Two men in hard hats talk together

Strategic alliance with Microsoft helps Rockwell Automation achieve joint wins

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In a quickly-shifting field, the Rockwell Automation and Microsoft alliance has enabled the companies to attract and land new opportunities in a wide variety of industries. “We’ve been good partners for a long time, and the relationship continues to advance, allowing us to provide increasingly differentiated solutions for our customers,” said John Dyck, Global Director of Software Business Development at Rockwell Automation, which helps customers integrate operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) to achieve efficiencies in monitoring and managing industrial processes.

“We are engaged in co-selling and co-marketing activities with Microsoft to dozens of Fortune 500 customers. Together, Rockwell Automation and Microsoft have achieved exciting joint customer wins with companies such as Metso and First Solar.”

— Sujeet Chand, Senior Vice President of Advanced Technology & Chief Technology Officer, Rockwell Automation

One significant example of collaboration between the two companies came earlier this year at Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial tradeshow. Microsoft and Rockwell Automation partnered to present their joint solutions and caught the attention of several executives from a global automaker, who specifically came to the event to view the solutions in person. “We walked them through the booth and talked about business solutions,” Dyck said. “They came specifically to see how Rockwell Automation and Microsoft were collaborating to solve manufacturing operations challenges.”

According to Dyck, the growth of the alliance between Microsoft and Rockwell Automation has attracted new customers and leads for the company, but it has also deepened the quality of the conversation with their customers. “Historically, both companies would have been more individualistic in our approach to the OT space, but I think it speaks to how we’re thinking about the space and how we’re thinking about the problems we solve, and the strategic alliance is increasingly important to Rockwell Automation,” Dyck said.

Collaboration with Microsoft also helped Rockwell Automation confirm an exciting customer opportunity in the solar energy space. First Solar, which also provides business and service support to utility customers, needed to transmit data securely with low latency and high throughput from multiple manufacturing sites to the cloud. At a meeting with senior executives at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Microsoft, Rockwell Automation, and First Solar decided to organize a hackathon, which would focus on addressing the project’s technology needs and attempt to create a robust and reliable cloud-based solution for their products going forward.

Dyck said the situation was complex. “These were a sophisticated set of requirements that none of us could really address individually. But collectively, through requirements documentation and program management, including the hackfest that we drove together, we were able to ultimately satisfy the customer’s requirements,” Dyck said. “From our perspective, we are able to productize that field gateway and use it for additional customers as we sell our capabilities and our platform, so it’s a great example of collaboration between First Solar, Microsoft, and Rockwell Automation.”

Rockwell Automation and Microsoft also partnered to help global industrial company Metso, which was seeking a partner to power its Internet of Things (IoT) projects in mines around the world. Rockwell Automation leveraged their Microsoft Azure-based solution and close relationship to help achieve the win. Rockwell Automation was able to demonstrate the robustness of their FactoryTalk Cloud and analytics solutions with a pilot project monitoring a Metso customer mine in Africa remotely from Wisconsin and delivering operational insights to both Metso and their customer. The bid process was competitive, but the differentiation of both the solution and deep relationship, culminating in a joint customer meeting, helped secure this win.

For Metso, the Rockwell Automation solution was exactly what they needed. "For our mining and aggregates customers, access to real-time data enables higher uptime, faster and safer shutdowns, and ultimately more tonnage processed at lower cost. Enabled by an industrial IoT platform from Rockwell Automation and global coverage with Microsoft Azure's data centers, Metso can deliver analyzed equipment data into the hands of its customers for advanced decision making," said Jani Puroranta, Chief Digital Officer, Metso.

By working with Microsoft, Rockwell Automation has been able to connect the dots on sales motions and drive business innovation. According to Dyck, the success of the alliance is possible thanks to the close integration of their global sales team with Microsoft’s extensive field network. “There’s great alignment between our field teams. What makes Microsoft successful also makes Rockwell Automation successful,” Dyck said. “We have achieved this level of success through close engagement between account teams and truly pursuing mutual wins.”

“There’s great alignment between our field teams. What makes Microsoft successful also makes Rockwell Automation successful. We have achieved this level of success through close engagement between account teams and truly pursuing mutual wins.”

— John Dyck, Global Director of Software Business Development, Rockwell Automation