How AT&T migrated 40,000 users to IBM’s IoT solutions

Any telecom provider must always try to avoid network downtime. But to stay competitive these companies also must constantly upgrade their software and systems. So when AT&T decided to migrate more than 40,000 users to comprehensive IBM IoT solutions—to support internal software development and replace its existing disparate solutions—the company knew it was facing a long slog.

Naturally, service outages were not an option during this protracted transition. That’s a primary reason why, over the course of about three years, the company used an agile business planning model and IoT-enabled solutions from IBM to complete this monumental project. AT&T agile tool product owner and team lead Tiina Seppalainen detailed how it all unfolded at the recent IBM Continuous Engineering Summit in New Orleans.

Seppalainen CE Summit re IoT solutions

AT&T’s Tiina Seppalainen describes her company’s use of IBM’s IoT solutions.

Deliberate and sequential planning

Seppalainen said the keys to success lied in broad buy-in from all levels of the company. This included a meticulously planned process for executing and managing the changes at various stages. “We had an aggressive and changing schedule, and we did this without any kind of formal training; we were given the tools and told to have at it, so that’s what we did,” she explained, adding that the project involved about 3,000 applications, about 100 project areas and 57 servers.

Careful and sequential planning were key.  Seppalainen and her colleagues set up about 10 scrum teams, a total of about 100 people, who were primarily dedicated to the project. “This allowed us to be nimble and change as needed, which was frequently,” Seppalainen recalled. “We regularly adjusted either what we were doing or when we were doing it. And we had a team to engage user groups and keep people apprised of the progress.” She said the company’s leaders actively supported the endeavor via internal communications, webcasts and town halls so “it would be very clear from the top down that this was going to happen, and quickly, and everybody needed to support it.”

In keeping with the agile model, the migration teams rolled out the new solutions in phases. They received feedback from early adopters and adjusted accordingly. Of course, large organizations like AT&T have many stakeholder groups with different wants and needs for their respective operations. Seppalainen reported that while they couldn’t fulfill everyone’s wish list, they were able to prioritize and deliver the most critical requests.

Coordinating the calendar

The volume of users necessitated scheduled releases and automated updates. The agile team spread these across the calendar to avoid overwhelming everyone with the changes. (Seppalainen applauded IBM’s crucial assistance in the project area design work, calling it “a key to our success.”) “We had a lot of concurrent and dependent activities and multiple work streams, and they all had to be managed,” she added. “It was a major challenge to coordinate interdependent and overlapping work efforts.”

This meant having frequent meetings, almost all of them virtual, including check-ins at the beginning and end of every work day. “It was a very agile mindset,” Seppalainen said. “That’s what made this happen; just doing that day in day out.”

Testing and training of IoT solutions

Once new roll-outs were in place, AT&T conducted extensive testing. It established training courses that included certifications, and created “small-bite” videos so users could quickly refresh their skills as needed.

Now that the heavy lifting has concluded, Seppalainen contends that her company views this massive endeavor as a success. “Using the agile approach was one of the key factors because it’s team oriented, very iterative and gives you the ability to adjust to changing needs,” she explained. “Our strong program and project management is what brought this three-year odyssey to fruition.”

To see how you can streamline operations and improve productivity for organizations of all sizes with IBMs Continous Engineering and IoT solutions, visit our landing page. And join us at Think 2018, March 19-22 in Las Vegas.

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Connected medication compliance monitoring solutions in Europe to reach 2.2 million by 2022

Connected medication compliance monitoring solutions in Europe to reach 2.2 million by 2022

Connected medication compliance monitoring solutions in Europe to reach 2.2 million by 2022

According to a new research report from Berg Insight, the market for medication compliance monitoring solutions is still in an early stage with an estimated 138,000 connected devices in use in EU28+2 at the end of 2016.

However, there are several promising business models for medication adherence solutions that are rolling out on the market. Berg Insight forecasts that the number of connected medication compliance monitoring solutions in EU28+2 will grow at a CAGR of 58 percent to reach 2.2 million by 2022.

Martin Bäckman, IoT Analyst, Berg Insight, says:

“Substantial business opportunities are emerging for solutions targeted at the social care sector. There is an opportunity to leverage medication dispensing solutions as a replacement for manual labour. Many patients rely on frequent visits from their home care provider for medication dispensing. Many of these visits can be reduced or eliminated through the use of medication dispensing solutions.”

Pharmaceutical companies have launched the first connected medication monitoring solutions that are bundled together with specific drugs. In this market, increased adherence can improve treatment outcomes as well as increase the sale of prescription medications. The costs of an adherence monitoring system can in many cases be offset by a small increase in the sale of drugs. Furthermore, monitoring solutions can be very useful for drugs that have side effects or limited efficiency when adherence is poor.

Another target market is payers, which can reduce their total healthcare expenditures by decreasing indirect costs that arise from non-compliance. A barrier to adoption in this market may still be the limited clinical proof available on the positive effects that a specific adherence solution has on the total healthcare costs.

The Netherlands became the first country to implement a reimbursement code for medication dispensing, enabling home care providers to use a remotely monitored medication dispensing solution to replace some home visits. There is also strong interest from home care providers and municipalities for this use case in the Nordic countries.

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Exotec Solutions unveils ‘3D’ robotic retail order system

exotec skypod robots for logistics and retail e-commerce

French start-up Exotec Solutions is working with e-commerce giant Cdiscount to test a scalable, speedy autonomous robot network that could take order fulfilment to the next level. 

Ferrying items from one side of a warehouse to another is well within the operating parameters of many industrial robots. In fact, from online retailers such as Amazon to groceries from Ocado, the brute-force side of the order fulfilment process is increasingly dependant on nuts and bolts, AI and autonomous machines.

However, the final steps of picking, placing and packaging require a level of dexterity that only humans are capable of – although that too is changing. Ocado’s robots are getting smarter and events like Amazon’s Picking Challenge are enabling researchers to test out new techniques in real-world scenarios.

For now though, with the orders mounting up, online retailers are keen to speed up the process in any way possible.

Read more: Ocado’s robots offer ‘safe pair of hands’ for packing shopping

Taking order fulfilment to new heights

French AI robotics start-up Exotec Solutions is today launching Skypod Robots, an autonomous system designed to improve order processing speed and, according to the company, work two times faster than its rivals.

French e-commerce company Cdiscount has been testing the Skypods at its Bordeaux warehouse and seen order processing speed rise by a factor of four. The Skypod system is making an impact for three reasons.

First is the ability of the ‘3D mobile robots’ to scale shelves as well as roll around at ground level. Second is speed. Scuttling about at 10 mph, the robots can quickly transfer goods in the warehouse to human operators who handle packing and shipping. Third, according to Exotec, the robots’ laser scanner navigation system allows them to travel anywhere in the storage area, while carrying boxes weighing more than 60 pounds.

Read more: Walmart testing autonomous shelf-scanning robots

Exotec emphasizes flexible deployment

Romain Moulin, CEO of Exotec Solutions, suggests that a flexible, scalable system is best positioned to disrupt e-commerce logistics. “To respond to today’s market requirements, companies are putting the emphasis on deployment speed and flexible deployment capability rather than heavy fixed infrastructure in order to best respond to rapid fluctuations in demand,” he said.

“The Skypod addresses the needs of a new generation of customers who are looking for high performance and high-density systems that can be modified every two years.”

“From inception, the system has been designed to ensure fast deployment and full scalability. Skypod’s free navigation allows the robots to travel anywhere within the system, something the competition can’t offer today,” said Renaud Heitz, Exotec’s CTO and co-founder.

“The system’s software is powered by the latest artificial intelligence, allowing us to deploy on site within days instead of weeks.”

In December last year, Exotec raised $ 3.5million from 360 Capital Partners and Breega Capital.

Read more: Ecommerce giant Alibaba opens ‘China’s smartest warehouse’

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Berg Insight says 16.5 million Europeans will use connected care solutions in 2022

Berg Insight says 16.5 million Europeans will use connected care solutions in 2022

Berg Insight says 16.5 million Europeans will use connected care solutions in 2022

According to a new research report from the IoT analyst firm Berg Insight, around 5.9 million people in Europe were using connected care solutions at the end of 2016.

The figure refers to users of traditional telecare, next-generation telecare and telehealth solutions in the EU28+2 countries.

Until 2022, Berg Insight forecasts that the number of connected care users will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.7 percent to reach 16.5 million.

Traditional telecare is currently the largest and most mature of the three market segments, but the next-generation telecare and telehealth market segments are expected to have a higher growth rate while traditional telecare is being phased out. Berg Insight expects that traditional telecare will be overtaken by next-generation telecare as the largest segment of the connected care market with a forecasted 8.1 million users in 2022. However, traditional telecare will follow with 6.2 million us ers and telehealth with 4.0 million users at the end of the forecast period.

The European connected care industry is facing major changes that will reshape the competitive environment for solution vendors and service providers during the coming years. One of the main developments is the digitalization of telephone networks that already has started in several countries. Massive replacements of telecare equipment will be needed due to that analogue devices no longer function reliably when the PSTN infrastructure is modernized. At the same time, the market is opening up to new types of solutions that can advance the delivery of care to the next level. This includes next-generation telecare systems that support functionalities such as remote visits and video communication.

chart: connected care systems in use Europe 2016-2022Anders Frick, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight, said:

“There is a strong need for solutions that enable social care and healthcare services to be delivered more cost-efficiently without compromising the quality of care”.

He adds that this need will only grow stronger in the future as the European population structure ages and the prevalence of chronic diseases increases.

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Tech Data Announces European Agreement with Advantech for Industrial IoT Solutions

Tech Data Announces European Agreement with Advantech for Industrial IoT Solutions

Tech Data Announces European Agreement with Advantech for Industrial IoT Solutions

Enables business outcomes for edge-to-enterprise Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing projects.

Tech Data today announced a pan-European agreement with Advantech, a leading global provider of Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions.

The Advantech product portfolio covers a comprehensive range of technologies from hardware and software to specific industry solutions for intelligent industrial automation and control.

Tech Data resellers and system integrators across Europe can now access Advantech’s extensive range of innovative products, which enable business outcomes for edge-to-enterprise IoT projects in industrial spaces, extreme environments with harsh conditions, transportation or outdoor applications.

Advantech is the latest addition to Tech Data’s IoT Solutions partner ecosystem, bringing special focus on data acquisition sensor capabilities, IoT networking infrastructure and data interfaces supporting a variety of environments. With this partnership, Tech Data reinforces its commitment to closing the gap between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) in the IoT market and driving adoption of industrial IoT through the channel.

Victor Paradell, vice president, IoT & Analytics Solutions, Europe, at Tech Data said:
“Success in IoT requires strong partnerships and collaboration. With this agreement, we will help our channel partners to deliver a complete solution, including the required IT and OT elements for the industrial sector. Industry 4.0 is driving growth in the IoT sector and Tech Data is now able to provide reliable end-to-end industrial solutions to help our partners resolve end-customer needs and deliver transformative business outcomes.”

The partnership between Advantech and Tech Data allows the creation of end-to-end solutions that open up new markets to Tech Data customers, such as predictive and prescriptive maintenance, remote field support and asset condition monitoring across Europe.

Jash Bansidhar, sector head of Industrial IoT Europe at Advantech, said:
“Advantech has selected Tech Data to accelerate its go-to-market for Industry 4.0 and Smart City systems integrators.”

“The partnership enables both companies to offer enhanced customer value by rolling-out international solution ready platforms (hardware and software) in industrial markets. Our cooperation enables us to offer one-stop-shop IIoT products and solutions that bridge the gap between OT and IT in factories and provide best-in-class customer service.”

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