By now, most everyone is aware of the impact the Internet of Things (IoT) is having on the manufacturing industry. As IoT matures the focus is now shifting to looking for new ways to leverage the data being collected from all these new connection points, not just about creating new data points. IDC predicts the installed base of connected things will reach 212 billion by the end of 2020; the proliferation of sensors and cloud computing has given businesses access to nearly unlimited amounts of data.
The challenge for 2015 is to create smarter data — the year that IoT will become the Internet of Your Things. Plants with the infrastructure to support IoT proliferation — both wired and wireless — are becoming more prevalent. Communication technology will continue to diminish obstacles associated with operating manufacturing enterprises that are increasingly global in nature. And businesses are now racing to make sense of all the incoming information so that they reduce machine downtime and improve efficiency with predictive maintenance; gain better control over global operations through real-time remote monitoring of geographically dispersed assets; and transform by offering value-added services on products they sell.
ThyssenKrupp Elevators is one such example. The company is one of the world’s leading elevator manufacturers that maintains more than 1.1 million elevators worldwide, including those at some of the world’s most iconic buildings, including the One World Trade Center. ThyssenKrupp teamed up with Microsoft and CGI to create a connected, intelligent line-of-business asset monitoring system that drastically improved elevator reliability. The interoperability of Microsoft’s technologies allowed ThyssenKrupp to connect the new service to multiple elevator makes and models, making it possible to extend its maintenance business to create new revenue opportunities.
The automotive sector is also beginning to tap into these capabilities. The connected car will completely change how consumers use their cars and will open up new opportunities for car makers and their partners. Today there are in-car apps, dashboard interface systems, as well as services that provide info on nearby hotels, gas stations and other businesses that cater to travelers. New safety features will boost revenues from car sales as drivers pay more for vehicles that protect them from crashes. It’s not just that your car is connected to the Internet, but also to other cars, your mobile phone, and to your home computer. Your car becomes a companion and an assistant to your digital life.
Take the QorosQloud cloud-based connectivity platform run on Microsoft Azure as an example. The platform offers a vast range of entertainment, navigation, communication, and vehicle-monitoring tools. By connecting to Azure, large data files can be accessed instantly and can be updated as and when necessary. By connecting their systems to the cloud, automakers gain the ability to allow fast creation, delivery and management of applications. The cloud environment also enables them to accelerate the pace of innovation by delivering customized experiences based on local market needs, without having to worry about setting up local IT infrastructures to deliver that customized connected consumer experience.
Manufacturers have access to new sophisticated tools that help organizations realize value from IoT across a range of industries. Microsoft aims to provide the cloud infrastructure, machine learning and advanced analytics for these new business models that we believe will take off in 2015.
Sanjay Ravi is the Worldwide Managing Director of Discrete Manufacturing Industry for Microsoft Corporation.