Microsoft plans to invest $5 billion into the IoT

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Microsoft has announced it will be investing $ 5 billion into the IoT over the span of the next four years.

The goal of the investment, according to the firm, is “to give every customer the ability to transform their businesses, and the world at large, with connected solutions.”

If you’re reading this, you’ll know the IoT will have a huge impact on almost every facet of our lives — much like computers have. Microsoft’s goal for the IoT even harks some resemblance to company founder Bill Gates’ mission statement to put "a computer on every desk and in every home."

Global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney predicts the IoT will lead to a $ 1.9 trillion productivity increase and $ 177 billion in reduced costs by 2020. This will be driven by connected improvements to cities, homes, vehicles, utilities, manufacturing, and just about every other aspect of our lives you can think of.

The $ 5 billion investment announced today will help to ensure Microsoft continues to deliver for its customers’ needs.

Microsoft already has a range of IoT solutions available including, of course, a dedicated version of its operating system for use on low-powered devices — aptly called Windows 10 IoT.

Along with its operating system, Microsoft also has a cloud offering to control, secure, and manage IoT devices. To complete the end-to-end solution, Microsoft also offers analytics and specific applications for businesses looking to take intelligent actions based on IoT data.

Julia White, CVP of Microsoft Azure, wrote in a blog post:

"We are committed to helping customers bring their vision to life across every industry. Today’s announcement is big—for us and for the future of IoT and the intelligent edge. It positions us to support customers as they develop new and increasingly sophisticated IoT solutions, which few could have imagined just a few years ago. We can’t wait to see what comes from our customers and partners next, and we’ll have more to share throughout the year."

Companies like Steelcase, Kohler, Chevron, United Technologies, and Johnson Controls currently make use of Microsoft’s IoT platform.

What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s IoT investment? Let us know in the comments.

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Intel sells Wind River to TPG putting end to near decade of ownership

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Intel is to sell Wind River, provider of Industrial IoT (IIoT) and embedded software, to global alternative asset firm TPG.

The independent firm will continue to be led by Wind River president Jim Douglas alongside his existing executive management team, with Douglas saying the move will establish Wind River ‘as a leading independent software provider uniquely positioned to advance digital transformation within critical infrastructure segments.’

Intel had paid $ 884 million for Wind River back in 2009, saying at the time the company would become part of Intel’s strategy ‘to grow its processor and software presence outside the traditional PC and server market segments into embedded systems and mobile handheld devices.’ While leadership in the mobile devices market did not quite become a reality for Intel, the Wind River acquisition represented an interesting move into software at the time.

More recently, Intel’s push into autonomous vehicles has gained ground. Intel acquired Mobileye for $ 15.3 billion in March last year, having previously partnered with the company alongside BMW. In May, Intel made a series of announcements in the area, from opening an innovation centre in Silicon Valley to an ‘advanced vehicle lab’. Doug Davis, senior vice president, said he had postponed his retirement to lead the initiative, saying there was ‘unwavering confidence’ Intel would succeed in autonomous driving.

Wind River’s customers include NASA JPL, Boeing and BAE Systems on the aerospace and defence side, and Clarion, Siemens and Huawei on the industrial and networking side.

“We see a tremendous market opportunity in industrial software driven by the convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), intelligent devices and edge computing,” said Nehal Raj, TPG partner and head of technology investing in a statement. “As a market leader with a strong product portfolio, Wind River is well positioned to benefit from these trends.

“We are excited about the prospects for Wind River as an independent company, and plan to build on its strong foundation with investments in both organic and inorganic growth,” added Raj.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Smart cities market value to hit $2 trillion by 2025, says Frost & Sullivan

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The overall market value for smart cities will surpass $ 2 trillion by 2025, according to Frost & Sullivan – with artificial intelligence (AI) at the heart of it.

The analyst firm believes AI, alongside personalised healthcare, robotics, advanced driver assistance systems and distributed energy generation will be among the cornerstone technologies of future smart cities.

With more than 80% of the population in developed countries expected to live in cities by 2050, now is the time to act. According to a study from Counterpoint Research, which this publication examined earlier this week, there will be more than 125 million connected vehicles shipped by 2022.

The convergence of technologies – such as smart cars integrating with smart traffic lights – will be an important factor, but getting citizens engaged will also be key. Last month, Gartner put together a series of recommendations for local government CIOs in Asia, citing the importance of discussions between the government and its citizens. According to Frost & Sullivan, more than half of smart cities will be in China, generating $ 320 billion for its economy by 2025.

Europe will have the largest number of smart city project investments globally, according to the research, while the total North America smart buildings market – comprising smart sensors, systems, hardware and software – will surpass $ 5bn by 2020. The analysis also noted the rising importance in Latin America, citing Mexico City, Santiago, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janairo as active cities in this area. Smart city projects in Brazil will drive almost 20% of the country’s IoT revenue by 2021.

“Currently most smart city models provide solutions in silos and are not interconnected. The future is moving toward integrated solutions that connect all verticals within a single platform,” said Vijay Narayanan, senior research analyst at Frost & Sullivan in a statement. “IoT is already paving the way to allow for such solutions.”

You can find out more about Frost & Sullivan’s smart cities studies here.

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Report: There will be more than 125m connected vehicles by 2022

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According to a new report, shipments of connected vehicles are expected to increase considerably over the next four years.

Counterpoint Research’s report forecasts a growth of 270 percent by 2022 to represent more than 125 million connected vehicles to be shipped from this year. As of 2017, the reporters found General Motors, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes Benz are currently leading the market.

All vehicles sold in Europe from April 2018 must be fitted with ‘eCall’ technology which automatically dials the 112 emergency number in the case of a serious accident. This will force all new cars sold in Europe to have at least a connected feature.

Hanish Bhatia, Senior Analyst for IoT & Mobility at Counterpoint, said:

“In terms of overall penetration, Germany, UK and US are leading the market at present with the highest percentage of total shipments with embedded connectivity sold in 2017.

Europe’s eCall mandate is expected to change the market dynamics with higher penetration across European countries. The adoption of eCall in Europe is expected to create ripples across other geographies thereby catalyzing the overall car connectivity ecosystem.”

Current implementations of connected vehicle services primarily use 2G/3G networks, but the market is moving quickly towards 4G.

Neil Shah, Research Director at Counterpoint Research, comments:

“We expect 4G LTE network to account for nearly 90% of connected passenger cars with embedded connectivity by 2022. Further, we expect 5G connectivity in cars to kick-in from 2020 onwards, however, the overall penetration is likely to remain low till 2022.

The progress on the levels of autonomous technology in a car will also dictate the usage of 4G or 5G technology embedded in the cars beyond 2022 when 5G coverage rollout becomes ubiquitous. Further, 5G NR (Standalone or SA) mode rollout which promises lower latencies will be critical for driving an inflection point in the commercialisation of autonomous cars later in the next decade.”

The uphill battle for automotive manufacturers will be convincing potential customers of the benefits of connected technologies. A recent study by Kantar TNS found that nearly half of connected car owners just don’tget’ the features at their disposal.

When asked what they want from their new car, most consumers will tell you ‘safety’ and ‘fuel economy’. Automotive manufacturers would do well to place a great emphasis on how connected features can help to improve these aspects of a new vehicle.

What are your thoughts on the connected car market? Let us know in the comments.

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Why for manufacturers the customer must be at the centre of the digital strategy

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It’s easy to get obsessed with technology – it is the key enabler of today’s revolution – but the harder part of the transformation is cultural.

It’s about putting the customer experience and their business outcomes at the centre of everything. That means realigning engineering, manufacturing and the supply chain around delivering a world-class sales and service experience. It means new thinking about optimising customer satisfaction and loyalty metrics such as Customer Satisfaction Scores or Net Promoter Scores rather than production efficiency.

The list of technologies that can help this realignment is endless. Manufacturers should be investing in, or at least exploring, the internet of things (IoT) and industrial automation, cloud, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, 3D printing and more. Microsoft partner Columbus recently published a major industry report exploring how these emerging technologies fit into the wider digital transformation push of manufacturers, as part of a ‘Manufacturing 2020’ strategy.

But at the heart of the revolution is data. We are putting telemetry on everything, creating a data-driven culture with a single version of the truth. Fundamentally the fourth industrial revolution is being powered by the ubiquity of IoT data coming from sensors in the factory combining with data pouring in from the outside world, such as the wealth of information being generated by smart cities, smart buildings, smart offices and even connected cars. Choosing an IoT platform is a big decision; start by identifying one that can match the scale of your ambitions.

There is another convergence that is driving business transformation. Inside the firm, the digital technologies used by IT, operations and engineering are converging. By embracing the digital transformation, manufacturers are empowering employees to be more productive in modern workplaces with apps and intelligent working methods such as the use of cobots, where employees and robots co-operate “shoulder to shoulder”.

It’s also about optimising operations through smart factories and supply chain solutions powered by intelligent edge and cloud. It means the transformation of products and business models, using insights from smart connected products, advances in modelling such as “digital twins”, and more agile end-to-end business solutions.

We see manufacturers, and individual businesses within manufacturing organisations, at various stages in their journey to servitisation, transforming products into services. Some are driving more customer engagement through traditional call centres or differentiating their product through (sometimes IoT-connected) field service. Increasingly, though, we are also seeing the transition to full “product-as-a-service”, where they sell flying hours instead of jet engines; car coatings rather than paint; water savings rather than treatment plants; and cleaning services rather than cleaning chemicals.

This journey requires that they break down the silos between internal systems such as ERP, CRM, PLM, and SCM. Instead, they need to connect “things” – people, data and processes – with more agile systems of intelligence that can keep pace with the new speed of business inherent in delivering highly tailored products and services.

Manufacturers need smart factories that can make their smart products and be at the core of much more agile supply chains. They also need intelligent shop floor solutions and business apps that augment people and address the growing skills gap in manufacturing.

IoT platforms are a key enabler, yes. But we also need big data and AI on top to provide the insights that line workers and business decision-makers need. We need both intelligent cloud and intelligent edge technologies to power robots and cobots in the factory of the future.

Big data also needs big compute to accelerate the product innovation unleashed by enhanced insights into customers, enabled by the ability to iterate through digital twins of devices, product designs, supply chains, and customer usage in digital cities. Can your legacy ERP, CRM, PLM and SCM systems keep up with the new speed of business?

At the heart of this digital world, however, lies the simplicity of customer insight. Whether you’ve got a smart product that can beam back data on customer use, or you use traditional client engagement channels, it’s those insights that will differentiate your future products and services –and decide the success or failure of your digital transformation.

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Organisations fear IoT security attacks – but are not actively monitoring risks

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Almost every organisation polled by the Ponemon Institute and Shared Assessments say they fear a ‘catastrophic’ security event related to an unsecured IoT device – yet only a third actively monitor for IoT-related third-party risks.

The study, which surveyed 605 individuals in corporate governance, found the average number of IoT devices in the workplace is set to increase by 55% over the coming year. 81% of those polled said a data breach caused by unsecured IoT devices was ‘likely’ to occur in the next 24 months.

The challenge is more of an issue than may be let on, the report adds. Less than half (45%) of respondents believe they can keep a full inventory of IoT devices in the organisation – and of that number, only 19% actually have an inventory of at least half of their devices. 15% of survey respondents have an inventory of the majority of their applications.

46% of those polled say they have a policy to disable a risky IoT device within their own organisation, while 60% opt for a third-party risk management program.

“The rapid adoption of IoT devices and applications is not slowing down and organisations need to have a clear understanding of the risks these devices pose both inside their own and outside their extended networks,” said Charlie Miller, SVP at the Shared Assessments Program. “While there’s an increasing awareness about third-party IoT risks, much more work needs to be done to ensure controls minimise the risks these devices pose.

“With the increasing number of major data breaches, ransomware, and distributed denial of service attacks in the news daily, and senior executives losing their jobs as a result, it’s critical that organisations assign accountability and ownership of IoT-related oversight across their organisation, ensure that IoT security is taken seriously, and educate management at all levels,” added Miller.

You can read the full research here (registration required).

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FogHorn Systems follows up Google IIoT collaboration with Wind River partnership

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A new collaboration between FogHorn Systems and Intel-owned Wind River will see the integration of FogHorn’s Lightning edge analytics and ML platform with Wind River’s software products to advance IIoT.

As part of the collaboration, announced a week after a partnership with Google, both parties have agreed to combine the FogHorn platform with Wind River software including Wind River Helix Device Cloud, Wind River Titanium Control, and Wind River Linux to speed up the competitive imperative industrial organisations encounter to harness the power of their IIoT data.

The combined solution was on display at Embedded World 2018, in Nuremberg, Germany, from 27 February to 1 March. 

While FogHorn allows organisations to position data analytics and ML as near as possible to the data source, Wind River offers the technology to support manageability of edge devices throughout their life span, virtualisation for workload consolidation and software portability through containerisation.

The Foghorn platform is claimed to be the planet’s most advanced, compact and feature-rich edge intelligence solution capable of offering superior low latency for onsite data processing, real-time analytics, ML and AI capabilities.

Commenting on the team up, Wind River CPO Michael Krutz said: "Wind River's collaboration with FogHorn will solve two big challenges in Industrial IoT today, getting analytics and machine learning close to the devices generating the data, and managing thousands to hundreds of thousands of endpoints across their product lifecycle. We’re very excited about this integrated solution, and the significant value it will deliver to our joint customers globally."

FogHorn’s partnership with Google Cloud aims to provide business impact expansion of IIoT via the integration of Cloud IoT Core capabilities with its Lightning edge intelligence and ML platform.

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Boeing is a fan of IoT satellites

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The venture capital arm of Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, has invested in Australian satellite firm Myriota.

Myriota is currently developing low cost, low power transmitters which aim to connect millions of IoT devices to satellites in orbit.

The company started its journey as a $ 12 million project out of the University of South Australia back in 2011. At the time, it was known as the Australian Space Research Program.

After the need for IoT connectivity was identified, the project was turned into a full company in 2015. Its team is 11-strong and retains key personnel from the original project. The startup plans on adding at least 20 further members of staff over the next couple of years.

Boeing’s investment marks its first outside the US market. The $ 15 million round was led by Australian venture capital firms Blue Sky and Main Sequence, and funds were also raised from Singtel Innov8 and Right Click Capital.

Myriota launched the first iteration of their technology aboard a nanosatellite from ExactEarth which tracks maritime activities.

From this initial deployment, the company's researchers conducted several experiments to stress test how their solution would scale. The firm claims it's able to support hundreds of millions of devices.

Building on this momentum, the firm is now looking to deploy 50 of its own nanosatellites in low orbit. Each will be around the size of a shoebox and weigh just 10kg.

These launches may face a difficult obstacle in the form of national regulators. One manufacturer in the U.S, Swarm Technologies, is currently facing scrutiny from the FCC after the unauthorised launch of four satellites in January.

Myriota is already working alongside the relevant agencies in Australia to ensure their launch does not result in the same problems as Swarm Technologies.

SpaceX was set to be Myriota’s launch partner with it first satellite due to be on-board a Falcon 9 rocket back in February. That launch was delayed until the middle of this year. Myriota is keeping its options open and may decide to go with a different launch provider.

With a study from Machina Research indicating the IoT market will surge to around $ 3 trillion in 2025, time is of the essence for startups like Myriota to secure their slice of the pie.

What are your thoughts on Myriota’s solution? Let us know in the comments.

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Jaguar Land Rover to use BlackBerry technology in next-generation connected cars

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Jaguar Land Rover will use BlackBerry’s infotainment and security technologies in its next-generation connected vehicles under a multi-year deal signed by both the companies.

As part of the deal, the T&C of which remain undisclosed, the Canadian software firm will license its QNX and Certicom technology to the auto maker. In addition, a dedicated team of BlackBerry engineers will support the formulation of the new Electronic Control Unit (ECU) modules. The maiden ECU project focuses on the development of a net-gen infotainment system.

Commenting on the partnership, Dave Nesbitt, vehicle engineering director at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Working with BlackBerry will enable us to develop the safe and secure next-generation connected car our customers want. Together with BlackBerry engineers, we will be able to access the most dynamic and up-to-date software to ensure the highest security required for our connected vehicles.

Alongside this, BlackBerry is furthering its leading position in Enterprise of Things (EoT) security with the launch of a wide array of new software capabilities aimed at enterprise users, IT administrators, and developers. With BlackBerry Secure – an end-to-end EoT platform – enterprises can connect and secure their physical and digital endpoints.

The enhanced capabilities of BlackBerry Secure aimed at improving user productivity include securely using Microsoft mobile apps with BlackBerry Enterprise BRIDGE; the addition of the new Do Not Disturb feature to BlackBerry Work to block email and calendar notifications outside of usual working time and exchanging pictures, videos, PDF’s and other files within BlackBerry Connect.

In addition, some of the enhanced solutions aimed at easing IT management of endpoints and notifications include the on-demand deployment of pre-configured and secure Android devices and managing IT notifications talks with users from one platform.

In June last year, Jaguar Land Rover announced an investment of $ 25 million in Lyft to support the US-based ride sharing company’s plans circled around expansion and technology.

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Gartner: Global expenditure on IoT security to hit $1.5 billion in 2018

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A new report from Gartner has projected that expenditure on IoT security across the globe will hit $ 1.5 billion in 2018 from $ 1.2 billion in 2017 due to the growing efforts from enterprises to shield themselves from IoT-based threats.

The analyst firm found that over the last three years, nearly 20% of enterprises were hit by at least once IoT-based attack.

Ruggero Contu, research director at Gartner, said: "We expect to see demand for tools and services aimed at improving discovery and asset management, software and hardware security assessment, and penetration testing. In addition, organisations will look to increase their understanding of the implications of externalising network connectivity. These factors will be the main drivers of spending growth for the forecast period with spending on IoT security expected to reach $ 3.1 billion in 2021.”

According to Gartner forecast, the leading obstacle to IoT security spending growth will arise from a lack of prioritisation and implementation of security best practices and tools in IoT initiative planning. This will slow down the possible expenditure on IoT security by 80%.

By 2021, regulatory compliance is predicted to emerge as the major influencer for IoT security uptake.

Contu said: "Interest is growing in improving automation in operational processes through the deployment of intelligent connected devices, such as sensors, robots and remote connectivity, often through cloud-based services. This innovation, often described as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industry 4.0, is already impacting security in industry sectors deploying operational technology (OT), such as energy, oil and gas, transportation, and manufacturing."

Earlier this month, a new report from Navigant Research held the increasing popularity of IoT was one of the primary reasons behind greater cybersecurity attacks against enterprises and utilities.

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