The Transformation of Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS as Car Manufacturing Platforms of the Future

The Transformation of Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS as Car Manufacturing Platforms of the Future

I noted many months ago that winning in the automotive sector will mean focusing on the edges of the smiling curve. Yes, the companies that just focus on making cars will not be the ones creating most values in the industry. The ones making the intelligent solutions for future transportation will transform the sector. So, Intel is a better car company than Ford because Intel is investing in making better computing systems for future cars. Those devices are specialized systems, and more premium, than the boxes we know as cars, which unfortunately are increasingly commoditized.

Last year I made a case that Intel (the owner of Mobileye) was a better car company than Tesla. The premise of my thesis was that making car has become a commoditized business with largely marginal margins.  I used the Aggregation Construct and Smiling Curve to explain that car makers will see long-term diminished value while aggregators (Uber,  Taxify) and parts producers like Intel, Bosch and Invidia will rule. Largely, it could be like the old PC era where microprocessor makers like Intel generated huge value while those packaging PCs like Dell and HP diminished. Indeed, companies making cars today will become like those packaging PCs in boxes.

Evidently, car companies have understood this redesign and are now investing in technology with companies known for innovations and technology-anchored transformations. Yes, BMW and Microsoft are going to work together to develop and build an Open Manufacturing Platform to seed the future of intelligent manufacturing. GE had called that industrial internet, and it is going to be the defining elements of future manufacturing where factories become intelligent as all the elements will be smartly connected.

Today, at Hannover Messe, Microsoft Corp. and the BMW Group announced a new community initiative to enable faster, more cost-effective innovation in the manufacturing sector. In manufacturing today, production and profitability can be hindered by complex, proprietary systems that create data silos and slow productivity. The Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP) is designed to break down these barriers through the creation of an open technology framework and cross-industry community. The initiative is expected to support the development of smart factory solutions that will be shared by OMP participants across the automotive and broader manufacturing sectors. The goal is to significantly accelerate future industrial IoT developments, shorten time to value and drive production efficiencies while addressing common industrial challenges.

Built on the Microsoft Azure industrial IoT cloud platform, the OMP is intended to provide community members with a reference architecture with open source components based on open industrial standards and an open data model. In addition to facilitating collaboration, this platform approach is designed to unlock and standardize data models that enable analytics and machine learning scenarios — data that has traditionally been managed in proprietary systems. Utilizing industrial use cases and sample code, community members and other partners will have the capability to develop their own services and solutions while maintaining control over their data.

This is Microsoft Azure at work just as Amazon has partnered with Volkswagen. What is happening with cloud is an industrial design where future cars will be built on Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS. Of course, Google Cloud is powering Waymo, the autonomous car company within Google’s parent holding firm (Alphabet).

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