Microsoft #Env16: Underwriters Lab: Transitioning from a Legacy to a Digital Company

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Source: Microsoft

You may not recognize the name “Underwriters Laboratory,” but “UL” is a mark you’ve seen everywhere. In fact it’s on 22 billion products, systems and materials from drywall to fire extinguishers to lamps to mattresses. The company got its start more than a century ago at the Chicago World’s Fair, where the “White City,” built to host the event on the shores of Lake Michigan, was one of the first to be illuminated entirely by electricity.

Insurance underwriters of the World’s Fair asked William Henry Merrill, a 24-year-old electrical engineer from Boston to come to Chicago and investigate how to deploy this new technology safely. Merrill never went back to Boston. He stayed in the Windy City and with $350, formed a new company that would test and develop safety standards for electricity and other new technologies entering the marketplace at the turn of the 20th Century. He called it “Underwriters Laboratory.” Today, UL uses Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure to securely store and share scientific findings and other information between employees, researchers and clients who collaborate around the world.

It wasn’t an easy transition for a company worried about security. Initially, UL was leery of trusting its intellectual property outside of the four walls of their Chicago-based headquarters. But now that they’ve enthusiastically embraced the cloud, UL can’t imagine doing business any other way. The cloud has changed the speed the company moves and helps clients, and ultimately, made it a leading innovator today, in the 21st Century. Here’s more in a video.

@drnatalie Petouhoff

Covering Customer Experience and IOT

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Microsoft #Env16: Sports and Digital Transformation of Real Madrid Futbol

Sports is the new playing field is the world of business. Real Madrid is one of the most storied futbol clubs in history. Over 113 years, the club has won 116 official trophies. FIFA has recognized Real Madrid as the best futbol club of the 20th century. Since then, they’ve won the Champions League 10 times as well as the European Cup.

And fans of the Real Madrid futbol club are some of the most passionate and loyal in all of sport. These fans, 450 million of them, are spread around the world. In fact there are more Real Madrid fans in Indonesia and the U.S. than in Spain. And more than 120 million are connected through the digital ecosystem, following the club on social networks. Soon, they will have even more ways to connect with their beloved team on and off the pitch.

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Source: Microsoft

Microsoft and Real Madrid are working together to revolutionize the club, and the futbol experience, through technology. This four-year vision will change the way people engage with the game, while enabling fans to have a unique two-way conversation with the team.

A digital platform, built on Microsoft Azure, will give supporters of Real Madrid access to content and exclusive digital services at the stadium, at home or on the go. The app provides access to these experiences on phones, tablets and wearable devices, while connecting the Real Madrid faithful to the virtual pitch before, during and after the game.

Jose Angel Sanchez, the club’s chief executive officer, sees the team’s digital transformation as the next step to embracing the fans of the future. He explains that the club belongs to the people — the cloud gives the club the opportunity to connect with fans in a personalized way. Here’s a video.
@Drnatalie Petouhoff
Covering Customer Experience and IOT and Digital Transformation
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Microsoft #Env16: Digital Transformation of Growing Underground Crops

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 Source: Microsoft

Digital transformation is growing an agricultural revolution 100 feet under the streets of London. British startup Growing Underground saw an abandoned air raid tunnel under the streets of London as an opportunity to experiment with ways to feed a growing population without increasing our carbon footprint. The tunnels were never built for the production of food, yet they are an ideal place for growing greens that are water and energy efficient, and pesticide free. Designed with insulation to keep people safe, the climate in the tunnels also enables the space to retain optimal heat. The urban farmers use a program from an environmental software company called Priva that runs on a Microsoft operating system and it controls everything: from the LEDs to the ventilation system to the humidity. Every element that’s needed to control the environment. They also use Surface Pros and OneNote to share information as well as everything from Excel for spreadsheets to PowerPoint for investor presentations.

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Source: Microsoft

“For a start-up like ours, Microsoft Office is the essence of how we communicate.” If you ever find yourself at a farmer’s market in London, grab some fresh peas and consider a future that no one could have imagined in 1941. And imagine the benefits of growing food anywhere: abandoned mines, under the desert, anywhere.

@Drnatalie petouhoff

Covering Digital Transformation, IOT and Customer Experience

 

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#Env16 Microsoft: Empowering People Sight Loss to Experience City Life

What is Microsoft up to now? Empowering people with sight loss the opportunity to experience city life.

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 Source: Microsoft

Everyone has a right to independence, but not everyone has the capacity. Cities Unlocked aims to set people with sight loss free to experience city life like never before. The pilot program is a unique collaboration between Microsoft, the U.K. charity Guide Dogs, and urban innovator Future Cities Catapult as well as other partners from business and academia. Even local travel is difficult and daunting with vision loss, which could be part of why of the two million people in the U.K. who have registered their visual impairment, 180,000 rarely if ever go outside, according to Guide Dogs. In the U.S., about 65 percent of people with vision loss are unemployed.

The partners worked together to create a prototype headset and mobile app that works with Bluetooth beacons placed along a given route to provide audio turn-by-turn directions, nearby points of interest (“Chiropractor, about 10 meters”), transportation updates (“No. 9 bus is approaching”) and even polite warnings (“Be aware: This is a main road”).

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@drnatalie petouhoff
Covering IOT, Customer Experience and Digital Transformation
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Enterprise Connect 2016: Genesys Showcases Next Generation Omnichannel Customer Experience at Enterprise Connect

Enterprise Connect 2016 is a  leading conference and exhibition for enterprise communications and collaboration in North America. It is being held March 7-9th, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Genesys, a market leader in omni-channel customer experience (CX) and contact center solutions, will be particpating in the event.
Genesys and Microsoft Working Together:  The event will feature Genesys leaders in key industry discussions on topics that include contact center technology trends and managing customer journeys, as well as how Genesys and Microsoft are working together to enable collaboration between contact center agents and employees across the enterprise. Attendees can visit booth #609 to learn more about omnichannel customer engagement, take the Omnichannel Challenge and tour the possibilities of the Genesys Omnichannel Engagement Center solution with live product demonstrations.

A Note from the Executives: 
Scott Kolman, Vice President of Portfolio Marketing at Genesys said, “As the digital transformation revolution continues, many companies are searching for how to best modernize and enhance their contact center and customer experience. At Enterprise Connect, Genesys will show why omnichannel will be the standard in customer experience excellence and how companies can move toward an Omnichannel Engagement Center solution.”

If You Want to Hear from Them, Here’s the Schedule:
Genesys CX experts will share insights. Genesys leaders will participate in the following Enterprise Connect panel sessions and a joint presentation at the Microsoft booth to share insights and best practices on managing omnichannel customer journeys, cloud contact centers and market updates for the enterprise.

Monday, March 7 :  9:00am – 10:45am Eastern Time  Location: Sun B —Contact Center Market Update & Executive Forum and the participants are:

  • Scott Kolman, Genesys
  • Sheila McGee-Smith, McGee-Smith Analytics
  • Paul Weber, Interactive Intelligence
  • Chris Botting, Cisco
  • Paul Jarman, inContact
  • Karen Hardy, Avaya

Tuesday, March 8 : 1:15pm ET Location: Microsoft booth #162 Genesys and MicrosoftDelivering a Best-in-Class Omnichannel Customer Experience and the speakers are:

  • James Skay, Microsoft
  • Kay Phelps, Genesys

Wednesday, March 9 : 8:00am – 8:45am ET o Location: Osceola B Managing the Customer Journey and the participants are:

  • Chris Connolly, Genesys
  • Brandon Knight, Corvisa
  • Sheila McGeeSmith, McGee-Smith Analytics
  • Laura Bassett, Avaya
  • Barry O’Sullivan, Altocloud
  • Richard Kenny, Plantronics

Is Your Company Omnichannel Ready? Omnichannel engagement center solutions allow companies to more effectively manage workloads, empower their agents, and gain valuable insights that help drive business objectives—including new customer acquisition, product sales, and customer support. For companies, this move forward will provide the immediate benefits of higher customer loyalty, increased revenue, and better business outcomes, while paving the path for continued success.

The time is now to make sure you can serve your customers. Or they will be somebody else’s customer soon enough. It’s now or never.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer-facing Applications That Drive Better Business Results

 

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The Year of On-demand, Personalized Shopping: The Cloud and IOT Abound

What’s Happening in the World of Shopping and Customer Experiences? At the National Retail Federation Annual Convention in New York City, Microsoft made announcements with GameStop, Hardee’s, TGI Fridays, Panasonic, HP and FreedomPay, and NCR on efforts to modernize shopping experiences.

How Does IoT, The Cloud and Customer Experience Come Together? Microsoft believes this will be the year when modern shopping experiences come to life. Where retailers create instant, personalized experiences for shoppers on their smartphone, online and in stores. It will be the year that customers return to stores because technology is engaging them in new ways, making them want to buy more and come back. Microsoft shared for the first time several retail innovations using its technology, including a smart shelf and a tablet-enabled shopping cart, and showed how retailers can gather better store analytics. Microsoft also announced how Pandora and Ashley Furniture are working with technology to create more engaging experiences for employees, helping them be more collaborative and support faster product innovation.

Engaging Customers During the Shopping Experience is Essential for Today’s Retailers. GameStop announced it is working with Microsoft to create an interactive, informative and entertaining shopping experience in an immersive environment. In the near future, when customers walk into one of the GameStop pilot stores, they will be connected to the services enabled by the Microsoft Cloud, allowing them to browse product choices, share their shopping cart with salesperson’s tablet running an assisted selling application, and even browse products interactively on a big screen Ultra High Definition TV where they can view video game trailers with pristine clarity. When a customer downloads and opts into the GameStop app on their smartphone, they will be able to interact in a whole new way with GameStop marketplace through the use of Azure. Ultimately, the customer and the salesperson can push the desired products to the point of sale (POS) system for order processing and payment.

What’s Another Great Example of How Microsoft is Working With Retailers to Improve Customer Engagement and Customer Experience? One example is Hardee’s new way to make ordering a meal fast and fun. Hardee’s is currently deploying self-ordering kiosks for ordering meals, using Windows 8 devices. These in-store kiosks are being tested currently in 30 restaurants with plans to extend that test to additional restaurants soon. Each kiosk allows customers to review the menu and order food and lets managers run sales and shift reports, while dramatically reducing wait times. Check out the video and read more here.

Another Example is TGI Fridays Who Has Plans to Transform the Way People Order Food by Equipping Servers with 8-inch Tablets Armed with Payment Sleeves. With the Fridays’ Service Style technology the customer’s order is processed right at the table, the device also helps manage the waiting list and queue. The solution helps ensure orders are correct, reduces training time, and streamlines waitlists.

Modern Points of Sale Connect Retailers and Customers in New Ways.  As the shopping experience becomes more modern, so does the POS. Modern POS devices are allowing retailers to better understand their customers, provide more customized service, and help them achieve compliance with new security measures being implemented in 2015.  In partnership with Panasonic, HP and FreedomPay Microsoft is demonstrating how the modern POS can create personalized retail experiences, in real-time, through smart and secure devices. With new security regulations on the horizon, retailers need to upgrade their POS devices, not only to ensure their customer data is safe, but to also be able to provide a more personalized and seamless experience at check-out. Read more about modern POS devices here.

Innovation that helps retailers understand buying behavior and customers make informed decisions.  One of the challenges in retail is to create an in-store experience that engages customers in unique ways, entices them to come in to stores, and keep them coming back. Creating those connections creates better experiences and ultimately increases sales. With the help of a Kinect sensor, AVAretail’s SmartShelf technology allows every interaction of a shelf in a store to be monitored and recorded in real-time, providing insight into which products are most selected and picked up by customers. Another form of technology, Path Tracker, gives retailers real-time detection and analysis of a customer’s shopping path.  This provides counts of people in the store, areas visited, dwell time and shopping path, acting as a heat map of where customers are spending the most time in the store.

The NEC Biometric interface with Kinect Camera System Provides Demographic and Face Recognition Services to a Kinectically Enabled Application. Retailers can use this information for analysis and for providing the customer with a more personal selling experience. MediaCart will change the shopping cart as we know it. Adding a location-aware tablet to the cart allows a retailer to present a personal and relevant shopping experience to its customer.  This allows context sensitive ads and promotions when in front of various products along with a barcode scanning capability for price lookups and basket totals.

Retailers Are Predicting Consumer Behavior With Machine Learning. As technology advances, consumers have more tools at their disposal during the buying process. This trend seems to be growing exponentially, especially as the Internet of Things (IoT) matures. This is both an opportunity and a challenge for retailers looking to capitalize on a whole new base of consumers. Competitive pressure, combined with ubiquitous connectivity, smart devices and an intelligent cloud platform is causing a shift to a new retail reality. Food delivery company JJ Food Service uses machine learning to make product recommendations as customers are shopping for food. This provides insights, saves on costs, and ensures their customers have the food they need, when they need it.

Customer Behavior Can Be Predicted. Auckland, New Zealand-based VMob runs a mobile engagement platform on Microsoft Azure which predicts likely customer behavior based on historic and live data streams. The platform currently delivers personalized content to millions of consumers around the world, including customers of McDonald’s across several European markets. The VMob platform collects real time data from multiple sources including mobile devices, wearables, location temperature sensors, WiFi transmitters, beacons, digital signage, and POS systems to personalize engagement with the customer. The VMob platform uses Azure Machine Learning to harness the Internet of Things to predict future customer behavior – transforming live and historical data streams into actionable insights McDonald’s can employ to individualize its marketing efforts. See more information about VMob’s work here.

You Want to Reach Your Customers Where They Are. For retailers to succeed, they need to reach their customers where they are.  Because of this, we are pleased to be announcing Sitecore Commerce, powered by Microsoft Dynamics. This solution integrates the experience management capabilities of the Sitecore Experience Platform with the omni-channel commerce capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail. The result is a product that allows enterprises to bridge the gap between in-store and digital experiences. We are also announcing a combined effort with Toshiba to form the Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions with Microsoft Dynamics to help retailers deliver leading customer experiences through true omni-channel customer engagements. This effort includes Toshiba delivering software and implementation services on the Dynamics platform as well as plans for the global availability of a combined solution – TCxGravity powered by Microsoft Dynamics – specifically tailored to deliver omni-channel transformation on the customer’s terms, helping it provide seamless brand experiences to build lasting loyalty.

What’s The Future of Retail? Retailers are changing the game through connected stores, empowered employees, digital engagement and ambient intelligence all geared toward delighting the modern shopper. By gathering and ingesting insight from myriad data sources, retailers can create a comprehensive understanding of each customer, its store’s inventory and the capabilities of its business to seamlessly match people with the products and services they desire.

The end result of these technologies and services, and of Microsoft’s work with retailers, is an increased focus on solutions that help grow sales and profits, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, bring products to market faster, and create a more effective business.

If you want more information, visit the Retail NewsroomThe Windows for Your Business Blog, and The Dynamics Blog.

MyPOV: I Love to shop and I love technology. So this is gonna be a great year! I can’t wait to see how cloud computing, IoT and customer experience emerge as the top competitive advantage to lead conversion rates, higher revenues and awesome customer experiences!

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences in Retail Environments
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IoT In the Auto Industry: Automakers Choose Microsoft as Connected Car Partner

What Does Mobility Mean? To Microsoft mobility means the mobility of the person, not of any single device. People now want their technology experience to move with them, from place to place and device to device, at home, at work, and on the move. And this is also true in the automotive industry and in today’s connected cars. People expect their car’s computing power to match its horsepower. And automakers are leading the way, bringing mobility solutions to their cars to meet drivers’ changing expectations, as well as enhance safety. These automakers see their cars as technology platforms, and they are choosing Microsoft as their partner.

Why are Are Automotive Giants Choosing Microsoft for IoT and Cloud? They are choosing Microsoft because we uniquely deliver end-to-end solutions from the cloud, to the device, to predictive analytics, and do so in a way that allows all our partners to innovate on top of their existing systems. Nobody else offers this breadth and depth to the auto industry.

Which Car Companies Have Chosen Microsoft for Cloud and IoT? Volvo Cars, Nissan, Harman and IAV announced  details about their partnerships with Microsoft to enhance their connected car strategies. They join Toyota, Ford, Qoros, Delphi, and other companies already working with Microsoft to bring their cars into the mobile-first, cloud-first world.

What’s the Future of The customer’s Relationship and Experience with These Connected Cars? In the near future, the car will be connected to the Internet, as well as to other cars, your mobile phone and your home computer. The car becomes a companion and an assistant to your digital life. And so our strategy is to be the ultimate platform for all intelligent cars.

At CES there were many demonstrations of a variety of mobility solutions available today and reveal new prototypes. They showed ways people can be more productive in their cars, how cars can monitor what’s happening in their surroundings to improve safety, and how cars can adapt to unique users to deliver a more personal driving experience.

  • Volvo Cars showcased new concepts that integrate Microsoft Band 2 with a Windows 10 smartphone and the Volvo on Call Universal App, creating new ways for customers to interact with their vehicles. From the new Microsoft Band, a Volvo owner can press and hold the action button and say, “Volvo, start the heater of my car,” among many other options.
  • Harman announced a collaboration with Microsoft that will integrate Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite capabilities into Harman infotainment systems. Drivers will be able to access Office 365 services and interact with them through intelligent personal assistant software to schedule meetings, hear and respond to important emails, and make Skype calls when in park, or when on the road in autonomous vehicles.
  • IAV will use Windows 10 Continuum to stream Windows 10 via a mobile device directly to a car’s dashboard, giving drivers access to Windows 10 features and apps such as Cortana, Skype for Business, Calendar, Outlook and Groove Music while the vehicle is in autonomous driving mode or parked. This integration allows drivers to use the devices they already own. Microsoft and IAV will also demo how to use Cortana Analytics and data from a vehicle’s surroundings to improve safety by anticipating and mitigating potential vehicle and pedestrian accidents.

In addition, Nissan Motor Company and Microsoft announced that all Nissan LEAF and Infiniti models in Europe will have Connect Telematics Systems (CTS) powered by Microsoft Azure.

Why Is Microsoft A Good Partner for the Auto Industry, IoT, Cloud Computing and Awesome Customer Experiences? Automakers are choosing Microsoft as their connected car partner to help them transform the consumer experience with a platform for intelligent cars that complements their own strategies and ambitions. With this partner focus, they are able to leverage their cloud-based intelligence technologies, productivity services and tools, and even personal assistant technologies like Cortana in a neutral manner.

They are able to strike the right balance between using data to create both intelligent and personal experiences, while helping maintain privacy and security. They are also able to create more natural, human computing interfaces. And, they are able to develop and deploy secure platforms and infrastructure to enable innovation on top of existing systems.

My POV: Why Are Partnerships The Path to Innovation? It’s simply that when we collaborate we are a better we, than a single me. At least that’s my saying. I am always a better me when I collaborate. With respect to Microsoft and the auto industry they are partnering to build mutual value, not to compete. The value of a true partnership comes when one is able to help automakers accelerate their mobile and cloud strategies and unlock new experiences for consumers, like no one else can.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences
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IoT Leadership Forum Helps Customers Digitally Transform Their Business

Is IoT Relevant to Today’s Companies? Today’s enterprises span a spectrum of engagement when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT). Some are beginning an exploration around IoT, some are actively implementing new capabilities to build for the future and some are well along in their deployments with expansive plans for transforming their business. Wherever an enterprise is with their use of IoT, they can benefit from expert insight to help them accomplish their goals.

How Can Companies Learn About IoT, Cloud Computing and Creating Awesome Customer Experiences? For large enterprise customers with complex environments, IoT implementations bring both challenges and an abundance of opportunities to transform their business. To help customers on their journey, we began hosting the Azure IoT Leadership Forum on our Redmond campus last May. The forum is part of their broader approach to partnering with customers on IoT, and is a great place to both learn from Microsoft experts and hear from other leading companies on how to realize the value of IoT.

Who Attends These Forums? At the second IoT Leadership Forum they  welcomed significant leaders in the IoT space. More than a dozen Azure IoT customers from several industries attended the two-day session to learn from special guests and the executive team. Participants included 3M, Caterpillar, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Mitsubishi Electric, Rockwell Automation, Rolls Royce, Sandvik, Schlumberger, Schneider Electric, ThyssenKrupp, Weir Group and Grundfos.

What Were The Sessions About? The sessions covered numerous topics but shared a common goal: Helping customers with best practices in making IoT solutions a reality, looking past the hype and learning from right-sized examples. They spoke about the new Azure IoT Suite and how it dramatically accelerates time to value in IoT. Tim Mallalieu described how the Azure Customer Advisory Team (AzureCAT) takes a hands-on approach to helping companies in their IoT journeys and offered best practice advice. There were also expert consultants, including Geoffrey Moore Consulting, The Boston Consulting Group and The York Group. Kurt DelBene who joined the sessions along with other Microsoft execs, all of whom shared insights and lessons learned in IoT.

What is the Most Prevalent Theme in the IoT Forums? Throughout the event, one of the most prevalent themes that emerged was the disruptive role IoT is playing in business already. Whether it is dramatic increases in operational efficiencies, big reductions in costs or enabling entirely new business models, it’s clear that organizations across industries must “disrupt or be disrupted” as IoT technology continues to create new waves of innovation.

Though each customer who participated is in a different phase of its own IoT journey, they all shared a common goal of unlocking new business value through this exciting new technology wave. As entire industries use IoT to transform themselves, they will continue to provide collaborative two-day sessions to arm customers with the best-in-class technology, deep insights and best practices to help them succeed.

Where Can You Learn More? Check out the IoT home page to learn more about Microsoft’s vision and how IoT is already transforming business for their customers.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences
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The Secret to Success in IoT: Microsoft Partner ICONICS Shares It’s IoT Cloud Experiences

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? The Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic these days. Unlike many overhyped technology visions over the years, IoT has the underpinnings today to start happening throughout the developed world. Sensors everywhere. Ubiquitous mobile wireless communications. Powerful data analytics. Graphic visualization tools.

Although the Internet of Things (IoT) often refers to connected devices in a personal or industrial setting, it also has the potential to unlock vast opportunities in many cities today, from energy management in civic buildings to traffic monitoring to public services. But that wealth of possibilities can be overwhelming to local governments, as public agencies try to find ways to get started with IoT while making the most of limited resources. The CityNext blog has some  advice from guest blogger Melissa Topp of Microsoft partner ICONICS: Don’t try to do it all at once. Instead, pick one thing and spend time getting it right before expanding your Cloud IOT program.

So Pick Your Best Bet And Get Started on IoT! ICONICS works with Microsoft to deliver cutting-edge tools for infrastructure, mobility and analytics, on a Microsoft Azure cloud platform that reduces capital investment and dramatically expands data storage and processing capabilities. In her post, Topp explains how a recent smart energy management project for Peirce Elementary School in Arlington, Mass., illustrates the keys to success for cities’ IoT Cloud deployments. By starting with a single project — in this case, cutting summer operating costs in a school building — then focusing on that problem until they had it right, and finally expanding their program in phases, the school’s administrators were able to discover and resolve equipment problems and lower energy costs. Topp’s experience is a good reminder to businesses in any industry that IoT deployments don’t have to be massive and overwhelming to make an impact.

Want To learn More About How Microsoft IoT Helps Cities and Businesses? Here’s a link to understand how this can happen and while you are taking a look at this consider how, when a city changes how it does things, how does that affect the experience of the customer of that city? It’s huge!

IoT Can Be Daunting for City Governments. After all, with just one of Google’s self-driving cars gathering 750 MB of sensor data every second of driving time, the amount of data that a fully wired city would generate in a second would have to be in the petabytes. What’s more, cities would have to figure out where to put all that data. It’d be a bigger problem than Boston had finding places to put all its snow during last winter’s relentless blizzards! But it doesn’t have to be daunting. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Think of IoT as the same thing. Don’t try to do everything. Just pick one aspect of your business where it will have a real impact to revenue generation, cost savings, and the customer experience.

Wired (IoT) Cities Drive Better Experiences. Nonetheless, cities around the world are “wiring up,” as the many Microsoft CityNext customer stories can attest. Among those cities are also many ICONICS customers. They’re successfully transforming themselves through greater operational visibility and efficiencies using our HMI/SCADA, mobility, and analytics tools for cutting-edge energy and sustainability solutions.

In working with hundreds of cities worldwide, we’ve found that their successful deployments typically have three common hallmarks that we might call “secrets” of their success.

  • First, they chose one place to start, many with a specific need in their municipal utilities, water treatment facilities, transportation systems, or schools.
  • Second, they focused their limited resources and energies on that starting point to ensure it worked, taking as many lessons as they could from it.
  • Third, they didn’t try to solve everything at once, but rolled out their deployments in phases.

What is An Example of a City That Has Gone Down The IoT Path? Arlington, Massachusetts, a town of 43,000 people six miles northwest of Boston, started with the need of its public schools to consolidate summer operations into one building, Peirce Elementary School. To help save air-conditioning costs, the district bought a new chiller, but it also sought energy management software. After evaluating competitors’ offerings, it chose ICONICS Facility AnalytiX hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Using Azure eliminated the need for any upfront capital expenditures in IT infrastructure.

Facility AnalytiX uses advanced Fault Detection and Diagnostics (FDD) technology. FDD works via customizable fault rules that weigh the probability of equipment failure. It then alerts staff to actions they can take when faults occur.

IoT Focus Helps Save Time and Money. When equipment fails, the software analyzes current and historical information (along with symptom/cause relationships), executes predictive algorithms, and provides a list of possible causes sorted by probability. This information is securely available to all key stakeholders from desktops, browsers and smart devices such as Microsoft Surface tablets. FDD helped the district cut the time its HVAC contractors spend searching for malfunctions by as much as 20 percent.

The Facility AnalytiX software also showed that the chiller was unnecessarily turning itself on and off every five minutes. This cost the district energy and would potentially reduce the chiller’s lifespan, as constant cycling would put more wear on the equipment. The software helped the district save 20 percent of its energy consumption the first winter after installation.

When You Implement IoT, Phase it in With Fast, Easy Cloud Scalability. With the success of Arlington’s deployment of smart energy-management software in that single elementary school, the town is already working to adopt it to another school. And government buildings are likely candidates for additional deployments. In other words, it found one place to start; focused its resources on making it work; and is taking a phased approach.

With Microsoft Azure, adding those buildings to Arlington’s Facility AnalytiX operations dashboard is fast, easy, and economical. That’s because, by simply connecting to existing HVAC equipment, sensors, and SCADA network hookups, Azure can spin up another instance of Facility AnalytiX with just a series of mouse clicks.

Arlington is just one of many examples from the ICONICS customer base of a city that is implementing IoT — sometimes without actually realizing it — to improve operational visibility and lower costs. As the town adds more buildings to its smart-energy network, those benefits will continue to grow.

With Microsoft Azure, it won’t need to add any IT infrastructure that requires money, maintenance, repairs, and upgrades. In effect, Microsoft Azure is a standby IT resource for Arlington, just waiting to be tapped whenever new demands arise.

Want to Learn More About Cities, Clouds and IoT? For more ICONICS IoT customer stories or to learn more about ICONICS products and solutions, visit www.iconics.com/IoT. Learn more about ICONICS’ smart city solutions on Twitter. Follow Microsoft CityNext on Twitter for news, trends, and smart city solutions.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Cloud, IOT and Customer Experiences
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Nissan Selects Microsoft Azure Cloud to Power Nissan Telematics System

How Do You Meet Customer Experience Expectations in Electric Vehicle’s? Start with the Cloud. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Microsoft Corp.  announced that all Nissan LEAF models and Infiniti models in Europe will have Connect Telematics Systems (CTS) powered by Microsoft Azure. Since the Nissan LEAF’s launch in 2010, more than 200,000 have been sold worldwide, making it the world’s best-selling electric vehicle. Nissan selected Azure to meet customers’ expectations about in-vehicle mobility solutions, create additional ways to interact with their vehicles, and enhance safety.

What Do the Next Generation Of Customers Want In their Cars? Nissan knows. They design cars to meet the needs of the next generation of car buyers, the environmentally conscious “digital natives.” Having transformed the performance, practicality and public perception of EVs around the world since the LEAF’s launch, Nissan remains one of the leaders in EV technology. The connectivity to their owners and to the world around them makes electric cars more attractive and convenient. Maps, range prediction, charging station availability, charge status, plus all the services customers have come to expect when inside a vehicle are dependent on that connectivity. Azure provides a global cloud platform with cutting-edge security that allows Nissan to deliver services worldwide to this broad customer base.

How Does the Cloud and Nissan Work Together To Create Better Customer Experiences? Nissan CTS is coupled to Azure, allowing a remote connection to the vehicle. With CTS, Nissan LEAF drivers can perform a range of functions on their car, while not even inside. These include using mobile phones to turn on and adjust climate controls and set charging functions remotely even when the vehicle is powered down. An onboard timer can also be programmed to start the charging event.

What About The Cloud and Customer Privacy and Security vs Their Customer Experience? As countries and regulations become more stringent on data privacy and technology standards, Nissan and Microsoft are committed to investing in meeting regulatory standards around the globe. Nissan selected Azure because of its enterprise-grade security and compliance. Microsoft was the first major cloud provider to adopt the world’s first international cloud privacy standard, ISO 27018, providing another reason enterprise customers can move with confidence to Azure. Azure supports multiple operating systems, programming languages and tools, providing flexibility and choice for Nissan.

Why Is Voice Control In Cars So Important? With the standard Hands-Free Text Messaging Assistant for all Nissan LEAF around the world, drivers can manage incoming text messages via voice control without taking their hands from the wheel or their eyes off the road. Drivers are alerted to an incoming text and, after initiating the system, can hear the text read out loud and respond by voice, or via the steering wheel switches using preset answers such as “driving, can’t text,” “on my way,” “running late,” “okay.” These experiences are powered by the back-end connectivity and support of Azure.

Nissan can also send over-the-air “point of interest” (POI) updates as they become available, enabling customers to have the latest information as the company continues to refresh its services. Connectivity to Azure allows Nissan to bring new connected features to market faster and offer flexibility for the future.

How Does the Cloud Play in The Data Management Area? The partnership allows Nissan to tap into Microsoft’s deep expertise across critical areas such as data management and analytics. Azure offers Nissan the scale and commitment to security it needs to support its global operations. The expansive global footprint of Microsoft’s datacenters provides the coverage to support Nissan’s vehicles anywhere they are in the world.

Notes from the Executives: Celso Guiotoko, chief information officer and corporate vice president in charge of global corporate IS/IT, Nissan said, “Microsoft Azure will help us deliver a more innovative and intelligent future for our connected technologies. This is also a bold first step toward innovations that will realize future new mobility.”

Nissan’s connected platform powered by Azure is allowing Nissan to continue to provide its customers with exceptional value and add new services throughout the vehicle life cycle.

Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development, Microsoft said, “Our partnership with Nissan shows what automakers can accomplish by tapping into Microsoft’s intelligent cloud platform. Further, our collaboration reveals tremendous possibilities for how consumers can get more out of their connected driving experience.

 

My POV: As we become more accustomed to thinking about the cloud and the conveniences it brings to the automotive industry, something very near and dear to many American’s hearts, we see that the cloud and IoT are really transforming the way we will be traveling in the future, the very near and present future.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences

 

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