Microsoft Ignite Manchester 2022

Microsoft Ignite is an annual Microsoft technology conference showcasing its latest technologies and capabilities. This year I had the opportunity to attend the Microsoft Ignite Spotlight on the UK right on my doorstep in Manchester.

The venue

This year, the event happened at the O2 Victoria Warehouse.

Avanade at MS Ignite Manchester

As a premium sponsor, Avanade had a booth at the event with SME's ready for discussions as well as some Oculus Quest 2 headsets showing some VR projects. We also had a bunch of speakers to talk at sessions ranging from sustainability to data platform to using data & AI for good. I made sure to provide some coveted orange Avanade stickers on day 2!

The keynote

For those that missed the keynote, it can be seen here. Satya managed to deliver a LOT of information in what seemed like a single breath, not stopping to breathe. It was like drinking from the firehose - but lots of interesting announcements.

My favourite bits..

Microsoft Designer

I still can't wrap my head around all the possible use cases for this powerful tool and how many content creation pipelines it will disrupt. This magical tool seems to be able to create an original image of anything you describe.. allowing for further refinement.. mind blown!

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Microsoft Places

With the rise of remote working and the challenges of virtual collaboration, it makes perfect sense that Microsoft has created a solution to create online "spaces" for remote workers to congregate and interact.

I liked Satya's statement that "you need People in a Space to make it Place", I would go further and say you also need a Face in a Place in a space, not being a huge fan of Mesh Avatars given what we lose (non verbal communication which accounts for the majority of communication).

Mesh Avatars

My own personal opinion of Mesh Avatars is that we lose far more than we gain with Mesh Avatars. I completely understand the benefits they bring with telepresence and accessibility considerations but not being able to look at a video face on Teams and being able to see what the other person is thinking or if they are anxious, tired, confused, distracted, happy, angry, scared concerns me..

I don't think people quite understand the importance of non verbal communication when it comes to empathy..

Andy Burnham

Having never heard Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham speak before, I found his love for the region and future plans for growth to be very inspiring. He is completely right when he says that the Manchester and the north west have a long traditional of technical innovation that we should be proud of and continue to foster.

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Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE

I also enjoyed Anne-Marie talk about the work still left to do to continually push for equality in the tech industry, a fact that wasn't lost on me and the 90%+ male attendees.

Read more about the great work Anne-Marie Imafidon is doing.

Josie West and Simon Turner

My colleagues Josie and Simon described a project that Avanade had been involved in that combined data & AI to count puffin populations and digital twins to represent wind turbines. At one point Simon Turner picked up an XBox controller and started navigating around a 3D environment in a live demo, which was very cool.

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Catching up with / meeting new people

These events are also a fantastic way to catch up with others in the community and meet new people!

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Microsoft's success has been in its increasing number of diversifications and partnerships. They showcased their partnerships with Meta, OpenAI and more.

The sheer amount of announcements will take some time to get my head around, but i'm glad I attended in person as I often don't find the time to watch these events online.

A huge thanks and congratulations needs to be sent to the organisers, volunteers, speakers and hosts, without their hard work there is no conference.

What was your favourite part of Microsoft Ignite?

-- Lee