Long before the Internet of Things (IoT) showed promise in helping create enterprise value, Microsoft was building the technologies that make up its core. Like few other technology trends of the past decade, IoT has extraordinary potential to transform business and significantly impact the way we work and live our lives.
In predicting this year’s top enterprise trends, I noted that the Internet of Things moved from concept to reality in 2014, and that we expect it to go mainstream in 2015. Today we’re seeing that happen. During the enterprise-centric Microsoft Ignite and our developer conference Build 2015, IoT and the measurable ways businesses are reaping its value were woven throughout the sessions, demonstrations and discussions.
As business leaders continue looking for ways to get and stay ahead of their competition, Microsoft is responding by offering innovative solutions that enable a wide range of industries to unlock the value of their existing data. Building on those efforts, I recently co-hosted Microsoft’s IoT Leadership Summit. There we gathered with many visionary and committed companies that are innovating in the IoT space — customers such as Siemens, Honeywell, ThyssenKrupp Elevator, 3M, Rockwell Automation, Sandvik Coromant, Schneider Electric and Rolls-Royce. These companies, and many more like them, are leaders in pushing the frontier of IoT forward. It was incredibly rewarding to connect with these tech pioneers, discuss the opportunities IoT offers and explore ways our partnership can accelerate their business goals.
During the summit, Geoffrey Moore, an expert on the market dynamics of disruptive technologies, noted how IoT represents the third in a series of waves of disruptive innovation. The first wave – called “Systems of Record,” occurred when we hooked PCs up to the Internet, releasing value in the global supply chain. The second wave – “Systems of Engagement” – unlocks value from mobile devices. Moore believes that we’re now at the very beginning of the third wave, in which IoT enables us to reap value from “Systems of Intelligence.”
We are investing heavily in developing systems of intelligence that enable real-time reasoning over massive amounts of data. With the most comprehensive cloud platform in the world, Microsoft technologies enable companies to build a data culture that transforms their systems of record and systems of engagement into true systems of intelligence.
This notion aligns squarely with our approach to IoT. Everything we do – every product, program and service we create – is aimed at creating measurable business value, accelerating return on investment, and powering enterprise innovation. The pervasive feeling in my conversations with our customers and partners is one of excitement about the seemingly boundless opportunities that this third wave, IoT, presents for business.
Everything we do – every product, program and service we create – is aimed at creating measurable business value.
Although IoT benefits industries ranging from agriculture and finance to healthcare and consumer goods, the opportunity is particularly compelling in manufacturing. It’s there that high-value legacy infrastructure can securely connect with cloud-based analytics, to enable machine learning, predictive analytics and real time analysis. We’ve seen compelling examples of this at events this spring; check out the solutions by Rockwell Automation, NEC and Aerocrine.
The Internet of Things also marks an interesting shift in the way decisions are made in many organizations. In a recent Microsoft study*, only 4 percent of IoT initiatives studied were led by IT personnel; the great majority were led by line-of-business decision makers. This highlights an interesting trend we’re seeing a lot more of – business leaders who are pushing IT to invest in new and innovative uses of technology in order to address rising customer expectations.
As IoT continues to evolve into table-stakes technology for the competitive enterprise, Microsoft is investing in several programs that support the transformation. Our IoT Leadership Program is designed to help businesses dramatically shorten the time needed to realize value from IoT. It enables them to participate in Microsoft-led events, take part in technical workshops and learn best practices from one another to achieve specific business objectives. We have also created free, half-day Quick Start consultations to give selected businesses a personalized, accelerated introduction to IoT.