Today Satya Nadella sent an email to all Microsoft employees, congratulating them for their efforts to support their company and the world in combatting the effects of the COVID-19 crisis and helping first responders around the world be more efficient and productive in their own efforts.
What is striking is how many different ways Microsoft is helping, from the mundane of blocking COVID-19 spam, to donating Teams free to the NHS, to esoteric ones such as mapping the immune system’s response to COVID-19, and many, many more.
COVID-19 is impacting everyone around the world and every aspect of our daily lives: our social interactions, our family life, our communities, and, of course, how all of us work at Microsoft. As I shared at our all-hands on Thursday, I want to share my deepest thanks to each of you for the creative and collaborative ways you have stepped up to support our company and our customers during this crisis. It’s times like this that remind us that each of us has something to contribute and the importance of coming together as a community. Please know that the senior leadership team and I are thinking about you and prioritizing the health and safety of you and your families first and foremost. We are meeting and working each day on how we can best support you during this time. And it’s been so gratifying to see how you are pitching in to help.
It is in times of great disruption and uncertainty that our ability to stay grounded in our sense of purpose and remain true to our identity is of the utmost importance. I’ve reflected on this as I’ve seen the great work across our company and around the world in the past several weeks.
At the start of the year (which in some ways feels so long ago), I wrote on LinkedIn about the purpose of a corporation, using Oxford professor Colin Mayer’s definition of “producing profitable solutions to problems of people and planet” and how our company mission is aligned to this concept. This rings true now more than ever, as we work to address the impact of COVID-19.
We are steadfast in our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. No one company is going to solve a challenge like this alone, and it’s going to take the private and public sectors working together to turn the tide on COVID-19. Our unique role as a platform and tools provider allows us to connect the dots, bring together an ecosystem of partners, and enable organizations of all sizes to build the digital capability required to address these challenges. During this extraordinary time, it is clear that software, as the most malleable tool ever created, has a huge role to play across every industry and around the world. Our responsibility is to ensure that the tools we provide are up to the task.
I’m proud of how we are adopting a first responder mindset across the company, working with so many customers on the front lines, including governments, health providers, schools, food suppliers, and other commercial customers critical to the continuity and stability of services in every country. There’s no doubt that the workflow of our jobs is changing fast, with many of you doing so much of your work remotely for the first time, some while also caring for children at home. I myself am learning, as I’m sharing a home office with my two teenage daughters and juggling between their eLearning schedules and my Teams meetings. There is no playbook for this and having that deep empathy and understanding for each other’s situations is needed now more than ever. I’ve seen countless examples of colleagues across the company stepping up to meet this challenge – both the challenge of their own circumstances and that of their customers.
We’re providing critical infrastructure for the communities where we operate, and they are counting on us. Examples abound: In healthcare, our technology is being used for telemedicine, enabling user-intuitive solutions to share data and access critical information. St. Luke’s University Health Network in Pennsylvania is using Teams to video chat with patients most vulnerable to COVID-19. Last week, we released a new Power Platform template to help customers share information and collaborate during a crisis, and it has already been installed by more than 2,000 customers around the world. Swedish Hospital and other local hospitals in Seattle are using Power Apps and Power BI to manage their bed count and inventory of critical supplies and share that information with others across the region. Johns Hopkins University has created an interactive dashboard to visualize and track COVID-19 cases in real time. All the data collected is available via a GitHub repository, and the solution is hosted by our partner Esri’s ArcGIS mapping and analysis software, on Azure. Another partner of ours, Blue Yonder, is taking data from public health sources like the CDC and combining it with customer data to generate critical insights on how a customer’s supply chain might be impacted during this pandemic.
The CDC itself has released an assessment tool built on our healthcare bot service that can quickly assess the symptoms and risk factors for people concerned about infection. Using AI, the bot suggests a next course of action, such as contacting a provider or, for those who do not need in-person medical care, managing the illness safely at home. Other health providers in the U.S. and Europe are also using the service, fielding more than 1 million messages per day. Most importantly, the solution is freeing up doctors, nurses, administrators, and other healthcare professionals to provide critical care to those who need it most.
Across the public sector, we’re working with governments to help them engage citizens, share guidance, and enable employees to work remotely. Governments in Italy, Kuwait, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and many other countries are using Microsoft 365 to coordinate their response and our bot services to keep citizens informed. And agencies in Canada, Ireland, and the U.S. are using Power Apps and the Power Platform to streamline processes and help employees in various agencies communicate effectively.
In education, schools and universities around the world are turning to Teams for remote learning: A professor at University of Bologna in Italy shared how the school moved 90 percent of courses for its 80,000 students online to Teams within 3 days – certainly a first in the university’s 900-plus year history. And an elementary school in Japan hosted its graduation on Minecraft, building its own virtual assembly hall and seating to maintain the sense of community and belonging so important in times like this.
In security, we’re using our AI and human intelligence capabilities to stop attacks designed to take advantage of the angst caused by the virus. As part of a recent spear-phishing campaign, attackers created emails to look like legitimate supply-chain reports related to COVID-19. Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection identified and blocked the attack in transit and shared signals with the Microsoft Defender service to protect all our customers.
And, we’re seeing organizations of all sizes in every sector adopt Teams and Microsoft 365 to enable their employees to work remotely, while staying productive, collaborative, and fostering a sense of community. Accenture is averaging 150 million minutes in Teams meetings each week, which is staggering, while companies like Icertis are relying on our cloud to ensure employees with high-network bandwidth requirements can stay productive from home.
We also know that technology has a role to play in accelerating progress for solutions to the pandemic. We are collaborating with research institutions to create an open, machine readable dataset of all scientific literature on COVID-19. Our hope is the content will help researchers develop deeper understandings and approaches to addressing the pandemic. We are expanding our existing partnership with Adaptive Biotechnologies to map the immune system’s response to COVID-19 and will make the data set freely accessible to speed development of treatments. And scientists are using GitHub, among other tools, to power a distributed computing project, which uses the personal computers of volunteers to assist researchers developing potential therapeutics.
Finally, we are mobilizing across the company to address the broader societal and economic impact of the virus. To address the significant hardship that lost work creates for employees and families, we are paying our employees in our retail stores and our hourly service providers at impacted sites around the world their regular pay during this time regardless of hours worked. And we’re providing relief funds for local communities, contributing financial support to those on the front line of the response and to impacted small businesses. Our Tech for Social Impact team is working with nonprofits and international organizations like the United Nations to facilitate remote work and assist in their crisis response work. Last week, we released additional solutions for nonprofits and international organizations, which will be free for six months.
More broadly, we are working to help keep people informed on COVID-19 developments. We’re bringing trusted news and facts to LinkedIn members, and Bing has launched a COVID-19 tracker to show updated infection statistics around the globe. And we are working together with Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others to elevate authoritative content across all our platforms and jointly combat fraud and misinformation about the virus.
These are just a few examples – and are by no means comprehensive – of the heroism across the company, and I want to thank you for your hard work and commitment during these tough times.
We are in unchartered territory. Much is unknown, and I know how unsettling and uncertain this feels. Like many of you, there have been times over the past weeks where it has felt overwhelming and all-encompassing for me. I worry about the health and safety of my family, my co-workers, and friends. My wife and I worry for her aging parents, who are far away from us in India. I see the struggle in our local community, and around the world, the empty streets and restaurants, and I wonder when our social fabric will be restored.
One truth that brings me comfort is just as this virus has no borders, its cure will have no borders. We are all in this together as a global community. For me, the best way I’ve found to get past this anxiety is to focus on what I can do each day to make a small difference. Each of us, wherever we are, has the opportunity to do the same – take an action driven by hope, a small step that makes things a bit better. And if everyone does something that makes the world a bit better, our collective work will in fact make the world a lot better, for the people we love, for our communities, for society.
I am proud every day to work at Microsoft and count all of you as my colleagues.