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Want to know what experts see as the biggest Internet of Things (IoT) trends that you need to pay attention to? We recently interviewed key industry experts at Microsoft’s IoT in Action event in Santa Clara to get their take on the top trends that are helping to transform business and accelerate IoT solution development.

IoT in Action is an event series where attendees can gain actionable insights, deepen partnerships and unlock the potential of intelligent edge and intelligent cloud solutions. 

Meanwhile, keep on reading to see what these IoT experts had to say.

Simplified solutions from edge to cloud

IoT is continuing to get easier. And that’s good news, according to Tim Richie from Buddy. He says that for his clients, who run facilities and operations teams, simplification is desperately needed. They’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it. He stated, “Being able to have a simplified, secure solution is absolutely critical. So, the more we can do as an industry to simplify that information, the better off we’ll be.”

Tony Puopolo from Cradle Point agrees, and he feels that IoT solution accelerators are key to simplification. “No one’s building everything for everybody. You can’t do that. But with the solution accelerator, it’s just massively simplifying that, saying ‘here’s the problem I’m trying to solve’ and taking it from beginning to end.”

Another trend enabling simplification is the intelligent edge. Like many of his colleagues, Cory Minton of Dell AMC feels that innovations around the intelligent edge are key to advancing and streamlining IoT. He says that oftentimes, data being created at the edge has the most value for analytical uses, and it doesn’t always make sense to bring edge data back to the cloud. Intelligent edge is enabling us to act and make decisions at the edge. And Microsoft is an innovator in that space.

Holistic, end-to-end security

IoT security can be tricky due to all the moving parts. In addition to infrastructure, huge volumes of personal and company data must be safeguarded. Add in the comprehensive need for security around devices, sensors, connectivity, and the cloud—not to mention the creative ways that hackers can use an aquarium thermostat to break into a system—one can understand the hesitation that many have around IoT.

But IoT technology providers have started to show how serious they are about thwarting cyberattacks, putting end-to-end security at the core of their offerings. IoT solutions are becoming increasingly trustworthy, instilling greater confidence in companies wanting to dip their toe into the world of IoT.

Of course, Microsoft has always put security at the center of our solutions, and Cory Minton from Dell AMC believes that Microsoft is helping to lead the way when it comes to IoT security.

“Some of the work that Microsoft is doing around certificate-based authentication, moving away from passwords, moving to certified registries, and simply creating containerized applications that are more tightly coupled to the underlying microservices is all pushing us towards a much more secure environment.”

This year, Microsoft also released Azure Sphere, considered the industry’s most holistic solution for securing connected MCUs. According to Shawn Jack from Advantech, “There’s a lot of companies interested in being able to bring security out to the end point, the edge device, that’s actually collecting sensor data.”

The Microsoft name has also provided a level of comfort for companies looking at IoT, according to Tim Richie. “As a young company, being able to pull the Microsoft name with regard to security just makes our clients far more comfortable that our solution is not going to be hacked, that nobody is going to find data or be able to get into their IT infrastructure.”

Intriguing innovations on the horizon

IoT experts are extremely optimistic about where the IoT ecosystem is headed in the next three to five years with impacts that range from technology mashups to verticalized solutions to broader democratization of IoT.

Dave Stanton from Wipro Digital says IoT is going to making existing infrastructure smarter—an idea that is appetizing to customers reticent to scrap their investments:

“There’s going to be a lot more in this idea of greenfield over brownfield, where you’re adding IoT as a layer over existing infrastructure versus trying to rip stuff out.”

Tony Puopolo also believes that solutions are going to become extremely verticalized, going from highly customized to “rinse and repeat,” solving very specific industry problems. “So, when you look at what Microsoft’s really done with taking a solution 80% of the way, we’re going to see solutions really get to 100% of the way.”

The mashup of technology is what intrigues Shawn Jack of Advantech. He believes that the combination of VR, AR, AI and 5G with IoT are going to spark some unique innovations. “I think all that’s going to become more affordable for connectivity and be able to run some of these new workflows that at one time may have been just for gaming. But now you’re going to find it in healthcare. You’re going to find it in autonomous driving. You’re going to find it in robotics. I think it’s exciting to see all these various building blocks coming together, and really it’s merging onto this superhighway for IoT.”

The possibilities are nearly limitless when it comes to IoT. Companies that embrace IoT now, as well as innovations on the near horizon stand to benefit the most. If you’re interested in learning more about IoT and how to take full advantage of the possibilities, be sure to register for an IoT in Action event near you. You can take advantage of a hands-on Virtual Bootcamp that demonstrates how you can help speed up implementation of IoT solutions by leveraging templates, Azure IoT Central, Azure Sphere and more.

Justin Slade

Justin Slade

Justin is part of the Microsoft IoT Channel Marketing team and is responsible for developing channel marketing programs – such as IoT in Action – that target Microsoft’s IoT partner ecosystem & build awareness of Microsoft IoT solutions.