For this blog I want to talk about the race to the cloud. In fact, I am going to focus on Microsoft Azure IoT (Internet of Things) specifically because I spent a lot of time interviewing Sam George, vice president of Azure IoT at Microsoft. What a truly smart guy. He’s not only smart, but he’s someone who can talk intelligently about what Microsoft is doing, how it is competing in the cloud space because he’s been through the IoT transition as a company and now the company is taking a competitive stance in the cloud arms race.

But first I have to tell you all a little joke I opened up The Peggy Smedley Show on Tuesday. Every morning I talk with my 94-year-old mother-in-law. She always asks how my day is going to be. She knows on Tuesday’s I am going to host my show. I also mentioned that I was going to interview a truly engaging executive from Microsoft who was going to talk about the cloud and how we are connecting all our devices to it. So, she said, “Is this the reason we don’t have any sun these days is that everyone is putting everything in the cloud?” She just might be right with all this climate change.

When we think of cloud leaders Microsoft is without a doubt at the top of list. So this week I had a lot of questions and I spent 45 minutes asking George everything I could think of and more. He proved to be one of the most impressive guests. But I guess with a 20-year and counting career at Microsoft that should come as no surprise. In fact, what I found most intriguing for readers is that he has actually gone through the IoT transition as a company and admits it wasn’t an easy one.

As he said on my show, “There was fits and starts along the way, but ultimately we prevailed.” I have written that the IoT is not without its challenge more than once. In fact, the IoT is about people, process, and technology. It takes time. The people involved must start small with a small project and get a win under your belt. Build that understanding and confidence. George reaffirmed this point through his own experience.

He explained that Microsoft gathered a lot of its own lessons learned and understanding for how to implement the IoT, years ago when the company went from running its own central IT on premise to now being all cloud powered.

He openly admitted the journey is an eye-opener for the manufacturing team and they discovered how to reconfigure products as simple as laptops and home devices. Most people wouldn’t think that a company that is as big as Microsoft would have to experience the hurdles of being disconnected to being fundamentally connected, and finally realizing how to fully maximize all the advantages of what the IoT, cloud, AI (artificial intelligence), and these technologies have to offer. But it did.

The best way for any manufacturer, retailer, transportation, smart building, construction firm, or whatever, can learn is to recognize that even the behemoths have to travel the rough roads before they can realize the benefits just like the rest of the world. George said, Microsoft is a very humble place.

One of the key points he noted was that under the leadership of Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, the company adopted some great practices. First, having a growth mindset, being very humble, and partnering.

Those three points really do lend themselves well to today’s digital transformation and being disruptive in an ever-changing world.

George notes that it’s a “zero sum game with a winner take all market.” And the goal for Microsoft is to be No. 1 leaving Google and Amazon in the dust. Microsoft is committed to developing deep partnerships, and a rich eco-system that will help those customers and partners transform as well.

In April 2018, Microsoft announced it would spend the next four years investing $5 billion in the Internet of Things. What is now the intelligent edge is truly coming to life for the Seattle-based company and its goal to transform every business, in every industry with connected solutions. Today the company has more than 100 new services and features in its IoT platform. I guess you could say its living up to its word. In today’s day and age isn’t that nice to see and hear?

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