Best quick intro to the IoT that I’ve seen!

Following up on my last post, I’ve found what I think is the best quick intro to the Internet of Things!

Internet of Things,” released today by the Center for Data Innovation (hadn’t heard of them! BTW, they also get points in my book for covering XBRL, the magic potion for data…) is a quick read: it has short intros to most of the major consumer-oriented areas affected by the IoT, from healthcare to home automation, combined with two examples for each of those topics. I hadn’t heard of some of the examples (thanks, authors Daniel Castro and Jordan Misra!), although most are frequently cited ones ranging from the Nest thermostat to the Vitality GlowCap.  All in all, they’ll show almost any skeptic that the IoT is already a reality and that it will change their life!

The report concludes with brief policy recommendations for government and business alike:

  • (for government agencies) lead by example, i.e., include funding for sensors in bridge projects, etc. Yea (you listening, Obama Administration?).
  • reduce barriers to data sharing (this harkens back to my Data Dynamite book: data gains value by being shared!).
  • give consumers access to their data (again, something I wrote about in Data Dynamite).
  • avoid inundating consumers with notices (a fine line, since they need to be informed, in plain English, about how their data will be used).
  • regulate the use of data, not the collection (in line with Mercatus Center’s advice)

All in all, a nice intro to the IoT!

BTW: Thanx to ol’ friend Pete O’Dell for turning me on to this report!

Two good sites if you’re introducing the IoT

Categorize this under “posts I’ve been meaning to write for a long time!”

For the current writing assignment I’m working on, I’m looking for as many good examples of practical Internet of Things applications that are available right now.

There are two sites that I repeatedly go to for those examples that deserve some praise.

postscapesOne is Postscapes, which I find to be an important all-around IoT news source. It features products (and links to their sites) in the “Body,” “Home,” “City” and “Industry” categories, as well as a DIY/Open Source grouping. The descriptions are well written and it’s attractive.

The other site is a corporate one, from Libelium, the Spanish open source sensor platform. A portion of its site is devoted to “50 Sensor Applications for a Smarter World,” grouped under “Smart Cities,” “Smart Environment,” “Smart Water,” “Smart Metering,” “Retail,” “Logistics,” “Industrial Control,” “Smart Agriculture,” “Smart Animal Farming,” “Security and Emergencies,” “Domotic and Home Automation,” and “eHealth.” There’s a wealth of accompanying information about — surprise! — the Libelium sensors that are matched to each of these applications. Of course it’s marketing for Libelium, but the range of applications does illustrate the wide range of ways that the IoT is already affecting industry, cities, and personal lives.

Check both sites out — and point your skeptical contacts who wonder if the IoT is just a laboratory curiosity to them!

 

General Electric Keeps on Practicing What They Preach!

I’m beginning to sound like a schill (no, not a typo, just a bad joke: short for [Curt] Schilling, the former Red Sox pitcher — sorry, I can’t get those guys out of my head today…) for GE, but it’s hard to argue with their impressive record of walking their talk about the “Industrial Internet,” their marketing term for the subset of the Internet of Things dealing with the industrial sector.

The latest evidence? A report today in the NYTimes‘ “Bits” blog that GE has just announced “14 more products that combine industrial equipment, Internet-linked sensors and software to monitor performance and analyze big streams of data. G.E. had previously announced 10 similar industrial products.”

Equally impressive, the Industrial Age behemoth turned nimble IoT leader said that by next year, almost all industrial products it makes will have built-in sensors and Big Data software to analyze the huge data streams those sensors will create.

Right now I’m writing an e-book on IoT strategy for C-level executives (not sure if I can disclose the customer — it’s a big one!) and GE VP of Global Software William Ruh, used the news to fire a shot across the bow at companies that are slow to realize a fundamental paradigm shift in manufacturing, product design and maintenance is well underway:

““Everyone wants prediction about performance, and better asset management… The ideas of speed, of information velocity, is what will differentiate the winners from the losers.”

You in the corner office: got your attention?

Equally important, given my insistence that the IoT is all about collaboration, GE simultaneously announced partnerships with Cisco, AT&T and Intel. It had already inked deals with Accenture and Amazon’s cloud subsidiary and has also invested in  Pivotal, an Industrial Internet app creator.

Smart companies will follow GE’s lead in radically reforming the product design process to capitalize on the rapid feedback on performance that the Industrial Internet products’ built-in sensors yield. According to Ruh, they’re switching to an iterative design process, with rapid changes based on data from the field:

“… G.E. is adopting practices like releasing stripped-down products quickly, monitoring usage and rapidly changing designs depending on how things are used by customers. These approaches follow the ‘lean start-up’ style at many software-intensive Internet companies.

“’We’re getting these offerings done in three, six, nine months,’ he said. ‘It used to take three years.’” (my emphasis)

That change is definitely going to make it into my e-book! Brilliant example of how the IoT, by allowing companies to think in terms of systems dynamics, especially feedback loops, will have profound impacts on the design and manufacturing processes, integrating them as never before (oh, and don’t forget, the data from the built-in sensors will also allow companies to start marketing services — such as leasing jet turbines, with the lease cost based on the actual amount of thrust the engines create)!

Combined, that’s definitely a paradigm shift!

Oh, I almost forgot. Here’s a brief rundown of the products themselves and the industries served. They are clustered under the Predictivity name, and are powered by Predix, a new IoT platform:

  • The Drilling iBox System (oil and gas)
  • Reliability Max (oil and gas
  • Field 360 (oil and gas)
  • System 1 Evolution (oil and gas)
  • Non-destructive Testing Remote collaboration (oil and gas)
  • LifeMax Advantage (power and water)
  • Rail Connect 360 Monitoring and Diagnostics (transportation)
  • ShipperConnect (transportation)
  • Flight Efficiency Services (aviation)
  • Hot SimSuite (healthcare)
  • Cloud Imaging (healthcare)
  • Grid IQ Insight (energy management)
  • Proficy MaxxMine (energy management)

Given the diversity of industries the Predictivity products serve and GE’s global clout, I predict this level of commitment will radically accelerate the IoT’s adoption by big business, as well as accelerating the payback in terms of lower operating, energy and maintenance costs, and reduced environmental impacts.

Will GE’s competitors in these sectors get on board, or will they be left in the dust?

 

Usage-based Insurance: Preview of Radical Industry Change Through IoT

Holy Clayton Christensen! Another wave of “disruptive innovation” is on its way, and this time the Internet of Things is responsible!

I’m confident that the IoT is going to bring about radical change throughout a wide range (if not all…) of vertical markets in the near future, through new realities such as giving everyone who needs it access to real-time information or by making preventive maintenance simple through real-time data from products such as jet turbines (General Electric is, again, a leader…).

However, for concrete evidence of how the IoT will change things, perhaps the best industry to look at is auto insurance, where the IoT is facilitating a fundamental shift in marketing, from the prior practice of basing premiums on proxy indicators such as a student’s grades or a person’s credit rating (leading to the heinous — and expensive — crime of “driving while poor,” LOL).

Progressive Snapshot

Progressive Snapshot

Instead, what is emerging worldwide (especially in Europe) is “usage-based insurance” (UBI), where the rates are based not on guestimates, but the driver’s actual behavior!

Insurance & Technology reports that the transition will only accelerate in the future.

“‘In five or ten years, all insurers will have dynamic driving data, so all will be able to offer discounts,’ says George Ayres, vice president of global sales for Verizon Telematics. ‘There will be no more asymmetry in terms of what they know about customers, so price alone won’t be as effective [for acquiring and retaining customers]. …The insurers who are out front on this idea are realizing [that soon] all will [have to] start to provide much wider breadth of services to keep those captured through price.’

“These services can be as simple as sending additional driving data to the driver’s smartphone, or as complex as auto insurance bundled with a customer relationship solution that sends alerts for scheduled maintenance.”

What a transformation!

Smart business leaders will start paying close attention to the features of the Internet of Things, and begin planning now on how to get ahead of the curve on making certain they are the beneficiaries of disruptive innovation — not the victims!

 

 

GE Crowdsourcing Design For 3-D Printing Project

OK, I admit to losing all sense of objectivity on this one! After all, it hits all my sweet spots:

  • Internet of Things (AKA General Electric’s “Internet of Things”)
  • 3-D printing
  • crowdsourcing/collaboration.

As I wrote earlier, about GE’s collaboration with Electric Imp and Quirky, this exemplar of Industrial Age might (what could be more powerful than a GE locomotive???) really seems to get it that the Internet of Things is as much about new attitudes of collaboration and sharing data as it is about Internet technology.

GE jet engine mount

So it’s no surprise that Industry Week reports on a new GE initiative, soliciting crowdsourced designs for a new jet engine bracket that will be produced through 3-D printing.

As Christine Furstoss, technical director of Manufacturing and Material Technologies at GE Global Research, explains:

“‘For any industry to be successful, you really need to develop communities or ecosystems of partners and thought leaders…

‘No sustainable, established industry technology exists without multiple players, multiple styles of thought, multiple ways of growing … We feel like one of the best ways to stimulate that, to find the newest and best ideas, is to start with open collaboration.'”

Bravo!

Contrast that attitude with what is still all too prevalent, as summarized by Paul Horn, former senior vp of research at IBM:

“Horn remembers a time before open innovation — a competitive, suspicious era when innovative and great, transformative ideas were only allowed to grow in a tightly sealed vacuum.

‘When we built the Almaden Laboratory at IBM in the early 1980s, we put it south of Silicon Valley on purpose,’ he recalls. ‘In those days, our biggest fear was the leaking of intellectual property out into the valley.'”

I suspect that one of the biggest obstacles to full realization of the IoT’s promise will be the difficulty of leaving that old zero-sum game, my-gain-is-your-loss mentality behind!

I wasn’t aware that this latest competition, to design a 3-D printed bracket strong enough to support a jet engine on a commercial plane, is part of a 2-year crowdsourcing initiative, with approximately $20 million in prizes for products, designs and processes, especially in 3-D printing:

“‘We’re trying to find thought leaders in this area — people who may know through a technique they’ve devised or a piece of software that they’ve found or just their own experiences what is the best way to design with additive for real industrial parts,’ Furstoss explains. ‘We’re really at the birth of industrial additive technology. This is a way for us to build support for that community of makers.'”

Furstoss says the crowdsourcing competitions are no knock on GE’s own 50,000 engineers: “‘We have a platform in place that can put a student in his dorm on the same plane as our engineers,’ she says. ‘We’re making sure that people who may have ideas, may have skills, may have things to offer have an opportunity to bring them forward, no matter who they are.'”

It’s that kind of openness to not only new technologies, but also new management practices, that will give GE a huge head start over competitors that have yet to come to grips with the new reality: the Internet of Things!

 

Hallelujah! The Internet of People launches

Most readers of this blog probably already know Rob van Kranenburg, arguably THE leading European Internet of Things theorist. What you may not  know is that, for the past year, he and a core group of IoT leaders have been planning creation of a UK-based global IoT consultancy, “The Internet of People.”

Unfortunately, one of the victims of that effort was a planned collaborationinternet_of_people_small
between Rob and me on an article about the IoT for the Harvard Business Review, but now I’ve got Dave Evans of Cisco as a writing partner, so I ain’t complainin’!

At any rate, there’s glorious news today: The Internet of People has officially launched, and there are more than 100 of us consultants who are already in the fold!

This is going to be an all-star team, so if you’re in need of IoT strategy and other consulting services, I hope you’ll contact us!

Nice long NPR piece on Stantander

Posted on 4th June 2013 in cities, government, Internet of Things, transportation

One of my sons turned me on to this long NPR piece this morning about Santander. Thought it did a good job of covering the mix of top-down (the city’s installations of sensors) and bottoms-up (the active involvement of citizens through apps to report potholes, etc.) that a make up a robust IoT program.

Want to help plan how Internet of Things will transform government? Join my new GovLoop group!

Have no doubt about it: the Internet of Things will transform government, affecting public security, defense, environmental protection, transport, and health.  If you’d like to be part of the community planning how to help government capitalize on the IoT, please join my new GovLoop community on the topic!

London will have first Internet of Things airport!

Posted on 6th May 2013 in cities, Internet of Things, transportation

I’ve been arguing for airports as ideal laboratories for advanced, free wireless communications ever since a 2002 op-ed in the Boston Business Journal in which I chided Logan Airport for charging for wi-fi. It seems to me that airports, with such a high percentage of sophisticated users with advanced mobile devices combined with complex logistics, are perfect places to apply the latest innovations.

That’s why I was delighted to see that London City Airport, the city’s downtown, business-oriented one, will offer the first Internet of Things enabled services.

The services will be developed by Living PlanIt (“technology for sustainable cities”) and retail developer Milligan  (“..creates places where people like to shop”) in cooperation with the UK’s Technology Strategy Board.

According to Robin Daniels, Living PlanIt’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, the project’s goal is all-encompassing:

“Everything that’s uncomfortable, inconvenient or just a pain in the neck about traveling, we’re trying to turn into a more pleasurable experience,”

Among other services, the “The Living PlanIT Urban Operating System™” will:

  • track passengers through facial recognition and crowd-sourcing software plus GPS
  • automatically deliver food to people who pre-order food online or through their smartphone
  • let someone who pre-booked a taxi step right into it
  • track luggage in real-time (if someone misses their flight, their bag won’t be loaded).
  • retailers in the terminal  “will use a combination of cameras and sensors to monitor buyer behavior and to get a better sense of what types of displays work. They will also be able to offer shoppers customized offers based on previous purchases.”

The system will observe privacy concerns by making the services opt-in.  However, Evangeis Ouzounis, the head of the secure infrastructure and services unit at the European Network and Information Security Agency, worries about possible vulnerability to hackers:

“They might jam a smart device to make systems not available in the airport, or play with the bar code of flight tickets, so that you can have access to a space you shouldn’t have access to.”

I don’t know about you, but I find flying post 9/11 to be the most stressful activity imaginable. If there are adequate security and privacy protections in place, I’d gladly opt-in for IoT services!

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survey: M2M natural evolution of “consumerization of IT”

A new survey of worldwide IT decision makers (ITDMs as the acronym goes…) by Harris Interactive for SAP includes some pretty convincing reminders that the Internet of Things (in this case the emphasis is on M2M) is as much about empowering people as it is about things.

“..most ITDMs in all six countries view M2M as the natural evolution of the ‘consumerization of IT,’ with India and China at 92 percent and 90 percent respectively. The majority of Brazilian, German, UK and US ITDMs agreed, with a combined average of 81 percent.”

A lot of mobile devices are changing everything!

A quote from Sanjay Poonen, president of SAP’s Technology Solutions and Mobile Division, neatly ties the technology and human elements together:

“Today, M2M technology is primarily being used to collect vast amounts of machine data. The ‘Internet of Things’ goes one step further by integrating data from machines, ERP, CRM systems, social media and more, in real time, allowing humans to intelligently interact with devices, devices with devices and devices back to humans – the ultimate social media collaboration of man and machine.” (I spared you the self-serving conclusion: that SAP is uniquely qualified to bring all this together..LOL.).

Other important findings include:

  • “pluralities from all six countries surveyed said that smart cities would be the coolest (now there’s a technical term…)  possible outcome of M2M: China (35 percent), Brazil (35 percent), Germany (30 percent), India (27 percent), US (25 percent) and UK (21 percent).” Come on, US
    “ITDMs”: only 25% of you agree??
  • “…an average of 70 percent of the ITDMs in all six countries surveyed agree that companies that fail to implement M2M technologies will fall behind their competitors.”
  • Companies  will gain more insight into their business: China (96 percent), India (88 percent), Brazil (86 percent), Germany (79 percent), US (74 percent) and UK (61 percent)
  • Businesses will be able to respond to real world events: China (92 percent), India (86 percent), Brazil (82 percent), Germany (82 percent), US (78 percent) and UK (73 percent)

“Those surveyed also view the following as presenting the biggest opportunities for M2M in the workplace:

  • Increased efficiency was the No. 1 response in Brazil (54 percent), UK (53 percent) and US (49 percent)
  • Increased productivity for employees was the top selection in China (69 percent), significantly higher than any other countries surveyed
  • Increased employee collaboration was the No. 1 opportunity in Germany (63 percent)
  • Increased mobility among the workforce was the biggest opportunity in India (65 percent).”

I cast my lot with the Germans: while efficiency and productivity will definitely improve, I think the real hidden bonus of M2M in the workplace will be how collaboration will increase when everyone can share the same near-real-time data!

At the same time, the respondents said there were significant obstacles to full use of M2M. As Poonen summarized:

“The benefits of M2M are undeniable but there are barriers toward the adoption of M2M solutions, such as the lack of complete multi-industry offerings, management, security and big data issues, and deficiency of suitable global connectivity solutions that are needed by multinational enterprises.”

This survey is yet more evidence, as if we needed it, that the Internet of Things is finally rising in corporate awareness — or at least among those “ITDMs!” Now the question is how many of their employers will begin to craft IoT action plans.