The CEO of Microsoft Ukraine, Jan Peter de Jong, shared his vision for the next 10 years. Life will change dramatically thanks to IT giants, technology is changing our lives. By the way, Jan Peter de Jong, became the head of Microsoft Ukraine earlier this year.
Why did you change your activities and quit astronomy?
I admired astronomy. I looked at very distant galaxies, observing the earliest phases of the existence of the Universe, and did not sleep, because it was so amazing. But I lacked the interaction with colleagues and clients, the dynamics, the ability to achieve goals and influence the development of the whole country that exists now.
Let’s talk about Microsoft. What products do you consider most important for your development in the coming years?
Today, Microsoft is focused on helping its customers conduct digital transformation. We provide them with the tools they need for this, such as the cloud and artificial intelligence. For example, in neighboring Poland, we helped with the transformation of the tax administration. With our help, he has a platform for filing tax returns via the Internet. This format is convenient for everyone. Citizens can fill out declarations at a convenient time, without leaving home, and in addition they have the opportunity to see their data for past years. And the employees, in turn, do not have to deal with a pile of envelopes and papers. And if you connect artificial intelligence to the work, which is able to analyze data and identify all oddities and inconsistencies in it, then with its help you can significantly reduce the number of errors in declarations and reduce the likelihood of fraud.
This is a great example of a digital transformation that facilitates the interaction between the state and its citizens, but I like the other.
Agriculture and Microsoft
I am talking about precision farming. About satellites that can take detailed pictures of the planet’s surface. Using these images, as well as probes in the ground and drones, we can provide the farmer with a clear picture of soil moisture in the field. Possessing these data, as well as a tractor with a GPS and a device for the precise planting of seeds, he can plant seeds with greater efficiency, selecting sites for them with better conditions. Indeed, some require wetter soil, while others require drier soil. This will not only increase productivity, but also reduce the use of pesticides, since plant diseases occur when they develop in uncomfortable conditions, for example, with too high humidity.
In Ukraine, which is famous for its agricultural products, this would open up great opportunities. Moreover, working with local farmers, we found that a lot of water and fuel are consumed here for field irrigation. But knowing exactly the moisture of the soil, and having a reliable weather forecast for several days, these expenses can also be reduced. We already have experience in introducing similar technologies in other countries, and we hope that the first pilot projects in Ukraine will start next summer.
Does Microsoft rely on collaboration with governments and farmers? Previously, the company was better known for products for a wider audience, such as Windows or Xbox?
This is part of our own transformation. About 6-7 years ago, we realized: no matter how good the portfolio you mentioned, we can strive for more, have more influence. Therefore, we began to transform ourselves.
At the beginning of 2020, the Edge Chromium browser will be released. What argument would you encourage users to abandon Chrome, which is the absolute market leader, in favor of the new Microsoft browser?
I would say that Chromium combines the best of both worlds: Microsoft’s experience in creating browsers and the virtues of free software. This will give the final consumer more flexibility in choosing the device on which it will be possible to use the browser, as well as more frequent updates aimed at improving security and functionality.
Microsoft recently conducted an experiment in Japan, introducing a 4-day work week for employees for a month. Do you think that companies should really give up the 5-day work week in favor of the shortened option?
I believe that in the future many companies will be able to cope with work in 4, or even 3 days, if they provide their employees with the appropriate tools. Artificial intelligence and robotics can take part of the load off people, leaving them with tasks that require inventiveness and a creative approach. So with the right technology, a shorter work week is possible. However, there is one important “but.” I believe that technology is developing very fast. To keep up with all the changes, these 1-2 free days should not be days off. They will need to be dedicated to training and development.
What technologies and gadgets will become the “hot topic” next year?
Next year will bring incredible changes, and they will be quite tangible. Technology and solutions will be based on augmented reality and artificial intelligence, combining which you can get incredible products. Already today there are applications that can not only display the names of stars and constellations on the screen of your smartphone, but even find a plane flying in the sky and display data about it. Simply point the camera at him, and you will find out where he flew from, where he was heading, and when he would arrive there. These are examples of augmented reality – an extra layer on top of our reality.
Microsoft has a vision of how this technology can benefit, for example, the same farmers. With the help of HoloLens glasses and augmented reality, they can see what disease has affected the plants on the field. Or imagine an engineer in an enterprise who needs to replace a specific pipe. On the glasses, you can display the building plan and the location of the engineer, as well as mark the very pipe that needs to be replaced. Similarly, they can help both doctors and police.
However, it is important for companies to remember that when creating such technologies, privacy and security must be paramount. Microsoft adheres to other principles: fairness, inclusiveness, reliability and transparency. This means that before these technologies all people should be equal, they should be accessible to everyone, they should not be allowed to break or be hacked, and the proposed solutions should be justified.
Even 10 years ago it was hard to imagine that people all over the world would live in social networks. What innovation, which is just emerging today, will also change each person’s life in the next 5-10 years?
It will be artificial intelligence. It is a fact? that artificial intelligence is an incredibly powerful technology. It already has an impact on the medical and transport sectors, contributes to the improvement of the environment. In the future, its development will only accelerate. She will contribute to the progress of personalized medicine, aimed at each person individually. It will help reduce traffic and emissions. And maybe even with its help, things will become more durable, because artificial intelligence will be able to predict breakdowns before they occur. Yes, and getting accessories will be easier if you use 3D printing. For example, if any part breaks down in your car, then you can not transport it from another country, but print it right here in Ukraine. The benefits of this are inexhaustible.
We thank Jan Peter de Jong for an informative interview. And in turn, we promise to monitor the development of Microsoft Ukraine and help develop our country!