A look back: IoT on the fast track

Editor’s note: This post was updated on Jan. 13, 2015.

Just a few short months ago in December, I reflected on the busy year just passing, and the tremendous strides our team had collectively taken to push the frontier of the Internet of Things (IoT). Back then, I promised “The coming year will truly be one for the books” — and how right I was! I couldn’t have known then that six months later, I’d be at an event, together with 16,000 of our ecosystem partners, watching Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella run through a demonstration of a customer solution that harnesses the technologies at the heart of Microsoft’s IoT platform. From that writing on the last day of 2013 to today, IoT – in all of its vast and thrilling potential – has literally taken center stage.

As part of our ceaseless quest to innovate on Windows, we continue to deliver tools and technologies that extended the OS to a broader classification of devices within IoT. In April, we made the Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Update available in alignment with the Windows 8.1 Update, helping our customers stay current and continue to receive future updates, including security updates; helping ISV partners to deploy modern apps on Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry in a more streamlined way; and helping OEM partners enable Windows on lower-cost hardware. And just a few weeks ago, we released a Windows Developer Program for IoT, giving people more ways to experiment with Windows for IoT, bringing more and smaller devices into the Internet of Your Things.

This spring’s rapid-fire release of new Azure-based services allows enterprises to mine unprecedented business value from data across a range of line of business (LOB) assets, including devices and sensors. With each technology advance – from Azure IoT services, to Microsoft Azure Machine Learning (Azure ML) to powerful new data visualization capabilities and more – we’re changing the game for businesses, enabling new heights in productivity, profitability and possibility in this mobile-first, cloud-first world.

We highlighted a powerful example of this in the past few weeks: ThyssenKrupp Elevator is rising above the competition by redefining elevator reliability with predictive – make that pre-emptive — maintenance built on Azure ML.

In the past six months, we’ve shared more truly innovative partner and customer solutions that are driving value across industries. In retail, CocaCola Amatil’s connected beverage coolers and Tommy Hilfiger Japan’s mobile thin client-enabled inventory access are raising the bar on customer delight. In manufacturing, Lido Stone Works’ cloud-connected machine maintenance solution is saving millions in repair costs while boosting revenues. Henry Mayo Hospital’s new single sign-on system and mobile data access is saving physicians precious time – and making life better for patients. And we highlighted the potential of IoT to transform cities: Orleans Parish’s integrated new 9-1-1 system is cutting emergency response times and keeping the citizens and first responders of New Orleans safer. Now that’s impact!

To support the work of our expert partners who build these solutions, in February, we launched a new Intelligent Systems Competency. The program has been extremely well-received, growing from our initial 78 at launch to 230 partners today – a 300 percent increase in just four months. Microsoft’s vision for IoT extends way beyond our own global ecosystem, though; this month, we announced we’ve joined key industry groups to help guide the future of IoT. By collaborating with the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), Microsoft is working towards establishing interoperability standards and common architectures to connect smart devices, machines, people, processes and data. And on the AllSeen Alliance, our team is helping to create a universal software framework for IoT, to ease and speed innovation.

The past six months have seen extraordinary growth and change in the IoT industry. To keep abreast of IoT industry news, product updates and innovative partner solutions, you can sign up to receive Microsoft’s quarterly IoT e-newsletter. And read more about Microsoft’s vision for the Internet of Your Things here. I look forward to bringing you more in the months ahead from our partners, who are even now at work creating new ways to push the boundaries of what’s possible with IoT.

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