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Considering that the IoT is in its infancy and due to the last years wasted in predictions that have not been fulfilled, in disappointing statistics of successful projects and with most companies without clear strategies, it is normal to think that R & D is today so necessary for boost and accelerate this increasingly sceptical market.

R&D should be an essential part of bringing innovation to any company via IoT projects. And though we can all agree how important R&D is, it requires a great deal of experience, senior experts, and specific toolsets—resources that not every company can say they have handy.

However, there is a risk when deriving the strategic decisions that the executive directors consider to be technological towards the R & D departments. Many times, oblivious to the reality of the markets, those responsible for R & D with the invaluable aid of the subsidies of the different Administrations, they launch to develop products and technologies for problems that do not exist, just for the fact of obtaining recognition or to continue living without pressures of the Top Management. I am enemy of granted subsidies granted most of the time by unqualified Administration organisms that does not understand that need to prevail the utility, the business model, the business case and the commercialization over the innovation that R & D said to be developed.

Now, if we ask the sellers of IoT technology, products and services, they may not be so happy with the idea of having to talk with the R & D areas instead of with other areas of the company more likely to buy. Most time, R &D departments decide to do it themselves. Vendors know, that with great probability, they will not to close deals due to lack of budget of the R &D or the low visibility of this area by the rest of the departments of the company.

The Importance of R&D for the Internet of Things

Innovation in IoT is a major competitive differentiator. See below some advices to have a decisive advantage over competitors:

  • IoT-focused companies need to invest in R&D to keep up with the rapidly changing and expanding market. It is important that an organization’s R&D iteration turn times are quick, otherwise the company is not going to be able to keep pace with the expected IoT market growth. However, it’s not enough to simply speed up R&D—innovative IoT firms, both start-ups and established companies, must also make sure their R&D processes are extremely reliable.
  • You can’t solve R&D speed issues just by increasing budget.
  • Executives must maintain strong, steady communication with R&D regarding the department’s priorities over a particular time frame and how progress will be measured.
  • Guidelines are invaluable: The more structured and streamlined R&D procedures are, the better IoT companies will be able to move from conception to delivery.
  • Design innovative IoT products but accelerate time to market.
  • Internal collaboration: R&D team should share real-time data across internal departments to spur intelligent product design
  • External collaboration: Connect with customers and partners to ensure success
  • Differentiation: Drive overall business value with IoT.

 

 

Outsource or not Outsource R & D for your IoT project

Just like any other technology, IoT products and solutions require thorough research and development, and it better be done by professionals. Despite the noise generated by analysts and companies around the IoT, the reality is that there have not been many IoT projects and therefore it is not easy to find good professionals with proven experience in IoT to hire.

When I think of Outsourcing IoT projects, Eastern European and Indian companies immediately come to my mind. No doubt because the R & D talent seems to be cheaper there. Spain could also be a country to outsource IoT, but at the moment I do not see it.

The benefits of Outsourcing R&D for IoT Projects:

  • Expertise and an Eye for Innovation
  • Bring an IoT Project to Market Faster
  • Optimize Your Costs
  • Control and Manage Risks

I am not sure about the quality of most of these companies or the experience of their teams in the development of IoT products or in the implementation of IoT projects, but there is no doubt that there are benefits to Outsource R & D for some IoT Projects. You should select any of these companies after a careful evaluation.

Recommendation: Do not stop your IoT projects if you do not have the skills and professionals in house. Luckily, there are companies who offer outsourcing R&D for IoT projects.

Note: Remember I can help you to identify and qualify the most suitable Outsource R&D for your IoT project.

Spain is not different in R & D for IoT

I have not believed in R & D in Spain for years. There are exceptions without a doubt, but it seems evident that the prosperity and welfare of Spain is not due to our R & D. Fortunately we have sun and beach and a lot of brick to put in houses that are not sold because of high prices and low wages.

With the entry into the EU, I thought that we had great markets open to us. I was also optimistic that we would have great opportunities in the Latin American market, thanks to the fact that our research and development capacity would have been consolidated effectively in our companies and universities because it would be profitable and worldwide recognized.

But it has not been that way. The technology developed in Spain and more specifically that relating to the IoT has little chance of being commercialized in France, Germany and not to mention in the UK. If we add the development gap of the countries of South America and that our local market is averse to technological risk, it is difficult to flourish R & D in IoT or Industry 4.0 here in our lovely Spain.

That does not mean that we do not have public R & D budgets for these areas. What happens is that the same thing that happened during the last 30 years has happened. The incentives and aids are few and for the most part used to finance large companies with little return to society. There is no rigorous control of the aid granted and, above all, there is no plan to encourage the local and global marketing of the products developed with the talent of our scientists and researchers.

I have stopped believing and trusting in our successive Governments for the change in R & D but there are exceptions that are worthwhile to follow and work with them. For this reason, I continue help them demonstrate that “SPAIN CAN BE DIFFERENT”.

Key Takeaway

After years of unfulfilled expectations, companies are sceptical of the potential growth of the IoT market or the benefits in their business. R&D department can be a cure to boost IoT initiatives but also a poison to kill IoT initiatives.

 

IoT may have started in R&D, but their benefits don’t have to end there. To drive overall business value, it’s important to share IoT data – both internally and externally. Facilitating open collaboration, discovering new ways to innovate products, and accelerating time to market, you can differentiate R&D and your business.

As fast turn times and reliability becomes a focal part of companies’ R&D processes, these companies will be well-positioned to thrive within the IoT market.

Thanks for your Likes and Comments

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When you have the responsibility of ensuring a manufacturing plant is operating at its full potential at all times, talk of “Industry 4.0” and “industrial automation like never before” might be exciting but far-fetched. Industry 4.0 is just an empty phrase used by marketers who want to take your money, right?

Maybe in some cases, but the ideas behind the buzzy terms can actually give you an edge over competitors. Industry 4.0 is not a phase, but it’s also not an obligation that you need to “opt in to” 100% right away.  Industrial automation is a combined result of our greater digital capacities, smarter machines, and improved cross-channel communication that have accompanied the digital age.

In 2019, the technology is here: from decentralized cloud systemsto self-correcting and self-directing machines. However, it’s not everywhere yet, and most plants are simply taking baby steps towards preparing their lines to be as compatible as possible to these new technologies so that they can gradually work their way in. Industry is slowly moving towards a more optimized, efficient, automated structure, but this transition will be happening in the industrial world over the next few decades.

What do those “baby steps” look like? Where should begin to optimize lines in the most cost-effective, long-term ROI benefits?  We have compiled a list of 5 relatively simple ways you can take this year to set your plant up for new “Industry 4.0” industrial automation technologies:

1. Integrate a Single Virtual Server

Managing the IT aspect of your plant is difficult when you need to find cost-effective storage and data processing solutions for your company that also comply with all of the regulations and contingencies of your industry. However, upgrading a server to a virtual option is probably the most important upgrade you can do to get started on the road to future industrial automation applications that use a truly decentralized communication with virtual operating system.

If your plant currently runs exclusively on physical servers, you don’t need to go virtually all at once. The wonderful thing about industry 4.0 is that much of the software integrations available will integrate with your existing hardware. You can invest in one virtual server, and then layer software integrations on to it over time.

By starting with a single server, you can cut costs, maintain a realistic learning/adaptation curve, and try out a virtual server option without committing 100% to a change. There are numerous virtual server options available, so talk to a process automation expert about what server will work best for your plant, and which server to upgrade first.

2. Get Basic Industrial Automation Security – Two-Factor Authentication

With increased adaptability and communication on virtual servers comes increased cyber threats, and unfortunately, there is no way around this. One of the easiest and fastest upgrades you can do for your company is to implement two-factor authentication (2FA) for all employees. A simple password is no longer anywhere near secure enough to protect your employees and your data.

Luckily, everything from Twitter to Cloud servers now offer 2FA options, it’s usually just a question of getting the settings implemented correctly and creating a protocol that requires every employee to use 2FA at all times. It may seem tedious or frustrating at first, but this is a small habit that can make a huge difference in your cyber security and overall functioning of your plant.

3. Make Your Next Machine Purchase a Smart Machine

You probably aren’t yet at the point of having a completely automated assembly line of smart machines that create highly customized orders while communicating with and correcting each other (like the assembly line in this German plant.) However, smart machines do exist, and if you are getting ready to purchase a new machine, finding one that has automation, optimization, and decentralized communication abilities will be a great investment in your plant’s future.

Customizable “smart machines” are virtually independent of a human operator. The ability of these machines to adapt to the demands of individualized production requirements allows for scalable, lean production processes. In other words, with these new machines, you can produce a larger variety of products faster than ever before.

If your current machines are working fine, there is no need to replace them with smart machines right away. But from this point forward, it is a good idea to consider buying a smart machine for your next upgrade. Don’t be afraid to use an automation integrator to advise you on the appropriate machine, technology, and compatibility with existing plant automation systems.

4. Implement Technology Upgrades that Overlay or Automatically Integrate Existing Plant Industrial Automation

Be choosy about the automation products you decide to implement into your current systems moving forward. You want applications that both set your systems up for future technology integrations and help move you away from expiring legacy applications.

This shouldn’t mean replacing all your old applications, programming, and platforms all at once other. Most Industry 4.0 automation tools are created in an “overlay” style, meaning they are created to be able to function on top of your existing processes and are not supposed to disrupt everything you have already built.

Embracing a new software or system should never mean that you have to throw away your existing processes and start from scratch. If this is how you feel when you are getting ready to purchase a new software, machine, or server then it probably isn’t the right product for your company.

Talking to an expert about what products will work best with your current setup is a good idea before making any changes to your industrial automation. At my company, EPIC systems, we've seen the difference that selecting the right product solutions has made for hundreds of process automation projects — it's a key step for any manufacturing plant. No matter who you work with, you don't want to bypass this step.

5. Optimize One of Your Plant’s Processes

Divide and conquer, as they say. Just as it is best to upgrade one server at a time, it is helpful to focus specifically on one plant process at a time when you are looking to optimize and automate your plant.

This could mean focusing on optimizing your shipping procedure or optimizing one assembly process. The important thing to remember is that as you do this “experimental optimization” you are not just looking for an impressive return on investment, you are also looking to get your entire team comfortable with the automation and ready to embrace even more. This is why the “how” is just as important (if not more important) than the “what” when it comes to choosing a process to optimize. Go slow, be transparent, and include everyone in the process so that it is a success all around.

Industry 4.0 is creating a world where employees can delegate mundane tasks to smart machines and rely on highly communicative, agile systems in order to work faster and more effectively than ever before. There is no reason for any manufacturing plant to be left behind in this industrial evolution, with numerous products and services available to help walk you through the industrial automation process gradually and intelligently.

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E-commerce, much like every product of technological evolution, has made headway at a mind-boggling pace. Here are some stats that will help you gain a better perspective on this industry: e-commerce sales stood at $1.86 trillion in 2016. Also, researchers believe that this figure will grow up to $4.48 trillion in two more years, i.e., by 2021. While multiple factors contribute and continue to drive this fast-paced growth, there is no one that not many people pay close attention to the Internet of Things.

IoT has quietly revolutionized the e-commerce market by facilitating significantly better logistics as well as an enhanced user experience. It isn't surprising though -- especially when you consider the fact that over 30 billion devices are set to become 'connected' by next year. A constantly growing network of such devices means IoT has helped e-commerce businesses to not only deliver better products and services but also achieve better outcomes with their marketing initiatives and enhance customer's overall experience among other things.

Here's a closer look at what IoT means for e-commerce and how it enables companies in this sector to achieve robust growth.
1. Better inventory management: Managing inventory is an understandably challenging task when there are multiple warehouses involved. IoT has tackled that issue with the provision of things such as 'smart' shelves, which track the products sold and automatically place orders when products, especially high-performing ones, are about to go out of stock. It, in turn, boosts the levels of customer satisfaction.

2. Transformed consumer experience: IoT allows companies to leverage devices such as smart mirrors to allow clients to try out their products from the comfort of their home, thus delivering completely novel and distinctive customer experience. IoT can also be used to glean insights from social media platforms to understand which of the company's products are preferred and if there are any issues customers face. Implementing such data facilitates a deep shopping experience, resulting in better customer engagement as well as satisfaction.

3. Enhanced product ecosystem: Sensors, a crucial part of the phenomenon that is IoT, can be utilized to foster new opportunities for better product ecosystems. Furthermore, it can be used to provide customers with access to maintenance services or perhaps even recommending related products and services once the sale has been made.

4. Seamless delivery: Bigwigs from a broad variety of industries, including Amazon, are already using IoT to streamline their delivery processes. How? For starters, there are autonomous warehouse robots, which can be integrated with the business' warehouse management systems and then used to enhance order picking throughput, improve the warehouse's inventory density, and cut down labor costs among other things. All of these factors, together, help ensure a substantially more organized delivery system.

While IoT has already changed the face of the e-commerce industry, in the future it will further enable companies to better their marketing efforts, deliver better support to customers, and more, resulting in superior experiences for customers. So if you too want to jump on this bandwagon, we suggest you select a trusted e-commerce websites development company at the earliest possible.

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Studies that by next year, we will have more than 20 billion IoT devices connected to the internet. Also, that's not just limited to, say, mobile devices or even household device. The evolution of IoT has come to the point that we now also have vehicles that are connected to the internet, as carmakers strive to give their customers better creature comforts and conveniences within their automobiles. So, you can see, that the Internet of Things (IoT) offers immense possibilities for web development as more and more such devices come online.


How? It is quite simple. First, the nexus of IoT devices depends on web servers. Then there's also the data gathered from the sensors, which is saved in the cloud. So how do you think the connected devices communicate with each other? They rely on experimental messaging protocols. Finally, users need a UI to engage with the connected devices. Long story short, web development is a critical part of IoT.


Now, let's get into the details of how IoT has already and continues to revolutionize web development.
1. Data collection: One of the essential elements of IoT devices is the massive amounts of data they work with. The tools gather real-time data from sensors, then filter and process them, before relaying it to the cloud and back again. In the context of web development, this data can be leveraged to fine-tune the web development project, allowing companies to offer products and services that improve with time.
2. User interface: Since IoT devices depend on dynamic UIs to serve the individual needs of various users means that web developers must now take an entirely new approach to design UI. The micromanagement of the UI necessary for correctly displaying all types of data results in IoT devices offering multitasking abilities and overall versatility to users.
3. Enhanced focus on security: While it is miserable to realize, the truth remains that IoT devices, despite their prevalence, suffer at the hands of lack of robust security. It is one of the biggest reasons why users are still reluctant to embrace them. Thankfully, the solution to this conundrum is found in web development. Developers can help fortify IoT devices by integrating certain security features in their code. It can include user identification, identity verification, access management and more.
4. Hybridization of development teams: Ask any developer and will tell you that a hybrid team is practically a death knell for the development project. Nonetheless, work requires completion when IoT is involved. To deliver successful IoT web app development projects, web designers must work together with experts proficient in IoT. It will allow them to concatenate code with the data.


One may be inclined to deem the impact of IoT on web app development as damaging, but you still can't deny that every time such integrated event occurs, it eventually leads to ultra-modern technologies that profoundly affect and transform our way of life even further.

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We’ve heard a great deal about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it’s going to change the face of business as we know it. However, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) goes a step further, particularly with reference to how smart sensors and actuators can enhance and improve the manufacturing and industrial processes. So, what exactly is the IIoT and how will it really change every business? Read on to find out more.

 

What is Industrial IoT?

To put it simply, the IIoT aims to dramatically improve efficiency and productivity within the industrial industry. It leverages the power of smart machines and sensors to take advantage of the data that machines have produced in industrial settings since they began. The combination of real-time analytics and smart machines is not only better than humans at capturing data, but it’s also more accurate in reporting the information.

How it Works

Though it sounds rather complicated, in practice, it’s really quite simple. This network of intelligent devices will work together to monitor, collect and analyse data. It works like so:

  • The intelligent devices gather information
  • They then transmit this to the data communications infrastructure
  • It’s converted into actionable information for humans
  • This can be used for routine maintenance as well as optimising business processes

 

IIoT vs IoT – What’s the Difference?

IIoT and IoT undoubtedly have plenty in common, from cloud platforms, sensors and connectivity to machine communication and analytics. However, there are a few differentiating factors. For example, IoT applications connect devices across multiple fields – between healthcare, agriculture and enterprise for instance. IIoT, on the other hand, only connects machines and devices within specific industries such as oil, gas and manufacturing.



What Are the Benefits?

Though the technology has received inordinate amounts of funding, technical due diligence is still frequently required from some sceptics. On the whole, however, there are many positives that investors simply cannot ignore.

One of the main benefits is the aforementioned predictive maintenance. This will almost allow industrial businesses to operate like clock-work. It will predict faults in machinery before they actually happen, allowing for swift work in fixing any issues. This prevents losing any time from production due to a defective machine which may have previously cost the business money.

A further benefit is asset tracking. Now, suppliers, manufacturers and even customers can use asset management systems to monitor the location and status of products throughout their life cycle. This will include everything from manufacturing to dispatch. It can send alerts to various stakeholders if it’s thought that the product might be damaged, allowing them to take preventative action before it’s too late.

What is the Future of IIoT

Interestingly, the top three industries investing in IIoT are transportation, manufacturing and utilities. Where some businesses may be reluctant to adopt new technology, it seems that the IIoT is different. It’s an exciting prospect, which continues to accumulate more appeal across the globe as it develops. Time will tell just how quickly this technology will change the way many industries operate.



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According to global management consulting firm Bain & Company, long-term prospects for the industrial Internet of Things remain ambitious. However, many executives are resetting timeline expectations for reaching scale due to early adoption struggles. Notably, certain “darlings of IoT” like predictive maintenance have not lived up to the hype. And while Bain’s survey of 600 industrial customers shows increasing traction with ‘workhorse’ scenarios like remote monitoring and asset tracking, it exposes areas where many teams and vendors are struggling to deliver the goods. In the end, an iterative strategy focused on specific business outcomes remains critical.

Notably, Bain’s survey finds increasing concerns around integration with existing enterprise systems and data portability. Executives worry their visions for digital transformation will be restricted by internal skill gaps and proprietary vendor services. Understandably, they fear losing control of any data not managed by their own enterprise IT departments. Despite this, confidence remains high that an estimated 20 billion devices will be successfully connected by 2020.

Many executives feel the value proposition for industrial IoT is still emerging. For them, the ability to capitalize on this value and achieve better business results remains elusive. To address these challenges, Bain calls for organizations to build a new operating model and position themselves for long-term success in a connected world.

Recommendations for accelerating IoT adoption in the enterprise

First, Bain recommends industrial organizations choose specific, high-value use cases to tackle upfront. Prove out your ability to address security and other valid IT concerns. Then, adopt an iterative approach for demonstrating ROI and ease of enterprise integration.

Second, use experienced partners to address your gaps. Don’t try building everything yourself. Differentiation comes from the combination of acquired data with your industry-specific domain knowledge. We’ve seen manufacturing digital transformation initiatives stall out when internal engineering teams try to build their own IoT infrastructure. Software for collecting data (and system integration services) can be bought. Build your value, not your tools.  

Third, don’t expect overnight success. You’re building up organizational capabilities and working with a new set of specialized partners. Commit to a realistic investment timeline and prepare for change. You’ll likely need to bring in new, more entrepreneurial talent to drive your connected business model. At a minimum, empower your existing teams to think differently. Remember, you’re not rolling out a new CRM application. You’re transforming your enterprise. Act accordingly.

Fourth, industrial IoT revenue starts at the top. Executives must ensure the entire organization is aligned for transition to the new operating model. This requires both vision and clear communication. Unsurprisingly, those responsible for existing products and revenue streams fear cannibalization. Furthermore, IoT initiatives take time to meet traditional P&L requirements. If executives don’t create an environment where the new operating model can take root, prevailing forces will prevent its maturation while competitors move ahead.      

Prepare to scale the business

Eventually companies reach the point on their digital transformation journey where they’ve proven out their connected product technology and business concepts. Now what? Bain concludes with a method for assessing readiness to scale up your industrial IoT efforts.

To begin, how well do you understand the full potential of industrial IoT to your enterprise? IoT can dramatically impact the quality of manufactured products, service offerings, maintenance  procedures, and other areas of your enterprise. But what will this cost, and what will revenue look like once the system is deployed to production and fully commercialized?

Never forget, your competitors aren’t standing still. You can be sure they’re working on their own industrial IoT initiatives. What is your plan to win in this new arena?

Additionally, scaling IoT requires incentives alignment and coordinated execution across the enterprise. Engineering, IT, service, sales, and business teams must work together for organizations to realize the benefits of digital transformation. Make sure everyone understands their part and is rowing in the same direction.

Bain summarizes their last recommendation with a sentiment that we refer to as “strategy over software.” By strategy, we mean not just a plan, but a comprehensive roadmap, organization structure, and business model across the enterprise to support the success of your industrial IoT initiative.

Digital transformation is a journey

As you start your journey, you’re going to need an industrial IoT platform. Whether it makes sense to build your own or buy one depends on a variety of factors. But digital transformation isn’t just about technology. As Bain notes repeatedly, it’s about so much more. Business models and sales strategies, along with clear user stories, team roles, and responsibilities are equally critical to successful IoT initiatives. Beyond a platform, an experienced digital transformation partner can accelerate planning, implementation, and successful commercialization of your connected systems.

 
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The benefits of using Edge Computing / Machine Learning solutions are very attractive to manufacturers because allows minimize latency, conserve network bandwidth, operate reliably with quick decisions, collect and secure a wide range of data, and move data to the best place for processing with better analysis and insights of local data.
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What was the last thing you bought online? Why didn’t you go to a store to buy it? Was it for the vast number of items you could scroll through before making a choice or the recommendations that the website or app pulled up for you, remembering your choices and interests from a previous visit, or the ease with which you paid for it with a card whose details were already stored with the website?

The online shopping experience is leaps and bounds ahead of the traditional experience in terms of using data and technology to provide unique and personalized customer experiences. While brick and mortar stores also have their own upsides, the move towards omni-channel retailing today is key.

So what does an omni-channel experience really mean? The term refers to merging of services and features of multiple channels in order to provide a seamless, integrated and consistent experience to users. It means bringing the best of online shopping to the physical store to enrich customer experiences and create new channels for revenue generation.

The reason that e-retailers are able to provide a vast number of superior and personalized features is because of access to a larger volume of data and analytics. Their algorithms are constantly monitoring your every step, from consideration to the point where a sale occurs. Traditional retailers need the same approach and connected products under Internet of Things provide a way to do exactly that. A digital transformation of store assets by connecting them to each other and the internet through means of sensors or digital tags (barcodes, QR codes, Datamatrix codes, NFC & RFID tags) working together with AI and cloud computing, will result in smart connected products at every point within a customer’s journey, collecting and analyzing data.

Many brands already have an online presence as well as applications from where one can directly buy their products. However, a true omni-channel retail experience is one where it works in tandem with, influences and enhances the in-store shopping experience.

A number of leading brands are also coming up with innovations to improve customer engagement and play to their expectations born from online buying habits regarding a seamless and hassle-free shopping experience. Here is a look at the areas within a brick and mortar store that could see incorporation of connected products to facilitate an omni-channel retail experience.

Personalized services
Analytics and personalized services and features go hand in hand together. Brands need to know about their customers in order to curate services for them. Data on a customer’s journey across the store, products they pick up or put back, keeping track of their past purchases and recommending more according to that, and extending coupons and offers specifically for them; feeding data of such nature into algorithms that perform analytics then deliver insights upon which personalized services can then be built.

Kroger has partnered up with Microsoft to roll out EDGE™ Shelves (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment). Equipped with digital displays, these shelves promise to provide a unique guided customer experience. The solution will also utilize in-store sensors to identify individual shoppers and extend custom recommendations, promotions and offers as well as other personalized content.

Customer’s in-store journey:
The journey of a user buying things online is not too complex; browse, select, pay. If they are a regular customer, chances are the app already knows their delivery points and payment details. A similar journey is far more difficult to emulate inside a retail store. The popularity of Endless Aisles technology is a step in this direction. This technology is based on the observation of how some people fail to find a particular product in their size or colour. No problem! They can simply place an order with their specifications using an endless aisle in the form of an interactive kiosk within the store itself, and the product gets delivered at their doorstep in a couple of days. It’s a win-win situation; customers don’t leave the store unsatisfied and the retailer does not lose out on a sale.

Another feature gaining traction is “click and collect/return”, where customers can place orders through the brand website or mobile app and collect their items from a store at their own convenience.

Consumer Transparency
Smartphones are everywhere and 71% of consumers use theirs to conduct research on products before buying them in-store. Retailers can capitalize on this medium’s ubiquitousness and familiarity to create a similar experience inside retail stores. Modern consumers are also more conscious of how their lifestyle choices, including products they buy and consume, impact the environment and society. Electronic labeling practices incorporating scannable QR codes, RFID tags or NFC stickers, let the customer pull up expanded product information instantly on their smartphones, presenting more than a simple ingredients list, and allowing the brand to display the entire journey of the product from its origin to the shelf. These tags can be further utilized to enrich customer experiences by providing tailor made content for a particular customer such as promotions and offers.

Navigation
In-store navigation services are another example where connected smart products can contribute to unique multi-channel experiences. Retailer Target has installed store fixtures like LED lights which have built-in bluetooth beacons. Their app takes advantage of these beacons to locate users inside the store and guide them to their desired locations by pulling feed from shopping lists stored by the user on it. French Retail giant Carrefour in partnership with Philips has implemented a similar system, however using Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology instead. VLC enabled LEDs emit a code that is readable by any camera on a smartphone, connecting customers to the digital experience provided by the store through their app.

Beating the Queue
Amazon Go is the true embodiment of what a connected retail store of the future will look like. Customers in these cashierless stores need not stand in long queues for checkout as they can just grab what they wish to purchase and walk out. The exit turnstiles trigger an automatic payment from the customer’s credit card, which is already stored on the app, on leaving the store. Not only are these stores getting rid of one of the most annoying bits about shopping in a a brick and mortar store, they are also combining multiple sensors across the store to collect a treasure trove of valuable data. Weight sensors on shelves know exactly when an item is removed from the shelf, or when it is put back. Multiple cameras track and record each customer’s movements within the store. Computer vision along with intelligent algorithms combine to create a unique identification for each customer and separate them from others.

Traditional brick and mortar stores are in an urgent need to innovate in order to maintain a competitive edge by keeping up with consumer expectations and habits, which are constantly evolving thanks to e-commerce. They need to look towards Internet of Things and establish a connected and digital ecosystem within their stores which collect valuable data on their customers, data that can then be converted into smart insights, on the foundation of which smart decisions can be taken to provide sophisticated, delightful and engaging customer experiences.

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With concerns rising amongst citizens, the USDA issued the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) last month intended for manufacturers, importers, retailers and other entities in retail space for the disclosure of bioengineered food and ingredients on product labels. The move was made with a view to bring in more transparency and provide consumers with standardized formats to disclose information pertaining to bioengineered food products.

Earlier referred to as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), the new Standard has come up with the term “Bioengineered” (BE) for genetically modified food products. The USDA defines bioengineered food and ingredients as food that contain genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques, and for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature. Under the new Standard, highly refined foods and ingredients like syrup, sugar and vegetable oils, without any detectable genetically modified material, are exempt from disclosure as food items that contain them will not be considered as bioengineered.

What does this mean for food brands & manufacturers in terms of compliance with the regulation?

The USDA has laid down four channels that concerned entities can use for BE disclosure: (1) text, (2) symbol, (3) electronic or digital link or (4) text messages.

Out of these, electronic labels or digital links appear to be the quickest, possibly least disruptive method of quick compliance with the new regulation. Electronic BE foods disclosure can have some upsides; It is a sustainable, efficient and cost effective method to dispense valuable product data to consumers, while leveraging the smartphone technology and its ubiquitousness. It also supports changes to label content instantly without reprinting or having to change the entire packaging everytime there is an update that needs to be shared with consumers, a useful feature to accommodate future changes in labeling standards.

Electronic or digital disclosure can be achieved through a digital link or a scannable QR code placed on the product packaging, which on being scanned will take the user to the appropriate landing page containing the product data. NBFDS stipulates that the BE symbol be placed in an immediately visible spot on this page, potentially looking something like this : 

The SmartLabel program presents excellent scope to comply with these regulations. The SmartLabel initiative spearheaded by the GMA is already bringing in QR code based digital labeling practices, having added over 25,000 products under its helm. Not only does it provide expanded product information, but it also ensures content is delivered in a standardized format which is easy to break down and absorb by consumers.

The clock is ticking as concerned entities have till January 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021 for small food manufacturers, to comply with and implement the new Standard, with the mandatory compliance date set at January 1, 2022. The urgency to begin exploring solutions for BE regulations compliance before the NBFDS takes full effect has begun and the time to act and implement a viable strategy is running out.

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3 Reasons to Use .NET for your Next IoT Project

The concept of connecting objects with the internet is the Internet of Things. It was conceived in order to establish a direct amalgamation between the virtual world and the physical world. Internet of Things is useful in the way that it recovers concrete data and information and makes them useful by offering economic benefits and improving the daily life as well.

The time has now come where people and IoT app developers have started to understand the importance of this technology and are working towards achieving greater goals with it. Tech giants have started to adopt this technology and work on developments. Here are some major reasons why they are doing it.

  1. Windows 10 IoT Core. .NET is fully compatible with Window 10 IoT Core. The system for Windows 10 was released in 2015 and was designed specifically in a way that runs on low-power devices. One great thing about this is it’s free. It comes along with a handy toolkit. There are lots of integration options. .NET Core can be extremely helpful in creating great IoT apps. They offer a pretty smooth UX.

  2. .NET Readymade Solutions. Almost every coding problem or issue is developed or resolved and has a solution somewhere over the internet. .NET helps developers in a great way making use of unfinished solutions and saving their time. So if you face a problem finding an IoT solution, it is very likely that someone has already found a solution for it and the code must have been posted somewhere over GitHub. .NET is a large community and the number reusable code it produces is also huge. This can help in speeding up the development process. This is why .NET is a great option.

  1. Microsoft Azure. Microsoft Azure is known as one of the best available enterprise-class platforms. It is of great use for IoT users. Microsoft not only provides the Azure IoT platform and IoT accelerators, but also recovery and data storage in addition to that. Some of the most important features of an IoT platform are security, analysis, interoperability, and flexibility. These features help the IoT developers in a great way.

Microsoft Azure is a cloud platform that is both secure and reliable. It offers several services. Deploying cloud applications is pretty easy by simply setting up an application host or running it on the Azure panel. Azure technology is being continually worked upon by the Microsoft engineers. Many new features will be added and those updates will come out soon.

Conclusion

For any technology, it is extremely important to have a supportive community that offers help whenever required. .NET has that kind of community. There are more than two million people working on .NET, so you imagine the number of people ready to help you and offer advice in the community.

IoT will see immense growth in the coming years, considering the demand for such technology. When that happens, all the work done on it right now will then prove to be useful. .NET is the preferred environment for creating IoT apps and there is no doubt in that.

 

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In recent years I have listened till the satiety about the importance of ecosystems to make the promises of the IoT come true and in some way for not to leave in bad position the analysts who have flooded us with their optimistic predictions.

All, or at least most of those who read my articles know that there is no company in the world, no matter how great it is, it can do everything in IoT. So, ecosystems are the key to successfully in this business.

The ecosystem allows to achieve a multiplier effect and a trusted environment.

Creating an IoT ecosystem either horizontal (technology) or vertical (industry) requires a lot of talent alliance managers able to maintain win-win transactions over the time.

Select an IoT ecosystem is not an easy task. In the IoT ecosystems there are fights between equals, also abuses usually produced from the big ones over the little ones. There are conflicts with companies that are in several ecosystems sometimes with contradictory interests. It is very usual how partners collide with the objectives of the ecosystem and you can imagine betrayals and back stabs.

For instance after IBM acquisition of Red Hat, will the IoT open source architecture designed by the ecosystem Red Hat , Eurotech and Cloudera be a good decision?

In my post “The value of partnership in Industrial Internet of Things”  and subsequent comments I presented several successful cases of collaboration among members of these ecosystems. But let's be honest, there are few references and examples after 4 years.

The fragility of Alliances in IoT is a challenge to accelerate adoption of IoT Ecosystem solutions.

IoT Ecosystems

In Harbor Research article “ Has Anyone Seen A Real Internet of Things Ecosystem?” ,dated November 2013, the analyst firm wrote that no really significant ecosystem or network of collaborators had emerged in the IoT arena in spite there was early and very interesting efforts being made by several players. We can thing that in 2013, these ecosystems were very emergent alliance developments and have had not attained the scale, scope and momentum we expect will be required to really drive this opportunity to its intended and expected scale.  Most of the attempts thus far to drive an ecosystem advantage have failed to scale and reach critical mass.  This just underscores how challenging building a high velocity network of partners can be.

In this article I will focus my analysis on 4 examples of IoT ecosystems that represent a big portion of the value chain in the multiple IoT submarkets: IoT Connectivity Provider, IoT Cloud Platform Vendor, IoT Professional Services and IoT Solution Aggregator.

Telefonica: IoT Connectivity Ecosystem - https://iot.telefonica.com/partners

One of my first attempts to monetize my IoT services was through the Telefonica IoT Solution Partners program. It was four years ago. At the beginning I received a couple of calls from the Operator to help me create my account and describe my services. We were many partners and although the Partners Search portal left a lot to be desired, I did not see much competition in my services and I thought that we would be the perfect accelerator for the ecosystem. I was wrong. Since I register, I have not received any invitation to participate in any event for partners, nor has anyone contacted me to request my services, nor have I needed the portal for contact any other partner (for that I already have my LinkedIn network).

How the hell are you going to find me as IoT Solution partner if Telefonica IoT web page does not offer a link to the partner search page ? and the use of this non update page is frustrating with duplicates names, closed companies, etc.

Telefonica identifies 3 types of Partners: Operators Alliances, Channel Partners and Solution Partners.

Operators Alliances: Telefonica is partnering with other Tier-1 telecom operators including the IoT World Alliance and other operators like China Unicom, Sunrise and Avea in order to provide IoT customers with the best, seamless services worldwide and lower costs.

Channel Partners: Telefonica enables partners to drive growth and differentiate their business by reselling their Global Managed IoT services. It helps to increase their capabilities, enabling deployment on a global scale, in particular in regions such as Europe and Latin America

Solution Partners: Telefonica Solution Partners ecosystem consists of a global network of IoT providers with functional or industrial expertise: IoT Device Providers, IoT System Integrators and IoT Industrial Experts.

I never liked the idea of Telefonica oriented to quantity (around 1000 partners including duplicate names and not updated list) instead of quality in Partners and I think the results have been and are very poor. Clearly a point to improve if they want the IoT to take off inside the Operator.

Talking with Telefonica IoT you quickly recognize that if you are not Microsoft, AWS, or similar unless you bring business to them you will never get business from them.

Telefonica does not lead any IoT ecosystem, neither geographically, nor industrially nor technologically. It is just one more logo (important of course) in many presentations of IoT vendors.

I can not understand of its win-win strategy and goto market regarding IoT platforms. In addition to its own platform, Telefonica appears as a partner of at least Microsoft Azure, PTC-Thingworx, SAG Cumulocity, AWS IoT, Cisco Jasper, Libelium, etc. Maybe they should select partners around ‘share of outcome’ rather than share of investment if they want to lead some ecosystem. Pecking is good for the birds.

Telefonica need an open-minded company culture to become comfortable with an ecosystem structure.

IoT Cloud Platform Vendor  -  Microsoft IoT Ecosystem

Having worked at Microsoft, I recognize that I have had the temptation to become an IoT partner. But also, because my business model is based on vendor independence my decision was to help other companies to enter in the MSFT IoT ecosystem

This year I was convinced that I needed to change my approach. But, instead of becoming a partner, I decided to convince other 2 Microsoft partners strong in complementary disciplines (Business Intelligence and Cloud) to create a specific area for IoT. I have not succeeded, which makes me think that despite the efforts and investment planned by Microsoft, Partners do not see IoT business clearly yet.

The list of Internet of Things Trusted Partners certified in Microsoft Azure Certified is impress and I recognize the effort of Microsoft building an IoT ecosystem that fuels business transformation. Without going further, the largest partnership with GE Predix and the partnership with PTC  will help industry customers accelerate their digital transformations by adopting IoT.

In this case, finding an partner de Microsoft Azure IoT is easier than in the previous case. The categories of IoT partners for Microsoft are: Devices, Gateways, security, isv, network and telecommunication and system integrators.

By the way, no partner in Spain according with this web. ☹. Maybe is the right time to invest.

 Microsoft is expert identifying, nurturing and managing partners and Azure IoT is a great opportunity to lead some IoT ecosystems.

IoT Professional Services - EY IoT Ecosystem

EY, otherwise known as Ernst and Young, is a leader in the IoT space. Not involved in the construction of devices themselves, EY is instead helping organisations navigate the largely unchartered waters of IoT.

While working in an engagement with EY IoT, I read a report developed by Forrester Research dated Oct/18, 2017 “Vendor Landscape: IoT Professional Services”. This report segments the landscape of IoT Professional Services firms, based on functional capabilities to help enterprises deploy IoT-enabled processes, vertical market focus, and geographic reach. Based on the service offerings, vertical capabilities, and characteristics of a broad array of professional services firms, Forrester has identified eight categories. The major players in the consulting firm segment include Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PWC because these strategic consulting firms combine strong business strategy capabilities with the ability to execute on digital transformation initiatives. The report clearly showed EY strong IoT capabilities across the globe. EY was also recognized as Internet of Things services leader by HFS Research.

For EY, initiatives like launch a global IoT/OT Security Lab to help clients stay ahead of emerging threats or to launch EY wavespace™, a global network of growth and innovation centers to help clients achieve radical breakthroughs is a way to demonstrate its strategic alliances like SAP, GE Digital, Microsoft, IBM or Cisco how important is to create an ecosystem with the firm. These technology vendors rely on EY to implement IoT solutions in large customers with a business-driven approach.

Do not expect EY or any of the consulting firms to lead any IoT ecosystem. Their role is to leverage their business strengths and client relationship to empower the ecosystems to which they belong

IoT Solution Aggregator - Tech Data IoT Ecosystem

Perhaps the most complex task I have done regarding advising of IoT ecosystems was with one of the largest IT distributors in the world, Tech Data. The challenge of balancing players like Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, IBM, Schneider or Vodafone with innovative startups in several industry verticals and different use cases without anyone feeling careless was very exciting.

To find a right place for Tech Data in the IoT value proposition schema, , was another challenge. It was great helping the company defining its role as an IoT Solution Aggregator and define which partners should be included for Tech Data IoT repeatable solutions.

Tech Data has been able to demonstrate how to become useful for IT and OT vendors and how provide value to existing and new channel of IIOT system Integrators worldwide.

I always have believed this approach could make easy for their small and medium end clients to adopt IoT solutions quickly.

I did not have time during my engagement with Tech Data to analyse and support the launch on new business models, but I am sure they will leverage its position to offer new services based on data aggregation.

Education, the latest products, support services, and firm footing in the B2B world put IoT Solution Integrators  at the centre of the Internet of Things craze.

 Key Takeaway

The IoT market is still in its early stage. Enterprises face many different options for IoT partners and suppliers. Choosing the right ecosystem is critical not only for a successful IoT project implementation but for the journey in their Digital Transformation.

IoT ecosystems need to understand that most industries thrive on "coopetition," it’s important to become cognizant and respectful of competitors, as they may also be your potential partners.

Just like with people, when it comes to IoT business, no two ecosystems are alike. We have been helping different type of companies to build or enter in the most suitable ecosystem. I have no doubt only the best ecosystems will survive; the challenge is to rank among so many. It is really a nightmare.

Ecosystems is hardly new but as rapidly evolving and if they are able to leverage the shared data and information from intelligent sensors, machines and assets, radical new modes of value creation will emerge.

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We are fast moving towards a future where cities will feature hundreds and thousands of smart connected objects, talking to each other, exchanging and producing meaningful data and insights, basically reshaping the urban landscape into intelligent and autonomous systems. Internet of Things will be at the heart of this technological transformation, as sensors and digital tags will find their way into various physical city infrastructure, monitoring traffic, weather, crime and even rat infestations! However, it’s not just hardware IoT and sensors that will provide city planners and authorities to gain more visibility into the working and management of a city. Smart connected products or ordinary consumer products tagged with digital ID’s and digital twins can open up new dimensions in how we imagine Smart Cities to function.

For the sake of painting a picture of the role of connected products within Smart Cities, let’s consider a pharmaceutical company supplying critical drugs to a city. Enabling every drug product at batch and serial item level to have a digital twin of its physical self will allow for exchange of product related data to happen between manufacturer, the supply chain, the city authorities, end consumers and the products themselves. Read on to see how the pharmaceutical industry could look like in the not so distant future.

Smart Logistics & Traceability: Digitally tagged consumer products such as medical products will paint a clearer picture of each item’s journey from the manufacturing facility to the hands of a customer, resulting in intelligent movement of products characterized by autonomy. Each time a product moves, whether it’s from the factory to a truck, or from the truck to a warehouse, its location and movement will be logged against its digital twin in real time with the help of a scanner, RFID reader, smartphone or other connected devices.

So, when situations arise where brands or smart city authorities become aware of substandard or defective products in circulation, the process of factoring on the production source for them and a faster and leaner product recall will become easier by tracing back to the relevant point in the product’s journey.

Smarter Production & Distribution Channels: Smart connected products will help in procuring the right amount in the right place at the right time. Complete visibility at all events of the supply chain will allow brands to better predict demand in respective locations in a city. Better predictive ability will help them to create seamless intelligent systems capable of efficiently managing production and distribution channels, ultimately leading to reduction of wastage by preventing accumulation of unused medicines.

In fact, brands will be able to predict demand on a much larger scale than before. They will anticipate when a particular medicine is supposed to run out at the city-level and trigger production cycles for the particular product.

Smarter response to Public Health Crises: With IoT powered smart products, the engagement and the monitoring does not stop at the customer level. Even after the product leaves the shelf, customers can input valuable data through the digital twins which can be mined into to tailor smarter responses to public health emergency situations.

For example, city authorities will be aware of exactly how many medical products are in inventories across the city by keeping track of their movement across every touchpoint in the supply chain. In situations where a contagious disease breaks out, public health officials will be instantly alerted by hospitals that are also hooked onto the network. By keeping track of the quantity and location of stocks of medicines dispersed across city, public health officials will always be prepared to tackle such high priority situations as they can more efficiently assess and redirect required medicines to appropriate locations.

Even smarter, cities of the future could be prepared for seasonal illnesses by predicting their onset based on algorithms derived from a mix of data from weather forecasts, hospital reports and product supply chains.

Smarter Citizens: Digital twins will give rise to smarter citizens, who will be capable of using smartphones to digitally interact with the packaging in order to obtain accurate information pertaining to authenticity, ingredients, color-coded expiry dates, instructions for use (IFU) etc. Not only will digital twins of medical products enforce transparency, but they will help in improving health literacy by weeding out counterfeits and providing easy-to-read and user-friendly formats to dispense IFUs.

Medical products empowered by IoT will also lay the foundations for a multiway communication channel between consumers, manufacturers, and city authorities, especially aiding researchers to collect and analyze feedbacks for clinical trials and development of new cures.

Smarter ways to tackle Counterfeits: Falsified medical products take the top spot in the fraudulent products market, being worth US$163 billion to $217 billion per year. Falsified, substandard and unlicensed medicines and medical devices pose a serious threat to public health. Counterfeit medicines are on the rise and no place remains untouched by them.

However, medical products with digital twins can have vast implications in fighting the war against falsified medical products. The sophisticated digital tags on these products can act as a unique identifier, at the same time providing a user-friendly way to verify their authenticity. Both retailers and consumers just need to authenticate the product using the digital tag which will allow it to confirm the product’s genuineness by running it against an online database.

Going one step further by taking advantage of a highly connected ecosystem, fraudulent products can instantly be reported by consumers directly to manufacturers and city authorities. City authorities can thus keep track of regions in the city reporting counterfeits and crack down on the sources for such illegal operations.

The goal of smart cities is to create intelligent urban spaces and infrastructures to improve the lives of their citizens. But the first step towards this goal is to set up digital twins for products to bring them onto the Internet of Things platform. For these automated and intelligent systems would be impossible without various products generating and transmitting data about themselves. At this point, we have barely scratched the surface with IoT’s potential to create smarter cities, and smart connected products will lead the way in laying the foundation for the cities of the future.

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Internet of Things is the talk of the town over in construction, manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and home automation. But we are yet to fully tap into the potential of IoT driven solutions to trigger disruption in and deliver value to the consumer retail industry.

Enabling smart attributes and inter-connectivity to store assets can have a plethora of exciting applications: engaging customer experiences, leaner and more efficient store operations, products and services as well as opening up of new streams for revenue generation. According to Zebra Technologies, 7 out of 10 retail brands will be investing in IoT technology by 2021 and a few have already begun rolling out IoT powered smart stores and services. With more and more retailers looking to reimagine every aspect of their supply chain with technology, let us look at some future possibilities for IoT in the retail industry :

1. Creating Experiences with Lighting

Lighting devices are an ubiquitous presence inside any retail store and connected smart lighting can do more than save energy. Emerging technology is exploring avenues to utilize connected and automated smart lighting for retail displays to create superior customer experiences and indoor positioning, expanding the horizon for an experiential store.

Retail giant Carrefour partnered with Philips to install LEDs in one of their hypermarkets in Lille, France. Enabled with Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology, these LEDs emit a code which is readable by any camera on a smartphone, connecting the smartphone to a digital experience provided by the store. Customers can then locate items on their shopping list using the indoor positioning activated by the LEDs, experiencing an in-store navigation system.

2. Smart Packaging and Digital Labeling

Under the constant pressures of demands for more consumer transparency and capricious regulations, brands and retailers are running out of space on the physical packaging of products to put relevant information. IoT will play a major role in the future of the labeling and packaging industry as brands turn to technology to solve challenges related to packaging.

QLIKTAG Software is providing solutions using their IoT platform to enable all products to have a globally unique identifier “QLIKTAG” and hence a digital twin, allowing “dumb” products to have a presence in and participate in the Internet through smart devices. These digital tags, consisting of barcodes, QR codes and Data matrix codes, pave the way for a vast variety of digital interactions like better stock and inventory management throughout the supply chain, product traceability all through its lifecycle, consumer transparency in multiple languages, product authentication, consumer feedback, insight and analytics as well as better consumer engagement experiences. Brands also save on costs incurred in reprinting and repackaging as these digital tags allow real time edits and updates of label content remotely.

3. Smarter Inventory Management Solutions

The future of retail will see increased integration of technology into brick and mortar stores and a more connected ecosystem giving rise to sophisticated experiences for both customers and retailers. IoT will enable the development of smarter inventory management solutions that will be capable of detecting and solving out-of-stock situations on its own.

WiseShelf is converting shelves in retail stores into smart shelves to address the issue of shelf out-of-stock incidents. Equipped with light sensors, the shelves can detect when an item is removed from the shelf and send alerts to the management application through WiFi when it assesses low levels of stock. Apart from leading to more efficient restocking operations and inventory management, these smart shelves are also freeing up employees to engage in more customer interactions. They are also providing key data and analytics on popularity of products, enabling better design of store layout in accordance to foot traffic.

4. Automated Events Of Supply Chain

Plenty of countries are plagued by an ageing population and rising labor costs and retailers as a result are turning to digital solutions to reinvent supply chains. Panasonic in partnership with Trial Company Inc. conducted a demonstration experiment for an automated self-checkout system with RFID tagged shopping baskets and products. The smart shopping baskets are capable of calculating the total cost and the number of items in the basket due to the RFID tags, generating your bill when you place it on the checkout counter. Not only does it allow automated billing, but on being placed on the self checkout counters, the bottom of the basket can open up releasing all contents into a bag, which the customer can collect and leave.

5. Facilitating Omni-channel Retailing

In order to consolidate online shopping practices with in-store ones, retailers are looking to ingrain technology into physical stores for a seamless customer experience. Ralph Lauren launched interactive fitting rooms in its flagship store in Manhattan, furnished with RFID tagged interactive mirrors. Powered by retail technology platform Oak Labs, the mirrors automatically detect and display the clothing items brought into the room along with available sizes, colors and recommendations for a complete look. Enriching the entire digital experience, customers also have the option to call an associate on the floor to the fitting room, to bring more items to try out for example.

6. Reducing Food Wastage and Spoilage

IoT could have vast implications in reducing global food wastage and spoilage, especially at the retail level. Wasteless, a startup from Israel, has successfully implemented IoT enabled digital pricing labels in an international Spanish retail store in an effort to reduce food waste. Using data regarding expiry dates encoded into the barcodes or RFID tags on labels, Wasteless’s platform enables a dynamic pricing system with the cost of the product dependent on its freshness, becoming cheaper as it nears its expiry date. The platform has led to reduction of waste by 33%, better inventory management and monitoring of products in terms of their expiry dates to reduce out-of-stock incidents as well as improved sales by allowing customers a more dynamic pricing range to shop from.

7. Food Traceability and Quality Control

The entire food supply chain will see a transformation as IoT enabled sensors and smart devices will become more common to track and optimize each supply chain event. With more demands for fresher food products and sustainable sourcing, these sensors will be able to collect and transmit relevant information like location, temperature etc to all supply chain stakeholders in real time. Consumers buying at retail stores can scan digital tags like QR codes, Data matrix codes or RFID tags on packaging to get assurance about the quality and provenance of the food product.

Zest Labs is working to improve real time visibility for farm to shelf at all levels of the supply chain. Their unique ZIPR code (Zest Intelligent Pallet Routing) enables real time tracking and monitoring of the actual freshness of each pallet of food product, using a combination of wireless IoT sensors and cloud based predictive analytics and machine learning. The result is in supply chain managers being able to make better decisions about sending a particular pallet across a certain distance based on its freshness, thus preventing food spoilage in-transit.

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What's IoT Trends 2019

The fourth edition of the Internet of Things Solutions World Congress (IoTSWC), which took place in Barcelona earlier this month, signaled an increasing interest in the technology, with the number of attendees jumping by 25 percent year over year, to 16,250. The range of topics discussed shows that IoT is being embraced by companies in every sector, and that the technology has now passed from the development phase to the implementation of practical solutions whose results are increasingly evident.

The 200 speeches and panels were divided into thematic areas (manufacturing, healthcare, connected transport, energy and utilities, buildings and infrastructures and open industry). Along with two related events, AI & Cognitive Systems Forum and Blockchain Solutions World, these included -- at the insistence of Richard Soley, Executive Director of the Industrial IoT Consortium -- presentations of concrete use cases. The Industrial IoT Consortium was co-organizer of the event together with Fira Barcelona.

Bringing order to the Babel of protocols

Although natural selection -- perhaps facilitated by the future evolution of 5G networks -- is likely to reduce the number, too many standards and communication protocols for the Internet of Things will continue for a long time. The "translation" of the signals and their integration into information flows will therefore continue to represent an opportunity for system integrators and companies operating in this sector. Although frameworks and platforms are emerging to manage and standardize the different peripheral systems (the Foundation's open source EdgeX Foundry proposal deserves attention), they do not exist yet and there will be no "plug and play" solutions for  IoT for a while.

Artificial intelligence to give value to data

Artificial intelligence is the fundamental ingredient needed to make sense of the vast amount of data collected these days, and increase its value for business. The easiest way to implement it is to resort to the API services of cloud operators such as  Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM. The risk of using standard solutions accessible to all is that they reduce the competitive advantage of the enterprises that use them, since they can be easily implemented by competitors. Creating a proprietary IA platform, however, will not be possible for  everyone.

Edge computing to overcome the limits of the cloud

The cloud, meanwhile, is showing its limits: Fast and constant connectivity is not always possible, especially in the case of connected vehicles or installations in remote areas; latency between sending data, processing and response is not always compatible with certain applications; and storage costs are are high even for data that is not necessarily indispensable.

There is therefore a growing tendency to relocate part of the storage and processing of data to the periphery of the network, close to sensors and connected objects. This so-called "edge computing" will be increasingly important and increasingly intelligent, thanks to chips optimized for machine learning and solutions able to bring "on premises" the AI algorithms of the "usual suspects", such as Amazon Greengrass, Google Cloud IoT Edge (still in alpha version) or Microsoft Azure IoT Edge.

Digital twins pass from objects to production flows

The creation of a digital twin, which thanks to data collected by sensors can provide a realistic virtual representation of products and systems, will be increasingly applied to entire production processes, allowing not only the monitoring of entire plants, but also predicting what will happen when a new model is out into production, or some variables change. This, according to proponents of the technology, will lead to greater efficiency, faster time-to-market and fewer glitches and non-compliance issues.

 

 

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Given my Telco background, it was logical that back in 2014, I published some of my first articles in my  IoT Blog about the topic “IoT Connectivity . I described how the optimist predictions of analysts and companies like Cisco or Ericsson, made the Machine to Machine (M2M) an attractive market to invest.

The fact that “Tata Communications have acquired mobility and Internet of Things specialist Teleena is a clear indication of the phenomenal growth rate in the global IoT connectivity market. “By 2021, enterprises’ spending on mobility alone is set to surpass USD 1.7 trillion,” said Anthony Bartolo, Chief Product Officer, Tata Communications.  I hope to see Tata Communications/Teleena in the next Gartner´s Magic Quadrant for M2M Managed Services Worldwide.

There are still people who doubt that connectivity is a key component in the M2M/IoT Value Chain. Please remember without connectivity simply there is not IoT.

Obviously during these years many of my projects have been associated with IoT connectivity. From the analysis of M2M/IoT Service Providers to the conceptual design of end-to-end solutions where connectivity selection was a key component. One of the most interesting projects was the analysis that I made for the Telefonica project "IoT in a box". Without forget projects to compare LPWAN technologies, End to End Security, Identification of Uses cases for 5G. Sometimes also I had to sell IoT connectivity.

In the last years in the IoT connectivity market I have seen:

  • Consolidation of the market like “KORE buys Wyless” or “Sierra Wireless, Inc. Completes Acquisition of Numerex Corp.
  • The appearance of companies like 1NCE, the first dedicated Tier 1, Narrowband IoT MVNO providing fast, secure and reliable network connectivity for low data B2B applications offering a set of optimized product features – such as an IoT flat rate and the first of its kind 'BUY ONCE'​ lifetime fee
  • The still not bloody battle between LPWAN operators (SigFox, LoRA network operators, NB-IOT, LTE-M)
  • Telco Vendors, Operators and Analysts talking about the promise of 5G
  • New Wifi and Lifi IoT use cases
  • IoT Security breaches
  • Operators focus on key industries and use cases
  • The partnership M2M/IOT Service Providers ecosystem evolution
  • Agreements among M2M, MNO and Satellite operators.
  • The lack of standards in the Smart Home connectivity
  • The expectation for solve the real time connectivity challenges in Industry 4.0 and Edge Computing –
  • Time Sensitive Networking Industry 4.0 use cases and test bed by IIC members
  • ….

But in my opinion, enterprises still are confused and delaying their decisions to adopt IoT / IIOT because they need good advice about the right IoT connectivity not just the cheapest prices but easy integration or better customer support.

I want to remember again that I can help you in the selection of the right M2M /IoT Service Provider for your enterprise business requirements as a strategic decision.

IoT Connectivity - the ugly Duckling of IoT Network Operators

Telecoms operators’ more focused approach to bolstering their IoT businesses appears rooted in refining the technology inherent in their connectivity networks. And no wonder, The powerful GSMA has been helping Mobile Operators to define their role in IoT. At first sight, the best way for large telecoms operators generate value from the IoT might appear to be by providing connectivity via their networks. Additionally, they could leverage their vast experience in customer engagement, customer premise equipment (CPE) support and their robust, proven back-office systems by offering their OSS and BSS platforms externally to IoT users, using their OSS to provide users with a turnkey platform to manage their equipment proactively in real time, and their BSS to support the related billing requirements. In fact Global telcos set sights on IoT for growth in 2018.

Nevertheless, Analysys Mason, highlighted “Telcos have been working with the broader ecosystem, including developers, cloud players and hardware vendors this past year – all of which “should set the market up for an active 2018”.

Although many people think that IoT connectivity  is or will become a commodity with little value for customers and along with the hardware will form the ugly ducklings of the value chain, IoT Network Operators should strive to demonstrate that IoT connectivity is vital for the global adoption of the IoT and seek to increase the income derived from its connectivity services with aspect like security and the contextual data value that their networks transport.

IoT Data is the new Oil also for IoT Network Operators

If connectivity seems doomed to play the role of ugly duckling, the data on the other hand see how its value increases and increases with each new technology.

How many times have we seen a presentation with the title "Data is the new Oil”? Even taught by me

Many Telcos are in process of Digital Transformation. The want to compete with the Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon (GAFA) and avoid same situation lived with these Over the Top (OTT) vendors.  IoT is giving them an opportunity to monetize the IoT data and convert their networks in pipelines of value.

IoT data is a new source of revenue without forget that will also produce incremental profit through operational productivity and efficiency.

The new stream of data coming from the physical world and the billions connected things are mostly transported by the IoT Network Operator´s networks and once these data is captured, the IoT Network Operators can monitor everything and feed their AI systems. Is then, when finally, IoT Network Operators can make a lot of money of IoT contextual data and aggregated data.

Can you imagine the opportunities leveraged by the connection of millions of devices and intelligent things over your IoT network? A vast amount of useful data generated by smart containers, smart home appliances, smart cities, connected cars, smart healthcare devices, or wearables, which for many businesses is an extremely valuable commercial tool. IoT Network Operators possess the capability of performing real-time data analytics on readily available data to determine product performance, improve customer experience and forecast network capacity, all of all which IoT-ready businesses could benefit from.

Key Takeaway

IoT connectivity is still at the core of all IoT Network Operators / M2M Service Providers. But some of them are implementing different strategies to capture more business of the IoT value chain. The idea of IoT connectivity will become a commodity with not added value is influencing the decision to invest in new IoT enabled networks (5G, LTE-M, NB-IoT).

It’s clear that there are some strong opportunities for IoT Network Operators / M2M Service Providers looking to capture the full potential of IoT, and it’s time that they open up their services to support companies from all sectors who are looking to employ IoT connectivity but also machine data intelligence as part of their business models in this IoT driven digital transformation.

Telcos offering IoT connectivity should look to monetise data and offer businesses unique insights that could potentially open doors to new revenue streams or even improve operational efficiencies. 

If IoT business is about data and assets, Telcos need to shift from technology and connectivity to business value and creation of valued services.

 

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When I ask people what they think the Internet of Things (IoT) is all about, the vast majority will say “smart homes,” probably based on personal experience. If I say that it is also about industries making using of data from sensors, then most people’s immediate reaction is to think of manufacturing. Sensors have been used for a long time in manufacturing, and the concept of using data generated at the edge to monitor and run automated processes is well understood.

This perception, however, is underselling the IoT. In practice, it can be applied anywhere.

Monitoring ‘things’

The use cases for industries with “things” to monitor are easy to identify.

Manufacturing is one of the most obvious. Connected sensors can be used to monitor and manage the health of manufacturing equipment, identify root causes of defects and improve quality.

Health care has equipment that generates digital information about how patients’ bodies are working (e.g., blood pressure) and what they look like (e.g., scans). There are numerous opportunities to monitor people’s health more closely and accurately and catch signs of disease early, or even avoid it altogether.

The insurance industry is using telematics to monitor driving behaviour and assess the risk posed by individual drivers. Telematics also helps with the claims process because information from before a crash can indicate who is at fault, and images of a damaged vehicle can be used to assess whether the car should be written off or repaired.

The IoT also, however, has potential in industries that, on the face of it, do not really have “things,” such as financial services. Banks and other financial providers are extremely interested in the IoT, focusing on “things” which do not belong to the banks themselves, but to customers: mobile phones and payment cards, for example. Banks can improve fraud detection by notifying customers each time their cards are used – in real time – and also checking that the customer is with the card at the time. That, clearly, is a huge service for customers: no more cloning and no more fraudulent transactions.

A change in business model

A fundamental shift in business model is being enabled by IoT analytics: a move from products to services. For example, Rolls-Royce is traditionally considered an engine manufacturer. The company made and sold engines, then sold services to maintain those engines. Now, however, rather than pay for maintenance, airlines can choose to pay an hourly rate for the time that the engine is propelling the aircraft. In other words, it can pay for what it actually wants: the plane in flight at particular times. Increasingly individuals, too, are choosing to pay for a service, rather than goods, such as access to a car-sharing service, rather than owning a car.

This shift, however, has challenges for the service providers. If you are providing a service that includes a physical asset, you do not want to have to spend time and resources inspecting that asset. Instead, you want it to run itself as much as possible. The IoT allows providers to remotely monitor and collect data on all the important aspects of each asset – how it is performing, how it is being used and environmental factors, for example – and therefore automate much of its management.

The data collected from the IoT is only really useful when you can derive useful intelligence from it, and preferably in an automated way. This automation, however, requires intelligence, and that means artificial intelligence (AI).

The importance of AI – and the problem

This is one of the biggest reasons why the IoT is really taking off now: AI algorithms are becoming more usable. There is, however, still a problem. Most AI algorithms need huge amounts of data and computing power. They therefore rely on powerful servers and central data storage.

In computing terms, we humans perform most of our computation and decision making at the edge (in our brain) and in the (pre-)moment, referring to other sources (internet, library, other people) where our own processing power and memory will not suffice. This is more or less the complete opposite of the current AI algorithms, which tend to perform most of their calculations far from the data source, in servers, drawing on stored data.

To enable timely decision making in the world of IoT, you need to be able to deploy some of the cleverness (predictive models and decisioning rules) at the edge, closer to the “things” that you are managing. Some businesses are already doing this, whilst many others are still trying to figure out how to organise and make sense of the deluge of data available to them. Those at the forefront of combining AI and IoT have a huge opportunity to steal a march on their competition.

In my personal view, this is the biggest change in business models since the dot-com boom. And, as in the 1990s, there will be some big winners, and there will also be those who don’t quite get it right, and fall by the wayside.

by Jennifer Major, Head of IoT, SAS

This blog originally appeared as a SAS "Higgen Insights" Blog

Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

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