At the Convergence 2015 business technology conference, taking place in Atlanta this week, Microsoft is preparing businesses with the next big opportunity, the Internet of things (IoT).
Empowerment was a major theme of CEO Satya Nadella's March 16 keynote address. While onstage, he said Microsoft is focused on empowering users and organizations to "achieve more and do things that you want to do with your business." In the coming years, Microsoft expects IoT will factor more heavily into the IT decisions of enterprises.
Insurers can provide personalized plans, courtesy of new tracking technologies, and manufacturers can layer software-as-a-service (SaaS) functionality on their wares, creating a broad range of smart devices, Nadella said. "Perhaps the most horizontal way to understand the transformation that is pervasive across all the various industries is what we call the Internet of things."
To ease businesses into that transformation, the company announced Azure IoT suite, an evolution of the company's Azure Intelligent Systems Service, according to Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Cloud and Enterprise Marketing for Microsoft. Essentially, the Azure IoT Suite is a one-stop shop for organizations looking for a customizable, cloud-based foundation for their IoT initiatives.
"The Azure IoT Suite is an integrated offering that takes advantage of all the relevant Azure capabilities to connect devices and other assets (i.e., 'things'), capture the diverse and voluminous data they generate, integrate and orchestrate the flow of that data, and manage, analyze and present it as usable information to the people who need it to make better decisions as well as intelligently automate operations," Numoto said in a statement. Customers can also expect "a simple and predictable pricing model," he added, before revealing that a preview of the solution will kick off sometime later this year.
Windows 10, Microsoft's upcoming operating system, is also getting in on the act, but from the device side of the coin.
Windows 10 IoT edition will provide a single "Windows platform with universal applications and driver models that will span a wide range of devices, from low-footprint controllers such as IoT gateways to powerful devices, such as ATMs and industrial robotics," announced the company today. Safeguarding IoT data, a rising concern for data breach-prone retailers, academics and even the Federal Trade Commission, is another major focus.
"Windows 10 IoT will also bring enterprise-grade security from the device to the cloud and native connectivity for machine-to-machine and machine-to-cloud scenarios with Azure IoT services," Microsoft stated.
In terms of productivity software, the company announced the availability of the IT Professional and Developer Preview of Office 2016 for Windows. Also available is a worldwide preview of Power BI, Microsoft's cloud-based business intelligence and analytics offering. In addition to being accessible in 140 markets, Power BI will soon support more data sources, including Acumatica, Google Analytics, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Twilio and Zuora.