Microsoft will invest $5 billion in IoT. Here’s why.

Apr 4, 2018   |   Julia White, CVP Microsoft Azure

Today, we are announcing that we will invest $5 billion in the Internet of Things over the next four years. The reason we are doing this is simple: Our goal is to give every customer the ability to transform their businesses, and the world at large, with connected solutions.

It’s well understood that IoT solutions can create operational efficiencies, but we know the true impact extends well beyond that into our daily lives. Our customers are delivering electricity to schools in Africa, creating better patient outcomes with predictive care, improving worker safety on job sites and driver safety on Alaskan roadways.

We’ve been invested in IoT before the term was coined, when enterprises had these endpoints in their factories, buildings and other devices that were totally “dark.” Today, we’re planning to dedicate even more resources to research and innovation in IoT and what is ultimately evolving to be the new intelligent edge. With our IoT platform spanning cloud, OS and devices, we are uniquely positioned to simplify the IoT journey so any customer—regardless of size, technical expertise, budget, industry or other factors—can create trusted, connected solutions that improve business and customer experiences, as well as the daily lives of people all over the world. The investment we’re announcing today will ensure we continue to meet all our customers’ needs both now and in the future.

Advancing the Opportunity in IoT and Intelligent Edge

We’re now seeing the kind of increased adoption and exponential growth that analysts have been forecasting for years, and we’re just getting started. A.T. Kearney predicts IoT will lead to a $1.9 trillion productivity increase and $177 billion in reduced costs by 2020. This effect will be pervasive, from connected homes and cars to manufacturers to smart cities and utilities—and everything in between.

This increased investment will support continued innovation in our technology platform, as well as supporting programs. We will continue research and development in key areas, including securing IoT, creating development tools and intelligent services for IoT and the edge, and investments to grow our partner ecosystem. Customers and partners can expect new products and services, offerings, resources and programs.

Enabling increasingly sophisticated customers

Microsoft’s IoT offerings today include what businesses need to get started, ranging from operating systems for devices, cloud services to control and secure them, advanced analytics to gain insights, and business applications to enable intelligent action. We’ve seen great traction with customers and partners who continue to come up with new ideas and execute them on our platform.

Companies like Steelcase, Kohler, Chevron, United Technologies and Johnson Controls are all innovating with Microsoft’s IoT platform, launching new products, solutions and services that transform their business.

Johnson Controls has transformed the humble thermostat into a smart device that can monitor a range of conditions to optimize building temperatures automatically. Schneider Electric has built a solution to harness solar energy in Nigeria and using our IoT platform to do maintenance remotely on the panels, quite literally to keep the lights on. Kohler has created a new line of intelligent kitchen and bath fixtures that are not only luxurious to use, but more economical as well. The Alaska Department of Transportation is working with Colorado-based Fathym to build smart roadways that monitor weather conditions and can alert drivers and state officials about treacherous conditions.

These stories keep rolling in. With each new implementation, we’re witnessing a unique transformation. We’re also getting a look into how both customers and partners overcome the specific challenges of building an IoT solution that harnesses massive amounts of data. Whether they’re building products that transform the home, office or factory floor, one thing remains clear: IoT is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary effort that spans cloud development, machine learning, AI, security and privacy.

We are committed to helping customers bring their vision to life across every industry. Today’s announcement is big—for us and for the future of IoT and the intelligent edge. It positions us to support customers as they develop new and increasingly sophisticated IoT solutions, which few could have imagined just a few years ago. We can’t wait to see what comes from our customers and partners next, and we’ll have more to share throughout the year.

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