Last few years have been much about market talks around digital economy and how mobile, social and cloud has influenced either customer buying experiences or organization business processes. Looking at the near future, it is safe to agree that we are already pass the digital economy and moving fast towards a sensor economy where more interactions will be solely transformed to machines only, harnessed by IoT, AI and robotics. It’s the beginning of an era of connected devices and a connected world
- As per Research firm Gartner, IoT devices have increased 31% from 2016 to 2017, hitting 8.4 billion connected “things” this year, and that the number will surge to 20.4 billion by 2020
- Spending on IoT devices and services will reach nearly $2 trillion this year. That spending will mostly be spread across North America, China, and Western Europe, where about 67% of IoT devices exist
- As per Accenture, the IIoT will add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030
More than 30 years ago Coca-Cola and Carnegie Mellon University experimented a connected vending machine, the first publicly known Internet of Things product. Even now, much of IoT discussions are focused on consumer applications, individual components or device capabilities and less on the cohesive enterprise ecosystem.. With companies spending approximately $964 billion on IoT hardware this year, compared to consumer spending of $725 billion, it is imperative for start-ups and solution businesses to decipher the ever evolving IoT Landscape and partner with the eco-system to deliver strategic digital transformation
THE EVOLVED IoT LANDSCAPE
A lot of companies have tried to play an interchangeable role in the landscape including hardware, software and network. But as expectations of building vertical digital solutions grow, most players have gone back to focus on what they do best. Every player in the ecosystem play an equally important role to realize and deliver the long term transformation
SMART OBJECTS : surely are at the epicenter of the IoT landscape. Wikipedia defines smart objects as interconnected heterogeneous objects that enhances the interaction with not only people but also with other smart objects. A smart physical object may be created either as an artifact or manufactured product or by embedding electronic tags such a RFID tags or sensors into non-smart physical objects. Smart virtual objects are created as software objects that are intrinsic when creating and operating a virtual or cyber world simulation or game. Apple, Google, Belkin, Philips, Samsung etc have all marketed smart devices that are able to sense, store and exchange information with other devices and humans.
NETWORKS and OPERATORS: A lot of arguments were made to assume network providers not more than dumb pipes providing bandwidth. But most argument did not last long and led to realization that connectivity is the premise of IoT. The true value was to have these devices connected into a network that is optimal to generate large pool of data to be analyzed as business insights. Also as most industrial IoT applications are now based on continuous connectivity, role of network services rose to central function. Major communication service providers (CSPs) such as Verizon, Aircel, Telsra, Vodafone along with MVNO’s are now focusing on providing strong, secure communication links and central backbone of IoT landscape
PROTOCOLS & TECH STACK: The IoT communication pattern include device-to-device, device-to-server and server-to-server all in one. Moreover, IoT protocols needs to address the response time as the primary imperative making them more critical than the long existing technologies of the web. The choice of protocols and technologies in an IoT solution is also mostly governed by the use case and its applicability. Some examples are 4G, LTE, WiMax, Zigbee, Z-wave, 6LowPAN, NFC, Sigfox, RFID
PROCESSING ENGINES: All IoT solutions require a middleware processing engine or an enterprise service bus (ESB) that can make decisions and respond to complex situations. The ESBs in an IoT solution not only plays a messaging layer but also a transformation layer. TIBCO, CISCO, FeedHenry are a few examples to achieve complex ESB solution for IoT
SYSTEMS: While organizations thrive for true digital experience by bringing IoT to any-device-any-application, they require platforms that can deliver a flexible, scalable solution and are road-tested at scale. Also, this needs to be compatible with their existing or incremental infrastructure without disrupting the major part of it. SAP, Oracle IoT, IBM Watson, Microsoft Azure to C3IoT, Thingworx and Kaa, all allows building complete end-end solutions, connected applications and smart products & services
BIG DATA & ANALYTICS: Data captured from devices across networks is undoubtedly invaluable in transforming the organization from its customer and/ or business process perspective. However, the amount of data collected and multivariate formats it is collected in can lead to a daunting task of processing and removing noise to lead to meaningful insights. Further, the insights must aid in right-in-time business decision making to realize the true strategic digital vision for an enterprise. Analytics products in IoT range from big names such as SAS and IBM to small start-ups and IT firms.
BUSINESS SOLUTIONS: GE harness more than 18 million parameters per month from its jet engines leading to an efficiency gain of 1% and an annual saving of $ 2 billion to airlines. Every business would have their unique IoT objectives and use case applicability with IoT landscape. A lot of enterprises are now increasingly packaging industry solutions or business solutions as out of box solution for organizations to leapfrog in their IoT implementation. This range from enterprises such as IBM, GE, Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft to startups and IT firms.
Finally, as IoT evolves through a combination of these components, blockchain for data acquisition and management, and Artificial Intelligence for the business application, the ecosystem shall evolve and become more cohesive and connected. However, in hindsight, it becomes more critical for businesses to evaluate and select the right partner who can help business on their incremental roadmap of IoT deployment, some-one who could preempt the road-blocks and can be future proven.
Arjun Ahlawat is Director of Client Solutions at Aeris Communications. Previously, he led Cognizant digital practice for APAC from Singapore. Over the last 15 years, he has helped fortune 500 clients evangelize and embark on digital transformation across US, APAC and India
“The views are in individual capacity and do not represent author’s current organization”