Internet of Things Insights from Rob Tiffany
Internet of Things (IOT) has certainly come of age and has grown beyond the smart home gadgets. The connected reality created and nourished by IOT devices, sensors and gateways ultimately is on the verge of transforming public domains like transport and workplaces. The connected office or smart office is now gaining more attention worldwide thanks to its vast promise ranging from productivity, innovation, security and pushing business growth.
In this respect, some statistics can work as an eye-opener to the future prospect of smart office solutions. A market research report when forecasting the growth predicted that the smart office market which had a global valuation of just USD 22.21 Billion in 2017 is expected to grow up to USD 46.11 Billion by the year 2023. According to the same report, several factors are responsible for the increasing adoption and popularity of smart home solutions that include energy efficiency, advancement in connected gadgets, demand of cutting-edge security solutions and favourable policy decisions at government and corporate levels.
IOT promise for workplace realised by smart office systems
The primary promise of smart office has emerged from the connected building equipped with an ecosystem of sensors and gadgets. The immediate promise of such connected buildings is that they can be utilised better for the manpower and the businesses operating from there.
The connected sensors and gadgets grossly referred to as IoT technology can enhance the efficiency of the legacy processes. With every new process, more value can be created as smart connected technologies will furnish more important data about usage and manpower. From office space management to attendance regulation to real-time activity monitoring to smart security solutions, we have entered a new era of connected solutions.
The offerings of a connected commercial building
Recently, few large-scale commercial building projects have emerged with the full promise of connected smart systems. There have been several significant players in delivering connected solutions for modern commercial buildings. One such building is the LifeCycle Tower ONE of Dornbirn, Austria. This digitally connected building has a fully equipped monitoring system capable of benchmarking and evaluating different important KPIs, ranging from energy consumption and voltage to space utilisation.
BYOD and smart office environment
Today's workplace is unthinkable without the employees using mobile devices during their working time. While there can be some restrictions on the usage of certain apps and services, mobile devices are also part of the business processes in most companies. Only 22% of corporate employees use company-provided smartphones. Naturally, there is no surprise in the fact that “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) protocol is a big success.
With the BYOD being the most popular and widely adopted device protocol for employees, it also plays a crucial role in the last mile rendering of smart office solutions. The company-owned and employee-only version of enterprise apps now can silently monitor device usage and can guide the employees to stay in sync with reminders, alerts, emails and feedbacks across the table. Mobile application developers would have unparalleled opportunities with this new breed of enterprise app that works in sync with smart office solutions.
Smart Office solutions: projects in the making
Over the years several different smart office projects are in the making. Several of them have been successfully deployed and is in use while there are quite a few waiting to be tested in workplaces. Here we picked few of these projects to show how smart offices of future are going to be made.
A Raspberry Pi based Smart Office Automation
Smart office automation solution which is run on Raspberry Pi OS requires almost no skills, but it can be highly customised to suit different needs in workplaces. The idea behind such solutions is basically to utilise the office resources to the optimum level. Such a solution can offer features like automating lights, appliances and connected gadgets, triggering automatic turning-off of the lights and gadgets, monitoring the office space through webcam and managing the whole system through an easy to use, notification based interface.
Smart Office Notification Breadboard
A smart office notification breadboard can help employees keeping track of the work in hand while delivering relevant alerts and notifications. This works with just a board where blinking LEDs give alerts and when alerts and notifications come based on scheduled tasks.
Smart Attendance System
Smart RFID based attendance management system can help to enhance efficiency and boost productivity in several workplaces and also in educational institutions. Such systems working with the RFID reader are exceptionally easy to use requiring the employees or students only to carry RFID card tags. Though such attendance system is already in use, connecting a system like this with a rigorous database of attendance and analytics solutions further can provide us valuable, actionable insights to improve attendance and spot some trends.
Smart Office Security System
A smart office security system with its surveillance mechanism and data-centric collaboration with the back-end analytics can deliver real-time actionable insights and suggestions to track security breaches and spot any unusual trends. Such systems are capable of real-time motion detection and sending a smart notification to the responsible security professionals in no time.
Smart office solutions will grow by leaps and bounds in the coming years primarily because of the overwhelming range of innovations that are taking place to make life in every sphere more connected. Frankly, there is no slow-down to innovation in connected gadget space in the near future, and so, every human habitat and endeavour is bound to feel the push of automation and smart connected technologies.
For more than a century, advances in technology, machinery and automation have oftentimes replaced humans as a means to accomplish tasks. In this podcast, Rob Tiffany tackles the unsavory topic of workforce reduction as certain tasks have evolved from manual to mobile to IoT.
If you are planning to innovate your business and disrupt your niche with the Internet of Things, it may not be as easy as it seems. There are quite a few things that you need to be prepared with, and you should know certain facts about the technology before starting out.
Before anything else, it is important for you to be patient, understand the nuances of the technology and know how best to incorporate it into your business.
It is true that your IoT product will differ from what your competitors are planning to offer and in the technologically driven environment, it is important to differentiate. But, there are underlying patterns that cannot differ, which is why you need to know the basics of IoT before getting started.
So, are you ready to know them?
#1 Start with Design Thinking
When you are surfacing a company with IoT at the core, it is important to think slightly different. All your life as a businessman, you have thought of tactical ways to get your business started, focusing on objectives and goals. However, when you are dealing with IoT, your focus will need to differ. The idea is to think from the user’s perspective and create a framework that will create more practical and usable approaches.
The design strategy should be your first priority. You need to know how and what will work when you are designing for the users. There are a few things you might want to know before planning the design.
What is it that your users need? When we automated home ACs over WiFi, the purpose was to allow remote access, and not keep an eye out for another remote. Once this point is cleared, you may want to think of path defining solutions for the basic idea. The remote needed to go obsolete, which is why the path defining idea was to convert your mobile into a remote. Finally, you will need to build the prototypes and craft a story around it. The idea is to define a product that talks for itself.
#2 Workaround security
When you are working on an IoT-based startup, you might want to think about a security-first solution. You will need to protect the data that can be availed from the connected device so as to offer better security. Remember, the security for IoT based solutions are complex and difficult as compared to a regular security need. If there are more connected devices in the network, the security threat grows and you will find it difficult to control and manage.
So, when you are planning an IoT solution, you will need to think of security before you plan anything else in the device management or define other aspects of the solution.
#3 Managing the costs
Like with any other venture, you will need to think IoT solution development cost. There are costs involved in every stage, and these costs evolve through your development phases.
For instance, let’s start with the development cost of the IoT solution. From planning to actual feature selection to development with connected devices, there are various phases that you need to manage and work around.
Similarly, introducing security into your IoT solution will cost you, which you need to think about before panning it out. Finally, you will need to plan for the operation and maintenance costs of the IoT business, which requires either bootstrapped funds or investment, if you want to survive in the long run. Remember, the IoT business will not get your immediate returns on the investment.
#4 Scaling is different
The scaling of your IoT business works in a different manner from the scaling of other businesses. If a business works at a particular size, it is not necessary it will work for other sizes too. So, before scaling, you will need to figure out will the scaling manage the increased needs and demands of your company. The prototype scaling would differ from the actual business scaling.
IoT businesses are different from the normal businesses, and you will need to understand the nuances before you start building the prototype and acquiring customers. It is more user-oriented and works with a focus on the end goal to be achieved. If you are planning an IoT business, you should ideally consult a professional before starting with the strategies.
After years of waiting for my wishes to finally come true that it was finally the year of IoT, I give up. There will be no IoT year. Other technologies are usurping the dubious privilege of leading the technology bubble. Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence are now much cooler.
As has happened on many previous occasions, the IoT will be replaced by other acronyms that will make you forget bad experiences and failed expectations. And with the new acronyms the illusions of those of us who continue to trust in the beneficial implications that the "new IoT" will bring to society will appear again.
The first to realize this situation were the organizers of IoT events. If a couple of years ago the weight of the new secondary on stage (Blockchain and AI) did not seem worrying to detract from the main actor (#internetofthings). Now they are the stars and the IoT is marginalized and surrounded by other technologies, badly hurt and melancholy.
Will IoT events disappear? Sure. Doesn’t matter if is in 2 or 3 years, but IoT only events will not make sense. In the last 3 months I attended several IoT events in London, Amsterdam, Madrid, Bilbao. I see a slow decline and transformation of #IoT events. Most of them do not satisfy my expectation. I am tired and saturated of see the same tired case studies parroted over and over again.
As my friend Rick Bullotta, I'd like to see some more innovative stories, some failure stories/lessons learned, some HARD FACTS about how long it looks to build, what it cost to build, return on investment.
Of course, we will continue seeing IoT companies, products and services in the Big Events like CES in Las Vega, MWC in Barcelona or Cebit and Hanover Messe in Germany or in industry specific events or company specific events like PTC LiveWorx or Bosch ConnectedWorld . But the same way that we do not see today Internet events we will not see Internet of Things events beyond 2020. It will be a good sign because the Hype will have disappeared and the reality and the market will have been imposed.
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Although it took some time to manifest, nation-states have realized the potential for cyber espionage and sabotage on IoT devices.
The latest news
On April 16, 2018, the US authorities issued a warning that government-backed Russian hackers are using compromised routers and other network infrastructure to conduct espionage and potentially lay the groundwork for future offensive cyber operations.
In a joint statement, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), along with the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - the cyber arm of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) - said that Kremlin-backed hackers are using exploits to carry out malicious attacks. The hackers are using compromised routers to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks to support cyber espionage, steal intellectual property, and maintain persistent access in victim networks for use in additional campaigns.
U.S. CERT noted that cyber actors are exploiting large numbers of enterprise-class and residential routers and switches worldwide to enable espionage and intellectual property theft.
A growing concern
This is just the most recent of several incidents wherein nation-states have used connected devices for their goals.
A spying campaign called “Slingshot” targeted at least 100 victims in the Middle East and Africa from at least 2012 until February 2018, hacking MikroTik routers and placing a malicious dynamic link library inside to infect target computers with spyware components.
In another incident, nation-state actors left political messages on 168,000 unpatched IoT devices. The attackers used a bot to search the Shodan search engine for vulnerable Cisco switches and were easily able to exploit a vulnerability in Cisco Smart Install Client software to infect and “deface” thousands of connected devices with propaganda massages.
The west is also toying with IoT devices
Russia and China are not alone in investigating the potential of exploiting IoT devices. In 2016, US intelligence chief James Clapper acknowledged that the US would consider using the Internet of Things to spy on adversaries. More recently, the Dutch Joint Cyber SIGINT Unit hacked a CCTV camera to spy on a Russian cyber group called ‘Cozy Bear.’ As a result, they were able to identify many of the members as employees of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
As western countries become more aware of espionage efforts by foreign governments, it is not surprising that they are fighting back by trying to reduce the attack surface. Several Chinese CCTV manufacturers were recently flagged for having built-in backdoors that could allow intelligence services to syphon information. Dahua, a maker of CCTV cameras, DVRs and other devices was forced to issue an emergency patch to its connected devices. Camera models from Shenzhen Neo Electronics were also exposed to have a severe security flaw. Finally, the largest maker of surveillance equipment in the world, HIKvision, was accused of having a backdoor and banned by certain US bodies.
While the potential for information collection through IoT devices is enormous, we shouldn’t forget that these are physical devices deployed in the real world, so hacking them can have real consequences.
Here are just four of many potential “doomsday scenarios” that could result from IoT device hacking:
Grid manipulation attacks
Power grid security has received the appropriate attention in recent years, due in part to large scale cyber-attacks on power grids around the world. But what if, instead of hacking secured power plants, a nation-state was to hack millions of smart devices connected to the power supply, so that it could turn them on and off at will? That would create spikes in local and national power consumption, which could damage power transformers and carrying infrastructure, or at the very least, have substantial economic impact.
Power companies try to balance consumption loads by forecasting peak consumption times. For example, in the UK, demand spikes are as predictable as half-time breaks in football matches or the conclusion of an Eastenders episode, both of which require an additional three gigawatts of power for the roughly 3-5 minutes it takes each kettle to boil. The surge is so large that backup power stations must go on standby across the country, and there is even additional power made available in France just in case the UK grid can’t cope.
But since no one could anticipate an IoT “on-off” attack, nobody could prepare standby power, and outages would be unavoidable. In addition, power production, transportation and storage costs would be enormous.
By attacking Internet-facing utility devices such as sewage and water flow sensors and actuators, attackers could create significant damage without having to penetrate robust IT or OT networks.
Smart city mayhem
Having a connected urban infrastructure is a terrific thing. The problem is that once you rely on it, there is no turning back. If the connected traffic lights, traffic monitoring cameras and parking sensors are taken offline or manipulated, cities could suffer with large scale interferences to their inhabitants’ daily lives. For example, shutting down connected street lighting could impact millions.
Since we are all aware of the potential impact of a devastating cyber-attack, it would not take much to invoke large-scale hysteria. Just imagine someone hacking a street sign and altering it to display messages from the country’s enemies.
Nation-states have long targeted IT infrastructure to gather intelligence and intellectual property, but their focus has shifted to OT/industrial networks with the aim of facilitating disturbances and physical sabotage. IoT seems to be the new domain in which proficient bad actors can collect information, create disturbances, cause large-scale damage, and inflict terror and panic. The IoT is both insecure and increasingly ubiquitous, and these characteristics make it attractive for hackers and guarantee continued exploitation.
As the Global PM and CTO for Lumada, it's been a rewarding journey to create a portable Industrial #IoT platform that could run at the Edge on a factory floor, in a train, inside a data center or in any hyper-scale public cloud.
This composable platform (use just what you need for your specific use case) combined with our revolutionary Asset Avatars (Digital Twins) that bring Lumada to life, is the very definition of "Visionary." I also want to send a big congratulations to our Visionary friends at PTC (ThingWorx) and SAP (Leonardo).
Thanks to all the Hitachi collaborators, colleagues and friends I was lucky enough to take this journey with.
Get a free copy of the Gartner report here:
After years of evangelization waiting for the promises of the Internet of Things (IoT) to come true it seems that we are finally close to reaching the trough of disillusionment phase, we begin to forget all the hype generated so far and focus on reality. A harsh reality that involves selling IoT and not continue selling smoke anymore
THE TIME TO SELL IoT IS NOW
The sale of IoT is perhaps more complex than the sale of other disruptive technologies such as Big Data, Cloud or AI and maybe as complex as Blockchain today. In the article “ Welcome to the first “Selling IoT” Master Class!” I commented how it should be the evolution of M2M Vendors for sell IoT and how should be the evolution of IT Technology Vendors for sell IoT. However, many of these companies still have difficulty in forming and finding good sellers of IoT
The truth is that nowadays it does not make any sense to sell IoT as a technology. Enterprise buyers only want to buy solutions that provide measurable business outcomes while, in the other side, many IoT Vendors only want to sell their portfolio of products and services that have been categorized under the umbrella of IoT, either as quickly as possible or at the lowest possible cost.
During last 5 years, I have been analysing how IoT companies sell their products and services. Some of my customers (Start-ups, Device vendors, Telco Operators, Platform vendors, Distributors, Industry Applications, System Integrators) requested me to create IoT sales material to train their sales team about how to sell their IoT solutions and services. And sometimes I also helped Head Hunters or customers searching for IoT sales experts
Based on this varied experience I have launched this year a new service: “IoT Sales Workshops” to help companies train their internal teams in how to sell IoT. Here are some of the lessons I learned
I do not consider myself an IoT sales expert. And of course, neither a superman of sales. In fact, I have shied away from classifying myself in the role of a pure salesperson even though over time I have given a weight and value to this work that once seemed derogatory to me.
Sell IoT is not easy. In a few years we will have forgotten of the word IoT and we will be selling new hypes, but in the mean time you need to be prepared for disillusionment moments, long sales cycles and a lot of work with sometimes poor results. However, I do not know if will be 2020, suddenly if you persevere you probably will be awarded as the best IoT sales expert and you finally will earn a lot of money.
Be Persistent, Be Passionate, Be Ambitious, Be Disruptive to sell IoT
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The Internet of Things is revolutionizing the retail industry, coming in it with the improved shopping experience, automated business processes, enhanced digital marketing, and optimized inventory and supply chain management.
Providing retailers with various advantages, IoT technology also enables them to boost sales and increase customer loyalty. Oracle discovered that when applying RFID tags, retail companies can achieve 99% inventory accuracy, a 50% reduction in out-of-stocks, and a 70% reduction in shrinkage.
The global IoT retail market is predicted to grow from $14 billion in 2015 to $36 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 20%. In its report about the Internet of Things, Verizon found that retailers believe in the IoT potential and have a positive attitude towards adopting IoT in their work:
Promising to innovate and transform the retail industry, IoT solutions are becoming widely introduced for solving a wide range of issues. Here I’ve listed the main use cases describing how IoT is applied by retailers and what benefits they do receive.
Customer interactions are a key success factor in all business. Through beacons, retailers can easily reach the user audience, increase customer loyalty, and raise profit. Beacons are IoT Bluetooth-enabled devices that use low-energy Bluetooth connections to automatically send push notifications directly to user smartphones once they appear in the operating area.
As beacons are small, they can be attached to almost any place, for instance, walls and counters. In the retail industry, beacons are mainly used for customer in-store navigation, sending push notifications, and collecting customer data.
In connection with mobile applications, retailers can motivate customers to make more purchases by notifying them about discounts and special offerings when they enter the coverage zone, generally near a certain shop. Also, in large shopping centers, beacons are irreplaceable for navigating customer and showing them the best routes to the place they need.
Customer data plays a key role in any business dealing with customers. Retail companies do need to know their audience in order to make them make purchases and increase profit while delivering an amazing personalized experience. Satisfied customers are returning clients.)
IoT solutions suit great for collecting customer data, including the determination of customer buying habits, needs, preferences, favorite routes in the shopping center, and the most popular goods as well.
By sending all these data to the analytical system, where it’s processed and analyzed, retailers can find out what they should improve. In some cases, for example, it will be better to change the placement of shelves or clothes. Also, with the audience understanding retailers can launch successful marketing campaigns and provide personalization.
Traditionally, customer relationships were built on the basis of face-to-face communications. For now, personalized experience takes the center stage and significantly impacts consumer purchasing decisions.
To boost sales and retain customers, retail companies are adopting IoT solutions to deliver the best shopping experience possible. By using beacons, mobile apps, push notifications, and customer analytics, retailers get the ability to understand the needs and preferences of their customers and ensure successful targeting when creating advertising campaigns.
Like in many other sectors, supply chain management takes an important part in the retail too. Retailers integrate IoT solutions for load tracking, driver activity monitoring, tracing the delivery process, transportation management, as well as viewing load/driver location in real time. This way, the Internet of Things can enable a transparent supply chain management and help achieve “just-in-time” delivery much easier.
IoT applications are widely used for asset tracking and management. Using RFID tags, mobile apps, and other technologies for inventory tracking, retail companies can accomplish up to 100% inventory accuracy, minimize unexpected out-of-stocks, enable end-to-end store inventory management, and increase sales margins by up to 10% as a result.
What’s more, IoT solutions provide retailers with the ability to track the assortment of goods, analyze product popularity, and check out the information about goods any time they need, including their availability in the store, brand name, price, and description.
As you see, there are many useful IoT applications in the retail industry. With the use of additional devices and technologies, improvements in sensors, enhanced connectivity and machine learning tools, retailers automate operations, optimize various processes, reduce costs, and deliver the personalized experience.
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