What: Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology Conference
When: Tuesday, June 4, 2019, 8:00 a.m. PST
KASH RANGAN: Time goes by very quickly when you're having fun. Today is officially my 25th year on the sell side, so great to have you join us and kick off this conference.
Welcome, everybody, first of all. This is really the pinnacle of the year, as far as I'm concerned, personally. To have the corporates with our investor clients come together on the stage in this forum and get the best insights possible is the best thing we could ask for, as an analyst.
So thank you, everybody, for supporting me the last 25 years. (Laughter.) Thank you for my team. Today's a really special day.
With that quick round of excitement from my side out of the way (laughter), let's get to our guests here, Microsoft. Real delight to be able to be host a very special guest here, Alysa Taylor, who is Corporate Vice President of the Business Applications and Global Industry product line.
So, what we're going to do is to have Alysa talk about your job, your responsibility scope, and then dive into some good questions that we have. And every bit along the way, I'm just going to watch to see if you have a question or two. I'm going to look in your direction. If you don't have a question, we'll cycle through the questions that we have for you.
But thank you, Microsoft -- thank you, Jonathan, for arranging this. Really appreciate it.
So Alysa, talk about your responsibilities and what is this is all about.
ALYSA TAYLOR: I can do that. Well, first of all, congratulations on 25 years.
KASH RANGAN: Thank you, thank you.
ALYSA TAYLOR: That's very impressive. It's a big day. So as you indicated, I am the Corporate Vice President of the Business Applications Division at Microsoft. And what that entails is we have functional responsibility at Microsoft, so I am responsible for, effectively, our go to market for the product line that encompasses business applications.
I have a peer on the engineering side, James Phillips. He builds the products. I get to bring them to market. We have a Global Sales leader, Hayden Stafford. And then, we have our CFO who's with us today, Jeff York. So, those are the functional leaderships that make up the Business Applications Division at Microsoft.
KASH RANGAN: Got it. And can you tell us a little bit about these applications, the breadth and scope of the apps that you're responsible for.
ALYSA TAYLOR: Absolutely. About two and a half years ago, we announced and released Dynamics 365, so that is our flagship product line within the portfolio. And then, we have the Power Platform which encompasses Power BI, PowerApps as well as Microsoft Flow. So, that's our extensibility and adaptability. So, those are the two flagship product lines within Business Applications.
KASH RANGAN: Got it. So, I just want to start off and get out a couple of things that have been very topical, on our clients' minds. One, I'm just curious to get Microsoft's perspective on the trade wars that have been very rampant in terms of our attention. How does this even pertain to Microsoft?
And secondly, I also wanted to get the regulation thing out of the way. Yesterday, the market was hurt as a result of regulatory fears back to the Internet sector. There's also a sense that, hey, what does it mean for software? So, just your broad thoughts, if they are relevant.
ALYSA TAYLOR: Yeah, I'm happy sort of do top of mind on that. So on the regulation side, if you think about one of Microsoft's core pillars is trust, and so when we think about our customers' data and data privacy and sovereignty, that's something that we take very seriously. We have a number of sovereign clouds across the world. And if anyone has seen Brad Smith, who is our President and Chief Legal Counsel, he's talking very openly about our commitment to data privacy. So, I think that's something that Microsoft stands very firm on in terms of that value of trust.
And then, on the sort of trade wars -- particularly I think China is top of mind on that -- a small part of our business is China. We do have our multi-cloud offering in China. We actually just launched Dynamics 365 in China in April, but that is really servicing the needs of our multinational companies, and so making sure that we have a global offering.
KASH RANGAN: And how's that doing, the China business?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Well, we just launched, so time will tell. But again, when we think about our big -- Starbucks, Ford, others -- it's making sure that we have a global presence for them.
KASH RANGAN: Got it. Wonderful, thank you so much. Let's talk about Dynamics for a second. Dynamics 365 has been growing very strongly. Help us understand what has changed versus the past two to three years.
ALYSA TAYLOR: Yeah, it's been a very exciting evolution, I would say. So if you kind of wind back in time, we had a set of assets that were a collection of ERP assets that were predominantly on-prem. And then, we had a CRM business that we built at Microsoft. And they were actually two very disparate divisions within Microsoft. And so, we had, effectively, competing ERP systems and then a CRM system.
And so, as we looked forward to what does the world look like in 10 years, particularly as customers are going through the adoption of a digital platform, having these big, monolithic, siloed applications wasn't the direction that we needed to take for our customers.
And so, we actually took on the effort of bringing those assets together, converging them onto the Azure platform. So, we went from our on-prem and our hosted on-prem environment, rebuilt them onto Azure, and then we broke them down into purpose built applications. So, they're now aligned by marketing, sales, service, finance, operations and talent.
And we did that with this vision of how do we allow customers to easily adopt as they're going through their digital transformation. That was the goal and the North Star. And then, we built underneath those applications a unified dataset, something we call the Common Data Service, so we could not only share data freely across those applications, but we could also ingest data from other assets -- LinkedIn, or Office, or communication collaboration history, as well as our partner ecosystem.
And so, the core to our strategy has been how do we enable rapid, faster digital transformation and we unlock the data that has been, historically, very trapped in siloed applications. And so, that was the vision for Dynamics 365. And then, knowing that once you have all that data, you have to have an adaptability, an extensibility model, and that was the introduction of the Power Platform.
So, we're relatively old in the Microsoft world but new in the sort of new visions. So, Dynamics 365 was two years in November.
KASH RANGAN: Wow, congratulations. When you look at het competition in terms of feature functionality, etcetera, where are you with respect to the gap, or maybe you've caught up? What's your assessment of the state of the world?
ALYSA TAYLOR: I think as we've gone through this journey, one of the things that, as I talked about, was important for us is to be able to leverage kind of the entire Microsoft asset cloud, so being built on Azure, being able to deeply integrate and build with Office.
And so, again, when we think about our differentiation and where we think we have made strides, it is in that enabling of that data layer; so being able to ingest data across the applications at the data platform level, being able to extend it, customize it, be able to ingest data from all different sources so you're not just in a CRM set of data; and then, also having this co-build mentality.
So, we have our engineering teams across Microsoft 365 and Dynamics, and Azure co-building features that are deeply integrated in a way so you can do things like machine learning within Power BI. You have out of the box artificial intelligence within Dynamics 365. You have native communication with Office integration.
And so, that's very unique to us and we think that's a big differentiator when we think about Business Applications, because the market, as you guys all know, is highly fragmented. And so, what customers end up with is a collection of assets. And again, their data is sort of trapped in these different silos. And then, there's a cost to e-tail the data out to be able to analyze it to create new experiences.
KASH RANGAN: This is a part of Microsoft business we've not heard a lot from in the past, so I'm glad that we're having a chance to listen to your update. This is fascinating. You mentioned digital transformation. I'm just curious, if you take a step back, how do you define digital transformation, and what are your customers telling you about what they mean when they talk about digital transformation?
ALYSA TAYLOR: It's interesting. I actually was just down in Atlanta last week, and I did a keynote at Hitachi's customer event. And we talked about the Microsoft view on digital transformation. And we've had the pleasure of working with so many companies over the past couple years -- over the past decades -- as they've gone into this digital transformation, which is a big buzz words, as we all know, in the industry.
But when you look at it, there's really sort of four facets to digital transformation. There is sort of the what is the purpose and vision that you have as a company. You have to have that. We even talked about Dynamics 365. What's your North Star as you are going through an evolution? We talk about the unique potential that an organization has, so what is the sort of thing that they are either disrupting with an industry or what's the asset that they bring to bear?
One of the examples I gave was Walgreens and the fact that their unique potential is the fact that they have a retail outlet in the U.S. within five miles of each other. So, they have density and proximity.
Culture, like how are you building the culture of an organization. So, there's a lot of digital transformation that isn't related to tech, right, that is setting the sort of foundation.
And then, you get into capabilities and what are the capabilities for your people, what's the capabilities of your infrastructure and your assets.
And so, when we look at that component, when we look at the technical capabilities, and what's unique to an organization, we have this theory which is called the digital feedback loop, and it's something we talk about pretty widely. You'll hear Satya talk about it. He talked about it at Build. He'll talk about it at our upcoming conferences.
And it's this notion that you can take all components of an organization -- so, people, operations, products -- and you can digitally connect them. So, you have sort of all facets of an organization. At the center is data. You're able to apply intelligence over that, and then digitally connect every aspect.
And so, think about a world where you have a unique view of your customers connected to your products connected to your backend operations with a 365-degree view that your employees have. And so, in the capabilities realm of digital transformation, that's what we talk about as the digital feedback loop.
KASH RANGAN: Got it. Excellent. What would be your goal or the division's goal for the next two-to-three years? How do you envision the platform playing out in the future?
ALYSA TAYLOR: You'll see both in our upcoming -- we have our summit that's coming up in June, and then going into the fall, we are continuing to release new capabilities in the portfolio. And so, it is both capabilities adding in new capabilities of the Power BI, like text recognition, cognitive services, being able to do machine learning; and then, actually new modules. So, we released a set of new AI capabilities customer insights we just released, which is our CPD platform product insights we'll talk about.
So, there's all of these different AI out of the box capabilities that will augment the Dynamics 365 portfolio, and then will continue to build in new capabilities, both across the Power Platform and Dynamics.
KASH RANGAN: Great. So, all the capabilities you just mentioned, from a customer perspective, how would they benefit, maybe a scenario where somebody could take advantage of all these features? How would that look like?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Yeah. There's so many different kind of examples that you could give, but if you go back to what I was talking about with that digital feedback loop, it's being able to bring the technology to bear to enable that digital feedback loop.
So a great example that we give is H&M, which is a global retailer. And they actually started with -- they have a very large ERP system that governs their entire financials. And then, they started a boutique line called Afound, but they needed a rapid supply chain management system. They've had to modernize their operations because, to be able to go from mass scale -- which H&M is known for -- to be able to be in a more boutique, nimble-type scenario, they needed a different supply chain management company. And so, they started with Dynamics 365.
Then, they expanded from there into being able to have better insight into their customer. So they adopted Dynamics 365 Customer Service. Then, they wanted their employees in store to be able to have real-time access to the inventory, so they took all of that data and built a unique PowerApp to be able to have their employees have that view of the backend operations and the customer purchasing history.
And so, you see this evolution of kind of being able to start in one area, grow over time, and use the technology to start to connect all the different components across an organization.
And the latest thing that they're doing is we have a set of mixed reality applications that we brought into the portfolio, and they are using HoloLens and the Dynamics 365 mixed reality applications to do a smart mirror in store. So, you can actually have a mirror that will recommend that you must look, if you have a sweater and you wanted it to be different -- bigger, longer, shorter. So actually, they're piloting that in their flagship store on Fifth Avenue.
KASH RANGAN: So, what would I look like if I adopted Shankar's hairstyle and Converse?
ALYSA TAYLOR: You'll have to ask the mirror. We'll consult. Better get to New York.
KASH RANGAN: (Laughter.) Excellent. Can't wait for that stuff. A couple more questions on the Dynamics, and we want to shift over to the Power Platform, which is truly exciting, at least based on what we've uncovered so far. Sales navigator, any revenue synergies, is that something under your purview, or are you able to talk about how that LinkedIn product interacts with Dynamics? Are you seeing any synergies?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Absolutely. As I talked about, that Common Data Service, right, being able to ingest data assets like LinkedIn and the professional network. We actually released about a year and a half ago a unique offering which is called Microsoft Relationship Sales, which is the combination of LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365 for Sales. And we've seen very high growth in that because what we find is, when people are modernizing their sales environment, they also want to be able to incorporate social selling, relationship selling; and so, the synergy between that. And then, we have unique integration between Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365 for Sales.
KASH RANGAN: This is not what I was planning on asking, but you mention Sales Navigator and the way people sell is changing. There is a notion that sales automation is very mature area in the cloud. You've got the number one company in the space not growing that rapidly. Do you think that market still has growth opportunities, not just Sales Navigator, but just the idea of selling, sales automation in the cloud? What are your thoughts on that market, if you have any?
ALYSA TAYLOR: I have tons. I hopefully should have some thoughts on this. (Laughter.) So, I think that there is the core CRM system, which are the entities that define contacts, right? That is a very mature market. What you see right now coming into sales automation, and you see both Salesforce, Dynamics as well as new, emerging SaaS players is in areas of being able to take all of that data -- think about what kind of rich data you have in a CRM system -- and be able to do things like predictive forecasting to be able to understand pipelines trends and analysis, to be able to coach real-time; so being able to bring in cognitive services. And so, if you have an inside seller, being able to coach based on the call sentiment analysis.
This is all things that are new that are coming in that are augmenting the core SFA. And it's a really exciting space because machine learning, AI capability, the ability to bring in chat into the portfolio. You're seeing that is where the expansive growth is in SFA.
KASH RANGAN: That's very cool, very cool. The future looks very interesting. We thought 25 years back, or so, that sales automation is exciting. And 25 years later, it's still exciting. (Laughter.)
ALYSA TAYLOR: It's still exciting. I demoed on stage, as a sales manager, being able to see across my sales team who has sort of -- their pipeline trends, but then also, who has negative sentiment analysis from the interactions that they have with their customers, either through e-mail or phone, and then being able to real-time coach, and then recommend new opportunities through LinkedIn.
So, that integration and the AI capabilities coming in are quite exciting.
KASH RANGAN: Excellent. Now, moving on to Power Platform, it looks like it's got all the making -- when you look at the whole family, the PowerApps, Power BI, and Flow -- I want to talk about Flow because not many people know about Flow. We would love to hear your thoughts on Flow.
ALYSA TAYLOR: You're going to hear lots about Flow soon. (Laughter.)
KASH RANGAN: Okay, excellent. We're in the flow here. Yeah, we're getting in the flow here. It feels like it's destructive. It can open up a large stem, all the things the things that we look for, investors like, and a lot of white space as well. Can you just walk us through the thought process behind why Microsoft created this whole Power Platform?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Absolutely. And so, when we think about it, it's in the Business Applications family, but Power Platform is a set of technology that spans across all assets of the Microsoft cloud. And it was designed very much as a citizen or a self-service platform; so being able to analyze, automate and act on your data. And so, if you haven't heard, we think data is our customers' greatest asset. And so, how do you leverage that data?
And so, PowerApps is the ability in a visual drag and drop environment to rapidly create modern applications. And we've just seen incredible ground swell of citizen developers gravitating to that. And for those of you that have been in the industry for a while -- I've been in the developer space for years -- you've seen these sort of citizen developer platforms come and go, but you always hit a wall with them.
And the unique thing about PowerApps is what we call no cliffs extensibility into Azure. So, you can actually bring in Azure services -- Azure app services, machine learning -- into PowerApp so you have the integration directly into Azure. So the app can grow up or actually leverage more mature features beyond the citizen developer platform. And so, it's one where we've just seen explosive adoption to the individual --
KASH RANGAN: I'm sorry, what is a citizen developer platform?
ALYSA TAYLOR: A citizen developer is defined as somebody that is not a professional developer, so an analyst, somebody that is doing unique business process functions.
KASH RANGAN: Even I can do it, right?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Yes, you can. There's a great story of a security guard in Heathrow airport. He's been on stage with us. It's a phenomenal story. He basically was a security guard and looked around and saw all the paper-based process, taught himself PowerApps through the
community online, launched the first Heathrow PowerApp. They now have more than a dozen PowerApps. He's been promoted from the security guard to corporate IT and is helping them modernize their app environment. It's a phenomenal story.
And so, we have hundreds of those stories of people that -- you know, I built a PowerApp for our dinner club. Anyone can do it.
KASH RANGAN: I think to my team to issue an edict. We need to build a PowerApp to get a leg up. (Laughter.)
ALYSA TAYLOR: I like it. I like it.
KASH RANGAN: Or a model. We need to have them be explosive.
ALYSA TAYLOR: I'll come back next year and we can demo your PowerApp.
KASH RANGAN: (Laughter.) Exactly. I'd love to do that. Explosively predictive of the business trends in the software sector, company by company, business by business.
ALYSA TAYLOR: So to your question, that's a citizen developer. It's not somebody that codes as a predominant part of their day-to-day job.
KASH RANGAN: Are there certain use cases that are germane to PowerApps that have not been already automated and handled quite well in the industry, because development drag and drops have been around for decades. So is it a specific niche that you start off with that you excel at with PowerApps?
ALYSA TAYLOR: So, I think the visual drag and drop, it's done in what's called an expression language. So, you can do it like you're writing PowerPoint, or a script in Excel. So, it's very easy to learn. Like I said, there's the visual drag and drop elements to it.
The interesting thing about PowerApps, unlike previous development environments that were low code, no code -- which is another way of saying citizen development -- is that IT couldn't govern them. And so, PowerApps is Azure AD authenticated. So, corporate IT can actually see all the other PowerApps. So when you have a security guard building an app, IT, that's actually normally their worst nightmare.
But now, within, because it authenticates at the org level, corporate IT can actually see all of the apps that have been built. And so, you have this mix of very easy to adopt with the ability to integrate into more advanced features, and then the corporate IT governance on that. And so, that's why you see rapid sort of adoption at the individual level, but then you see organizations adopting broadly and standardizing.
KASH RANGAN: Is it still too early, or do you have any customer examples of how large companies have built some interesting apps with PowerApps?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Absolutely.
KASH RANGAN: Besides the Heathrow security guard who got the promotion. (Laughter.)
ALYSA TAYLOR: It's a great story. I have a video that'll make you teary-eyed. So, we have Chevron. Chevron is a great example of it started as, for their oil rigs, looking at how they're modernizing their out platform. The fascinating thing about Chevron was they were talking
about when you're on an oil rig and you're switching applications, the UI consistency is incredibly important. And so, they actually are now broadly adopting the modernizing of hundreds of their apps on PowerApps, standardizing for this reason so that they can not only have a modern app platform, but they have a consistent UI so that will minimize security and risk with those that are servicing oil rigs.
KASH RANGAN: Got it. The white space for PowerApps, where do you see the opportunities exist in a way that others have not exploited? Have you already answered that question, or is there anything else you'd like to add with respect to that?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Well, the app development is such a -- like, just if you look at it from a pure TAM perspective, it's a very large TAM. It's always a set of enterprise applications. That's an ongoing investment area for organizations. And so, I think it has a large addressable market and the unique concept that we talked about of being able to do both end user adoption, and at the corporate standardization level. We think that PowerApps is a very big growth area for us.
KASH RANGAN: Excellent. Now, switching over to Flow, what is Flow?
ALYSA TAYLOR: So when we talk about Power Platform, and I talked about there's an automate component of it. So, Flow is our modern automation platform. So, we have hundreds of connectors that allow you to connect different disparate data sources and then automate different tasks. And so, Flow, like RPA is obviously another kind of very hot term in the industry right now; and so, that process automation.
Flow allows the same thing that we talked about PowerApps, which is a very easy way to do automation across business functions. Same type of concept, very easy to do is then statement, rapid adoption of Flow as well, particularly with our Office users. We've seen high Flow adoption within the Office users.
KASH RANGAN: So, Flow works with PowerApps, obviously. You can build custom applications.
ALYSA TAYLOR: Yes, it's embedded in PowerApps. Yeah. So within any business entity, you can automate. And that's why the hundreds of connectors are so important, because you can connect different data. And then, you can do it in the consumer space as well.
KASH RANGAN: This whole area of workflow more about speaking to the flow the way you describe it, has gotten quite a bit of attention. There's another company, ServiceNow, that has been talking about workflow automation as a big opportunity. Why now, and what are Microsoft's strengths approaching this workflow market? Only two companies have spoken about it. Why is there so much excitement here?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Well, if I look at it from why it matters to an organization, because there are so many tasks, particularly when you get into industries like manufacturing. There's so much opportunity, like job task analysis, to be able to automate those. They're very manual today and they're costly, and they're error prone. And so, being able to automate those is something that companies are now looking at what is a way to do that.
I would say ServiceNow and Microsoft are the big players that are talking about it, but there's a bunch of emerging companies -- UiPath, like if you think about it in the RPA space, Automation Anywhere. There's just quite a few that are emerging in this space to able to take those tasks that are repeatable and automate them.
And when we think about Flow in particular and why I say you'll hear us talk a lot more about that, there's some unique things that I think we bring to bear for Flow, which is, one, we have the predetermined connectors. So, you can connect across any data source both on-prem as well as in the cloud. And then, you have the ability with that Office integration.
So if you think about it from a tasks perspective, you have your frontline worker that typically has some type of Office application that they're using. And so, being able to automate both on the backend and on the frontend is something that's very unique that we bring to bear in the automation space, or workflow space.
KASH RANGAN: So far, I think a lot of us who are under the impression that -- this is more of a statement, not a question -- that ServiceNow is the only one talking about it, now you've got Microsoft talking about workflow automation. So, it's going to be truly exciting.
So I just want to make a quick pause to check to see before we get into BI if there's any questions for our presenter. Do you have a question, Shankar? Go ahead.
ALYSA TAYLOR: Absolutely. It's a great question. So while Flow is obviously a great asset within Dynamics to be able to automate different workflow tasks, as I was saying, the adoption within Flow has actually been our highest within our Office space. But you can use Flow across any data set of assets. And so, the go to market is a standalone offering.
The reason we're sort of coming out more broadly now with Flow is we're changing the business model around Flow so that it is widely adoptable and broadly available to corporations as a standalone offer.
KASH RANGAN: Brilliant. Moving to Power BI, it looks like we hear a lot about Power BI these days. Why is this product so unique?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Well, so it's in that same family of when we were talking about the Power Platform. The theme of Power Platform is self-serve, right, and the very ability to do self-service, in this case, analytics. So, Power BI is very akin to PowerApps in terms of the adoption pattern. So, you see analysts using Power BI, graduating beyond Excel functions to be able to do analytics in a way that is a very low code, no code type of environment; so self-service BI. And then, because Power BI is effectively built on an Azure Data Lake, you can ingest all different types of data to be able to do that BI self-analyzation, and at the corporate level as well.
So, you see there's a common theme between PowerApps and Power BI, which is enabling self-service at the individual level, and then what is the sort of corporate function as well. And so, BI in general has really matured as a category. And so, Power BI, again, we've brought in -- we actually just released being able to bring in cognitive services, text recognition, new AI capabilities, and then having this direct import export into Azure Data Lake. So, some really enterprise-grade features that have come into a self-serve BI function.
KASH RANGAN: So, it doesn't feel like it's just a replacement cycle, or is it a replacement cycle with a traditional BI landscape? Or is it something more than a replacement cycle?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Well, I think you see both, right? Again, it comes down to when you're doing -- if you are using BI to analyze a particular function or a department, but then you see as adoption grows throughout an organization, then you actually see the replacement cycle come in of legacy BI.
KASH RANGAN: So are you seeing that replacement happen right now of all the old 15-year-old technologies, 20-year-old technologies?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Yes. Yes, we do see that. And it was interesting, another customer story. I was with the CEO of Air New Zealand. And he actually said, "If I had gone through the process of putting out an RFP for modernizing our legacy BI systems," he was like, "We would have been in multiyear going through all this evaluation." And he was like, "I was just told by the analysts on my team that we were going to Power BI," because it was so pervasive within his leadership team and within his analysts community. And so, you see this groundswell that's influencing the modernization cycle and the upgrade of the legacy cycles.
KASH RANGAN: Excellent. Let me look at this whole BI space. What are the analytic technologies that excite you the most as far as future potential, the fundamental analytics technologies? Anything that you could point to?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Well, I touched on it a little bit, but it's kind of a -- if you think about cognitive services within analytics, that's a very exciting space.
KASH RANGAN: Yeah, tell us more. What is cognitive services?
ALYSA TAYLOR: So if you think about facial recognition or speech recognition, so being able to, within Power BI, analyze like we talked about for inside sales, being able to analyze and understand call patterns of your inside tele-vendors. Being able to do that, to bring in sort of speech recognition and then being able to analyze patterns on it.
The other thing that I think that we've seen particularly within power BI that is unique in this area is being able to actually do trends within Power BI. So, I get an alert every day that says certain dashboards have had new data, or new functions analyzed, and I get a report that actually tells me across all my dashboards what has changed. So, you actually see analytics within analytics, which gets exciting.
And then, the other thing that you'll hear more about from us is being able to do deeper, more embedded analytics, so not having to go into a BI application, but how you can actually take advantage of the rich analytics capability in things like PowerPoint, Excel, so continuing to build that out in the applications that people use every day. Having that self-serve BI embedded, that's a very exciting space in the analytics.
And Google just talked about it. They just came out with talking about their integration with Google Sheets. You see this move to going to where people are every single day to be able to do analytics versus pulling them out of the day-to-day applications.
KASH RANGAN: Got it. You also have this co-competition aspect with analytics technologies who want the analytics companies to run on the Azure cloud. So how do you see the partnership wanting other BI companies running a cloud versus wanting to be a BI powerhouse yourself?
ALYSA TAYLOR: Well, I think that's the world we're in. The Business Applications space, I think, by definition is cooperation -- or co-competition. (Laughter.)
KASH RANGAN: You have SAP running.
ALYSA TAYLOR: We have SAP, we have Adobe. And so, if anyone in the audience has heard, we
that, it's across Adobe, Microsoft and SAP. And the reason that we came together, even though there is competition at the app layer between all three companies, we're committed to being able to have this open data standard so that you can actually have data and a common data layer shared freely across the applications. So think about it as bringing together data, enriching it, and then flowing it back up through the app layer.
And so, when you center on this notion that applications should free data and not house them, then a lot of the -- that's where we come from when we have partnerships across the ecosystem. It's in pursuit of freeing customers' data so that they can get more from their data.
KASH RANGAN: Historically, you've seen the BI landscape evolve, and then the applications companies, they're somewhat late to the game but they end up getting there. You saw this Cognos, Hyperion business objects, probably half a dozen analytics, pure standalone companies. And ultimately, companies start to build, they were not as good as a specialist, but then they ended up being good enough. And they ended up acquiring the Pure-play BI companies.
How do you see this playing out in this cycle? Is there something different that makes standalone analytics technologies more viable in the long run? Or do you think the system's -- I guess you both -- you have a Dynamics business and you have a BI business. But your broad thoughts on how this space evolves. Is it going to be the domain of the companies that have all the business data in the RFP system, or do the pure BI companies end up being more viable, that they can be the best and still have a thriving business without having any RFP or HCM, or a CRM system?
ALYSA TAYLOR: I actually think about it slightly differently because I think those -- and you'll see this with what Salesforce announced with MuleSoft. You see this actually with some of the work that SAP is doing, as well. The race I think is not at the app layer. Actually, the race is at the data layer. And so, the more that you can aggregate data, whether it be from an ERP system, or from a CRM system, or name your on-prem legacy system, and then have that data, be able to analyze it, to automate it, to build up new applications on it. I think that is actually the future more so than the Pure-play BI versus those that are good enough.
The interesting thing in this space right now is it used to be, historically, in all definitions -- BI, ERP, CRM -- Pure-play, and you see every single one of them expanding, knowing that it can't just be about having one function. It's about how do you cross pollinate and be able to maximize that data and use it in new ways, and reason over that data, and garner intelligence, because in the world that exists today of doing ETL, it's expensive. It's time-consuming. There's latency.
And so, there's this natural gravitational pull to be like how do I take all of this business data I have --
KASH RANGAN: ETL never sounded good from the get go. (Laughter.) Extract, Transform (laughter).
ALYSA TAYLOR: Yeah, exactly. (Laughter.) That's why no one ever defines the acronym.
KASH RANGAN: Excruciation, Torture.
ALYSA TAYLOR: (Laughter.) Expensive. So, I think that is the race right now more so than the kind of app layer.
KASH RANGAN: Anybody have questions? We might actually call it a few minutes early if there aren't any.
(Break for direction.)
PARTICIPANT: In the Flow area of your business, when you get to market, who do you usually come up against and how does that work when you go into a new customer to win business?
ALYSA TAYLOR: So, ServiceNow is probably the largest in the workflow automation space. In the RPA space, you find UiPath, Automation Anywhere as well as the emerging players that are very industry specific, like Drishti that's really more on the sort of process automation with things like perception analytics being able to do image recognition.
So, I think ServiceNow and actually Pegasus, too. They've sort of redefined into kind of the RPA category into the digital DPM category. So, Pegasus and ServiceNow are probably the two biggest.
Flow for us, as I talked about, is largely a seated-free product. And so, we are evolving the business models, and more to come on that. So when you talk about an RFP, we are right now at a high adoption curve of Flow, but it's not a standalone business that we're monetizing yet.
KASH RANGAN: Any other questions?
Well, if there aren't any questions, I just want to make a very special mention. The topic of women in executive leadership of prominence, particularly in the technology industry, is something that we pay close attention to. So it is a real delight to have someone from Microsoft, a very rare representation in this conference in particularly to have a women executive to present. It is really awesome to see that. So my hope is that in 5 to 10 years from now we will have more women like you presenting on behalf of their companies and we will have more of our clientele be women. It is a topical that is close to me because my wife is an executive in the tech industry. I also make it very clear that my team needs to be fifty-fifty, women and men.
Congratulation to you and thank so much for your time and attention.
ALYSA TAYLOR: Thank you.