There is no doubt that the IoT is growing at a rapid pace and becoming more significant for business, with the Asia-Pacific region leading the pack.
At the recent Microsoft Analyst Summit Asia 2015 Jerry Lee, Microsoft global group product manager, and Chaney Ho, Advantech president, spoke on Asia’s sense of urgency with IoT.
“IoT as a term was conceived by a MIT professor almost 20 years ago. Many people still think that the IoT is a thing of the future – and they could not be more wrong,” says Ho.
Gartner expects 25 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020. Currently, there are 4.9 billion devices connected.
On top of this, IDC estimates the IoT market will be worth $7.1 trillion by 2020.
Ho says it is estimated the IoT market segment in the Asia Pacific region is already worth over $12 million today (excluding devices), and IDC estimates the Asia Pacific market (excluding Japan) will drive IoT services and devices to be worth $250 billion by 2020.
In October 2014, a Microsoft-sponsored survey of 291 CIOs in Asia Pacific showed that there is a sense of urgency amongst IT leaders in Asia Pacific to take advantage of what IoT has to offer.
IoT was viewed as the second most disruptive technology to organisations in the region, and as a result it was ranked fourth in terms of current CIO priorities (after cloud, mobility, big data) in the next three years.
Of those surveyed, 79% said that they already have or are planning to implement 'ambient' technology solutions.
Lee says, “There are billions of devices already installed. As the price-point of IoT devices drops further, the proliferation of IoT will continue to grow.
“Furthermore, as awareness of the advantages of IoT becomes more widespread, so too does demand for solutions.
“At Microsoft we are already seeing more companies move from initial proof of concepts into full blown deployment of IoT across the enterprise.”
IoT can help organisations gain competitive advantage, according to Microsoft, as it enables organisations to innovate faster, and create new efficiencies and revenue sources.
Lee says, “In Asia, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, you have to create competitive advantage very quickly to stand out from your competitors. Leveraging IoT can give companies the leg up they need.”
Over the last 12 months, Microsoft has accelerated the roll out of its IoT portfolio to support market demands.
Lee says, “Over the past 12 months Microsoft has been steadily adding new capabilities to Microsoft Azure IoT services to enable customers to build IoT solutions, this includes machine learning and Azure Stream Analytics.
“Azure Stream Analytics allows for complex event processing while Microsoft Azure Machine Learning drastically simplifies the implementation of machine learning algorithms – effectively enabling a simple one click approach to deploying application program interfaces (APIs).”
Most recently Microsoft unveiled Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, at Microsoft Convergence 2015, and announced it will be available in preview later in 2015.
The Azure IoT Suite is an integrated offering that takes advantage of relevant Azure capabilities, simplified billing and easy provisioning, which can help businesses connect, manage and analyse all of their ‘things’, says Microsoft.
Software and services are just one part of the equation, says Lee, and Microsoft is also moving to enable a partner ecosystem for IoT.
“We offer Microsoft Azure IoT services, but we need customers and partners to build on top of that to truly enable customers to unlock great value from their Internet connected things.
“Microsoft is working to prepare the local partner ecosystems for rapidly increasing demand for IoT,” he says.
One example of this in play is the Microsoft Quick Start consultations.
Under the program Microsoft is working with select partners to provide free half-day consultations to qualifying enterprise customers.
Through these sessions, customers learn more about IoT and how they can be applied to their business priorities.
Another example is Microsoft’s partnership with Avdancetech, which resulted in the build of Asia’s first IoT WISE-Cloud (Wireless IoT Solutions Embedded-Cloud), which was announced in December 2014.
The collaboration enables system integrators in the region to update their legacy IoT solutions to be updated and hosted on the cloud.
It also offers them the ability to quickly make use of pre-existing software available on the platform to create bespoke solutions for customers seeking to utilise IoT technology.
Ho says, “We utilised Azure for its world-class functionality. Azure IoT services offers advanced data analytics and even machine learning, making it highly suitable for industry application.
“Microsoft’s openness, transparency and high level of customer trust were also key contributors to our enthusiasm to work with the company.”