Microsoft Ignite 2021 announcements for manufacturers

Microsoft Ignite is kicking off and as usual it's packed with announcements. This post gives folks in manufacturing a quick run down of the most important stuff they need to read about. Enjoy!


Knowledge management is increasingly a time sink for manufacturers and between Microsoft 365 Search and Azure Cognitive Search, manufacturers can reduce the burden. Now we will be able to use semantic search to start driving searches based not just on keywords but what people intended.

Digitising processes is important and we've been leveraging Form Recognizer to deliver automated invoice processing for customers. Now Form Recognizer can handle identification documents, meaning that you could build your own system to speed up hiring processes and support verification during deliveries etc.

Delivering AI models direct to the factory floor, your fleet, or your offices can improve speed of predictions, reduce cloud billing costs, and support processes with low connectivity to the outside world. Azure Percept is a new platform to help deliver edge AI solutions and development kits will be available soon.

Decentralised, resilient compute hubs can help you run applications anywhere and be multi-cloud. Azure Arc, Microsoft's "Azure anywhere" solution will now include Azure Machine Learning compatibility so custom build models can be deployed to your compute hubs enabling you put models next to your applications that need them the most.


To help you get up to speed with the cloud whilst meeting important compliance requirements, Microsoft has announced the Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing. This will help you deliver value from modernisation and innovation efforts more easily.

Vendor lock-in, especially to on-premises databases and ERP solutions, can make the cost of embracing new ways of doing things too prohibitive. Microsoft are increasing the support via Azure Synapse Pathway to migrate data transformation and extraction code to be ported out quickly, giving you the flexibility to move your data to where you can most put it to use.

The Azure Migration Program and Azure Migrate have also seen some work to help businesses port on-premises solutions to cloud deployments, allowing manufacturers to reduce capital costs, improve performance & compliance, and improve the resiliency of their IT infrastructure.

Remote work is here to stay. Windows Virtual Desktop allows you to securely host virtual desktops in the cloud so individual staff need lower-specification devices to work from home with. Updates to this technology are making it easier to scale your implementation, improve it, and manage costs.

Dynamics 365 is an increasingly robust platform helping manufacturers streamline operations. Along with work like the Supplier Management tooling we can support, new stuff from Microsoft is coming out to support Intelligent Order Management, reduced HR work, easier field service operations, and improved supplier and customer management.

Doing repetitive processes on your desktop can become a thing of the past with desktop based Robotic Process Automation shipping for free with Windows very soon. This combined with an offer on their monthly automation license means that now you can also get advice on reducing bottlenecks in processes too.


Many products that manufacturers are building today are leveraging IoT to provide telemetry or even to help develop new business models via servitization. Getting the security right and being able to update the firmware/software running on IoT devices is critical to delivering quality service and meeting your compliance and legal responsibilities. Device Update for IoT Hub will now allow manufacturers to better manage IoT devices so they safe, up-to-date, and useful.

The semi-conductor space is collaborating with software companies to produce increasingly more secure and optimised solutions for emerging workloads like AI and blockchain. NXP and Microsoft announced further progress with secure cloud-first processors. Downstream, of course, for electronics manufacturers, safer processors like these can help you deliver better devices.