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Over the last few months, I have seen some shining partner examples of how new technologies are revolutionizing various industry verticals including healthcare, retail, and finance. It is truly inspiring to see how partners are driving success in such a fast-paced market.

Beyond business success, our partners are making a powerful impact on the lives of our customers with transformative technologies such as IoT, AI, and cloud computing. The manufacturing industry is a particularly interesting case study of how digital transformation is occurring each and every day.

Embracing Industry 4.0

There are so many changes taking place in manufacturing that experts have coined a new name for this period of disruption, Industry 4.0. The collective term embraces the fourth industrial revolution and recognizes the contemporary automation, data, and cloud-based technologies that are changing what it means to do business in this vertical.

Smart manufacturing, IoT, digital supply chains and other innovations are helping businesses maximize outcomes through greater productivity and efficiency. IDC predicts that by the end of 2017, the manufacturing sector will see revenue growth from information-based products double that of the rest of the product or service portfolio for a third of Forbes’ Global2000 companies.

Here are just a few examples of Microsoft partners leveraging this amazing opportunity.

Track’em


Track’em is a partner that I met last year at WPC and then had an opportunity to catch up with again in my travels to Australia. They are a great example of a partner disrupting the manufacturing space. The software platform enables users to monitor anything and everything using a combination of barcode, GPS, 3D analytics, RFID, and IoT technologies. This allows businesses to literally track the location, condition, and status of assets and resources 24/7 through all stages of its life cycle, saving companies millions of dollars in lost productivity and materials.

Track‘em is a 100% Azure platform integrated with IOT Hub and Office 365. This unique suite of products is perfect for companies who need to track and manage assets and productivity, which in the manufacturing and engineering arena is just about anyone. Tracked data can be viewed on a map and analyzed using Power BI and other business intelligence tools. It enables businesses with the knowledge of the exact location of a scanned item, where it was scanned, and by whom. It eliminates vast amounts of wasted time and resources spent searching for materials on large worksites and reduces waste on the largest of scales.

“Asset tracking and control is a rapidly changing field with new technology and innovations being used in the last decade. Previously, projects used labor-intensive manual processing to track assets which ultimately were susceptible to higher supply chain costs due to inefficient techniques and the potential for human error. Asset tracking technology now is focused on IoT, RFID, GPS and other wireless technology in conjunction with sophisticated software applications which provides for a more accurate and efficient management system.”
-Kashif Saleem, Track’em

Founder and CEO Kashif Saleem shared with me that their products have been very well received on large scale Oil and Gas, Mining and construction projects, such that referrals count for a significant portion of their business. The idea was born from Kashif’s time as an IT consultant at a mine site, where he saw the loss and misplacement of materials were costing his clients hundreds and thousands of dollars. He seized the opportunity to solve a business problem and is proud to deliver a new generation of asset control and tracking solutions to the industry.

Mesh Systems

Another interesting story is that of Mesh Systems. They are doing some very interesting work using the cloud to help harness energy from renewable energy sources. When presented with the complex problem of balancing power grids, they have turned humble water heaters into a giant, community battery which aggregates storage capacity.

Richard Baxter, co-founder and CEO of Mesh Systems says that the application is a game changer because this is a solution he feels can make a real difference in the world.

Renewable energy sources such as wind farms and solar panels are notoriously unpredictable. That’s why so many communities rely on base-load electricity (often from a non-renewable energy source such as coal). In collaboration with Steffes Corporation, Mesh Systems have designed Grid-Interactive Electric Thermal Storage water heaters that allow utilities to spread excess energy leveraging the power of Microsoft Azure. The solution uses predictive analytics to distribute energy to existing space and water heaters within tens of thousands of units giving the grid the ability to store, capture, and use energy even when it’s produced before it’s needed. Azure allows the solution to match supply and demand and enables the utility to spread the storage as much as is needed.

“When you can aggregate then command and control a network, you begin offering a load resource that utilities need, and give them the ability to integrate renewable energy that would otherwise be wasted.”
– Richard Baxter, Mesh Systems

eLynx

When it comes to predictive analytics, eLynx has transformed the oil and gas industry in real time. The innovative Microsoft partner provides highly valuable analytics and monitoring of oil wells so that customers can manage their assets remotely. Using Microsoft Azure, eLynx has gathered 15 years of data from oil and gas wells and are now using Cortana Analytics to alert customers of future issues before they happen. They do this through behavior anomaly detection, failure prediction, product optimization, and lease operating expense optimization.

As one of the only companies in the oil and gas industry with the quality and quantity of data required to create advanced predictive analytics models, eLynx knew they had to do right by that data. They focused on migrating their 400 customers and all related data to the cloud and set about recruiting the best analytics team possible to set themselves apart within the industry. They have worked closely with clients (including industry heavy-weights such as Shell and ConocoPhillips) to fine-tune their products. To date, they have monitored of 40,000 oil and gas wells for over 400 customers in 22 states and 8 foreign countries.

“The downturn in the oil and gas industry is challenging producers and service companies to operate more efficiently. This means finding ways to produce more oil and gas while lowering capital costs and operating expenses. These underlying forces have driven the evolution of the digital oil field and will have a significant impact on industry productivity. In addition, competition is causing US producers to view “big data” as a valued resource for the development of analytics products that will become essential to make informed business decisions in the future.”
-Jason Kraiss, VP of Bus Dev, eLynx

It never ceases to amaze me the power of our partners: the impact, the work and the difference they make in the business of our customers. I love to hear your stories, so keep them coming.

What industrial innovations are you most interested to see in action? Share your thoughts in the comments below.