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The United Kingdom (UK) remains one of the world’s foremost tech and start-up economies. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, (WEF) the UK ranks 8th out of 143 in effectiveness for digital technology. However, as we see globally, the UK is not without its challenges, particularly as it relates to education and health. Based on a recently published and Microsoft-sponsored Economist Intelligence Unit study, 16-25-year-olds in the UK account for 40% of all those out of work, thus reducing their revenue contribution to the economy. And globally, more people are living longer with multiple medical conditions that require costly treatments, placing an increased burden on national healthcare systems.

At FutureDecoded in London this week I’ll be discussing how leaders across the world recognize that we’re in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution that is changing our current systems of production, distribution, and consumption. Never has there been a time when technology had the potential to impact the world more than today. And with this change comes enormous opportunity and the potential to change nearly every facet of life for the better. Yet, for a substantial part of the world, the benefits of these advanced technologies are elusive. Referencing back to the WEF, even in the most advanced economies, only certain segments of the population are benefitting from this digital economy. Many are left behind because of age, limited digital literacy, lack of access, or remoteness.

At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, and ensure that people all over the world have the tools, education, and technology to help transform their lives for the better. We are committed to helping public sector agencies remove the barriers to adoption through innovative technology and programs that have lasting impact.

FutureDecoded is part of our Empowerment Tour which has the goal of bringing our Digital Transformation through a Cloud for Global Good message and solutions to various business and public sector leaders around the world. During my Keynote and sessions, we plan to talk with leaders and showcase best practices for how technology can be a powerful enabler to solve many of the challenges facing businesses and agencies today as they focus on the future of our planet and its people. Specifically, I’ll be focusing on key UN Sustainable Development Goals that are relevant to the UK and where we believe ICT can rapidly accelerate progress, including #3 Good Health and Well-Being, #4 Education, #8 Economic Growth and #9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure.

Good Health and Well-Being

Let me share one story with you that relates to how we want to empower countries to address critical health and well-being gaps, and harnessing technology to drive down variations in quality of care.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) offers the blood service for England and the organ donation and transplant service for the whole of the UK. Completely reliant on volunteers registering to become donors, the service found that their systems were being overwhelmed when high profile celebrities helped with their recruitment campaigns and they needed a more agile, responsive system to manage demand and interact with their donors.

Working in conjunction with Microsoft, NHSBT has harnessed Azure to develop an online booking service, plus an app for mobile devices, that accelerates the donor registration process from around a month under the previous system to a matter of hours. These innovations have had the added bonus of appealing to a younger demographic which has increased donor numbers substantially, while significantly cutting infrastructure costs for the organization. NHSBT can often see traffic to their site increase 100-fold in a very short timeframe during recruitment campaigns and they have been thrilled at the agility that they now have with Azure to cope in this situation. They are delighted with the roll out of their new services: online donor registration and booking services, customer management system and the back end systems; all of which are enabling staff to focus on improving lives with the NHSBT services.

Technology is a powerful agent of change for solving many of the challenges facing countries today as they move toward sustainable growth and development models made possible through Digital Transformation.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter as we make more Empowerment Tour stops throughout the year and help our governments and business leaders digitally transform.