REDMOND, Wash.—May 31, 2012— Last September, Microsoft unveiled a concept for intelligent systems, a new category of business solution that will help enterprise customers extract richer levels of data so they can drive greater efficiency, increase customer loyalty and identify new opportunities for business revenue. Together with IDC and Intel, the company’s Windows Embedded Business committed itself to provide its partners and enterprise customers with the tools to harness intelligent systems for their own benefit.
Many people may be unaware of Windows Embedded or the thousands of ways they interact with Windows technology every day through the use of embedded devices, which are increasingly being put to work throughout the enterprise.
May 30, 2012
Microsoft identified six key attributes as essential for an intelligent system to deliver sustainable business value: identity, security, connectivity, manageability, analytics and user experience.
With pervasive connectivity, embedded devices can now be connected across a corporate network to software and services running on the backend or in the cloud. The result is an end-to-end business solution that generates data, analyzes it in real time, and transforms it into business insight that helps guide decisions and increases a company’s bottom line. According to IDC, intelligent systems currently represent a $649 billion market, which is expected to increase from 1.1 billion unit shipments today to 2.6 billion unit shipments by 2016. 1
For partners, this opens up a whole new range of business opportunities. Previously, embedded devices operated autonomously, with virtually no connection to a company’s network. But with intelligent systems embedded devices can become the endpoints for a larger solution. Whether a vertical solution provider is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), an independent software vendor (ISV), a systems integrator (SI) or a value-added reseller (VAR), they play a central role—not only in providing the hardware or application, but also in developing and integrating the software and services that will interact with the hardware.
By leveraging their expertise, vertical solution providers can develop intelligent systems that revolve around a specific business scenario. For example, an OEM that builds monitors for healthcare facilities could also develop a records management solution that routes a patient’s health information to the appropriate medical staff throughout a clinic. A manufacturer of point-of-sale solutions could also develop an inventory or customer relationship management solution.
Enterprise customers use that data to generate real-time operational intelligence that drives their business decisions for the immediate future, as well as for long-term planning. Examples of intelligent systems have already started appearing within the retail, healthcare, manufacturing and automotive industries, confirming that there are plenty of new business opportunities for partners.
Equipping Partners to Create the Right Solution
When Windows Embedded general manager Kevin Dallas shared the Windows Embedded product roadmap last fall, he assured partners that they could use their existing Microsoft skills to create intelligent systems, which would work with multiple devices and could span the network and into the cloud. As part of its commitment, the company also expanded its Windows Embedded Partner Program (WEPP) to help vertical solution providers—from OEMs, to ISVs, to vertical systems integrators—make the most of these new opportunities.
Since the expansion, the number of partners that have attained Gold and Silver partner status has nearly doubled, with more than 100 companies having qualified from around the world. Among the Gold and Silver partners are Mindray, a Chinese developer of medical devices; NCR, a U.S.-based developer of kiosk and retail point-of-sale systems; Emerson Network Power, a provider of telecom, medical and industrial automation solutions, also located in the U.S.; and ScanSource, a pan-European distributor of automatic data collection, EPoS and mobility solutions for the retail, hospitality and telecommunications industries. Other partners include Netherlands-based Philips , a provider of multimedia and health information systems for hospitals, and Aristocrat Technologies, an Australian supplier of technologies and services to the international gaming community.
Additional resources are being developed that will give partners a solid grasp of the intelligent system. This combination of the latest Microsoft technologies, business capabilities training and go-to-market resources will help partners deliver added value to their customers through the power of software, enabling them to leverage their investments in intelligent systems as strategic assets.
One of the resources still being developed is focused on the six key attributes that Microsoft identified as essential for an intelligent system to deliver sustainable business value: identity, security, connectivity, manageability, analytics and user experience. Security, connectivity and the ability to manage identity are foundational to creating an intelligent system, whereas user experience, device management and analytics are more advanced and enable customers to unlock the business potential of Intelligent Systems.
Identifying a Customer’s IT Maturity
Microsoft also adapted the Infrastructure Optimization (IO) model to the six attributes of an intelligent system so companies can assess their current state of intelligent systems adoption.
Microsoft developed the IO model in part with Gartner and IDC, and for six years the company has used it as a structured approach to help companies assess the maturity of their technology infrastructure across the hardware, software and services, and the application platform of developer tools and resources. Conducting this assessment helps create a road map for how companies can continue to develop their IT infrastructure, get more value out of their investment and, ultimately, transform it into a strategic asset that bolsters their businesses.
When partners have completed the training, they will be able to more accurately identify potential enterprise customers, help enterprise customers get a better understanding of the maturity of their IT infrastructure and create an intelligent system that helps them reach their desired level of maturity.
“Embedded systems have always been about the combination of dedicated hardware and dedicated software. As we move toward intelligent systems, the importance of software and services integration is becoming more critical,” says Barb Edson, General Manager of Marketing and Business Development for Windows Embedded. “Our goal is to provide partners with the right tools to help their customers get the most strategic value out of their investment.”
Going to Market with Microsoft
In addition to the technical training, WEPP is providing marketing resources and webinars to help partners discuss customized solutions with their customers. Edson says many OEMs she’s spoken with see a clear need for such resources. For example, a digital signage vendor that was new to the enterprise market realized its need to expand the conversation with customers beyond the hardware and OS to the additional services that it could provide on top of its hardware.
Says Edson: “Intelligent systems provide a great opportunity for partners to expand what they’re doing and provide full solutions that become a critical part of a customer’s business. The new resources we’re rolling out will help OEMs make that shift and will drive new business opportunities with them, to them and through them.”
To join the WEPP or receive additional information, please visit www.windowsembeddedpartners.com/join.
1 IDC, The Next Stage Of Computing: Intelligent Systems, doc #234027, March 2012