This past Monday was annual Iotday, and also National Chinese Almond Cookie Day, Winston Churchill Day and at least a half-dozen other days. There were events held worldwide, and all focused in some way on discussing the power and impact of IoT (the Internet of Things) to change businesses for the better.
Iotday, launched in 2010 by IoT Council , is “an open invitation to the Internet of Things Community to participate in an event, host a hackathon, or just share a beer/coffee with a friend or fellow collaborator focused around the IoT and its implications.”
IoT has clearly gone mainstream and global. A livestream from San Jose CA interviewed 25 women of IoT from around the world. In São Paulo, Brazil, Cidade Universitária hosted speakers and held workshops to discuss and demonstrate how various technologies converge via IoT. While folks in Liverpool, England, observed the day with a meetup, “Innovation Begins at Home,” where speakers explained how IoT is permeating our personal residences. And way down under in New Zealand, an IoT community showcased how dairy farmers could potentially generate $448 million net economic benefit for New Zealand by using IoT.
In New York, Ed Maguire, an Insights Partner at Momenta Partners, delivered a presentation on Edge Intelligence at Internet of Things (IoT) New York Meetup. Ed has a very solid understanding of IoT/connected industry, which he shares in an optimistic, yet refreshingly tempered perspective. He will also be speaking at the next GeneXus Digital Transformation Meetup, Fireside Chat with Bruce Weed (IBM): Accelerating and Streamlining Enterprise IoT Initiatives, April 26 in New York City. Joining Ed will be Bruce Weed, Program Director for Enterprise, Startups & Developers (specializing in Blockchain, AI/Watson, IoT, Big Data, Cloud.
But for all of this attention and discussion about IoT, there’s still a lot of misunderstanding about what it is, how it can really help core business functionality, and how c-suite executives, IT managers, and cybersecurity experts should implement it safely and smartly.
In a recent episode of Momenta Partners Podcast, where Ed interviewed Bruce on a bevy of emerging tech topics, Weed pointed out that IoT is about so much more than connected devices. It is about connected technology, as well. IoT’s true strength, notes Bruce, is the convergence of connectivity, AI, blockchain and other technologies that are used to build smart networks. We have had remote sensors for many years, especially in facilities management and manufacturing, but they have done little more than provide a status report. That is changing, as these remote devices will now make decisions.
What was also interesting was that, in the podcast’s closing, when asked what resources someone looking to kickoff an IoT initiative might tap, Bruce suggested reading Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci or leadership books by veterans of the military. Reason being, the technology necessary for IoT is pretty easy to pick up for most developers/architects/designers etc., but the approach to the analysis of business and implementation is where the largest gap exists. So, with that perspective, their talk at our Meetup event this month should be a real treat. If you’re in the NY tristate area, you definitely won’t want to miss this!
Stoked About IoT
At GeneXus, we are really stoked over what IoT will offer and how we’re helping businesses manifest their IoT strategies. As seen below, a typical IoT network will intertwine multiple technologies, all of which may be developed and managed from the GeneXus IDE, using natural language. This saves time, money, and headaches. No need for armies of specialists, as GeneXus handles code and platform translations, with a few clicks of the mouse.
Dos and Don’ts of Developing an IoT Strategy
As the intention of Iotday is to foster discussion of what IoT might hold for us, I thought I would throw in my two cents with some of the Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind, when planning an IoT deployment, from my experience working with quite a few companies on transitioning to IoT.
Do Document Everything
IoT is going to throw a lot more moving parts in the mix, and you and your team will want to be able to quickly understand what is happening, in real time. For example, with GeneXus, a lot of the drudgery is removed from the documentation process. Using the Business Process Modeler (BPM), modeling is a snap. Drag-and-drop functionality allows you to quickly lay out tasks and apply respective rules. The finished product is an attractive, flow diagram that may be used for reference, as well as for the invariable presentation that will be required, at some point.
Don’t Go with an Obscure Platform
Presently, there are around 500 IoT platforms. Given the history of technology, this is to be expected, as everyone wants in the game, but only the fittest will survive and it is doubtful that in even just a few years there will be more than a handful of relevant platforms left standing. We have seen this with operating systems, applications, search engines, hardware and more. You don’t want to build on a platform that may not be here next year, for obvious reasons.
Already, some leaders have emerged (PTC ThingWorx, Cisco Jasper, etc.) and given their installed base, it is likely that they will be here and be relevant for at least the foreseeable future. If possible, you should probably go with one of the front-runners. Which one will hinge on sector, applications, and even location, among other factors. Really crucial to get this right, as you do not want to be left with a platform that has folded, or that inadequate tools are available for analysis, monitoring, data visualization, etc.
Do Know the Law
IoT is now and will continue to dramatically increase the access to user data, which is a double-edged sword. It’s great, obviously, for businesses to have more information on their customers or market, but it comes with responsibility. What information may be legally gathered, and how it must be protected and used, varies by locale. In some cases, failure to adhere to the law can come with some very stiff penalties, as well as leave a business vulnerable to a civil suit.
Fortunately, GeneXus users have a leg-up, here. With Geolocation functionality, rules may be prescribed for users in a given country or state. In the same or similar vein, it is also a good idea to develop a user notice and/or choice policy. In some cases, it is required by law, but in all it is good practice to avoid potential civil liability or bad PR.
Don’t Over-Data It
It will become easier and even tempting to collect as much data as possible, with the forthcoming onslaught of sensors that IoT will bring. The default, for many, when given the opportunity to harvest data is to get as much as possible, however this can create problems. Bandwidth, storage and computational power can be hobbled by an avalanche of data. A network may be brought to its knees gathering data, which may be of no use whatsoever or worse a burden.
For example, you could easily ping an outdoor thermometer a million times a second, but for most purposes, every fifteen minutes or so would probably be sufficient. Difference is the first scenario would produce nine hundred million times the data points than the second. That is an enormously taxing on systems.
Although GeneXus can continuously auto tune databases, to ensure that table structure provides peak performance, all of the fine-tuning and optimization in the world cannot overcome a data collection that is simply too big for resources available.
Do Have an End-of-Life Plan
Take a gander at your installed software and hardware, and you probably won’t find much that is even five years old. That is the nature of technology.
It may be a bit of a buzzkill to think about retiring equipment and applications, at time of deployment, when everyone is excited about the new toys, but there is no better time to start thinking about how to safely deactivate the same. In most cases, you won’t know when, exactly, a resource will be brought off line or what, if anything, will replace it. However, while implementing, you are pretty well dialed in on all of the dependent systems that will be impacted, so it is a good time to document what will be required to pull a device or application. Of course, update as needed.
That’s a Wrap, for Now
By no means is this a comprehensive list of the Dos and Don’ts associated with an IoT endeavor. I could go on for several more pages, but I’ll be sharing more on this later as we delve more into the promise and perils of IoT deployment.
Hopefully, this was helpful and will serve as a catalyst for further exploration of IoT. If you are interested in learning more about we can assist with your IoT initiative, feel free to reach out to me at ajulio[at]genexususa.com or on Twitter at @antoniojulioGX.
And if you’d like to attend the fireside chat on IoT in New York with Ed Maguire and Bruce Weed, do join us by RSVPing (and as soon as possible – I have a feeling this event will fill up quickly!)
Head of Business Dev.
North America, GeneXus