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The Internet of Things is network connectivity between physical devices such as appliances, vehicles, etc. which contain inbuilt sensors, software, and microchips that facilitate data transfer between each other. Each device has its own unique computing processor which allows them to interoperate with other similar infrastructure via the internet. Things are always changing, we must accept the ebb and flow of things. The real question you should ask yourself is where you should concentrate your efforts in the next few years to avoid alienation. Our concerns over the past few years have changed drastically, in terms of the things we build and design and how the users interact with these devices.

The Shape of Future: The applications of the Internet of Things are extensive. The number of devices with the capability to link up with each other via the internet went up by 31% in 2017. Experts predict by 2020 the Internet of Things will have a total value of $1.7 trillion in the global market and a total of 30 billion new devices will be designed with network connectivity features.

Human intervention will reduce in the years to comes, some careers might become obsolete in a few years for example taxi and delivery packages, translators and interpreters, pilots and air traffic controllers and many more. IoT allows devices inclusive of all the computing enabled infrastructure can be remotely controlled therefore integrating the physical world with the computer system resulting in more economic benefits, efficiency, and accuracy.

How to Secure Future: To secure your Internet of Things career there are several things you could do. First, start by learning a few programming languages, most recommended JavaScript. This will not only secure your career but also gives it longevity. The language is not only used on browsers but increasingly, with Node.js, it’s a language for the servers, which is more often than not found directly embedded within devices.

Ensure you are always updated in terms of internet security. Constantly refine your security skills on how to maximize security on an ever-increasing number of connected devices. Try and run tests to ensure the security measures put in place can hold up when required.

The ability to come up with small accurate sensors e.g. sensors that can detect a change in temperature, speed, and other physical elements will be an invaluable skill in the future as far as the internet of things is concerned. Some sound knowledge of simple things such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and transfer of data to the cloud will go a long way in safeguarding your career.

Don’t be daunted: Don’t stop what you are doing because humans will always need to interact with devices and machines to make them work. Rather than looking at Internet of Things as means of reducing jobs, look at it as a channel that could create even more job opportunities. Don’t be daunted, after all, you have come this far and along the way you have developed some useful skills. With a little effort, your Internet of Things career will thrive.

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What are going to be new things in IoT 2018?

The Internet of Things (IoT) wasted no time spreading across the world and connecting a huge number of individuals. Apart from, we have seen almost every major industry put lots of resources into IoT, and foremost industries are rapidly moving to implement IoT solutions that drive the primary concern. Despite the huge gains in connectivity, the truth is, 2018 will be more of a steady growth period for the IoT. Using IoT, successful organizations will create a self-learning environment. 

These five innovations will be the top IoT trends in 2018 and could be an essence of the world yet to come.

IoT future shaped by wearables

While 1 out of every 3 smartphone users trusts they will have at least 5 wearables by 2020. So, high demand towards wearable devices such as smartwatch, health & fitness band etc. In this manner, a setback in wearable adoption may delay the overall adoption of the IoT among consumers.

Roll out voice-based services to consumers

Google Assistant, Google Virtual Assistant that lives on devices like smart speakers and gaining enormous fame. An ever-increasing number of devices will open marketers’ eyes to better approaches for interacting with customers. Industries like financial and some other businesses that request authentication for much else, besides a simple task, will slack. The complexity, broadness and quality of voice-based services will grow in 2018 with accessible services.

Security: Blockchain

Security is still the weak link in the internet of things, so security remains a prime challenge for IoT. Blockchain will play a vital role in improving security for financial transactions in 2018. Watson IoT Blockchain enables devices to participate in Blockchain transactions as a trusted party. IoT and Blockchain empower more transactions overall because they eliminate centralization.

Big Data, Machine learning and AI

The amount of processed data will grow, and due to more number of smart devices, we will use IoT much more than we do now. So, we should work with Big Data in order to consider assets that would empower us to process and analyse problems accurately. Here, Machine Learning is the most demonstrated AI innovation that can process data based on predictive analytics, without the need of manual programming and activate real-time tasks in the IoT channel.

Connected devices will double

In 2018, Internet of Things will have considerably more interconnected devices, like a digital nervous system with interfacing devices together and be exchanging data. It is not only laptops and mobile phones also there will be more smart devices that we use daily, like smart doors, smart jar, smart locks, smart fork and more. The number of connected devices grew exponentially from 4.9 million in 2015 to 6.1 billion in 2016. It is expected to 46 billion by 2021. 

 

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Cloud computing allows companies to store and manage data over cloud platforms, providing scalability in the delivery of applications and software as a service. Cloud computing also allows data transfer and storage through the internet or with a direct link that enables uninterrupted data transfer between devices, applications, and cloud.

Role of Cloud Computing in IoT:

We know that the Internet of Things (sensors, machines, and devices) generate a huge amount of data per second. Cloud computing helps in the storage and analysis of this data so that enterprise can get the maximum benefit of an IoT infrastructure. IoT solution should connect and allow communication between things, people, and process, and cloud computing plays a very important role in this collaboration to create a high visibility. 

IoT is just not restricted to functions of systems connectivity, data gathering, storage, and analytics alone. It helps in modernizing the operations by connecting the legacy and smart devices, machines to the internet, and reducing the barriers between IT and OT teams with a unified view of the systems and data. With cloud computing, organizations do not have to deploy extensive hardware, configure and manage networks & infrastructure in IoT deployments. Cloud computing also enables enterprises to scale up the infrastructure, depending on their needs, without setting up an additional hardware and infrastructure. This not only helps speed up the development process, but can also cut down on development costs. Enterprises won’t have to spend money to purchase and provision servers and other infrastructure since they only pay for the consumed resources. 

(Case Study: DevOps for AWS, Continuous Testing and Monitoring for an IoT Smart City Solution)

How Cloud Services Benefit an IoT Ecosystem:

There are several cloud services and platforms that play different roles in the IoT ecosystem. Some of the platforms also come with inbuilt capabilities like machine learning, business intelligence tools, and SQL query engines to perform complex analytics. Let us understand how these cloud services and platforms benefit an IoT ecosystem.

Cloud Platform for Device Lifecycle Management:

Enterprises create applications and software through cloud services (SaaS), which can connect devices and enable device registration, on-boarding, remote device updates, and remote device diagnosis in minimal time with a reduction in the operational and support costs. Cloud introduces DevOps within the IoT ecosystem, which helps organizations automate many processes remotely. As more and more devices get connected, the challenges with data security, control, and management become critical. Cloud services enable IoT remote device lifecycle management that plays a key role in enabling a 360-degree data view of the device infrastructure. Certain cloud providers offer multiple IoT device lifecycle tools that can ease the update and setup of firmware and software over the air (FOTA).

Application Enablement Cloud Platform:

Cloud enables application development with portability and interoperability, across the network of different cloud setups. In other words, these are the intercloud benefits that businesses can take advantage of. Intercloud solutions possess SDKs (Software development Kits) on which enterprises can create their application and software without worrying about the backend processes.

Enterprises can run and update applications remotely, for example, Cisco is providing the application enablement platform for application hosting, update, and deployment through the cloud. Enterprises can move their applications between cloud and fog nodes to host the applications and analyze & monitor the data near the critical systems.

Many cloud service providers are focusing on building the cloud environment on the basis of OCF standards so that it can interoperate smoothly with the majority of applications, appliances, and platforms, that will allow D-to-D (device-to-device) M-to-M (machine-to-machine) communicationOpen Connectivity Foundation (OCF) standardization makes sure that the devices can securely connect and communicate in any cloud environment, which brings in the interoperability to the connected world.

Digital Twins:

Device shadowing or digital twins is another benefit that an enterprise can avail through cloud services. Developers can create a backup of the running applications and devices in the cloud to make the whole IoT system highly available for faults and failure events. Moreover, they can access these applications and device statistics when the system is offline. Organizations can also easily set up the virtual servers, launch a database, and create applications and software to help run their IoT solution.

Types of Cloud Computing Models for IoT Solutions

There are three types of cloud computing models for different types of connected environment that are being commonly offered by cloud service providers. Let’s have a look:

Cloud Computing Models

 

Infrastructure as a Service
  • It offers virtual servers and storage to the enterprises. Basically, it enables the access to the networking components like computers, data storage, network connections, load balancers, and bandwidth.
  • Increasing critical data within the organization lead to the security vulnerabilities and IaaS can help in distributing the critical data at different locations virtually (or can be physical) for improving the security.
Platform as a Service
  • It allows companies to create software and applications from the tools and libraries provided by the cloud service providers.
  • It removes the basic needs of managing hardware and operating systems and allows enterprises to focus more on the deployment and management of the software or applications.
  • It reduces the worry of maintaining the operating system, capacity planning, and any other heavy loads required for running an application.
Software as a Service
  • It provides a complete software or application that is run and maintained only by the cloud service provider.
  • Users just have to worry about the use of the product, they don’t have to bother about the underlying process of development and maintenance. Best examples of SaaS applications are social media platforms and email services.

 

Apart from these, cloud service providers are now offering IoT as a Service (IoTaaS) that has been reducing the hardware and software development efforts in IoT deployment.

Example of implementing cloud computing set-up in a connected-factory:

There are different sensors installed at various locations of an industrial plant, which are continuously gathering the data from machines and devices. This data is important to be analyzed in real time with proper analytics tools so that the faults and failures can be resolved in minimal time, which is the core purpose of an industrial IoT ecosystem. Cloud computing helps by storing all the data from thousands of sensors (IoT) and applying the needed rule engines and analytics algorithms to provide the expected outcomes of those data points.

Now, the query is which cloud computing model is good for industrial plants? The answer cannot be specific, as every cloud computing model has its own applications according to the computing requirement.

Leading Cloud Services for IoT Deployments

Many enterprises prefer to have their own cloud platform, within the premises, for security and faster data access, but this might not be a cost-effective way as there are many cloud service providers who are providing the cloud services on demands, and enterprises just have to pay for the services which they use.

At present, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are the leading cloud service providers. Let’s see the type of cloud platforms and services AWS and Microsoft Azure provide for IoT implementations

AWS IoT Services

AWS has come up with specific IoT services such as AWS Greengrass, AWS lambda, AWS Kinesis, AWS IoT Core, and a few other cloud computing services, which can help in IoT developments.

AWS IoT Core is a managed cloud platform that allows devices to connect easily and securely with cloud and other devices. It can connect to billions of devices, store their data, and transmit messages to edge devices, securely.

AWS Greengrass is the best example of an edge analytics setup. It enables local compute, messaging, data caching, sync, and ML inference capabilities for connected devices in a secure way. Greengrass ensures quick response of IoT devices during local events, which reduces the cost of transmitting IoT data to the cloud.

AWS Kinesis enables data streaming that can continuously capture the data in terabytes per hour.

AWS Lambda is a compute service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. It executes code only when required and scales automatically from a few requests per day to thousands per second.

AWS DynamoDB is a fast, reliable, and flexible NoSQL database service that allows enterprises to have millisecond latency in data processing, enabling quick response from applications. It can scale up automatically due to its throughput capacity, which makes it perfect for gaming, mobile, ad tech, IoT, and many other applications.

AWS Shield is a managed Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection service that safeguards applications running on AWS. It provides automatic inline mitigation and always-on detection that minimize the application downtime and latency. This is why there is no need to engage AWS Support to benefit from DDoS protection. There are two tiers of AWS Shield — Standard and Advanced.

Microsoft Azure IoT Services:

Microsoft has come up with many initiatives in the field of IoT, providing industrial automation solutions, predictive maintenance, and remote device monitoring, etc. It is also providing services like Azure service bus, IoT hub, blob storage, stream analytics, and many more.

Azure Stream Analytics provides real-time analytics on the data generated from the IoT devices with the help of the Azure IoT Hub and Azure IoT Suite. Azure stream analytics is a part of the Azure IoT Edge that allows developers to analyze the data in real-time and closer to devices, to unleash the full value of the device generated data.

Azure IoT Hub establishes bidirectional communication between billions of IoT devices and cloud. It analyzes the device-to-cloud data to understand the state of the device and takes actions accordingly. In cloud-to-device messages, it reliably sends commands and notifications to connected devices and tracks message delivery with acknowledgment receipts. It authenticates devices with individual identities and credentials that help in maintaining the integrity of the system.

Azure Service Bus is a great example of cloud messaging as a service (MaaS). It enables on-premises communication between devices and cloud in the offline conditions also. It establishes a reliable and secure connection to the cloud, and ability to see and monitor activities. Apart from this, it protects applications from temporary spikes of traffic and distributes messages to multiple independent back-end-systems.

Azure Security Centre is a unified security management and threat protection service. It monitors security across on-premises and cloud workload, blocks malicious activities, advanced analytics system to detect threats and attacks, and also can fix vulnerabilities before any damages.

AWS and Microsoft Azure are providing a robust IoT solution to enterprises. An IoT Gateway can collaborate with multiple cloud service providers to maximize the advantages of the cloud solutions for IoT systems.

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The White Knight of IoT Platforms

In spite the Internet of Things term was coined by Kevin Ashton executive director of the Auto-ID Center as the title of a presentation he made at Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 1999, it was only when companies like Pachube (an early leader in the burgeoning “Internet of things” field) launched a web service  that enabled to store, share & discover real time sensor, energy and environment data from objects & devices around the world, when most of us believed that the time to IoT was finally had arrived.

 

Since its founding in 2008, Pachube pretended to be the leading open development platform for the Internet of Things.  In 2011 when the company was acquired by Woburn, Massachusetts-based LogMeIn in a deal that was worth "approximately $15 million in cash that re-branded the service as Cosm, but it was still a “beta” test version, to finally launch Xively that become a division of LogMeIn.  LogMeIn did not want or did not know how to incorporate the potential of Xively into its business. And in 2017 again Xively lost its charm.

Google the White Knight of Xively

On February 15, we wake up with the new that Google will acquire IoT platform Xively from LogMeIn for $50 million, according to Bloomberg, to expand in market for connected devices. Google has been the White Knight of Xively.

 

Another White Knights

In December 30, 2013 - PTC announced it had acquired ThingWorx, a PTC Technology for approximately $112 million, plus a possible earn-out of up to $18 million. The acquisition of ThingWorx positioned PTC as a major player in the emerging Internet of Things era. Later, in July 2014 PTC acquired Axeda Corporation for approximately $170 million in cash which Gartner estimated is an acquisition multiple of just over 6 times revenue.

In February 2016, Cisco Acquired Jasper Technologies for $1.4 Billion in cash. How wonderful White Knight.

A software goliath company like SAP acquires a small IoT startup like PLAT.ONE  now part of SAP?

In 2016, Microsoft did not disclose the sum for Italian start-up Solair acquisition. Th startup  expanded Azure capabilities.

In March 2015, Amazon was taking another step into the Internet of Things acquiring 2lemetry, a startup with a system for sending, receiving, and analyzing data from Internet-connected devices.  2lemetry had raised at least $9 million. Investors included Salesforce Ventures.   

 

We all know that the IoT Platform market need a quick consolidation

The M2M/IOT Platform market has changed in the last 10 years. The fragmentation is unsustainable and I can say that I do not see a clear IoT platform market leader yet that works as a plug-and-play fix for all kind of connected-device creators. Besides, the rush of investors for IoT platform companies trigger rumors of new acquisitions increasing significantly their actual valuation and encourages thousands of entrepreneurs and startups to create new IoT platform copies of each other. Although there is still room for new innovative IoT platform startups, the decision to trust in a company able to simplify the complexities of the IoT, with a scalable and robust infrastructure and drive real results for your business, will reduce the choice among a short list. The bad news is that the hundreds of IoT platforms startups must compete now with the platforms offered by Tech and Industrial Giant vendors.

 

Given the confusion that exists about the IoT platforms, companies need to approach experts’ advisors that will recommend which platform(s) is most suitable for your current and future business and technical requirements.

 

There will not be White Knights for everyone

In “Be careful of the Walking Dead of IoT, I alerted that in spite that no one has the crystal ball, it is almost sure that many IoT platforms are not going to continue within 10 years, not even within 1, 2 or 3 years in this inflated market. As show in the picture below, some Tech Giants have been looking and found some of the best pieces. What will happen to the 700+ platforms out there? There will not be White Knights for everyone. At least for Xively it has been a happy end.

Thanks in advance for your Likes and Shares

Thoughts ? Comments ?   

 

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Technologists and analysts are on a path to discovery, obtaining answers on how technology and the data collected can make our cities more efficient and cost effective. 

While IoT may be seen as another buzzword at the moment, companies like SAP, Cloud Sigma, Net Atlantic and Amazon Web Services are working to make sure that for businesses, IoT is a reality. It’s companies with this willingness to change, adopt and invent that will win the new economy. Mobile phones, online shopping, social networks, electronic communication, GPS and instrumented machinery all produce torrents of data as a by-product of their ordinary operations. Most companies want their platform to be the foundation of everything it does, whether it is with big data, data analytics, IoT or app development. The same  rub off phenomenon was emulated in Latin American countries  like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and European countries like Brussels, Italy,  Germany, Denmark , Poland and Prague in recent times.

It is important to realize that technology is exploding before our very eyes, generating unprecedented opportunities. With easy access to cheap cloud services, smarter people came up with these platforms, and it has fundamentally changed businesses and created new ways of working. Mobile cannot be an afterthought. It needs to be integrated in everything you do and positioned at the forefront of your strategy. You have no valid reason to avoid migrating to the cloud. Cloud provides a ubiquitous, on-demand, broad network with elastic resource pooling. It’s a self-configurable, cost-effective computing and measured service. On the application side, cloud computing helps in adopting new capabilities, meeting the costs to deploy, employing viable software, and maintaining and training people on enterprise software. If enterprises want to keep pace, they need to emulate the architectures, processes and practices of these exemplary cloud providers.

One of the main factors of contributing value additions is the concept of a Smart City which is described as one that uses digital technologies or information and communication technologies to enhance the quality and performance of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens. We will interact and get information from these smart systems using our smartphones, watches and other wearables, and crucially, the machines will also speak to each other.The idea is to embed the advances in technology and data collection which are making the Internet of Things (IoT) a reality into the infrastructures of the environments where we live. We will interact and get information from these smart systems using our smartphones, watches and other wearables, and crucially, the machines will also speak to each other. Technologists and analysts are on a path to discovery, obtaining answers on how technology and the data collected can make our cities more efficient and cost effective. The current model adopted for IoT is to attract businesses to develop software and hardware applications in this domain. The model also encourages businesses to put their creativity to use for the greater good, making cities safer, smarter and more sustainable.

A few years ago like many others  I predicted  that Business models will be shaped by analytics, data and the cloud. Moreover, the IoT is deeply tied in with data, analytics and cloud to enable them and to improve solutions. The key goal is to ensure there is value to both customers and businesses. You can effectively put this strategy into action and build a modern data ecosystem that will transform your data into actionable insights.  

Till we meet next time...

Best,

Raj Kosaraju

CIO 

 

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The Internet of Things (IoT) enables vendors to create an entirely new line of “smart” solutions for its existing and new markets. While the decision to go “smart” is straightforward, the decision of how to do so is not. Vendors are faced with a “build, buy, partner” decision – build it themselves, buy or license it from someone, or partner with a complementary solution provider and go to market together. This article discusses some of the key considerations product managers and executives must study in order to make the most appropriate decision.

 

“Build, buy, partner” is a strategic decision

For many vendors, IoT means adding a technology layer to products that never had any before. Even for tech savvy vendors, IoT presents a whole new set of technologies that they are less familiar with. Equally important, IoT is not just technology, but includes data, security, user experience, and business/business model elements. Figure One shows an IoT product management framework developed by Daniel Elizalde of TechProductManagement. A company going “smart” has a lot of decisions to make, of which technology is just one component.

Figure One. IoT Product Management Stack.

The framework shows that the “build, buy, partner” decision is multi-dimensional. There are six decision areas, spread across components from the edge to the user applications. Each represents a different “build, buy, partner” decision point, and each takes the company down a different path. In today’s fragmented and dynamic IoT ecosystem, many companies will need to “build, buy, partner” simultaneously. For example, cybersecurity is a specialized field that many vendors cannot address on their own, and must buy or license for their solution. The actual proportion of “build, buy, partner” each vendor does varies based on their specific situations.

Build

The company creates the solution themselves with the resources they own, control or contract to. Companies who choose this option, but have limited internal expertise may contract with Original Design Manufacturers (ODM). These ODMs provide a portfolio of services, from design, prototyping, test, certification, to manufacturing.

The “Build” option enables full management oversight of the development process, the solution functionality and the intellectual property. Conversely, this option may result in a longer time to market, and require additional capital and resources beyond what is scoped.

Companies consider this approach when:

  • They have the requisite skill sets and resources to do it
  • They can do it faster, cheaper and at lower risk
  • This is a strategic competence they own or want to own
  • There is strategic knowledge or critical intellectual property to protect
  • They are fully committed throughout the company

Buy

The company procures all or part of the solution components from a 3rd party. This includes licensing technology and services. Companies may also acquire technology through mergers and acquisitions, as well as buying the rights to technology from companies willing to part with it. This option eliminates “reinventing the wheel”, enables faster time to market, maximizes resource efficiency with limited execution risk. One common variant of this approach is to buy technology platform from a vendor, and then build their specific solution components on top of that. 

The downsides of the “Buy” option include a loss of control in the development process, and limited agility to respond in a timely manner to changes in the market and customer needs.

Companies consider this approach when:

  • They don’t have the skills or resources to build, maintain and support it
  • There is some or all of a solution in the marketplace and no need to “reinvent the wheel”
  • Someone can do it faster, better and cheaper than they can
  • They want to focus their limited resources in other areas that make more sense
  • Time is critical and they want to get to market faster
  • There is a solution in the market place that gives you mostly what you want.

Partner

The company allies itself with a complementary solution or service provider to integrate and offer a joint solution. This option enables both companies to enter a market neither can alone, access to specialized knowledge neither has, and a faster time to market. This option adds additional management and solution integration complexity. For some companies, reliance on partners for some aspects of the solution may be uncomfortable due to a limited loss of control.

Companies consider this approach when:

  • Neither party has the full offering to get to market on their own.
  • Each party brings specialized knowledge or capabilities, including technology, market access, and credibility.
  • It lowers the cost, time and risk to pursue new opportunities

 

Management considerations for “build, buy, partner”

Before the company chooses a path to go “smart”, executives and managers must base their decision along three “build, buy, partner” dimensions – execution, strategy, and transformation.

Execution

The first dimension focuses on the company’s ability to execute successfully. Managers must audit and assess their capabilities and resources to answer the following questions:

  • Do I have the necessary skills in-house to successfully develop, test, support and operate an IoT enabled “smart” solution and business (Figure One)?
  • Do I have the right human, capital, financial, and management resources to do this? Is this the best use of my resources relative to other initiatives and projects?
  • What am I willing to commit, sacrifice and re-prioritize to see this through? Am I willing to redeploy top management and company resources? How long am I willing to do this?
  • How much budget and resources am I willing to commit?
  • Is there anyone that can do it better than me? Does it make sense for me to do it? What am I willing to do and not do?
  • What infrastructure (processes, policies, systems) do I have, or need to build, maintain, support and operate these new solutions?

Strategy

The second dimension relates to the company’s current and future strategic needs. These are company specific as it relates to its current situation, its customer and channel, and its position within the industry. Key considerations to be addressed include:

  • How does going “smart” align with the company’s vision and strategy? Which parts align and which doesn’t? Does the vision and strategy need to be updated to reflect the realities of going “smart”?
  • How important is time to market? Do I need or want to be a first mover? How long will it take to execute with the resources that I have?
  • Am I trying to reach existing or new markets with IoT? Do I understand their needs well enough that I can execute on meeting it?
  • Do I have any critical proprietary technology, processes, and other intellectual property that I need to protect?
  • What are the risks? How much risk am I willing to tolerate? What are the costs of those risks? How much risk can I mitigate with my current capabilities?
  • How much control do I want or need to go “smart”? What areas do I want to control myself and how? Can I afford to control those areas?
  • What is your real value to customers and your channel? Why do they buy from you, and why do they come back? What do you do well?

Transformation

The third dimension is the company’s ability to manage transformation. Going “smart” doesn’t stop with the IoT technology. The entire organization, its operations, policies, systems and business models must transform to support and operate the “smart” business. Furthermore, resellers and service channels, and suppliers and partners, are also impacted.

  • What is your corporate culture and how well does it support change? Do you have the right people to manage and sustain this change? Are you nimble and agile?
  • What degree of disruption will there be to internal processes, channels, organization readiness, and business models? How agile are your current capabilities?
  • How prepared are you to operate a “smart” business? Do you have the skills and infrastructure required? Can you support a recurring revenue business model? How willing are you to invest in order to develop and sustain these capabilities?

 

What should you do next?

Each company is unique, and its situation will dictate its response to these dimensions. There is no one “right” universal answer to the “build, buy, partner” decision. Equally important, what’s right today, may not be right tomorrow. Companies that want to go “smart” start by looking inward first and doing the following:

  • Establish a current baseline. Audit and catalog current and planned offerings, strategy, human resources and skill sets, channel and suppliers, internal operations and policies, and culture.
  • Evaluate the IoT product management stack (Figure One) against your baseline using the three “smart” dimensions. The list of questions listed are starter questions, but answering those will lead to more questions to be addressed.
  • Evaluate and assess your company’s future state capabilities against the baseline using the three “smart” dimensions. Understand where the gaps are, and the extent of those gaps.
  • Identify your risk tolerance level. Going “smart” is not without risk, especially if you have never done it before. The key is to identify what and how much risk you are willing to take. Once you do so, you can develop a risk management plan and incorporate the appropriate tactics to manage it.
  • Update your business vision and strategy as applicable.
  • Develop your “build, buy, partner” decision and strategy. This strategy must align to the broader business vision and strategy.

 

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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IoT Cyber-Security Puzzle

Image courtesy: Pixabay

I recently attended one of a significant [email protected] Internet of Things event which featured keynotes, speeches and presentations from CTOs/SVPs-Tech/VPs of major IT firms. Attending these presentations sometimes give you a feeling of being in literature or a rhetoric club where instead of hearing context oriented speeches you get to listen to a bunch of fairy tales with almost every sentence including overused adjectives like “trust”, “motivation”, “responsibility” and so on.  An SVP of a major IT player was asked about the measure (technical) her company takes to ensure data integrity and prevent cyber-attacks. Interestingly, her answer to this was the statement that “they maintain a culture of trust in and around the company”. To me, it is like standing in front of a hungry lion and telling him that you believe in non-violence. Today in the age of internet and IoT, we have to deal with thousands of cyber criminals (hungry lions) who are waiting to penetrate the system and make most out of it. To keep them out you need a lot more than just “trust”.  

On the same event, I had an opportunity to talk to many cybersecurity experts and companies, and I confronted them with a question of mentioning at least one relevant cybersecurity norm/standard/certificate pertinent for each major component in an IoT stack. Unfortunately, most of these discussions turned into some sales pitch. The question one can raise at this point is that is it so challenging to mention at least one “state of the art” cybersecurity measure for every IoT component? Or just that the topic is underestimated? 

This blog is just an attempt to name a relevant security standard/certificate or measure for every major element in IoT stack (see below) without going deep into the details of each and very standard/norm or certification. 

For this sake, we will assume a simple IoT stack as illustrated below :

 

Fig.1: IoT stack of a simple use case

In this use case, an industry sensor collects the physical parameters (temperature, pressure, humidity etc.) and transmit the values via Bluetooth/Wifi/wired connection to the gateway or edge device. The gateway device, depending on the type (simple or edge) perform a certain minimal calculation on the received data and push it into the cloud via a Wifi/4G connection. The cloud collects the data and uses this data to feed desired micro-services like analytics, anomaly detection etc. Cloud also offers an interface to the existing enterprise and resource planning (ERP) system to synchronize the running process with the current one as well to provide product /service related information over the IoT platform to the end user. What the user sees on his screen is then the dashboard of IoT use case which is a graphical representation of the micro-services running in the background. 

As we can see, there are four to five main stages and at least three interfaces (sensor-gateway, gateway-cloud, cloud-user) in a typical IoT use case. These stages and interfaces are on the target of cybercriminals who try to hack into the system with the intention of either manipulating or hi-jacking the system. Safeguarding just the components is not adequate. The underlying IoT communication layer (Bluetooth/Wifi/4G etc.) need to be secured as well.  Also, organisations running or involved in such IoT use cases must ensure safety and integrity of the process, technical as well as user data through a certain information security management system (ISMS) in place. 

To sum up, we need security measures at a component, communication-interface and organisational levels. Now if I have to write state of the art or “best in class” security measure (excluding cryptography) next to each stage, communication type and interfaces in the diagram above, then the resulting picture might look like the one below. 

 

Fig.2: IoT stack with relevant cyber-security measure

 

What, in your opinion, could be included/excluded or replaced in this diagram? Feel free to share your opinion.

 

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With so many companies and people on the search for the "IoT killer app” for a decade, and nobody has found it yet ☹. You can be sure that I do not either, otherwise I would not be writing this article and I will be furiously developing it.

Most companies are anxiously looking for the killer IoT app/solution, which their IoT reps could sell in volume to their enterprise customers. The bad news for them: “ there’s no true “killer app” for IoT and that any company can create the right killer app to solves a business need of a customer or a whole industry.

Nevertheles we can not avoid that some people think pet care or fitness could be the "killer app" for IoT, while others instead think that the killer IoT app winners will be in Verticals like predictive maintenance in manufacturing, smart home or smart city solutions and also I had read funny opinions that considers measuring Temperature and Humidity seem the killer application for most of the IoT industry. The comment is comical but at the same time ironic. In the absence of bright or innovative ideas it seems that we would have discovered the fire when we install sensors and we are able to visualize temperature and humidity in real time on the screen of our smartphone.

Instead of continuing to dream of finding the Holy Grail of the IoT, I think it will be more productive to analyse by categories what are the possible IoT applications that exist and if I am enlightened try to guess which application would be the milk to launch myself to develop it without fearThese are the 5 categories to search for the IoT horizontal Killer app:

  1. IoT-Search
  2. IoT-Messaging
  3. IoT-Security
  4. IoT-Commerce
  5. IoT-Social

Summary

Search for the killer IoT horizontal application is a chimera given the definition of the IoT. However, the challenges that the IoT has to achieve that 50 billion machines can be found, communicate safely through various networks, socialize and favour the monetization of its services, open great opportunities for hardware and software engineers to develop different killer applications. And I'm sure some will find it. I wish I could be part of one of them.

Thanks for your Likes, Comments and Shares

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Smart Cities and Components in the IoT Era

 

To cope with the increasing population, hyper-urbanization, globalization as well as to ensure economic and environmental stability, cities are now focusing on becoming smart cities. Smart City is a concept of utilizing technologies and connected data sensors to enhance and become powerful in terms of infrastructure and city operations. This includes monitoring and managing of public assets, transportation systems, citizens, power plants, water supplies, information systems, civil bodies, and other community services. As per the new study from Navigant Research, the global market for smart city services is expected to reach $225.5 billion within the next decade.

Connected technologies and IoT solutions play important roles in transforming cities into smart cities. Implementing smart city with IoT and connected technology helps enhance the quality, performance, and interactivity of urban services, optimize resources and reduce costs.

Let’s see the various components of smart city and their impact in the IoT era:

 

1. Smart Infrastructure

 

The global market for smart urban infrastructure in smart cities, include advanced connected streets, smart parking, smart lighting, and other transportation innovations. Here’s how they work:

  • Smart Lighting: With smart lighting, city authorities can keep real-time tracking of lighting to ensure optimized illumination and deliver demand-based lighting in different zones. Smart lighting also helps in daylight harvesting and save energy by dimming out sectors with no occupancies For e.g. parking lots can be dimmed during work hours and when a car is entering, it will be detected and appropriate sectors can be illuminated, while others can be kept at diffused setting.

  • Connected Streets: Connected and smart streets are capable of acquiring data and delivering information and services to and from millions of devices, which includes information about traffic, road blockages, roadworks, etc. This helps in efficient management of resources and people to enhance public transportation and the urban landscape.
  • Smart Parking Management: Smart parking management system can be used to find the vacant location for a vehicle at different public places. Smart Parking’s In-Ground Vehicle Detection Sensors are core technologies, playing a key part in the Smart Parking solution that is revolutionizing how drivers in the malls and city centers can find an available parking space. Wireless sensors are embedded into parking spaces, transmitting data on the timing and duration of the space used via local signal processors into a central parking management application. Smart Parking reduces congestion, decreases vehicle emissions, lowers enforcement costs and cuts driver stress. For effective deployment of smart parking technologies, each device needs to have a reliable connectivity with the cloud servers.
  • Connected Charging Stations: Smart infrastructure also includes implementing charging stations in parking systems, city fleets, shopping malls and buildings, airports, and bus stations across the city. Electronic vehicle (EV) charging platforms can be integrated with IoT to streamline the operations of EV charging and addresses the impact of the power grid.

2. Smart buildings utilize different systems to ensure safety and security of buildings, maintenance of assets and overall health of the surrounding.

  • Safety & Security Systems: These include implementing remote monitoring, biometrics, IP surveillance cameras, and wireless alarms to reduce unauthorized access to buildings and chances of thefts. It also includes utilizing Perimeter Access Control to stop access to restricted areas of the property and detect people in non-authorized areas.
  • Smart Garden & Sprinkler System: Smart sprinkler system synced with connected technologies and cloud can be used to water plants with the assurance that plants get the right amount of water. Smart garden devices can also perform tasks such as measuring soil moisture and levels of fertilizer, helping the city authorities to save on water bill (smart sprinkler devices use weather reports and automatically adjust their schedule to stay off when it rains), and keep the grass from overgrowing in the convenient way (robot lawnmowers).
  • Smart Heating & Ventilation: Smart heating and ventilation systems monitor various parameters such as temperature, pressure, vibration, humidity of the buildings and properties such as movie theatres, and historical monuments. Wireless sensor network deployment is the key to ensuring appropriate heating and ventilation. These sensors also collect data to optimize the HVAC systems, improving their efficiency and performance in the buildings.

3. Smart Industrial Environment

 

Industrial environments present unique opportunities for developing applications associated with the Internet of things and connected technologies which can be utilized in the following areas:

  • Forest Fire Detection: Helps in monitoring of combustion gases and preemptive fire conditions to define alert zones.
  • Air/Noise Pollution: Helps in controlling of CO2 emissions of factories, pollution emitted by cars and toxic gases generated on farms.

  • Snow Level Monitoring: Helps in identifying the real-time condition of ski tracks, allowing security corporations for avalanche prevention.
  • Landslide and Avalanche Avoidance: Helps in monitoring of soil moisture, earth density, as well as vibrations to identify dangerous patterns in land conditions.
  • Earthquake Early Detection: Helps in detecting the chances of tremors by utilizing distributed controls at specific places of tremors.
  • Liquid Presence: Helps in detecting the presence of liquid in data centers, building grounds, and warehouses to prevent breakdowns and corrosion.
  • Radiation Levels: Helps in distributed measurement of radiation levels in nuclear power stations surroundings to generate leakage alerts.
  • Explosive and Hazardous Gases: Helps in detecting gas levels and leakages in chemical factories, industrial environments, and inside mines.

4. Smart City Services

 

Smart city services include services for public safety and emergencies.  Below are the key areas where IoT and connected technologies can help:

  • Smart Kiosk: Smart kiosks play an important role in providing different city services to the public such as Wi-Fi services, 24×7 IP surveillance cameras and analytics, Digital signage for advertisement and public announcements. In some cases, free video calling and free mobile charging station, as well as environmental sensor integration can also be implemented. Smart kiosks also provide information about restaurants, retail stores, and events in the immediate area. It can also provide mapping for visitors and can sync with smartphones to give additional data as needed.
  • Monitoring of Risky Areas: Sensors (cameras, street lights) and actuators for real-time monitoring can be implemented in risky areas or areas prone to accidents. Upon detecting any crime, or mishap, these sensors can alert the citizens to avoid such areas temporarily.
  • Public Security: IoT sensors can be installed at public organizations and houses to protect citizens and provide real-time information to fire and police departments when it detects a theft.
  • Fire/Explosion Management: Smart fire sensors can detect and automatically take actions based on the level of severity, such as detecting false alarms, informing firefighters and ambulance, blocking off nearby streets/buildings on the requirement, helping people to evacuate, and coordinating rescue drones and robots.
  • Automatic Health-Care Dispatch: Smart healthcare devices can be implemented at public places to provide 24/7 health care for patients like dispensing medicines and drugs to patients. These devices can also be used to call an ambulance to pick up the patients in cases of emergencies.

5. Smart Energy Management

 

Here’s how cities can implement smart energy management:

  • Smart Grid: Smart grids are digitally monitored, self-healing energy systems that deliver electricity or gas from generation sources. Smart grid solutions can be across industrial, residential as well as in transmission and distribution projects. Various IoT solutions like gateways can be used to achieve energy conservation at both the transmission level and consumer level. For e.g., gateways can provide a broader view of energy distribution patterns to utility companies with high connectivity and real-time analytics. Also, it develops a Demand-Response mechanism for the utility providers to optimize energy distribution based on the consumption patterns.
  • Smart Meters: Smart meters can be used in residential and industrial metering sectors for electricity and gas meters where there is a need to identify the real-time information on energy usage. Consumers and utilities with smart meters can monitor their energy consumption. Moreover, energy analytics, reports, and public dashboards can be also accessed over the internet using mobile applications integrated with these smart meters.
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Evolution of Drones

It is the 'Era' of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), an all-encompassing term which includes the aircraft or the UAV, and the ground-based controller (the person operating the machine), and the system of communications connecting the two, commonly known as 'Drones.' 

Today, the drones are revolutionizing the world and businesses which hardly anyone could have ever imagined. UAVs or drones was an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. UAVs include both autonomous drones and Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs). 

According to the brief history "The U.S. military experimented with pilotless aeroplanes as “aerial torpedoes” or flying bombs far back during the first world war, but with no significant success—until the Vietnam war, when jet-propelled, camera-equipped drones built by Teledyne-Ryan were launched and controlled from U.S. Air Force C-130s. 

"Abraham Karem born in 1937, is regarded as the founding father of UAV (drone) technology. "Karem built his first drone during the Yom Kippur war for the Israeli Air Force. In the 1970s, he moved to the USA and founded his company Leading Systems Inc. He started the manufacturing of his first drone 'Albatross' in his home garage. Later on, the sophisticated 'Amber' which eventually evolved into the famous 'Predator' drone that brought him the title of "drone father". Karem has been described by The Economist magazine as the man who "created the robotic plane that transformed the way modern warfare is waged, and at the age of 80 he continues to pioneer other airborne innovations." 

The UAVs or drones were associated with the military and those used by the US Air Force for surveillance, small intelligence, and reconnaissance craft of which some of them were light enough to be launched by hand, medium-sized armed drones to large spy planes. However, with the technology that is in use is incredibly advanced. It uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), GPS, 3D scan, Biometrics, to Robotics and remote control to pilot essentially unmanned aeroplanes of different sizes, weights, reaching new heights figuratively and literally. 

Let me discuss some of the significant use-cases of the Military or Law enforcement Drones:

1. Air Strikes: The UAVs or drones are used for air strikes. According to President Obama, the US Military used drones to attack militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The drones hover over the suspected areas to fulfil the military operation.

2. Bomb Detection: The increasing frequency of terrorist attacks which the world has witnessed in the recent past can be mitigated with the help of drones. Small size drones can easily penetrate into the restricted areas. The inbuilt cameras make the drone highly suitable for bomb investigations. Thus the UAVs are apt for detecting the unexploded bombs and securely dealing with a potential bomb threat. 

3. Surveillance: Any country's Defence tends to conduct periodic surveys to ensure the protection of the place and its people usually. The drones are also used for criminal surveillance which could help trace missing persons, a search of criminal gangs or mafia groups. In 2009, the drone from Dayton carried out surveillance for 200 hours across cities. This helped in capturing the images of thirty-four murders as they happened in real-time. These attacks were carried out by a cartel, and the footages helped the Police to get to the perpetrator's getaway, vehicles and their various accomplices. 

4. Hostage Negotiation: The future of the drone could be an application of tiny drones, the size of an insect which will be capable of revealing the happenings in a hostile location. It is believed that the manufacturers will be able to provide 'Biomimetic' designs which will be suited to mimic nature along with the 3D depiction scan for appropriate handling of a hostage situation. The drone will help show precise details of exact happenings in the given locations without risking the lives of the security personnel. The drones will be of good use in conducting negotiations without the need for sending a negotiator to the hostage site. Instead, it can be achieved by sending a drone with a facility for a facetime chat with the hostage-taker. 

5. Crime Scene Analysis: Drones play a significant role in the future crime scene investigations due to the drone's ability to take photos and inspect the scene without any contamination of the pieces of evidence. Hence, the investigation team will not risk mistakes like footprints and fingerprints which were not supposed to be there. The police also could use drones to trackback discarded weapons from the crime scene location. Drones to help create maps for prosecuting or solving various crimes and documenting the evidence to convict the criminals who have walked-out scot-free due to lack of sufficient documented proof against them. 

6. Drone in Drug Interdictions or Tracing Missing Persons: Today, drones that are equipped with spectroscopic sensors help in detection of the meth labs, and similar use case can be applied for the storage of drug at sites to help in dealing with the menace of the illegal drug trade. It is most common for some close person to have gone missing. There have been several cases when a child has gone missing in a large crowd, or a person with Alzheimer disease has wandered from home. The drones equipped with cameras, facial recognition or license plate readers software will be able to swiftly and efficiently search and track the missing people. These drones will transform the way the future search operations of the missing people are conducted.

Military usage of UAVs or drones has become the primary use in today's world. According to Goldman Sachs, military spending will remain the primary driver of drone spending with an estimate of $70 billion drones by 2020. According to the latest news, "The US Military's latest autonomous aircraft is radically changing how they resupply units in the combat zone. It is all about keeping the troops safe and saving lives. The UAV helicopter is meant to resupply forces in combat zones quickly delivering ammunition, water, batteries, and even blood before returning to base. With no need for pilot or crew, it could eliminate the need for troops to fly or drive supplies to hostile, fire or dangerous roadways. The project is a partnership between the office of Naval research and tech company Aurora Flight Systems."

These are some of the use-cases of the Military or Law-Enforcement UAVs or Drones which I have discussed here. However, in my next couple of articles, I will be addressing the Non-military or Commercial, Personal and Future use-cases of the UAVs or Drones that has disrupted and transforming the world. 

To conclude, the drones will play a vital role in the resolution of future conflicts and the replacement of the human pilot. Drones are also cost-effective, time-saving and life-changing. Although, the application of drones in the Law-Enforcement domain is niche but will need the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to have the relevant regulations which would govern the right use of 'UAVs or Drones' in a lawful manner that will bring protection to the people and its nation.

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Guest post by By Eddie Amos, General Manager and VP of Industrial Applications, GE Digital 

2017 was a transformative year for the industrial world. Among the highlights: GE Digital released the most comprehensive Asset Performance Management (APM) solution on the market, as recognized by Gartner. ServiceMax was recognized (for the third year in a row) as the leader in field service management. And, Apple rolled out a native SDK for Predix. We watched machines become more productive and reliable, while the sensor networks tying them together grew smarter and more ubiquitous. 

As the pace of digital industrial innovation continues to accelerate, 2018 promises to be an even more exciting year. Here are three trends to keep an eye on in the New Year.

IIoT success will hinge on OT expertise

Industrial IoT is not like consumer IoT. Monitoring a $10 million wind turbine is infinitely more complicated than tracking a person’s footsteps, and the stakes are higher. To succeed in IIoT, operators will need to partner with a provider that not only offers best-in-class sensors and software, but also has decades of operational expertise and a deep understanding of the industrial landscape. Modeling a digital twin to accurately reflect the traits and performance of a physical asset requires comprehensive knowledge of the asset, including proprietary design information available only to the original manufacturer.

As operators move beyond the basics of connecting machines to the IIoT, they’ll face the much tougher challenge of gleaning actionable insights from their data. The sheer volume of raw telemetry streams can be overwhelming, even for sophisticated companies, but with the right software and deep OT expertise, organizations will begin leveraging data to streamline asset operations and drive more informed decision making.

Augmented reality goes mainstream

Augmented reality (AR) has already established itself as an entertainment medium thanks to the success of games like Pokémon Go and Apple’s Animoji feature. In 2018, AR will finally evolve from toy to productivity tool as the underlying technology advances to the level of an enterprise-grade solution.

For industrial organizations, AR will revolutionize the delivery of field services. Technicians who operate in some of the world’s harshest environments will be able to do their jobs more safely and efficiently through the use of AR-powered mobile devices and headsets. AR, coupled with real-time data captured via IIoT, will enable field service professionals to perform inspections without needing to physically access an asset. This not only reduces downtime, but also greatly mitigates the safety hazards facing workers every day.    

Big data gives way to big insight

The digitization of industry has created vast data lakes of asset information. Most organizations lack the tools to effectively parse these large asset datasets for actionable insights or use them to drive smarter decision making. As operators complete asset digitization efforts and move on to more advanced stages in the digital journey, having the tools and knowledge to effectively use these datasets will be critical to an organization's success.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms will help standardize the flow of data from disparate locations and streamline the process of industrial data analysis. This will enable operators to not only glean deep insights into asset performance, but also lay the groundwork for the automation of everyday decision-making. Manual tasks like work order scheduling will no longer require human intervention as AI algorithms leverage real-time analytics to optimize maintenance logistics and practices.

What digital industrial technology are you most looking forward to in 2018?

This article originally appeared here.

 

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Be careful of the Walking Dead of IoT

Those who follow my articles know that I like to make comparisons between the IoT and TV shows and movies. For this article, I have selected the famous show "The Walking Dead" (TWD).

When preparing this article, I read this piece “The Real Walking Dead: Surviving the Software-Defined Zombie Apocalypse” by Scott Noteboom and I thought, well, I am not alone. As Scott, I see a lot of similarities between IoT technology and biology.

Many companies are thinking about their survival after the apocalypse that will be produced by the mix of IoT, AI and Blockchain. CEOs, must make decisions that prevent their companies from disappearing or worse becoming walking dead. And one of the most important will be choose their travel companions well, in order to build a strong ecosystem capable of resist the most adverse scenarios one might think.

IoT solutions that companies need to implement to survive the apocalypse are composed of many apparently simple blocks (devices, protocols, edge computing, fog computing, communication networks, platforms, cloud, analytics, AI, Machine Learning, blockchain, security, applications). But the selection of the vendors and the integration of all of them in the business processes, systems and organizations of companies is complex and there are few companies who can boast of having achieved it.

You probably are tired of hearing that the IoT is very complicated and the ecosystem is very fragmented. You feel that many will become walking dead. But, no one has the crystal ball to know who will be the IoT companies are going to continue within 10 years, not even within 1, 2 or 3 years. Some of them are perhaps in the phase of becoming, when just a couple of years ago they were in good health and of they enjoyed the sympathy of the analysts.

If you have been living in a sanctuary, isolated, it will not last for a long time. You will receive soon the visit of survivors and walking dead. You have to decide to accept or fight the survivors and you must protect your community against the zombies.

The good news is that you are not alone. During the last 5 years I have lived 24x7 by and for the IoT. I have been monitoring and analyzing the IoT landscape. I have seen many IoT start-ups appear and some disappear. We have seen large companies make absurd purchases, or sell IoT businesses when they have not been able to obtain the expected return.

That´s why I am able to provide wise advice and recommendation to avoid from being trapped by partnerships with potentials Walking Dead of the IoT and help you build robust and scalable IoT solutions.

Do not walk blind alone among The Walking Dead of IoT

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