Don’t dream big when taking on industrial or enterprise IoT

As inspiring as the phrase business transformation is, I’ve decided that when it comes to industrial or enterprise IoT, it’s better to start small. Most executives by now are well aware that you should begin with a use case, but what’s become more clear as time has passed and projects have failed is that maybe business transformation shouldn’t be your first goal.

Peter Zornio, chief technology officer at ‎Emerson Automation Solutions, says that in his experience, the operations guys in building systems or in a plant want a use case and an ROI, while the IT shops tend to want to install a platform so folks in the business can build their own applications on top of it.

“Tangible ROIs that are easy to see are great,” Zornio says. “Operational guys love that because they have to justify their spend, while the IT guys want to think big. These are the guys that 15 years ago convinced everyone to spend hundreds of millions on ERP systems.”

Zornio isn’t bashing ERP systems, but if you ask ERP buyers if that money was well spent, many of them wouldn’t really know. Which is why Zornio is a big fan of metrics when discussing IoT projects.

He’s not alone. Jason Shepherd, a senior director and IoT CTO at Dell, says, “Too many IoT projects start as science projects (e.g., “Wouldn’t that be neat?”) with no clear metrics for success.” You know what’s really hard to measure? Business transformation.

So if measurement is the key, how should you think about that? In some situations, a use case and the subsequent savings are crystal clear. For example, if you automate data collection that normally requires an employee, calculating the savings is easy.

But Zornio says other use cases, such as ensuring reliability, are more difficult. First you have to come up with the number of times a particular part or machine fails, then you need to figure out the cost to the production process or the team. You also have to factor in the cost and time it takes to make those repairs. Replacing a part that is commonly in inventory vs. replacing something that might have to be ordered will factor into those costs.

Those kinds of calculations are more subjective than calculating the cost of replacing a worker. You could debate how often equipment fails. Or how much it costs when it does fail, depending on what a company values. For example, downtime in one part of the plant might be relatively unimportant because there’s a backup or low demand during certain times of the year. So it’s always better to search for the obvious. Sometimes, the flamingly obvious.

“We had a customer come to us about monitoring pumps. There, the risk wasn’t downtime, but that when one of the pumps failed it tended to catch on fire,” says Zornio. “In that case, the ROI wasn’t about money saved as much as it was about deciding how valuable it was to the organization to avoid fires in their factory.” (That entire conversation has me thinking that an enterprising IoT systems integrator should scour the trade press for industrial disasters to find their next sales prospect.)

Assessing IoT projects’ value isn’t just useful for the companies buying into connected sensors or products. It’s also important for companies trying to build solutions for industrial and enterprise IoT.

That platform mentality is a common one in Silicon Valley, but it’s hard to sell. Especially if you need a deep understanding of specific industry data around costs and functioning of equipment. That’s why many of the big companies are teaming up with those in specialized verticals to pitch their platforms or services.

But again, it appears that success today is found most often in the smaller projects as opposed to the business transformations. Shepherd advises that when choosing a project to ensure that the use case is relatively straightforward so the company can get a “quick win.”

 “A quick win can grow into more advanced benefits, but don’t try and start with too much. For example, start with basic monitoring for visibility and then add analytics,”  he says.

We’ll talk more about what this means in future issues of the newsletter along with the challenges associated with making sure that your employees don’t sabotage your business goals—or the eventual business transformation itself.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

IBM gets into bed on mobile with fintech Dream Payments

IBM gets into bed on mobile payments with fintech Dream

Tech giant IBM has teamed up with a Toronto-based fintech company Dream Payments, with the goal of transforming the way mobile payments are made within financial institutions.

Financial institutions often lag when it comes to bringing new products to market as a result of conservative cultures, legacy systems and strict regulation in the sector.

But there is a definite need to implement new mobile and digital payment solutions for small and medium-sized business customers, and this is exactly where Dream Payments focuses.

Its technology connects banks, acquirers, retailers and value-added apps, helping it deliver services that meet the demands of today’s mobile merchants.

Read more: Bank of America, FitPay partner to speed up wearable payments

New platform

As a core part of the partnership, IBM and Dream will roll out Dream Payments Cloud to US-based financial companies.

This is a scalable platform that provides businesses with secure mobile and digital payment services that help them go to market faster and improve customer experiences.  

The platform, which is delivered through IBM Cloud, means that these smaller businesses don’t need to invest in expensive, lengthy IT projects to build these services in-house.

Read more: Vocalink: Direct bank-to-bank mobile payments poised to rise

Leveraging mobile payments

Dream executives have explained that “financial institutions can leverage Dream Payments’ offering to rapidly launch solutions that work with emerging payment technologies like mobile wallets, CHIP cards and contactless payments”.

The firm turned to IBM because it wanted to work with a partner capable of helping it deploy its cloud offering with a high level of control and security.

It’s also been able to accelerate its cloud infrastructure deployment from three months to days, by avoiding the complexity and cost of managing data centers.

“The combination of IBM’s banking and financial services expertise along with IBM Cloud has allowed Dream Payments to build and scale its cloud infrastructure, right down to bare metal hardware access, to maintain bank grade security, PCI compliance and data sovereignty,” said Chad Whittaker, CIO of Dream Payments.

Meanwhile, Frank Attaie, vice president of financial services at IBM Canada, commented: “Financial service leaders and fintechs recognize the need for digital reinvention to compete and win in the banking market.

“IBM provides clients the global cloud footprint and unified architecture they need to navigate regulatory and compliance demands while improving the customer experience.”


Five weeks to go: For more on how and why financial services companies are applying IoT technologies, attend our Internet of Banking and Payments event at Canary Wharf, London on 21-23 November 2017.

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Internet of Business

Will Driverless Cars Dream in Cisco Hues?

Google, Uber, Ford. They are the big names in driverless vehicles. But did you know Cisco is already empowering nearly every Connected Car on Earth? Through its cloud-based IoT platform, Jasper, Cisco has become a key player in Smart Car technology, helping Honda launch its connected car services across Europe and working with Hyundai to […]
IoT – Cisco Blog

IoT Innovation Is A Pipe Dream Without Digital Core

Amara’s Law states that we tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run. In few areas is this theory more aptly applied than in the Internet of Things. The plummeting prices and improved connectivity of sensors, along with a massive jump in the scale of data capture and analysis has innovative minds doing overtime to come up with IoT-based processes that extract the maximum possible value.

Despite the efforts of these forward thinkers, reaping the full benefits of IoT will first require organizations as a whole to reshape major parts of their operational models, as foretold by IDC Canada’s IoT analyst Nigel Wallis at the recent Toronto IDC Directions Symposium. That’s why, in my mind, IoT may not make a perceived widespread impact over the next year or two, but over the longer term. And when more businesses are set up to enable it, it will transform virtually every aspect of industry.

Soon sensors will be everywhere. With the price of LIDAR sensors falling from the region of $ 150K to $ 1K, more companies can enter the market, and the rate of adoption and innovation is set to skyrocket. As a result, the Internet of Things will feel as pervasive by 2020 as Wi-Fi does today.

Wallis said IoT will become a marketplace where “everything and anything can be measured.” Benefits like immediate notifications and pinpoint accuracy will have universal appeal that reaches and enhances businesses in all industries and every facet of public service.

Wallis went on to give examples of where IoT is already showing its worth. At Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, a “network of baggage carts” (5,000 across 17 sq. km., to be exact) is tracked in real time by sensors that bounce signals from cart to cart. This has turned the daunting balancing act of tracking cart availability, utilization, and maintenance into a smoothly run process.

Elsewhere, maintenance of water pipes, the arteries of civilization, has been an early priority for IoT innovation. Experts believe up to 40% of water used in the U.S. is wasted, and the average cost to fix a water main is $ 10K. Pinhole leaks are the main cause, but modern acoustic sensors can spot when such leaks form, giving maintenance teams time to fix pipes before they burst.

In a more novel concept that will actually prove to be transformative for cities, Bigbelly garbage cans detect when they’re full and trigger a notification when they need emptying. This will greatly improve the efficiency of the waste collector’s daily run, while having positive knock on effects on road traffic, noise, pollution, and city cleanliness.

IoT is not only showing early promise, it is hitting the ground running with real results in some cities and industries. To follow in those footsteps, organizations and operations, especially large-scale ones, will need to rethink how things are done at the foundation. Before fitting thousands of sensors and kitting employees out with wearables, there must be a digital core in place that enables the real-time capture and analysis of live data. Only with that groundwork laid will IoT technology be ready to revolutionize organizational responsiveness and decision-making.

For more insight on what drives digital transformation, see Information Transformation At The Heart Of Digital Transformation—And Why The CEO Needs To Drive It.


Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

The mainstream connected home remains distant dream, says Gartner

The mainstream connected home remains a distant dream, says Gartner

The connected home is still the realm of early adopters only, according to new research from industry analysts at Gartner.

In a survey of 10,000 online respondents in the US, UK and Australia, IT market research company Gartner has found that just 10 percent of households currently have any connected home solutions.

Among the most prevalent products used in homes, home security alarm systems were most popular, with 18 percent of homeowners claiming to have adopted this technology. Eleven percent said they use some sort of home monitoring product (Internet of Business believes this refers to leak detection products, for example), while home automation or energy management products are used by just 9 percent of respondents.

According to the analysis, Connected Home Solutions Remain in the Early Adopter Stage, the US leads the way for overall adoption with average rates at five to six percent higher, due to these products being marketed there ahead of other countries.

“Although households in the developed world are beginning to embrace connected home solutions, providers must push beyond early-adopter use,” said Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner. “If they are to successfully widen the appeal of the connected home, providers will need to identify what will really motivate current users to inspire additional purchases.”

Read more: Make devices useful for the connected home to become a consumer reality

Monetizing the connected home

Monetizing IoT products within the connected home has proved problematic, however.

According to the survey, with the exception of home security services, less than half of respondents currently pay for subscription-based home monitoring and energy management solutions.

There is a different picture in the US, where Gartner says the home monitoring industry is better developed, leading to 59 percent of households paying a monthly fee for these products.

This is in stark contrast to the UK, where 58 percent of respondents receive home monitoring services free of charge.

Read more: UK homes to get smart meter boost as National Grid selects software provider

One app to rule them all

Interestingly, there are signs that consumers are beginning to see the value of using one app to integrate all of their connected home devices, such as Amazon’s Alexa-based smart assistant the Echo or Google Home.

In fact, 55 percent of respondents would prefer this option, while 58 percent said the specific brand they use was more important.

“Messaging needs to be focused on the real value proposition that the complete connected home ecosystem provides, encompassing devices, service and experience,” said Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner. “The emphasis needs to be on how the connected home can helps solve daily tasks, rather than just being a novelty collection of devices and apps.”

Read more: Trend Micro partners with Asus to beef up IoT security in homes

Future battlegrounds

Craig Foster, managing director at HomeServe Labs – the company behind the smart water leak detector LeakBot – told Internet of Business that the findings come as no surprise.

“As ever, the future of connected home solutions is already here and starting to provide real benefits to consumers, it is just not universally distributed yet,” Foster said.

Foster feels that IoT products like smart locks, thermostats and leak detectors work in the background to look after homes and therefore cannot be seen. This, he says, is why consumers are not naturally drawn to connected home products.

“What will be key will be the value offered to consumer lives – which will be unlocked by the right connected home technologies working in combination with the right services. Then we will see connected home solutions go from niche early adopters to the mainstream,” he said.

Speaking to IoB about the survey findings, Cameron Worth, founder of SharpEnd, an agency that focuses on helping consumer brands embrace the IoT, acknowledged that the industry is still in the early stages of working out what connected home technologies, like voice assistants, can do.

“The fact that 10 percent of respondents currently have products like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home is a strong indicator that the market is heading in a positive direction regarding adoption,” he said.

“As we move towards a ‘zeroUI world’, brands are fighting to play a bigger role in our day-to-day lives with a reduction in the number of platforms to do so. By creating the most meaningful interactions this will be crucial to driving adoption and repeat use.

“Connected home devices will move away from the mundane – such as turning lights on and off – and become better at seamlessly integrating into our lives. From the Gartner study, the quarter of respondents who expressed an interested in devices anticipating needs will be where the battleground is for brands.”

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