers

Templates already available:

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That’s all for now..

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