Microsoft gives a big boost to IoT in utilities

Microsoft is making the right noises about creating a comprehensive cloud ecosystem to support utilities deploying IoT. Microsoft says it is investing US$5 billion (€4.05 billion) in the Internet of Things (IoT) over the next four years. Antony Savvas reports on the opportunities being created. 

This move is a natural extension to the network edge server systems it recently launched in partnership with companies like Dell and HPE, to make it easier for organisations to manage and process the data generated by IoT platforms.

Julia White, CVP of Microsoft Azure, said: “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 can create trusted, connected solutions that improve business and customer experiences.”

Big money

The opportunities the IoT utilities market offers is illustrated by recent global research from BCC Research. It says IoT in energy and utility applications should reach $59.9 billion (€48.47 billion) by 2022 from $21.4 billion (€17.32 billion) in 2017, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.9% between 2017 and 2022.

BCC Research says the hardware segment is expected to grow from $6.5 billion (€5.26 billion) in 2017 to $17.3 billion (€14 billion) in 2022, and that the services segment will grow from $5.9 billion (€4.77 billion) in 2017 to $17 billion (€13.76 billion) in 2022.

BCC Research says: “IoT in energy and utilities is a growing market that presents strong growth opportunities for all stakeholders. The market is dynamic and growing with new developments and adoption from new industries and sectors.”

Microsoft’s White cited a number of companies who are already working with Microsoft Azure platforms to support their IoT strategies and many of these are active in the utility market.

Microsoft partners

White said: “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.

“Companies like Steelcase, Kohler, Chevron, United Technologies and Johnson Controls are all innovating with Microsoft’s IoT platform.”

Johnson Controls has transformed a thermostat into a smart device that can monitor a range of conditions to optimise building temperatures automatically. And Schneider Electric has built a solution to harness solar energy in Nigeria and is using Microsoft’s IoT platform to do maintenance remotely on the panels.

The Alaska Department of Transportation is working with Colorado-based Fathym to build smart roadways that monitor weather conditions and alert drivers and state officials about treacherous conditions.

Facing the competition

Microsoft is showing a lead with its IoT investment, but others are also making big noises about their commitment to building up the market. Martin Courtney, an analyst at TechMarketView, says: “Microsoft has outlined ‘intelligent edge’ solutions combining device operating systems and cloud services, designed to optimise the collection and analysis of data from IoT devices within several verticals, including manufacturing, utilities, transportation and smart homes.

“One thing we do know is that Microsoft no longer doubts the scale of the commercial IoT opportunity now presented. And it is keen not to be outdone by its rivals – including Google, Amazon Web Services and BT Global Services – all of which are moving fast to stake their own claim in a rapidly growing market for IoT products and services.”

Companies of all sizes servicing the utility market must now be quick to join and help develop the IoT ecosystems that are rapidly developing.

The author of this article is freelance technology writer, Antony Savvas.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow OR @jcIoTnow

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