How are Microsoft, Lego, Virgin Atlantic and Walt Disney using IoT for enterprise?

Sumit Dutta

Reports suggest there will be 25 billion internet-connected things by 2020, with more and more companies investing in smart technology

lego blocks hero
Photo by Iker Urteaga on Unsplash

We’re operating in a time when virtually anything can be connected to the internet. And as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) builds momentum across markets and businesses globally, companies are beginning to realise the wealth of opportunities and benefits it can provide. For early adopters – like Microsoft, Lego, Virgin Atlantic and Walt Disney – the main attraction of IIOT is operational efficiency.

For example, according to Accenture’s recent report Driving Unconventional Growth through IIOT,  by introducing automation and IIOT production techniques, manufacturers could boost their productivity by as much as 30 percent. Or predictive maintenance of assets could save companies up to 12 percent over scheduled repairs, reducing overall maintenance costs up to 30 percent.

While the benefits seem endless, the reality is that Australian organisations are only on the cusp of reaping the full benefits IIOT can provide. According to research with key industry leaders in the lead up to the IoT or Enterprise Summit many Australian organisations are only just beginning to think about IIOT adoption, with a small majority already in test-pilot stages. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of seven examples of companies around the globe who are already using IIOT, providing a benchmark of the strategies and tools organisations can consider when embarking on IIOT implementation.


Microsoft has long been a dominant player in the IIOT space. From Windows CE to BizTalk Server to the recent Azure, Microsoft has developed the right set of building blocks needed to deliver an integrated platform to connect devices with back-end business systems. But earlier this year took a significant step in their IIOT journey by releasing a new Software as-a service (SaaS) to help companies manage their IoT efforts. According Sam George, the Partner Director for Microsoft Azure IoT,   IoT is now a big part of many companies infrastructure and growing quickly. That means they need a service to help them not only manage the IoT devices they are starting to use but also the means to analyze the vast amounts of data they generate. While the service is yet to be available to the general public, it shows the IIoT is becoming more popular amongst businesses globally.


The car manufacturing giant has been using is using Azure Stream Analytics and Power BI to link up sensor data from its engines with more contextual information like air traffic control, route data, weather and fuel usage to get a fuller picture of the health of its aircraft engines. In November 2016 Rolls- Royce announced they would now go beyond predictive maintenance and into metrics that it can pass onto operations teams at airlines as a value added service. These insights are aimed at helping airlines to be more efficient when it comes to maintenance, aircraft choice and route selection.  Peter Chapman, head of capability at Rolls-Royce, says he wants to use the power of cloud-based technologies to "go beyond predictive maintenance and offer more services to our customers", such as using data to expand availability and efficiency services.”

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is taking its use of IoT to new heights. Currently, the airline is producing a fleet of Boeing 787 planes and cargo equipment connected via IoT devices. The total data expected to be produced over a flight will exceed a staggering half a terabyte. Virgin Atlantic Director David Bulman said: “the latest planes we are getting, the Boeing 787s, are incredibly connected. Literally every piece of that plane has an internet connection, from the engine, to the flaps, to the landing gear.”

Fitness First

A central focus of Fitness First’s digital strategy is a ‘device focused’ approach to customer interactions, according to Fitness First CIO Ed Hutt.’ "As this develops, it will give us the ability to push apps, to push web components and to drive appropriate content to a member both in the gym and outside at any time of day to help them with their personal fitness goals and provide the key motivation needed to succeed," Hutt said. So far Fitness first has rolled-out iBeacon technology to track who exactly is entering their gym and send relevant information to them automatically.

Jonnie Walker

Since 2015 British beverage company Diageo – producer of well known brand Jonnie Walker – has been using connected technology to make its bottles ‘smart’ to create a unique user experience. The smart bottle features a printed sensor tag made with Thinfilm's OpenSense technology. It can detect the sealed and opened state of each bottle. OpenSense uses smartphones' Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities, allowing Diageo to send personalized communications to consumers who read the tags with their smartphones.

Walt Disney

Disney’s $1 Billion investment in the Internet of Things is a practical example of where IoT can positively impact both a business and make the experience more fun for the customer. Through the creation of their ‘Magicband’  – a wearable wristband with RFID technology – Disney is able to capture data about customer behavior in their theme parks and then use this data to create an integrated, seamless environment for maximum fun —  and profits. Disney’s new system combines insights like consumer spending habits and behavioral trends with location tracking to actually anticipate an individual guest’s actions and desires, thus enhancing the experience and generating maximum per capita spending.

Lego Group

Over the past two to three years, Lego Group has been using IIoT to improve design and Mould Manufacturing. “We are using IoT to understand and improve design, processes and all the interfaces and performance of our moulds,” said Jesper Touboel, Vice President – Elements and Moulds, Lego Group. Since capitalising on new asset monitoring and predictive maintenance techniques to improve the mould making process, Lego has realised some impressive results including “an ability to improve outdated data management processes. As processes always have variables – like people or technology – IIoT has enabled us to limit these variables and create better products.” 

This article was presented in association with Industrial Internet of Things Summit.