When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and his data team took the stage in San Francisco on Wednesday to talk about the company’s strategy, they used a few terms that are not yet in the vernacular. But they soon will be.

And while you’re certainly welcome to figure out what they are and, more importantly, what they mean once you hear them, we figure that, at least some of readers, will want to be among the first to use them.

Say What?

So, if you’re one of the cool kids on the block, here’s you crib sheet:

Data Culture: No, when Nadella talked about “data culture” he wasn’t referring to the geeks in your workplace, or on a Palo Alto street, that wear t-shirts that say things like “I Like Big Data, I Cannot Lie” or “My What Big Data You Have”.

A data culture, according to Nadella, isn’t just about technology.

“It’s about changing culture so that every organization, every team and every individual is empowered to do great things because of the data at their fingertips.  This means bringing together people, IT and developers to create a cultural shift that is just as important as systems and infrastructure. In a data culture, everyone benefits when more people can ask questions and get answers. In a data culture, the entire effectiveness of an organization can elevate. This is especially true when every employee can harness the power of data once only reserved for data scientists and tap into the power of natural language, self-service business insights and visualization capabilities that work inside familiar apps such as Office.”

Ubiquitous Computing: Where ever you go, whatever you do, there’s a data generating and/or data gathering device involved, be it a sensor, a phone, a thermostat, or possibly even a toothbrush. Welcome to the world of ubiquitous computing.

Ambient Intelligence: No, we’re not talking about the stuff that the NSA is busy siphoning and analyzing every time we make a move, draw a breath, or speak. Or even that they are taking subsequent action on…

Wait a minute, yes we are, sort of… but that’s assuming we have the right permissions.

Nadella said that there are three core parts to ambient intelligence: People, Data, and Analytics.

"You have this enormous capacity to reason over all of this digitized information," said Nadella. “When these devices around us gain the capacity to listen to us, respond to us, understand us and act on our behalf, we enter into an entirely new era. The era of ambient intelligence.”

“Office as a Canvas”- No, OaaC will not be the acronym for the UI of Microsoft’s data-driven world, but Microsoft Office will be the canvas for your data, at least that’s what Eron Kelly, General Manager, SQL Server Marketing said.

“Reach” – It’s “the ability to really connect with people regardless of where they are, the ability for customers to connect with companies, companies to connect with customers, to have great reach both inside and outside the firewall,” said Kevin Turner, Chief Operating Officer of Microsoft.

Learning Opportunities

“Power Map” - Microsoft’s Power BI suite offers the ability to view Excel data in a colorful and cool Bing map. “It’s like going from the Andy Griffith Show (Excel) to NCIS (Power Map),” said Kelly.


“Big Data in a Box”-Other vendors might call this a big data appliance, but Big Data in a Box sounds so much more fun to work with than Microsoft Analytics Platform system, right?

What makes Microsoft’s offering special, however, isn’t only its name. It’s that it allows you to run queries across both traditional relational data warehouses and relational data stored in Hortonworks’ impressive Hadoop distribution.

“Data Dividends” – We all like a payoff and that’s exactly what data dividends are. There’s a formula you can use if you want to realize them: Data +Analytics+ People @Speed

Ready to Cultivate a Data Culture?

“It takes a data platform built for the era of ambient intelligence with data, analytics and people to let companies get the most value from their data and realize a data culture,” saidQuentin Clark, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft.

 He believes that Microsoft is uniquely positioned to provide that platform – through the speed of in-memory, the Microsoft cloud and the reach that only Microsoft can provide.

“We’re built on the world’s most widely-deployed database, connected to the cloud through Azure, delivering insights to billions through Office and understanding the world through our new IoT service – it is truly a data platform for a new era. “

Title image by Marcio Jose Bastos Silva / Shutterstock.