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Honeywell Partners with Microsoft Azure to Drive Industrial Productivity
by Daniel Newman | October 22, 2020

The News: CHARLOTTE, N.C. and REDMOND, WA, October 22, 2020 — Honeywell (NYSE: HON) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced today that Honeywell will bring to market its domain-specific applications built on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to drive new levels of productivity for industrial clients. The partnership will deliver to customers more efficiency, simplicity, enhanced data and better insights in managing their workplaces. Read the full news release.

Analyst Take: Over the past few months I have seen continuous strategic moves by Honeywell that have confirmed the companies direction as a leader in industrial technology, but also as an innovator in the industrial space that is rapidly adopting to market forces–in this case the migration toward modernized IT architectures and cloud.

Much of this can be seen with the companies overall approach to its HCE business, which is Honeywell Connected Enterprise and the launch of its Forge platform. The platform itself focuses on leveraging hybrid cloud, flexible container based architectures and more seamless integration with traditional IT. Just this past week the company announced a new life safety offering that took this approach. But this shifting Honeywell approach isn’t being done in isolation and that is what has been so encouraging. I am certain that IT and OT convergence will continue to tighten, but the consistency in tools and control plane is paramount.

Today’s announcement with Microsoft is another signature moment of bringing material IT innovation into the company’s strong OT practice. Building and delivering Honeywell Apps and making easily accessible on Microsoft Azure will enable better customer insights and scale–in this case, starting with building management and maintenance. This enhanced automation will enable the optimization of buildings’ energy, performance and comfort using a wide set of data tools, which can normalize the data and automate actions to improve the process of handling building related issues with minimum downtime and/or excess workflows.

AI-Driven Autonomous Controls Drive Enterprise Performance Management 

Where the new Honeywell-Microsoft partnership really starts to create value is through the integration of AI-driven autonomous controls of the Honeywell Forge enterprise performance management software coupled with Microsoft Dynamics Field Service. This tightened integration will enable customers to access operating data that includes workflow management support to improve performance and energy efficiency within the enterprise environment. This critical data and workflow will be able to flow seamlessly to workers in the field, which will benefit help them prioritize, analyze and solve problems more quickly.

Some of the specific Microsoft-Honeywell partnership offerings that the company included in its announcement (Per announcement)

  • Digitized Maintenance – Offers a panoramic view of the performance of facilities and assets using near real-time analytics. This provides important information about critical equipment issues before they become big repair or even replacement problems.
  • Energy Optimization – A cloud-based, closed-loop, machine-learning solution that continuously studies a building’s HVAC energy consumption patterns and automatically adjusts to optimal energy saving settings without compromising occupant comfort levels.
  • OT Cybersecurity – Honeywell Forge Cybersecurity provides continuous threat detection with minimum disruption of services. The robust software solution simplifies, strengthens and scales industrial cybersecurity operations across the enterprise.

The company also announced that moving into the future, the companies are exploring more ways to bring innovation to customers by integrating Honeywell Forge solutions with Azure services such as Azure Digital Twins or Azure edge capabilities. Digital twins have been a highly touted capability that will streamline the management of connected physical environments while mitigating risks associated with certain actions by being able to see an outcome in the digital space before seeing it in the physical space. Furthermore, the companies are also talking about ways to do more with edge computing and data to allow customers to take advantage of AI and ML across buildings, machines and appliances–even when not connected to the internet.

Overall Impression of Microsoft-Honeywell Partnership

This partnership is important for both companies as it further places both organizations into markets that their capabilities are designed for, while also tapping the expertise of a leader in the respective space.

I see these partnerships also touching on climate objectives, as better building management tech and data will help the companies reach some of their ambitions in that area as well.

I’m interested to see how these partnerships mature and gain momentum in the coming months and years–Especially as we start to see more people return to workplaces and building, which will put these partnerships into an even greater spotlight.

Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.

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Image: Honeywell
Daniel Newman