Microsoft has announced that it will invest $5 billion in IoT in the next four years as part of its drive to become the go-to digital transformation company.

The Washington-based member of the tech big five has been shouting about its aims to ‘give every customer the ability to transform their business’ for some time now, and this is apparently the motivation for its major cash-splash on IoT.

The benefits of using connected devices, harvesting data from them, and improving processes from that data are well-known, and is becoming increasingly implemented in a number of industries – particularly industrial sectors like manufacturing and agriculture.

The developing technology is also better known to the public through things like smart thermostats and connected appliances – devices that, brought together, can create a ‘smart home.’

Now, Microsoft wants to smooth the path for companies and organisations that want to embark on their IoT journey. ‘Regardless of size, technical expertise, budget, industry or other factors,’ Microsoft says, it will be able to meet customer needs thanks to the resources and research it is throwing at IoT. Ultimately, it wants to move towards the ‘intelligent edge.’

The intelligent edge, it says, will have a pervasive effect – impacting homes, cars, manufacturers, utilities and entire cities. According to A.T. Kearney, IoT will create a $1.9 trillion (approx £1.36 trillion) productivity increase and reduce costs by $177 billion by 2020. Microsoft says its partners and customers will be able to benefit from this through new products that it will offer.

Quoting IoT success stories from companies like Johnson Controls, which has mastered the smart thermostat, Schneider Electric, which has used the Microsoft IoT platform to perform remote maintenance on a solar energy solution in Nigeria, and the Alaskan road department, which has built smart roads that monitor weather conditions, the team at Microsoft claim that we are in the middle of a ‘unique transformation.’

Microsoft is also singing the praises of its customers that use connected devices to improve processes in worthy ventures – ranging from providing electricity in Africa, improving healthcare, or improving worker safety on construction sites.

The company says it will continue to try to help customers achieve those transformations as they become increasingly sophisticated.