Proof of Value: A Peek at Microsoft's Vision for IoT


It’s 2023, and fascination with IoT isn’t seen as niche; if anything, businesses latching to the Internet of Things is par for the course. Thundering names like Microsoft are part of this; Microsoft sees the cloud computing and end-to-end solution possibilities on IoT’s doorstep, along with the opportunities to form lasting industry partnerships and the market potential therein.

Case in point: Last week at IoT Evolution Expo 2023 (held at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL), a session titled “IoT as a Gateway to Digital Transformation: Leveraging Innovation to Drive Business Change” was led by Chase Hawkins, Microsoft’s Head of Strategic Engagements Team for Azure IoT Engineering. With more than 15 years of experience at Microsoft already under his belt, Hawkins covered two core topics at the expo: IoT and its market landscape, and Microsoft’s vision for increasing value to mold its future.

“Let’s start with a simple, level-set definition of IoT,” Hawkins began. “In a very simple way, there are “things” in our business that help our operations and revenue streams. These constitute the ‘T’ in IoT. So by understanding what happens with and to them, we can make faster and increasingly well-informed decisions to drive consistently better results.”

Hawkins went on to describe how the landscape of IoT presents a hyper-competitive space. “It’s a gateway,” he said, “to clearer ventures for transformative digital shifts.”

IoT impacts the communities where we live and work, where families send their kids to school, where we hope to prosper. IoT enterprises are integral to this. “Microsoft has estimated that, by 2025, there will be 175ZB of data flowing through the Internet of Things, with more than $11 trillion of economic value.” (And yes, that’s “ZB” with “Z” for zettabytes’ worth, and a “T” for trillions. These are no paltry sums.)

But, as Hawkins lightly put it, “IoT is easy to say – heck, it’s even easier to spell – but for many businesses, it’s much harder to actually get done.” Organizations of today, in his words, become mired in proof-of-concept project stages.

“That’s why,” Hawkins suggested, “I’d bypass that. Swap proof of concept for proof of value, instead. That’s what we do at Microsoft. Why? Because conceptualizations can be more ornamental than they are actual industry keystones. We can conceptualize from sunrise to sunset. But when there’s the introduction of real, innovative value, that’s where IoT developments take off.”

The comparison Hawkins made next was to The Horse In Motion, the first-ever example of chronophotography (and the predecessor to what we know as motion pictures). In June of 1878, Eadweard Muybridge photographed a horse at separate stages of its gallop via wires the horse’s hooves intercepted. (This work was commissioned by Leland Stanford, an industrialist who was highly interested in analyzing horses’ gaits and whether or not their gallops lifted them off the ground.) After this experiment, Stanford went on to publish a book and Muybridge created his cabinet cards that became The Horse in Motion.

Hawkins lingered on this comparison, and for good reason: We, as a people, have innovated for at least seven to eight full generations. We’ve used the technologies available (i.e. the pinpricks across the canvass of our history) to collect data and enable the growth necessary for civilizational advancement.

Today, Microsoft is no different with IoT.

Throughout the rest of his presentation, Hawkins focused on IoT’s primary stages; i.e. connecting and monitoring smart devices, analyzing and improving how to optimize the usage of connected assets and the data being collected, and then transforming expansively into new, sprawling opportunities.

“This is why proof of value takes precedence for us,” Hawkins said. “43% of customers are already overwhelmed by IoT options, and 90% of them lack the partners and the internal expertise to securely support their infrastructure. We’d rather not complicate their already-complicated journeys with proof-of-concept swamps. We know there’s value, and we connect them to the adaptive plan management required to seize it.”

Microsoft’s full IoT vision slots well into Hawkins’ primary IoT stages. Edge devices. AI. The intelligent cloud. “And,” Hawkins added, “with this vision comes Azure IoT. We architect world-class sets of well-integrated services that balance IoT power with practical simplicity. The digital feedback loop of our IoT is seamless for businesses looking for immense transformation.”

More about Chase Hawkins and his keynote at IoT Evolution Expo 2023 can be found here.

Edited by Alex Passett
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