While most of Europe’s main industrial manufacturers attempt to modernize products with smart software and sensors, Microsoft Corporation also is trying to grab a piece of spending.
Microsoft, one of the giants U.S. software producer, is opening a new lab in Munich, Germany for customers investing in Internet of Things technology. The idea is to provide software and hardware so that everything from refrigerators to industrial robots will e connected to the web. Similar actions are done by Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM, who have also chooses Germany to locate their IoT technology labs. New labs are following to be launched in Washington, Redmond and Shenzhen (China).
Munich, one of the most prosper town from Europe, is the home for most important German giants, including BMW and Siemens Ag, while companies including Robert Bosch GmbH, Adidas AG, and a slate of mid-sized manufacturers are outfitting more factories with internet-connected production lines and robots. Almost $178 billion were spent by the the global manufacturing sector on global IoT last year, according to market researcher IDC.
Peggy Johnson, Microsoft’s executive vice-president of business development said:
There is a concern of being left behind if one of their competitors can shorten the process. Industrial companies have been keen to use technology to improve the manufacturing processes.
Yet the market for connected machines has been slow to get going. “We know it’s significant,” said Johnson. “It just hasn’t taken off.”
An IDC survey last year of 1,872 companies in Western Europe found that while more than a third were using IoT technologies, more than half of those were only collecting or analyzing data without using it to improve production.
“It’s a work in progress; I’m not going to tell you the industry has solved this,” said Vikas Butaney, vice-president and general manager for IoT connectivity at Cisco, who’s working with Microsoft on its three labs on sponsorship and technology access. “In industry these customers are very cautious.”
One challenge is that for manufacturers, production yields and reliable deliveries are paramount, meaning they’re averse to tinkering with shop-floor networks that are already in place.
According to a survey of 209 IT and telecom companies published this month by the German trade associate Bitkom, 63 percent of respondents see multiple technology standards as a barrier to IoT adoption, and 37 percent cited difficulties integrating existing machines.
For Microsoft, the Munich IoT lab — where customers can fabricate hardware prototypes in addition to writing software — complements 1,900 staffers already in Munich, part of 2,700 people across eight sites. The company last fall brought online two German data centers for its Azure cloud computing services, including IoT tools.
Cyra Richardson, a general manager for business development, is running the Munich, Redmond and Shenzhen labs.
Content inspired from Bloomberg.