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Platforms (82)

IoT Platforms: The Peak of Inflated Expectations

Gartner recently released their 2017 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle. Where do IoT Platforms stand? At the peak of inflated expectations!

Do you agree?

Gartner says that the hype cycle reveals three distinct megatrends that will enable businesses to survive and thrive in the digital economy over the next five to 10 years. (See graphic below).

Artificial intelligence (AI) everywhere, transparently immersive experiences and digital platforms are the trends that will provide unrivaled intelligence, create profoundly new experiences and offer platforms that allow organizations to connect with new business ecosystems.

The Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle is unique among most Gartner Hype Cycles because it garners insights from more than 2,000 technologies into a succinct set of compelling emerging technologies and trends. This Hype Cycle specifically focuses on the set of technologies that is showing promise in delivering a high degree of competitive advantage over the next five to 10 years.

"Enterprise architects who are focused on technology innovation must evaluate these high-level trends and the featured technologies, as well as the potential impact on their businesses," said Mike J. Walker, research director at Gartner. "In addition to the potential impact on businesses, these trends provide a significant opportunity for enterprise architecture leaders to help senior business and IT leaders respond to digital business opportunities and threats by creating signature-ready actionable and diagnostic deliverables that guide investment decisions."

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Among the words, phrases and acronyms in the Tech worlds “Platform” seems to be a word which seems to grab the headlines. If one listens to any pitch from a start up venture it would be not uncommon to get the “platform pitch”in at least 1 out of 2 proposals. A lazy search on Google on the “Top 20 Tech weary  words” fetched me the result that “platform was 3rd in the list . (https://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-worlds-top-20-tech-weary-words-for-2014-2014-5).

There have been words verbalised like “Being Platformed” as well and a host of books on the significance of platform in the Technology world. I will not go into the virtues of platform. I would dwell on how the leaders in respective segments  are a few ( a maximum of 3 ) while in the IoT world we seem to have by some counts 170 of them ( McKinsey ) to 400 of them ( Beecham Research).This is definitely a bewildering array to go through and investigate .

What is a Platform – why there are only a few platform leaders ?

Stepping back – different people have different views and meanings of the word “platform”. To get a view of the diversity of platforms we have:

Browsers (Chrome and Firefox) ,smart phone operating systems ( iOS and Android) , blogging  (Word Press , Medium ) .Social Media titans (YouTube, Facebook) and even Instagram are described as platforms. Uber, Airbnb and their ilk are widely described as ‘marketplaces’, ‘platforms’ or ‘marketplace-platforms.’ Web services (Google Payments, Amazon Elastic Cloud) and  gaming consoles (Xbox, Apple’s ipod Touch, Sony Playstation). One interesting point to be  noted that in each category the market is mostly duopolistic .

To accommodate this diversity the safest definition of platform would be as :

  1.  An extensible codebase of a software-based system that provides core functionality provided by the modules that interoperate with it, and the interfaces ( aka Application Programming Interface (APIs)) through which they interoperate. In effect this system  abstracts a number of common functions without bringing out the complexity of building and managing them ,  for the users .
  2.  The goal is to  enable interactions between producers and the consumers
  3. This is enabled through three layers comprising the Network ( to connect  participants to the platform), Technology Infrastructure ( to help create and exchange value )  and Workflow and Data ( thereby matching participants with content , goods and services ) .

This definition brings in the 2 dimensions of a platform. One that would be for internal use and the other for external use .

  1. An internal dimension  for building platforms is to ensure all necessary modules interoperate , and
  2. An external dimension for building platforms is to enable interaction with the outside world and make it as accessible and usable as is possible.

Internal dimension led platforms focus on internal productivity and efficiencies and focus on users. Here the development is internally sourced and is essentially  built for internal use .  The external dimension led platforms focus on the supply (developer side) and the demand (user side) . Essentially they are sometimes termed as “two-sided” platforms .The development beyond a point is crowd-sourced and they enrich the platform and the platform reaches out to them through APIs.

In most of the cases if the external dimension is well evolved then the internalities come with the efficiencies by default; with respect to design quality , selection of interfaces leading to interoperability  , robustness of infrastructure , seamlessness in workflow and data streaming  .

External dimension platforms compete for both users and developers

Here one important aspect to be remembered is a Platform may not be ready to provide solutions to contextual and domain specific problem statements. Applications built around the platform do that, these applications help get the Return on Investment ( RoI ) from the platforms .

In any segment you must have seen that the winners are a few ( atmost 2 or 3  , aspirants may be many, who progressively wither away )  .The reasons has been presented above with respect to design quality , interoperability, infrastructure robustness and seamlessness in workflow and data flow and the last but not the least excellent and friendly user interface . Not many can master all the 4 aspects .These help acquire a critical mass of customer base which keeps growing and a duopoly of sorts is created in the market space .

Successful platforms have the ability to support the variety of business use cases in the present and have strive to  build the  design to evolve over time and be to an extent future ready .

The Bazaar of IoT platforms- The reasons & who would be the winners  wading through the maze ?

Now when coming to Internet of Things (IoT)  , The IoT  movement repeatedly talks about platforms, but those definitions don’t align with any of Uber, Medium or Android. The first issue is interoperability.  And none of these align with each other either.

Now let us address the question is the why of “plethora of platforms” in IoT .

It can be seen clearly that a typical architecture of an IoT solution is multilayered. The layers to simplistically put would be Device to Device ( this involves hardware and firmware with Low Range Communication ) , Device to Server ( which would again involve hardware and communication ) and server to server ( which would mean that cloud based application and long range communication would hold the key along with network , data storage and data visualisation ) .

So we see protocols and standards are driven through their origins from communication technologies ( we see Telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon leading here ) , in the data storage area ( we have Amazon , Google leading the way ) , in the application side ( Azure from Microsoft and Thingworx from PTC being the prominent ones ) . Companies which has a library of business use cases with them given the dominance they have in their respective businesses (namely Bosch , GE , Honeywell ) have the ambition to build their community based platforms .Then we have a host of start ups who run a platform per a business use case they address .

So the genesis of the “plethora of platforms” in the multilayered solution stack of IoT . This adds to complexity and hence no one player can be a leader across the layers as on date .

In the coming  years it could be reckoned that there would be a shakeout in the market and the platforms could veer around key broad based use cases of remote monitoring and environment conditioning , predictive maintenance and process automation .

The ones which will win the battle of supremacy would have cracked the codes of

  1. Security,
  2. Open interfaces,
  3. Carrier grade reliability,
  4. Service levels,
  5. Scalability and
  6. And allow for aa seamless integration into the back-office environment which is essential to the enterprise’s business operations.
  7. With a impressive  usability and user interface .

Given the multitier architecture and the attendant complexity it will be a while before a small group of winners starts to bubble to the top . Some of the also-ran aspirants may focus on domains and address a  specific part of the ecosystem in which to play or in the industry segments like home or industrial to justify their presence .

 

 

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Future-Proofing Your IoT Infrastructure

For all the value and disruptive potential that Internet of Things (IoT) solutions provide, corporate buyers face a dilemma. Today’s IoT technologies are still immature point solutions that address emerging use cases with evolving technology standards. Buyers are concerned that what they buy today may become functionally or technologically obsolete tomorrow. Faced with this dilemma, many defer buying even if the IoT solutions they buy today offer tremendous value to their organizations.

This post describes a planning strategy called “future-proofing” that helps managers, buyers, and planners deal with obsolescence.

What causes IoT solution obsolescence?

An IoT solution, whether you buy it now or in the future, can become functionally obsolete for several reasons, as described in Figure One.  Unlike more established technologies, today’s immature and fast evolving nature of IoT solutions, amplifies the risk of early obsolescence.

For example, today there are multiple Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) connectivity options – SigFox, LoRa, RPMA (by Ingenu), Symphony Link (by Link Labs), NB-IoT and LTE-M. While each option has advantages and disadvantages, a subset of these will eventually “win” out as technology standards, business models and use cases emerge.

Similarly, there are 350+ IoT platforms in the marketplace today (source: “Current state of the 360+ platforms”, IoT Analytics, June 9, 2016). While many of these platforms target specific applications and industry segments, consolidation is inevitable as there are more vendors than the market can eventually support. The major IoT platform vendors (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM, GE, et al), currently on a market share land grab, will drive consolidation when they begin to acquire select vertical platforms to gain rapid access to those markets.

What is Future-Proofing?

According to Collins English Dictionary (10th edition), “future-proof” is defined as:

“protected from consequences in the future, esp. pertaining to a technology that protect it from early obsolescence”

Because of the high cost of enterprise technologies, many buyers perceive obsolescence as bad. To them, future-proofing means keeping the technology as long as possible in order to minimize costs and maximize return on investment (ROI). Their companies have standardized their business processes, policies and even their technical support on the technologies that they have bought. When a solution goes End of Life (EOL) and transitions to a newer version, it means that managers will have to recertify and retrain everyone on the “new” solution all over again. In general, transitions happen over a period of months (and sometimes years) in large global companies. During this time, multiple generations of the solution will co-exist, with each requiring different processes and policies.

In today’s fast moving IoT market, planned and unplanned obsolescence will be the norm for the foreseeable future. The traditional concept of “future-proofing” doesn’t apply, and can lead to significant, adverse business disruption.

In the era of cloud based solutions and IoT, future-proofing is not about outguessing the future, and choosing the “right” solution so as to never have to “buy” again. Nor is it overbuying technology now to avoid buying in the future. Finally, future-proofing is not about avoiding change. Future-proofing is a solution lifecycle management strategy. It is a continuous process to maximize solution flexibility and options, while making deliberate choices and managing risk.

What does a future-proof IoT infrastructure look like?

In planning the future-proofed IoT infrastructure, managers must first understand its key characteristics, and then define specific requirements for each of those characteristics. At a high level, these characteristics include:

  • Usable– the infrastructure and solutions achieve all functional needs with no loss in performance, security, service level agreements (SLA) over the desired time period.

  • Scalable – supports future needs, applications, devices

  • Supportable – resolves technical, performance, reliability, SLA issues

  • Changeable – addresses “lock-in” and facilitates migration to updated solutions on your schedule based on your needs

  • Economical – the total cost of ownership of the solution stays within forecasted ranges

A framework for future-proofing your IoT infrastructure

Change is constant and cannot be avoided. The driving principle behind future-proofing is managing change, not avoiding or preventing it. This principle recognizes that every solution has a useful functional life, and that what is functionally useful today may be obsolete and discarded tomorrow.

A properly designed future-proof plan provides the organization with options and flexibility, rather than lock-in and risk. It prevents suboptimal decision-making by managing the infrastructure on a system level, rather than at the individual component level.

Future-proofing your IoT infrastructure is a three step process (Figure Two). It is not a “once and done” exercise but must be done annually to remain relevant.

Plan and Design

The first step of the future-proofing process is to identify and place the various IoT infrastructure, systems and solutions into one of nine actionable categories. These categories are shown in Figure Three. The horizontal rows represent the “change” category, while the vertical columns represent the timeframe decision timeframe.

The actual classification of the IoT infrastructure solutions into one of the categories is determined in conjunction with IT, operations and the business units. Key considerations for determining the “future-proof category” include:

  • Usability/functionality – functional utility, compliance with standards, performance against needs, SLAs, and performance

  • Scalability – ability to meet current and future needs, anticipated change in standards

  • Support – resources, expertise, reliability

  • Ease of transition –contractual agreements, technology interdependence/dependence, specialized skills

  • Economics – maintenance costs, licensing/content/subscription fees, utilities, new replacement costs, transition costs

Source and Build

Once the proper categorization is completed, the second step is to procure the necessary solutions, whether they are hardware or software. This requires that a sourcing strategy be put into place over the desired time period. The terms sourcing and buying are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Sourcing is about ensuring strategic access to supply while buying is more transactional. In executing the future-proofing plan, procurement managers must understand the supplier product lifecycle, and develop specific tactics.

As an example, a large global company decides to standardize around a specific IoT edge device (and specific generation) and technology for the next five years. In order to maintain access to this supply during this time period, it employs a number of tactics, including:

  • Stocking of spare units to be deployed in the future

  • Placing large “Last time” orders before that version of the solution is discontinued

  • Sourcing refurbished versions of the technology

  • Incorporating leasing as sourcing strategy

  • Negotiating contractual arrangements with the vendor to continue the solution line

Support and Monitor

The third step in the future-proofing strategy is to keep the IoT infrastructure and solutions operational over the desired time period. This is relatively easy when the solutions and technologies are being serviced and supported by the vendors. However, as vendors transition to newer technology and solution versions, buyers may find limited support and expertise. This problem is amplified the further you are from the original end-of-life date.

To keep the infrastructure and solutions fully operational during this time, companies must employ various reactive and proactive tactics. Some of these include:

  • Incorporating and installing vendor firmware updates to maximize functionality, apply bug fixes and extend useful life. Vendors may issue firmware updates on both End of Life and current generation solutions.

  • Purchase warranty and extended warranty and maintenance service contracts to assure access to support

  • Develop in-house maintenance and repair capability

  • Negotiate special one-off engineering support services with the vendor or their designated contractors

About:

Benson Chan is an innovation catalyst at Strategy of Things, helping companies transform the Internet of Things into the Innovation of Things through its innovation laboratory, research analyst, consulting and acceleration (execution) services. He has over 25 years of scaling innovative businesses and bringing innovations to market for Fortune 500 and start-up companies. Benson shares his deep experiences in strategy, business development, marketing, product management, engineering and operations management to help IoTCentral readers address strategic and practical IoT issues.

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Rapid Growth in Times of Uncertainty

The industrial Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling and accelerating the convergence of three key technology and business model shifts that are fueling the digital transformation of every industrial enterprise:

  • Connectivity. The number of connected devices and mobile devices is growing at an increasingly faster pace, emanating massive amounts of real-time information that enables deep insight about themselves and the environment around them.
  • Cloud Computing. After years of hesitation, cloud technology is finally becoming a mainstream business platform and a growth engine. New information systems and business operation constructs can be deployed and scale quickly and cost effectively, as connected assets and mobile devices deliver decision-making power to all ranks in the organization.
  • New Business Models. Cloud-connected assets and customers, coupled with real-time information and decision-making capabilities form the foundation for new ways to engage the business and its customers. Businesses can deploy innovative customer-centric outcome-based engagement models and respond to changing market conditions with greater agility and flexibility.

Industry is making strides in developing Internet of Things technologies and articulating the potential business value of industrial IoT and Industry 4.0 solutions. The upcoming years of the IoT evolution will be characterized by rapid technology acceleration, as the vision of an always-connected world, in which everything and everybody is connected, is becoming an everyday reality.

And company leadership is under pressure to seize the opportunity. Eager technology vendors, enthusiastic investors and analysts, and deluge of breathless headlines, all entice corporate management to jump on the IoT bandwagon before it’s too late.

However, as technology forecaster Paul Saffo aptly observed, one should not mistake a clear view for a short distance.

Early rosy projections about growth in the number of connected devices and the economic impact of the industrial Internet of Things are proving overly optimistic, particularly about the ability of industrial companies to pursue the vision effectively. A survey by the Boston Consulting Group found that while US companies consider digital technologies critical, many lack a holistic adoption strategy and a sense of urgency. A report by KPMG reaches a similar conclusion, highlighting a growing gap between executive ambitions and the corresponding transformative action plans.

To a great extent, the excitement and promise of growth are tempered by lingering concerns about IoT network security and data privacy. Others are still uncertain how to go about articulating comprehensive business models and return on investment.

What Does the Industrial IoT Mean for Product Designers?

What does the industrial Internet of Things mean for the designers of connected products that enable new customer engagement models? Are IoT “things” just like any other industrial equipment, only connected to the Internet? or are there certain design and technical elements business planners and design engineers should consider?

To understand the relationships between the Internet of Things and product design, we need to consider three layers of responses:

Design for IoT

At its most fundamental level, designing products for IoT concentrates on incorporating basic telemetry features such as sensor electronics and Internet connectivity, and, rather obviously, the necessary mechanisms to secure these devices from rogue access and malicious hacking.

Design for the Business of IoT

A less obvious observation, often missed by IoT enthusiasts, is that the product architecture and features must be aligned with business operations. Designers should adopt a business-centric point of view and optimize features and capabilities specifically to achieve the intended business outcome.

For instance, a design to maximize system uptime requires not only remote monitoring capabilities, but could also include optimizing replaceable unit (FRU) granularity to streamline field service operations, spare parts inventory, and workforce availability and training.

Design by IoT

But there is much more to the question about the relationship between the Internet and the “things.”

Most engineering organizations lose sight of their products once they are sold or installed in the field. Always-connected products and customers provide a nonstop stream of structured and unstructured information about products, services, and user interactions. This rich feedback from diverse connected ecosystems, including social media, enable faster and precise design iterations and effective continuous improvement. In essence, the IoT is driving product design!

Seven Industrial IoT Predictions for 2017 and Beyond


Continue reading at JoeBarkai.com

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Choose Your IoT Technologies Wisely

This is my second analyst perspective based on our IoT Benchmark Research. In the first, I discussed the business focus of IoT applications and some of the challenges organizations are facing. In this post I’ll share some of the findings about technologies used in IoT applications and the impact those technologies appear to have on the success of users’ projects.
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With its growing prevalence, the Internet of Things is ushering in a new form of ecommerce – the Commerce of Things, where everyday objects are internet connected and capable of initiating a series of purchases on their own. This new way of buying and selling online is radically changing traditional ecommerce rules and creating a new set of challenges for companies. In this new world of commerce, the product sale is no longer just a transaction; it’s the beginning of an ongoing relationship between brands and customers. Successful online brands are focused on nurturing this relationship – and taking deliberate steps to turn transactional customers into loyal members. 

There is a subtle but critical difference between a repeat customer and a member. Understanding this difference is the key to succeeding in an environment that is swiftly becoming a hyper-connected network of consumers who value the access and amenities that come with membership.

How do you build these relationships?

1.)   Create lasting relationships to make members out of customers. Members share the experience and the story of the brand, rather than just execute a basic business transaction or product purchase. For years, Disney, where everything is a show and employees are cast members, has stood by the adage “Be Our Guest,” calling to their customers in a more intimate, personable way. Cable companies refer to their customers as “subscribers;” LinkedIn has always called users “members.”

To move customers from “transaction to membership” on a relationship continuum, companies must provide extra, incremental value that replaces pure monetary benefits with more intangible rewards of being, in Disney’s case, a guest.

2.)   Use data and metrics to strengthen relationships. Once a company starts to grow its base of members, a whole new set of metrics becomes the benchmark for evaluating the customer relationship.

Asking one simple question, “What is a subscriber’s actual usage?” can yield revelations regarding whether someone is a transactional customer or an invested member. For example, January is the peak season for signing new members at fitness centers around the country. Are those who sign up then really members? If they are not actually getting personal value out of their membership, then the relationship remains transactional and fleeting at best.

Good data is powerful. If the data shows customers are not acting like members, then a company can follow up to discern the true nature of the relationship and figure out how it can become more valuable to the customer. This creates a win for both the customer and the company. 

Delta Airlines’ SkyMiles program, for example, makes great use of data to cut through barriers that could otherwise prevent strong relationships from developing. When members call in, the automated phone system quickly recognizes callers based on their phone numbers, addresses them by name and asks about recent or upcoming trips.

Personalizing interactions, continually making improvements and utilizing customer insights are key in this new, Commerce of Things world. Taking these steps can help transform transactional customers into loyal members – and take an online business to the next level.

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Since many embedded devices are deployed outside of the standard enterprise security perimeter, it is critical that security be included in the device itself. Ultimately, some combination of hardware and software may be required. Building protection into the device itself provides a critical security layer whatever options are used. Security must be considered early in the design of a new device or system.
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There is an ongoing transition from a world where having an internet connection was sufficient, to a world where ubiquitous connectivity is quickly becoming the norm. The ability to gather and transport data at high speeds from anywhere is leading to increased automation, smart-everything (vehicles, homes, appliances – you name it), and a standardization of languages and protocols that make the possibilities nearly endless.

Recently, IEEE and Eclipse Foundation completed surveys that provided a snapshot on tools, platforms and solutions being used by engineers and programmers alike to build the Internet of Things. According to Joe McKendrick for RTInsights.com, there were several notable conclusions to be drawn from the results, including the revelation that, of the 713 tech professionals surveyed, nearly 42 percent said their companies currently deploy an IoT solution, and 32 percent said they will be deploying/working with an IoT solution over the next 18 months. Additionally, RT Insights writes:

“In terms of areas of concentration, 42% report they are working with IoT-ready middleware, while 41% are concentrating on home automation solutions. Another 36% are working with industrial automation as part of their IoT efforts. One-third are working on IoT for smart cities, and the same number are building smart energy solutions.”

An interesting note from those conclusions is that 36 percent are working with industrial automation as part of their IoT efforts. Earlier this year, we predicted that Industrial IoT (IIoT) app development would outpace consumer IoT apps, and although this sample size is somewhat limited, it still bodes well for the development of the IIoT sector that is just starting to come into its own.

Among IoT developers, there has been a bit of debate over the programming languages that best suit IoT apps. There are situationally appropriate uses for the main languages, but currently, the majority of developers prefer Java and the C language. For developers, being able to build out IoT apps that can work across platforms is a giant step toward standardization. Specifically, in the Industrial IoT, being able to build apps that can function at the Edge to enable smart data collection is a becoming an unofficial mandate for any companies hoping to transition legacy OT operations into the IT/OT convergence movement taking place across critical industries.

Of course, building apps is a meaningless task if the hardware being deployed can’t host those apps, a finding that was demonstrated by the survey:

Hardware associated with IoT implementations include sensors, used at 87% of sites, along with actuators (51%), gateways and hub devices (50%), and edge node devices (36%).

This Edge functionality and sensor deployment are two pieces that are driving the adaption of IoT technology across industries that have traditionally relied on data as the main tool for decision making. However, with smarter hardware, these industries now have the opportunity to improve the efficiency of that decision making – a transformative capability in the industrial realm.

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The ZumLink IPR App Server Radio combines 900 MHz wireless telemetry with the ability to program and host 3rd party Apps for intelligent control and automation of remote sensors and devices. To participate in the pilot program, visit: http://www.freewave.com/zumlink-ipr-pilot-program/.

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Let’s discuss:

  • Use cases that would help you or your organization solve a problem
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Sounds similar to jargons from the movie ‘Back to Future (1985)?

Hold yourself together. A part of the world has already started using it.

If you have a light memory turning off switches or managing home appliances, these IoT technologies are going to be your guardian angels.

Let’s find how the above ‘jargons’ will become a part of your life. Also, for the geek in you, their modus operandi is also described.

#1 Adaptive Lighting

IoT can make your home lighting system smart enough to adjust its brightness or to switch off automatically by sensing its surroundings. With IoT adaptive lighting your, indoor lighting systems will turn themselves off when there is no one in the house, or adjust the brightness according to external lighting conditions to give minimized energy consumption.

Companies like LG are taking it to forward to manufacture lighting systems that will turn on by default along with alarm clocks or to flicker when there is a telephone call or movement is sensed. Adaptive lighting relies on motion sensors and optical sensors to gather metrics about its immediate surroundings based on which the lighting systems function.

#2 Responsive Thermostats

Thermostats that auto adjust the temperature and power consumption according to external climatic conditions is a boon for any household. Smarter thermostats can learn the usage pattern of family members and alter its functions accordingly. Going a step ahead, these responsive thermostats can even connect to the Internet to receive updates about family members and change the power consumption and internal temperature control.

For instance, if you are away from your home for a very long time, the thermostat will reduce the power consumption to a bare minimum, or send alerts when the equipment malfunctions. Amazon Nest is a classic example of responsive thermostats. They use heat and climate sensors to decide at what optimum temperature the thermostat must run for best performance.

#3 Autonomous Security Systems

IoT will foster a breed of homes and offices where physical keys, access cards or even tokens will never be needed. Sensor based security systems can be programmed for allowing entry, locking or alerts in case of a break in. Advanced IoT applications also allow integrate your home security system for communicating with your smartphones. These autonomous security systems will work based on movement sensors or proximity sensors.

#4 Connected Appliances

How many times have you missed turning off the oven? Or the washing machine? Or the coffee machine and the endless list of other home appliances? With the oncoming wave of IoT, connected appliances will empower homeowners to control their entire suite of home appliances using their smartphone or remote controls.

Two of the classic examples of connected appliances are: Smarter’s WiFi coffee machine that brews fresh coffee even when you are lazing around or the Electrolux CombiSteam Oven that can be controlled anywhere using your smartphone.

#5 Surface Remote Controls

Surface remote controls can turn any surface (like a desk, wall, floor, etc.) into a remote control. Surface remote controls allow users to control several domestic settings like lighting, control connected appliances, open/close doors, switch on/off TV, wifi, music system, etc.

Image source: knocki

These devices are equipped with programmed sensors which can communicate with other IoT devices to do desired actions. Surface remote controls can bring about a revolutionary level of comfort not just in homes, but also offices, factory floors and public spaces. Knocki is one such device that can turn any surface into a remote control.

That brings us to the conclusion. Be informed that this is just a tip of the iceberg. IoT is an ocean of opportunities and these five hints at how homes of the future will look and function like.

Contus, the digital transformations company is creating a whole new breed of IoT connected systems under its ambit of services titled Contus Connect.

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What are common features of IIoT and SCADA/HMI and differences between them? And what advantages do Internet of Things Platforms have over SCADA systems? Find out answers in our new presentation.

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IoT and Energy Management

It’s not uncommon to drive about any major city at night and see many buildings illuminated despite the fact that the workers went home hours earlier. Likewise, manufacturing plants the world over often have equipment unnecessarily consuming energy during idle periods. Power plants create and store energy everyday and use energy distribution grids to distribute energy to users, but are they doing it “smartly?”

With rising concerns about global warming, this immense waste of energy undoubtedly hurts the environment, but it also hurts business. Offices, manufacturing plants, commercial spaces and power grids all stand to benefit financially from better and “smarter” energy management.

 

How IoT Reduces Energy Usage for Businesses and Manufacturing

In his article, “Report: Lofty Energy Management Goals Far Ahead of Reality,” (Panoramic Power, August 5, 2015) Jon Rabinowitz points out that most companies receive data on their energy usage only at the end of each billing cycle, which is usually a month at a time. By incorporating Internet of Things (IoT) technology, energy consumption data will be available in real-time, and energy-reducing measures can be implemented as soon as a problem gets detected (rather than waiting until the end of the month). Integrating smart devices through IoT technology will provide greater visibility into energy usage and help both industrial and commercial enterprises save energy, and as a result, save money.

Starting with simple, smart and low cost sensors, like User to User Information (UUI) and Feature Driven Development (FDD) devices, businesses can reduce energy usage and cost by dimming lights, turning off unnecessary equipment and improving the use the cooling/heating apparatus. Software that collects and correlates granular usage data, performs analytics and then converges information to increase efficiency will make manufacturing plants “smarter,” and thus more cost-effective.

Local and remote sensors that detect points of inefficiency quickly and perform triage to decrease waste will also reduce the need for maintenance as constant monitoring will detect small issues before they become big problems. Continuous optimization through 24/7 monitoring will assure that energy is not wasted during slow periods in between high-usage spans, while maximizing the use of energy-demanding equipment at critical times.

Specific Use Cases – Energy Production and Management

  • General Electric’s Asset Performance Management software connects disparate data sources in power plants, enabling data analytics to guide energy usage and to increase efficiency (“10 Real-Life Examples of IoT Powering the Future of Energy,” Internet of Business, Freddie Roberts, Oct. 7, 2016).

  • Duke Energy, a Florida-based electric power holding company, has developed a self-healing grid that automatically reconfigures itself when power goes out. Using digital smart sensors at sub stations and on power lines, the system automatically detects, isolates and reroutes power in the most efficient way when problems occur (Roberts).

  • Pacific Gas & Electric Company is testing drones as a means to monitor and evaluate electric infrastructure systems in hard-to-reach areas. The ease of access will allow more frequent and consistent monitoring and drastically reduce the amount of methane leaks and other unwanted disruptions. (Roberts).

 

Energy Saving in the Auto Sector

Nissan (manufacturer of the world’s best-selling electric car, the Leaf) and ENEL (Europe’s second largest power company) have teamed to develop an innovative vehicle-to-grid (V2G) system that creates mobile energy hubs, which also integrates the electric cars and the power grid. The system allows Leaf owners to charge at low-demand, cheap-tariff periods, while allowing owners to use the energy stored in the car’s battery to power their home during peak periods, or when power goes out. Owners can store excess energy, or return it to the grid, making the entire system more efficient for everyone (“Nissan and ENEL to test first Grid Integrated Vehicles in Denmark,” Copenhagen Capacity, December 11, 2015).

 

Conclusions

As evidenced by these specific use cases, IoT technology is making energy-intensive systems in power generation and in manufacturing far more efficient. It’s good for the environment, but it’s also good for business. Intelligent implementation of energy saving technology stands to benefit every business, from small commercial enterprises to the largest power producing utility companies in the world. It’s time to make the move to smarter energy usage, for both the environment and for your bottom line.

 

Originally published on the Unified Inbox blog

About the Author

Richard Meyers is a former high school teacher in the SF Bay Area who has studied business and technology at Stanford and UC-Berkeley. He has a single-digit handicap in golf and is passionate about cooking, wine and rock-n-roll.

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The IoT needs to be distinguished from the Internet. The Internet, of course, represents a globally connected number of network, irrespective of a wired or wireless interconnection. IoT, on the other hand, specifically draws your attention to the ability of a ‘device’ to be tracked or identified within an IP structure according to the original supposition.
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The rise of the Internet of Things was just the beginning. There is something much bigger brewing. It’s called the Internet of Everything — otherwise known as IoE. Instead of the communications between electric-powered, internet-connected devices that the IoT allows, the IoE expands it exponentially. The IoE extends well beyond traditional IoT boundaries to include the countless everyday, disposable items in the world. If the IoT is the solar system, then the IoE is every galaxy in the universe.
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From the Kepware blog:

In today's fast-paced world of technology, new software can reshape industries overnight. But while the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is everywhere now—connecting millions of devices, machines, sensors, and systems throughout the world—it is anything but an overnight sensation. Over the past 50 years, technological milestones big and small—from large-scale system architecture breakthroughs to modest "Eureka" moments—have led to today's IIoT and are still informing predictions for tomorrow's industrial landscape.

Read more here.

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The world is full of normal people like you and me, but I love to think that superheroes live between us and I dream that maybe someday I could become one of them and make a better world with my super powers.

In the universe of superheroes fit gods, mutants, humans with special skills, but also the special agents. I found fun to find similarities between this fantastic world and the world of IoT platforms.  Compare and find a reasonable resemblance between IoT Platforms and Superheroes or Super villains is the goal of this article. Opinions as always are personal and subject to all kinds of comments and appreciations. Enjoy, the article.

About IoT Platforms

Many of my regular readers remember my article “It is an IoT Platform, stupid !.”. At that time, per Research and Markets, there were more than 260 IoT platforms, today some sources speak about 700 IoT platforms. I confess, I have not been able to follow the birth, evolution and in some cases death of all IoT platforms out there. I think that many enthusiasts like me also have given up keeping an updated list.

I cannot predict which IoT platforms will survive beyond 2020, or which will be the lucky start-ups that will be bought by big companies or will receive the investors' mana to become a Unicorn, but I like to speculate, and of course, I have my favourite winners and unlucky losers.

About my Own Methodology

Some reputed analysts have adapted their classification methodologies of IT solutions to put some order and consistency into the chaotic and confusing Internet of Things (IoT) platforms market. But given the moment of business excitement around the IoT, have appeared new analyst firms focused on IoT who also wanted to contribute their bit and at the same time make cash while this unsustainable situation lasts.

After reading numerous reports from various sources on this topic, talking to many IoT platform vendors and seeing endless product demos, I have decided to create my own methodology that includes a questionnaire of near 100 questions around different areas: technical, functional, business, strategy, and a scoring mechanism based on my knowledge and experience to make justified recommendations to my clients.

About Super Powers Methodology

But I also had defined an alternative Methodology based on Super Powers.

Super Heroes and Super Villains usually gain their abilities through several different sources, however these sources can be divided into four categories. The Super Powers methodology is based on these four categories of Power Sources.

  • Mind Powers – Powers with notable mental abilities. Companies like IBM Watson IoI or GE Predix are notable examples.
  • Body Powers – Powers that are gained from genetic mutation. Companies like Microsoft or Amazon mutate to IaaS / PaaS IoT platforms.
  • Spirit Powers  Powers gained over time through extensive investment, and are easily obtainable by companies without the risk of horrible mutation or disfigurement. PTC Thingworx, Software AG/Cumulocity or Cisco-Jasper are examples.
  • Artefact Powers   Powers gained abilities through ancient objects such as networks, or hardware. Incumbent Telcos M2M Platforms, Telco vendors like Huawei, Nokia or Ericsson, and Hardware vendors like Intel IoT platform, ARM Beetle or Samsung Artik are examples.

For each Power Source category, Super Powers are divided into different levels of power that depend on how strong, or unique, their abilities are.

  • Level 0 -  with useless, or minimal abilities.
  • Level 1 -  they are still particularly weak compared to the higher levels.
  • Level 2 -  have developed their powers to a certain point. About 75% of the platforms belong to this class,
  • Level 3 - Mostly are most commonly amateur heroes or sly villains.
  • Level 4 - Some of the most unique with a wider variety of powers.
  • Level 5 - these fellows are seasoned veterans of their abilities, capable of using them without even needing to concentrate.
  • Level 6 - Only a few beings are classified under this level, and their powers are that of being able to control multiple aspects of IoT reality.

Whatever the source of power was, I add Sandy Carter´s recommendation: If you want to become an Extreme Innovator you also need Super Intelligence, Super Speed and Super Synergy.  

About Super Heroes and Super Villains

Previously in “Internet of Things: Angels & Demons” and “Internet of Things – Kings and Servants” , I identified some IoT Platform companies as potential superheroes. What was certain is that we knew who the supervillains were. Governments, organizations and business giants that try to control us, manipulate us and frighten us with their economic, political and military powers.

Deciding which superhero can help you more or what superpower is more important for your business is an extremely important milestone in your IoT Strategy.

I've defined the six types/categories of superheroes / IoT Platforms:

a)The superhero whose power is a birthright like Amazon AWS IoT (Superman) or GE Predix (Magneto/Professor Xavier).

b)The superhero whose power is the result of power acquisitions like PTC Thingworx (The Flash) or Cisco Jasper-Parstream (Spiderman) or Autodesk Fusion Connect (FireStorm).

c)The superhero whose power is made possible by technology like Oracle IoT (Iron Man) or SAP Leonardo(Green Lantern). 

d)There is the superhero who doesn't have any superpowers but who is a superhero by extremely intensive training like Batman (Ayla Networks) or Black Widow (Exosite) or LogMeIn-Xively (Hawkeye)

e)The superhero who obtains his/her powers due to some supernatural event like Satya Nadella named new CEO for MSFT IoT Azure (Thor) or Telit DeviceWise (Dr. Manhattan) or Google acquisition of Nest (Hulk)

f)Finally, there is the superhero, usually a sentient android, who was created by a human like IBM Watson IoT (Vision) or a normal human playing with magic like Salesforce IoT Cloud Einstein (Dr Strange) or leader of a young team like Hitachi Data System(Most Excellent Superbat)

“Do you agree with my classification system for superheroes and superpowers?”

Although the number of superheroes and supervillains is enormous (more that the IoT Platforms Universe), it would take me a long time to assign each one of the IoT platform a single superhero or supervillain. Since I do not think many companies are willing to pay to know who represents them better, at least I have done a partial and fun exercise.

The Bottom Line 

If you are an IoT Platform vendor, you could be doing yourself some questions right now:

-          If I could be a Superhero what would it be?".

-          Worth to acquire a Super Power or reach an upper level to convince customers I am their Superhero?

And remember …

“With power comes responsibility; with great power comes great responsibility”

Although the number of superheroes and supervillains is enormous (more than the IoT Platforms Universe), it would take me a long time to assign each one of the IoT platform a single superhero or supervillain. Since I do not think many companies are willing to pay to know who represents them better, at least I have done a partial and fun exercise.

Thanks for your Likes and Shares.

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From “smart” hairbrushes to lawn mowers, the Internet of Things (IoT) has created a slew of slick products, but there have also been many failures: too many connected devices have gone by the wayside, and in most cases, this is preventable. This scenario, recognized as the Abandonment of Things, is the land where connected devices go to die. Several factors drive the Abandonment of Things: a lack of a proper monetization strategy for connected services; failure to create a community around a smart device; even security issues and clunky backend processes. If a company wants to avoid the digital scrap pile, and subsequent loss of potential revenue and customer gains, it must have all the right parts working in sync.

Keeping an Eye on Profitability

Companies are always looking to expand their user bases, but as that base grows, so do infrastructure costs. Think increased server capacity and the people needed to manage the technology aspect of a subscription service. If the right infrastructure is not in place, profitability takes a hit.   

It comes down to data collection and value. What data do companies collect and how do they use it? Where is the value? Take some of the popular connected health bands for example: their freemium models allow consumers to track food and exercise and then compare and compete with friends. On the other hand, their premium models cost around $100 annually and give consumers the option to compare themselves with strangers who are just like them.

Does the data revealed by the premium model — data about strangers rather than friends — provide enough value to convert 3-5 percent of the consumer base into paying customers? That’s the question the marketer must ask and answer.

Getting in the Consumer’s Head

With traditional, non-connected devices, the relationship between brands and consumers ends with the purchase. But with a smart device, the purchase is the beginning of that relationship. IoT is actually not about the thing — it’s about the service as well as the value provided by the service. A company must therefore consider more than the transaction, or the value of the product, or even the initial needs of the consumer. Companies must understand the value a consumer — or better yet, a member — gets from the service. An integral part of that value is the community consumers join when they subscribe to a service.

The new subscription generation requires companies to think of their consumer base as a membership base, which requires very different communication strategies. Transparency is key, both in terms of the solution offered and the financial aspect of the solution. Companies start to achieve success when they build out these relationships and consumers begin to take in new information, not just as marketing, but as an added value.

Awareness of Regulations

Security is paramount in the era of IoT. Striking the balance between value for consumers and protection of their data will be an ongoing challenge for marketers. One example that showcases the delicacy required in this new order is TVs that watch us — noting not just what you’re viewing, but who is in the room when the device is on. Even for those consumers who see great value in, for example, targeted commercials and programming, real questions revolve around how that data is collected and what companies do with it.

Consumer rights also change with every border crossing. Uber transactions are seamless in the U.S., but are more complicated in India. It’s not just about securing data, but also securing the complex payment processes inherent in a subscription-based, hyper-connected global economy.

How companies adapt to the regulatory environment is key to their success. One important thing to understand is that government is not necessarily proactive about regulating IoT — regulations will most likely come after some company is caught misusing data. One bad apple can affect an entire industry, so companies need to be transparent and meticulous about data collection and how data is used to create value.

Avoiding the Abandonment of Things

The new world ushered in by IoT is just dawning, and already the path forward is littered with abandoned things. A subscription-based economy demands flexibility, convenience and value. But those aren’t the only challenges your company faces when forging ahead. The right balance between monetization, transparent communications and security can create the environment your product needs to thrive.

Photo Credit: Becky

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Smart IoT - Generate Greatest Value

Digital Transformation

We have now entered an era with a new virtual revolution, particularly, the Internet of things (IoT). The virtual revolution marks the starting of information age. We use the Internet almost every day. The net has turned out to be one of established ways for us to work together, to share our lives with others, to shop, to teach, to research, and to learn. However  the next wave of the Internet isn't about people. it's far about things, honestly?

All about IoT

IoT is defined as the network of physical objects that can be accessed through the Internet. These objects contain embedded various technology to interact with internal states or the external environment.

IoT is characterized as "the figuring frameworks of sensors and actuators associated by systems, where the processing frameworks can screen or deal with the status and actions of connected objects and machines, and the connected sensors can likewise screen the characteristic world, individuals, and creatures." The center of IoT is not just about interfacing things to the Internet. It is about how to generate and use the big data from the things to make new values for individuals, and about how we empower new trades of significant worth between them. In other words, when objects can sense and communicate, IoT has its knowledge to change how and where choices are made, and who makes them, and to pick up a superior esteem, solution or service.

Smart IoT

Fundamental to the estimation of IoT is in actuality the Internet of smart things (smart IoT). Supported by intelligent optimization, smart IoT can increase productivity of work and enhance quality of lives for people. Let us take “cities” — the engines of global economic growth — as an example. Smart cities have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of everyone. In intelligent transportation systems (ITS), smart IoT can not only monitor the status of the transportation, but also optimize traffic signal controls to solve traffic congestion and provide the travelers with better routes and appropriate transportation information, etc. Combining IoT and machine learning (ML) can also make our roads safer. Profits by smart IoT have been shown also in health-care, logistics, environment, smart home, in the aspects of better quality, energy conservation, efficiency increase, and so on.

Smart IoT remains in its infancy now in terms of the technology  development and the effect on our global economy system and our daily lives. Maximum IoT statistics aren't used presently within the era of big data. Maximum IoT has no intelligence inside the generation of artificial intelligence (AI).  IoT which might be used these days are on the whole for anomaly detection and control, as opposed to optimization and prediction. Given the brilliant anticipated increase of the Internet over the following 10 years, it is considered one of vital challenges and possibilities for us to invent and practice in real-global programs on a way to make the IoT smarter to generate the greatest value.

 

 

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The Evolution of Industry 4.0

Welcome to the future, available now courtesy of Industry 4.0. Dreams not so long ago, today’s realities are an amazing presentation of devices, humans, sensors, and machines working together to achieve what once seemed impossible. Small wonder the result is branded as a “smart factory.”

Who would have guessed that the Industrial Revolution would evolve in such a remarkable fashion? Stage 1.0 introduced the labor-saving method of newly-developed machinery powered by steam. Inventors thought of other ways to improve productivity and introduced 2.0 with electricity, mass production and the assembly line. Stage 3.0 took longer to arrive with computers and the assembly line presence of machines and robots working alongside or replacing humans.

Each stage inspired human imagination about Industry 4.0 and the endless possibilities that exist. The Internet of Things, or IoT, includes cyber- physical systems capable of making decentralized decisions. Videos of driverless cars are featured on Facebook posts. Robots operate commercial floor cleaners and delicate surgical instruments. Sensors warn robots to move out of the way of approaching objects!

What exactly is Industry 4.0? It’s a system or factory that possesses four essential features.

Decentralized decision-making: Cyber-physical systems are as independent as possible and make uncomplicated decisions on their own.

Information transparency: Sensor data lets systems build a virtual copy of the physical world in which it exists based on the concepts that affect activities and awareness.

Technical assistance: Systems aid humans in problem-solving and decision-making as well as assist them with unsafe or dangerous tasks.

Interoperability: Devices, sensors, machines and people connect and communicate with one another.

Questions arise about what it means and how it affects everyday activities. The public is active in learning Industry 4.0 participation, although not everyone is aware of it. Proficiency in using computer programs, tablets, and smartphones prepare people of all ages for this technological change to HMI (human machine interface) devices.

The term “big data” describes the huge amount of information collected from network devices. Industry 4.0 enabled equipment sorts and analyzes data by prescribed search criteria for various users. Information reflects items like production methods and a product’s reaction to certain situations. The system’s ability to present it in different ways makes it useful to separate departments, researchers, and end-users.

Sharing data anywhere at any time requires trust and cooperation up and down the supply chain. Identified concerns can be addressed quickly using the four essential features of Industry 4.0.

About Bill McCabe/ Internet of Things Recruiting - Executive Search/ Retained Search for the Internet of Things/ Machine 2 Machine/ Big Data Markets

IBM IOT Futurist - see you at #IBMInterconnect - March 19-23 Las Vegas

Top 50 IOT Authority on Twitter - per IoT Central

Need Help finding your next Big Data or IOT Employee or If you require the top 5% of IOT talent let’s talk. Drop me a line or use this link to schedule an IOT Search Assessment Call Click Here to Schedule

OR Contact me at 303-337-7871

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Tibbo announced the release 5.4 of AggreGate IoT Integration Platform.

We've achieved great results in optimizing AggreGate server performance, especially event and value update storage performance. From now on, a single server can process and persistently store up to a hundred thousand events/updates per second, which is almost equal to 10 billion events per day. Such performance figures don't even require any high-end server hardware.

A new chapter has been opened by this release, presenting AggreGate's graphical and textual programming languages inspired by IEC 61131-3 standard, also known as "SoftPLC". Millions of engineers are now able to use AggreGate as a process control logic development environment.

One innovative feature of AggreGate's automation languages is tight integration of runtime with the Tibbo Project System hardware. Your programmed logic can access and control all Tibbit modules of a Linux-based TPS board/box. Currently available languages are: Function Block Diagram (graphical), Structured Text (graphical), Sequential Function Chart (textual).

Widget capabilities are no longer limited by the standard set of components. Now it can be easily extended. New Widget Component SDK allows to implement custom visual components in Java and use them in AggreGate widgets. Extend AggreGate's wide component palette with UI controls best suited to your needs!

We continue making our UI interface clearer and more user-friendly. The next step is lightweight icons. We redesigned them to be up-to-date with modern flat paradigm. New color coding assists users to navigate over various available toolbar actions.

Other major improvements include:

  • Built-in timestamps and quality for data tables.
  • Component connectors that allow to visually link UI components with each other.
  • Secure and reliable Agent communications. Agent-Server communications now can be SSL-protected. When transferred data amount is critical, data compression can be enabled in parallel to encryption.
  • Granulation, a brand-new highly customizable data aggregation and consolidation tool. The granulation engine allows to combine datasets into compact representation that contains all important aspects of original information in virtually any form suitable for later processing. This allows to reduce memory and storage consumption along with boosting data processing performance.
  • Server remote upgrading. To reduce company's expenses, a remote AggreGate server upgrade operation is now supported. You can use our Unified Console application to connect to a remote server, upload a server upgrade bundle file and wait while the upgrade process is finished. That's it! All operations, including database backup, stopping server, upgrading and restarting will be performed at the server side automatically.

We are bringing our IT & Network Management solution (AggreGate Network Manager) to a new level by turning it into a full-fledged IT Service Management System. In this release, we introduce several essential instruments for that: Configuration Management Database (CMDB), metrics engine and topology-based root-cause analysis tools. Another ITSM functionality - IP address management module - is now available and you can use it out-of-the-box.

AggreGate 5.4 includes new device drivers: CoAP, MQTT, IEC 104, DLMS/COSEM, SMI-S.

You can get detailed information on the new 5.4 release, download and try the updated AggreGate IoT Platform on our website: http://aggregate.tibbo.com/news/release-54.html

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