According to research, $6 trillion is estimated to be spent on IoT solutions over the next five years, with 34 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020. That’s up from 10 billion in 2015.[i] Despite the vast opportunities IoT presents, many manufacturers have traditionally found the provisioning of IoT solutions too complex and time consuming. Common obstacles include a lack of cloud and coding expertise, a skillset needed for the creation, management and operation of new IoT solutions.

In a bid to help lower the barriers to entry for IoT provision, last year Microsoft launched Azure IoT Central. This software-as-a-service (SaaS) product now enables manufacturers worldwide to build production-grade IoT applications within hours; without the need to manage back-end infrastructure, possess technical expertise, or hire specialist developer skills. With Azure IoT Central, solution setup is vastly simplified. Reducing the complexity of customising, deploying and scaling a solution, it enables manufacturers to bring their connected devices to market faster.

The SaaS offering is able to integrate tightly with existing business systems such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations Department heads can monitor performance around manufacturing more efficiently, and create more automated workflows. Just last month Microsoft announced the following IoT Central updates set to help manufacturers accelerate their journey towards IoT even further:

Following on from the release of Azure IoT Central, in April this year, Microsoft announced a $5 billion investment in the IoT over the next four years[ii]. Their goal: to enable every customer to transform their businesses – and the world at large. As part of this investment, Microsoft will commit more resources to IoT research and innovation. By doing so customers of any industry, size, level of expertise, and budget will have the ability to create connected solutions; solutions that improve experiences for businesses, as well as the lives of people around the world.

The latest step taken by Microsoft toward its IoT enablement goals is the partnership with British audio IoT networking firm Chirp. Chirp’s technology has recently been integrated into the Azure IoT platform, adding what Chirp CTO James Nesfield describes as “a really elegant onboarding capability without adding to IoT devices’ bills of materials”. The idea of the integration is to reduce the amount of time spent connecting IoT devices to host networks. Particular focus is on users limited by input and output capabilities on the device itself. This integration signals easier provisioning of IoT devices; take the Azure MXChip for example. By utilising Chirp’s “audio-blurt” technology, the device can directly “talk” to the network, resulting in a time reduction for provisioning from minutes to seconds.

With the growing complexity of IoT alongside advancing innovation, manufacturers can look forward to easier entry. Powerful yet simple to use IoT offerings are today available from Microsoft across both cloud and edge, giving manufacturers the ability to move quickly from idea to pilot to production; without requiring deep coding or technical expertise.