Microsoft recently wrapped up its annual Ignite event, which previews upcoming product releases and showcases product updates. In the IoT (Internet of Things) world, Ignite has become an event to watch, because Microsoft’s hands are in so many IoT-related pies. This year’s conference included Azure news and other updates of note in enterprise security, AI (artificial intelligence)-enhanced productivity tools, and more. Many updates and announcements were in the realm of enabling the future of work and how emerging technologies can facilitate collaboration in this new era. The company also released some research reflecting trends to watch in the IoT space.

In the Azure realm, Microsoft highlighted many new innovations in hybrid, multi-cloud, and edge computing. For instance, at Ignite, the company released an Azure Arc-enabled machine learning capabilities update, which will allow customers to do inferencing to enable predictions using machine-learning models anywhere. There were also several security-related announcements. Microsoft announced new capabilities for Microsoft Defender for Cloud, and it extended Microsoft Defender for IoT to enterprise IoT devices. The company also rolled out new identity security capabilities across the cloud and on-premises to further help customers adopt a zero-trust approach.

At Ignite, Microsoft made several announcements geared toward facilitating the future of work, including Context IQ, an integrated AI experience across Microsoft 365 that can “predict, seek, and suggest” information that users need. The company is also working toward embedding computing in the real world by integrating Microsoft Mesh, its metaverse platform, into Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Mesh leverages mixed-reality applications to enable “presence” and shared experiences no matter where participants are physically located. For instance, the solution offers holoportation—technology that allows users to project photorealistic versions of themselves (or avatar versions of themselves) in a mixed-reality setting and interact with others as if they were together in person.

Another example is a new app called Microsoft Loop, which Microsoft describes as a new way to work together across its applications. The company says it designed this application for “the new world of work.” Loop organizes files, links, and data from other apps into a single, united workplace, allowing remote coworkers to work together more seamlessly. This type of seamless collaboration will be incredibly important for current and future remote and hybrid work models.

Finally, Microsoft’s new 2021 IoT Signals report identifies five key trends that are shaping IoT adoption. The report says 90% of the organizations surveyed are adopting the IoT, and the top reasons for adoption include quality, security, and resource optimization. Other trends include the fact COVID is driving IoT adoption across industries and the fact that IoT security is a priority—with 91% of those surveyed indicating they’re concerned about security. The IoT Signals report also suggests reducing technical complexity helps speed IoT time to market and that emerging technologies are a big part of organizations’ IoT adoption strategies. In particular, the report identifies AI, digital twins, and edge computing as key emerging technologies for those adopting the IoT.

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