Recently, my 14-year old son brought home a not-so-great report card. I wanted to motivate him to do better, so I asked, “What do you want to do with your life?”
He looked up at me. Then, he looked down at our dog, sleeping contentedly on the floor. He looked back at me, and said, “Dad, I want to be a pet of the robot overlords.”
I was floored. This is my legacy? This is his ambition?
Then I realized … throughout history, those who use the current technology do best. He plans to specifically use smart machines? That’s not a bad career ambition at all. Being a pet is smart. Being a good pet is brilliant.
Moore’s Law says that computers double in capability every 1.5 years. This rate shows little sign of flattening. Assuming it continues, computers in 40 years will not be 10x, 100x or even 1,000x better than today. Computers will be a mind-boggling 100,000,000x better than today. The implications could not be more profound.
Your children will not drive. Your children will not write. Your children will not compose music. Or, at least they will not have to. There are already intelligent computing systems challenging human capabilities in all these areas.
The rise in raw processing power is only half the story. Today’s other mega trend is pervasive device networking, known as the internet of things. There are already several times more devices online than there are people. Soon, there will be hundreds of billions of devices connected. Easy, fast networking is following a dramatic exponential curve.
For the next two or three decades, the most important technology drivers will be the rise of artificial intelligence and pervasive device networking. Soon, essentially everything manmade will be both smart and connected.
But, industry moves slowly. For decades, little of importance has changed. Most of today’s industry is unchanged by the internet. Medical treatment systems, the power grid, manufacturing lines and transportation systems work the same way they did 20 years ago. But in the next few years, engineers in every industry will find a way to use this change in computing. This transformation will obsolete every company that does not respond. Success depends on their ability to compete in this new reality.
The rise of powerful connected computing is not just another factor in design. It is the factor. This change will rewrite vendor relationships, redefine profitability and reimagine delivery from environment to cost to product. If you are a designer, your challenge is to look beyond today’s experience into a future, the future, dominated by intelligent computing.
Consider medical care in hospitals. Shockingly, hospital error is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Today’s devices don’t talk to each other; they don’t even know they are connected to the same patient.
This system is not good enough. Simple mistakes happen in hundreds of ways. For instance, a Harvard Medical School survey found that every surgical team made the same disastrous mistake in a heart-bypass surgery at least once: forgetting to resume ventilation after disconnecting the heart-lung machine. That error is not easy to fix, because it is only one of hundreds. Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) is a simple system that allows thousands of patients to self-administer morphine after a surgery. PCA is widely used and considered safe, but it still kills two to three patients a day. There are simply too many failure modes for hospital staff to manage this on their own.
The smart machine disruption will change that. By connecting devices together and adding “doctor in a box” smart software, most of these errors will be history. GE Healthcare, for instance, is building a system capable of handling 200,000 connected devices in a 1,200 bed hospital.
The biggest disruption however, will be driverless cars. I call them “carbots,” because they are more like robots on wheels than an evolution of cars.
Carbots are better than drivers. By eliminating the cause of 94% of accidents, carbots will purge the carnage from our roads. Carbots can drive in close formation, saving energy and time and making good use of today’s carpool lanes. They will also extend our practical travel range, clear DUIs from our courts, bestow freedom of motion on those who can’t drive, and improve nearly every aspect of daily life.
Of course, smart machines will also change jobs. Carbots, for instance, will disrupt driving, eliminate roadside hotels, revolutionize elder and child care, obsolete auto insurance and do away with auto-body shops. Driverless cars will impact our economy and society more than anything since the horseless carriage. But technology has always done that since its earliest days. Progress has nonetheless greatly improved our lives.
So, what will people do? That’s a great question, which is unanswerable. Even if you knew the answer, nobody would understand it. This is not new; if you went back in time to 1975, you could never explain why or how a service technician keeps Facebook running. The future will bring unknowable companies and jobs.
We do know one thing: The economic impact will be huge. Analysts differ on specific numbers and penetration rates, but agree on the magnitude: trillions. The smart machine era will be a multitrillion-dollar feast. Exploding economies generate many new jobs and roles.
That certainly doesn’t imply that you can ignore the disruption. We all need to embrace the robot overlords. Every company must seek a way to use the technology.
In the end, smart machines will make our world much better. Your children may not drive, write, compose music or make buying decisions, but they will live in a healthier, safer world. The smart machine era will be liberating in ways we cannot imagine today.
My advice? Simply put, find your link to things that think.
All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.
The rise of connected devices has led to new challenges in today’s cybersecurity landscape. With an increase in device threats and the population of cybercriminals, IoT security has quickly become a top concern and big issue for businesses worldwide. If organizations want to continue to innovate, they will need to invest in the growth of their network, adapt to change and position IoT security as a key priority in their cybersecurity playbook. They need it to produce data about their products or services, to more efficiently control processes and vastly improve customer experiences. It’s here to stay — even with all of its inherent flaws.
It’s a numbers game
The sheer number of connected devices simply provides more attack vectors and opportunity. And the industry is only recently waking up to the need for improved security for this growing behemoth that poses significant risks. Gartner predicts there will be more than 20 billion connected things by 2020, a number that is now looking conservative, as companies within all verticals see the potential for connected data. All of these things, from sensors on tractors to smart door locks or environment monitoring sensors, are all potential exploits and gateways to networks and information.
The stakes are rising
In the acclaimed series Mr. Robot, hackers exploit temperature sensors in a server room to cause an explosion. While fictional, the premise underscores the risks that are present when IoT devices control the physical environment. Sensors manage temperature, humidity, chemical levels in manufacturing and a host of other physical levels that must be expertly controlled. Consider an IV drip armed with a sensor that controls the amount of medication a patient receives based on attached body sensors. An exploit and subsequent error to that type of machine would be disastrous.
The stakes are high, and security controls for IoT must exponentially increase in order to provide the right protections. Previous data breaches could be damaging to the brand and cause financial harm, but they didn’t involve actual physical safety. IoT connections that relate to the personal safety or possible harm are now ripe targets for hackers looking to conduct ransom or even terror organizations searching for remote attack methods.
New data is produced
IoT produced data is also becoming more and more valuable. Cities use traffic management data to plan construction routes. Health insurers use connected data to determine coverage levels and other adjustments. Product manufacturers might be pulling in invaluable user data from their connected things — data that would release trade secrets if exposed.
And the data itself is more “open” and designed to be collaboratively shared. In a traditional network, the data is tied to a certain application, so you get the classic silos where information is used, but not shared. IoT creates data from measuring, sensing and so forth, but the data could then be used by a wide range of departments and people. While its openness is necessary for modern businesses, it also means there is much more exposure to information which in turn creates vulnerable points that could be open to attacks. There’s also the question of who ultimately owns the data when information is collected about individual customers. For example, does the data on smart thermometer habits belong to the user or the manufacturer? What about blood pressure readings? These types of questions further complicate the security around the IoT data.
New types of attack methods
A large business might operate hundreds of connected security cameras. A hacker could find an exploit for the camera and then target the connected router. Through some sleuthing, the hacker could find out the router’s address and other data, and then explore further vulnerabilities. Once he has compromised the router, then the bad actor can maybe reach a file server and then grab valuable data. The problem is these types of actions are difficult to spot without the right security tools in place. Such possibilities are shifting how firms think about connected devices and the downstream implications of so many avenues into the network. Many IoT devices are also controlled by one-time password systems, which further open them up to exploits. Organizations should utilize the latest password key management tools that require multiple routes of authentication and allows users to use unique resources to create security keys.
The industry will need to produce new technologies, such as encryption protocols, that are perfectly suited for IoT devices and encourage a broader shift towards a security-focused culture. There’s also a pressing need to stem the tide of ransomware by improving patching and updating. Two-factor authentication and the use of biometrics and advanced digital certificates are also needed to restrict access to only authorized users. Senior leaders and IT security professionals need to work together to employ best practices in their corporate environment in order to mitigate threats and attacks. Additionally, technology training is essential for all staff members and should occur early and often to create a front-line defense against hacking exploits that are due to human error. Security solutions typically occur after widespread adoption, as companies are eager to explore functionality, but at the expense of strong security. However, if the 20 to 30 billion coming connected devices are to prove beneficial, then firms need to embrace proactivity.
All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.
It’s no secret that T-Mobile and Sprint are talking merger. However, other wireless carriers — and even some nontraditional competitors — have focused their attention on developing advanced solutions for the internet of things instead. So, how will this merger affect enterprise mobility and IoT connectivity?
A billion-dollar business
Both Verizon and AT&T expect $1 billion dollars in IoT-related revenue for the first time in 2018, but T-Mobile and Sprint — separate or combined — are predicted to fall far short of that figure. Even with a fully integrated IoT environment, this newly merged entity isn’t ready to take on its more-established competition.
A major U.S. carrier can rake in upwards of nine figures in revenue every year, however, so a billion-dollar disadvantage isn’t exactly impossible to overcome. What this lag will do, though, is severely impact some of T-Mobile’s and Sprint’s corporate strategies — especially those dependent on IoT revenue to offset declines in aging endpoint devices and legacy systems.
To competitively scale IoT support capabilities moving forward, these less-experienced carriers will need to prioritize new infrastructure investments. Sprint, for example, manages millions of IoT endpoint connections, but employs less than 50 full-time specialists to oversee the entire division. And while T-Mobile is the only wireless carrier other than Verizon committed to Narrowband IoT, its current IoT operation is even smaller than the one Sprint manages.
Connectivity isn’t king
In addition to a lack of resources, T-Mobile, Sprint and smaller-scale service providers are challenged by this technology’s seemingly counterintuitive business model. Compared to other mobile technologies, connectivity is not the primary revenue generator. In fact, most major organizations have seen their average per-user and per-connection IoT earnings decline since creating a connectivity offering.
Instead, deeply integrated services that add value to specific customer IoT implementations have been the most profitable mobile network operator ventures thus far. Since T-Mobile largely lacks enterprise IoT experience, expect to see this newly formed organization use a combination of Sprint’s existing capabilities and acquired technologies/partners to lead its IoT innovation charge.
If this new wireless carrier is feeling particularly bold, it could even take this rare opportunity to explore new, potentially lucrative markets. While in-depth analytics and management services are certainly in demand, creating an IoT security technology or manufacturing endpoint device hardware are just a few examples that could turn a profit and disrupt the entire global IoT industry.
Turning up the heat
As IoT endpoint devices become ubiquitous at the enterprise level, wireless carriers like T-Mobile and Sprint may not be the industry’s only competition for much longer. Using LoRaWAN technologies, cable operators can transform their active infrastructure into an enterprise-grade IoT services platform, reducing prices and increasing incentive to drive further IoT innovation.
Unlike other countries, however, U.S. providers have considerably less to worry about where standalone IoT services are concerned. Even if T-Mobile and Sprint lack the specialized expertise of these niche organizations, long-established infrastructure and massive customer bases responsible for managing more than IoT technologies are simply too much to overcome in the short term.
IoT in the future
If early expectations are to be believed, the T-Mobile-Sprint merger will create an accelerated nationwide 5G network build-out that creates several advantages for enterprise mobility and IoT efforts. On top of revolutionary data transmission speeds and capacities, experts predict 5G’s ultra-low network latency brings with it the potential to create the world’s most efficient IoT applications and use cases.
In fact, a nationwide 5G network could be responsible for as many as three million new American jobs — not to mention $500 billion in economic growth — over the next several years. As wireless carriers take the necessary steps to make 5G a reality, it will be interesting to see how IoT evolves and changes to accommodate these next-generation mobile technology networks.
All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.
The new mobility industry is currently coalescing around a nexus of both traditional industries and new smart technologies, in areas touching every part of the personal mobility experience.
As the industry evolves and expands, both types of companies will have an initial role to play — but the changing nature of that role, and its prominence compared with other players, will be determined over time.
As the emphasis of consumer life shifts from products to services, cars serve as an important element of those services, but they’re no longer the center of gravity. This transformation poses challenges for carmakers in two key domains: digital technology, which we touched on in our last article in this series, and in the business models they adopt to stay competitive in this brave new world.
Mastering new business models
As of today, the automotive business is hierarchically organized and siloed, with tiered suppliers doing what they are asked by the respective next hierarchical layer. OEMs specify to Tier Ones, who specify to Tier Twos, and so on. This has worked well enough to date, considering that carmakers are doing B2B business with their distribution channels, rather than B2C business directly with consumers.
Carmakers don’t know much, if anything, about their end customers, whether individuals or fleet-wide leaseholders. Only a small number of customers are currently enrolled in state-of-the-art telematics service offerings, which they perceive as complex to enable or use and lacking clear benefits.
Now, carmakers are being faced with the need to build and execute an entire suite of B2C services with an entirely different set of business models, from the traditional one-time B2B sell to pay-as-you-go new mobility service offerings. This is a massive challenge for any carmaker, but some have already taken initial steps in this direction, including car-sharing services such as DriveNow from BMW and Sixt, Daimler’s Car2Go, GM’s Maven and Volkswagen’s MOIA.
Major automakers are projecting that by 2025, 25-50% of their business will be based on digital services (though without specifying exactly what they mean by this). And the competition extends beyond the usual suspects. The fiercest entrants will be digital natives, like Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook, seeking to take over the experience inside the car and in the cloud as a user interface for their own services. If they’re successful, carmakers will be downgraded to hardware providers taking a massive risk on margin and brand recognition. Clearly, there is much at stake and much to lose.
Competition vs. collaboration and co-creation
As we have discussed, the transition to the people- and service-centric world of new mobility services will involve not only providing various forms of vehicle access and usage, but also linking the consumer’s existing digital services with additional services offered through connected and, ultimately, autonomous vehicles. Smoothly integrated, these services will provide a fully personalized, convenient and secure new mobility experience.
There are two ways to realize this vision.
- Competition. New mobility providers race to develop all-in-one offerings covering the entire portfolio of mobility services.
- Collaboration and co-creation. New mobility providers co-create mobility services in collaboration with established companies that already offer similar digital services to users.
The first model shows obvious drawbacks, beginning with the need to recreate so many wheels. It’s simply not reasonable to expect that a company formed in one domain will be able to extend itself rapidly into every other relevant domain and build services of a quality on par with established specialists.
Efficiency and user costs are also an issue; services created and sold by new mobility providers would be duplicative to many of the digital services already being used by the consumer. A person could end up paying separate bills for everything from connectivity to media to m-commerce services.
Collaboration and co-creation offer a more promising way forward. Each digital service provider continues to focus on its respective core competency to create the best possible services, and digital service providers work with new mobility companies to co-create the best possible new mobility experiences.
Instead of taking a winner-takes-all approach to the customer relationship, each provider can own the customer relationship within its own domain and use the full value of the data generated through the usage of its service. As a win-win for both service providers and users, collaboration on and co-creation may well be the essential concept to enable seamless, convenient, trusted and secure new mobility services.
From a technical perspective, this collaborative, co-creative model amounts to nothing more or less than linking existing digital service identities from different business domains into a single, virtual new mobility identity. By bringing established customer identities and relationships into the context of new mobility rather than starting from scratch, this approach makes it possible to deliver on its vision more quickly, efficiently and successfully.
Digital identity can help build tomorrow, today
Digital identity platforms must slot neatly into any new business paradigm for new mobility; as we pointed out in our last article, they’re actually central to its prospects for success. A car that identifies its user, adjusts to their preferences, plays their favorite music and knows where they want to go and how best to get there, won’t be science fiction — the technology is available today and will be essential to success tomorrow.
Built into a vehicle right from the design phase, digital identity enables the seamless and secure interactivity that powers new mobility services, as well as the personalization, consistency, privacy and trust that will make this new world so appealing for consumers.
For an automotive industry in transition, it’s now an exciting time to be working at the leading edge of innovation. And in our next article, we’ll explore exactly how digital identity can add present-day value and future potential to development trends in connected and autonomous cars.
Cyberthreats continue to impose an ever-bigger danger across the fabric of our society. Governments around the world are waking up to this harsh reality and, as with global warming, this can best be dealt with at an international level.
The time has come to create an intergovernmental organization based on the principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO), but whose main objective is to deal with cybersecurity.
The industry is incapable of coping with cybersecurity problems
The preferred way for market-driven economies is to let the industry cope with and solve its own challenges. In the case of cybersecurity, enough evidence exists to suggest the industry has not and will not be up for this challenge.
Unfortunately, insufficient incentives exist to design products with cybersecurity in mind. Products sell because of functionality and benefits, not security and safety. Security does not lead to increased sales, only increased costs. Security therefore comes low on the priority list.
Although there is no clear upside in building a cyber-secure product, one can argue for protection against potential downside. Hacked or compromised products will invariably lead to potentially high repair costs, brand damage, lost revenue and/or time, management reshuffling and other overhead costs. However, these lurking dangers take a backseat position in most smart product budgets.
Sadly, when vulnerabilities are exploited, they quickly vanish from the public mind like traces in the sand at the beach, and the financials repair costs are often negligible. In 2014, Target lost 40 million credit cards number. Its share price at the time the breach was made public lay around $60 per share. Being one of the worst breaches ever, the attack took its toll on the management team, but the market and share price stayed more or less untouched, just to continue its growth to more than $70 one year later. The management at Target is now part of management teams elsewhere. A more recent (Sept. 2017) attack at Equifax, where lack of basic patching of servers caused almost 150 million peoples’ identity to be compromised and for sale, will probably go through a similar cycle.
We cannot expect help from end users
End users simply do not to pay a premium for security, the same way car buyers do not pay extra for a safer car — they expect their car to be safe anyway.
Requiring end users to ensure their connected devices always stay updated is futile and dead on arrival. Any ideas or regulations in this direction must be stopped before it takes wing. If your Tesla happens to have a serious bug in its braking system in 10 years’ time when the warranty has expired, it must be the responsibility of Tesla to either decommission the car through its software or to fix the brakes. It cannot be left a user responsibility.
Political initiatives and interests
As long as cyber incidents had limited economic and social impact, politicians around the world saw no need take cybersecurity seriously. However, as cybersecurity is gaining public attention due to the digital world making its impression in daily life (e.g., fatalities from self-driving cars, interference in elections, etc.), politicians in the largest economies are starting to see the light of a new day.
The U.S. has several initiatives going, ranging from two new pending acts — the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act and the Cyber Shield Act — to the May 2017 Executive Order on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure to National Institute of Standards and Technology’s latest proposal for standardization.
The EU is seeking to upgrade its European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) to a stronger EU Cybersecurity Agency, expecting to develop cybersecurity frameworks and certification schemes. Its naïve hope is that companies will voluntarily find it in their interest to follow these recommendations.
Except for the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which is aimed at regulating government IoT purchases to require a minimum of built-in cybersecurity in the hope that the governmental purchasing arm is so strong it can move the industry’s thinking, all other initiatives are either voluntary or so vague that they will have no practical implications on the industry. The reason for the deflated initiatives lies in the fact that authorities do not want to impair their own economic region’s business prospects and their ability to compete by imposing extra costs. Recession is a bigger threat to losing voters than poor cybersecurity!
Last year, China introduced its Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China, which serves as another protectionist lever against international influence, but also imposes strong security measures on companies wanting to do business in China.
The cybersecurity dilemma
The world’s largest economies realize the need for stronger measurements for cybersecurity. The dilemma for the EU and U.S. is that they prefer the industry to come up with a solution. But as the industry is failing at this, these nations are now faced with the challenge of how to impose stricter controls without negatively impacting the competition. China can and will continue to operate in its own protectionist way, seeking to knock two birds with one stone.
However, these three economic bastions face the same cybersecurity threat. They all have a common enemy in adversaries seeking to exploit digital vulnerabilities for economic and sometime dogmatic gain. The people in these economies will be better off if the digitized world becomes safer and more secure. Cyber vulnerabilities surely are of value to nations in their quest for more power, but these vulnerabilities can quickly be turned against themselves, serving as an effective deterrent. The speed of bits and knowledge travel fast, and no borders can stop them. Adversaries on the world stage probably don’t care if it is the EU, U.S. or China they hurt, or whether they are paid in bitcoins or U.S. dollars.
The time has come to discuss a new international organization to take on cybersecurity. World Cybersecurity Organization where art thou?
Most digital-reliant businesses do not realize their overall potential business value. According to a recent McKinsey Global Survey on digital initiatives in the enterprise, more than half the respondents said that their companies are “capturing just 20% or less of the potential value that digital activities could bring to their business.” Similarly, most enterprises seeking to benefit from IoT — operationally, financially, productivity-wise — are not yet prepared to reap value from implementing IoT devices and practices.
Companies are making massive investments in IoT and implementing IoT technologies across the enterprise fully aware that IT must integrate with corporate, operations and, most often excluded, the factory. Connected devices can optimize the supply chain, energy consumption and production.
There is a lot of knowledge which interconnected IoT technologies can give companies to drive down costs and increase revenue.
Businesses that drive down costs by implementing cross-platform IoT systems are finding success now more than ever. It is much faster and more cost-effective within the enterprise to innovate within than to seek revenue by introducing a new product to market.
Take, for instance, a global supplier for the automotive industry that recently built some IoT technologies into a production project. By implementing a discrete alarm and condition monitoring setup, it was able to better support its global installed base. Using IoT, any modifications and other support processes necessary can done remotely. This reduced engineering support costs by over 30%.
And the IoT systems are making analyzing data more useful. Piloting some AI capabilities into the setup, the automotive industry supplier is now capable of doing predictive maintenance for its project. In this instance, IoT is not only driving down costs, but it is also helping eliminate breakdowns that could cost customers time and money.
Implementing IoT on the small-scale first
When an IoT implementation does not work, it is likely due to businesses either moving too fast to integrate IoT technologies into a current system or pushing IoT at a scale that is not optimal.
It is best to implement IoT in a small, self-contained project and then scale it across the enterprise. In the example of the auto industry supplier mentioned above, it originally implemented the new technologies in a simple, self-contained manner. It got a terrific result: An immediate ROI helped it secure top-level and important sponsorship internally, allowing it to integrate the IoT system on more complicated projects.
Find a self-contained project, implement an IoT technology and then show value — then you will be able to be more ambitious.
IoT project management and implementation into existing systems
For new IoT initiatives to be successful, teams across the entire enterprise need buy-in. This undertaking, done right, can transform a business.
One good way to do this with the IT team is to mirror current software development methodologies, such as Scrum, while incorporating new IoT processes. This is a great alternative to trying to retrain and educate. Using a framework similar to other software development work will have immense benefits for developers implementing IoT projects into existing structures. Immediately, the developers are hands-on with the project and will have daily contact with how IoT is making life better for the end user and other enterprise applications. And they will be working with the IoT processes as a team.
This learning by doing in the initial stage of deployment allows software developers to be able to understand business issues and translate that into the software. Basically, getting buy-in and working with IoT systems right away will reveal the business reasons — and the importance — behind new IoT projects.
We recently worked with an air conditioning supplier for data centers to connect its system through IoT. It works with large data centers and needed a way to prevent overcooling the systems, which it realized used more electricity and, therefore, is not very cost-effective.
The AC system worked best running at 18 degrees, which, once the company used IoT, could be managed remotely. It also put a system in place that can identify a failure on the hardware side. Sometimes, something that looked like a temperature problem for a data center might actually be the fault of the server hardware. With the IoT system in place, the data the IT team collected allowed it to predict and identify the possible hardware unit that might soon fail. Those working on the project could see the benefits of the IoT project in terms of both time and cost-efficiency.
How to implement IoT across the enterprise
When businesses try to implement IoT too broadly or too quickly, failure can occur.
There are three phases to a successful IoT implementation. The first phase is to learn how to manage the new IoT environment. Whether you are connecting a few or a whole fleet of machines, you need to understand how the technology works. To do this, it is best to connect data in discrete application servers, condition monitoring and alarm management. You need the new technology implemented to manage the lifecycle. First manage the separate discrete project and discrete application. And be learning the whole time.
The second phase is finding where the potential for failure lies within that new environment. Once you know how it works on your platform and where the problems could arise, you can then integrate the technology into existing IT systems and ERP systems.
The third phase is where the cost optimization occurs. The IoT system is improving the supply chain processes and increasing cross-enterprise coordination. At this point, you can innovate around the new technology and implement predictive maintenance and AI initiatives. This is the innovation phase.
When I think about what enterprises do wrong, I see they often go into the third phase — seeking the most innovative benefits of an IoT project — before they have implemented phase one and phase two. They underestimate the challenges in running an IoT project.
Successful IoT implementations cut costs, improve the supply chain and increase integration between operations, IT and the technology. They also avoid the missteps mentioned above.
Bet on the future of IoT for the enterprise, but start with ready-made technologies.
Picture this. An Alzheimer patient slips quietly unnoticed out of a healthcare facility. Or a young child playing in his yard unattended walks off and in an instant goes missing. It is an all too scary scenario that occurs every day around the world. In Korea alone, 10,000 Alzheimer’s patients go missing each year.
However, it does not need to be that way. A startup manufacturer of GPS trackers recently embedded LoRa wireless technology into a low-cost IoT bracelet specifically designed for Alzheimer sufferers. When one leaves a designated zone, a caregiver is alerted. Within the first three months of its use, 26 patients were saved. It is a new type of mission-critical IoT product — and is just the tip of the iceberg.
By 2028, virtually everything everywhere will be connected. Consumers will expect it. And, they will expect those connected “things” to be mission-critical, that is, to work as anticipated, without fail, every time.
IoT products once thought of as luxury items for the consumer market will evolve with longer battery life and more robust functionality and performance to become part of the new mission-critical IoT. Likewise, mission-critical IoT, once defined as critical applications in the healthcare, industrial and power/energy industries, will expand to embrace a broader range of applications in wearables, smart homes and smart cities, among others. It’s happening already.
This evolution is creating new opportunities for product makers around the world. In the global industrial IoT market alone, projected growth is expected to top $1 trillion by 2022, up from roughly $407 billion in 2016. As mission-critical IoT expands into new markets, so too will the size of the opportunity.
The challenge for businesses not currently developing mission-critical IoT products is how to make that transition. It is not as simple as waking up one day and deciding to market an existing product for a mission-critical application. Fortunately, there are three things any business can do starting today to improve their chance of success.
Know your requirements
Mission-critical IoT products and networks have specialized requirements dictated by the industry in which they will operate. Often these requirements center around robust performance, reliability and security — and with good reason. A failure in a pacemaker or disruption in a network connection that’s sending a critical alert from a medical wearable to a healthcare professional could result in a patient’s death.
Other less life-critical requirements may stem from an IoT product having to operate in a remote or hard-to-reach location, or for long periods of time unattended. Here, a long battery life (10+ years) might be essential. But the longer the battery life required, the more time and effort needed to optimize the product’s power consumption. Signal coverage also needs to be addressed, since if the coverage is too low, the battery will drain much more quickly.
Fully understanding these requirements and how they impact a product’s design is the quickest and easiest way to avoid costly missteps. It also helps ensure that the IoT product and network perform as expected, regardless of the location or deployment environment.
Pay attention to design considerations
Designing any product is hard. It is even harder when it’s destined for mission-critical IoT. Here’s why:
- Electromagnetic interference can be problematic in scenarios like hospitals or manufacturing facilities where large numbers of IoT products operate simultaneously near one other. To avoid any problems, interference issues must be dealt with early in the design process when they are easier and cheaper to fix.
- Often, mission-critical IoT products must perform in the presence of multiple users, with different wireless technologies, in the same spectrum. Verifying that a product can handle the load is critical to ensuring robust wireless connectivity.
- With lots of mission-critical IoT products entering the market, peaceful coexistence between them can be complicated. It’s especially problematic in hospitals where IoT monitoring devices share the 2.4 GHz ISM band with the likes of cordless phones, wireless video cameras and microwave ovens. Making sure products can work as anticipated in this type of environment is crucial.
- Mission-critical IoT products support a broad range of wireless technologies. Networks must support them as well, and in a range of different environments and locations with differing RF conditions. To prevent network disruptions in quality or performance, any issues impeding network readiness must be identified and eliminated.
- Roughly 50% of all IoT products come from companies less than three years old. Some products have been thoroughly tested, but not all. Those products may behave erratically and even allow malicious agents to bring a network down. Ensuring the network can handle erratic products and the security concerns they enable needs to be a top priority.
- Continuous updates/upgrades to network equipment keep networks in flux. Whether existing network devices can even support new services is a question often left to chance, and that makes verifying that deployed networks are reliable and offer a high quality of experience essential.
Build a strong test foundation
While a business may have an idea for the most innovative IoT product ever, ensuring it meets the requirements of mission-critical IoT and will operate as expected in the real world can only be accomplished through appropriate test and measurement. With no-one-size-fits-all test option in view, product makers, network operators and service providers must choose their solutions wisely. Here’s some tips:
- Test equipment with exceptional accuracy will enable greater product and network optimization.
- Technologies with a fast setup and test speed can shorten time to market and dramatically increase manufacturing throughput, while driving down the cost of test.
- Systems with wider bandwidths, a large coverage range and support for all major wireless standards can help future-proof investments and deliver greater flexibility as test needs change.
Riding the wave of opportunity
With mission-critical IoT evolving to encompass applications in diverse markets, opportunities abound for businesses with the innovation and desire to compete. Ensuring IoT products meet all applicable requirements and have been designed with full consideration of the issues common to all mission-critical products and use the right test technologies is the best way to start down the path to success.
A mechanic is deep inside the dark hold of a freighter ship trying to understand why a 6,000-pound turbine engine has stopped running. Years ago, he had only his best guess to rely on, but today he has a secret weapon: IoT. He is able to call up data from thousands of sensors within the engine that are recording everything from temperature to pressure to rotational velocity. With this data, he can accurately diagnose what caused the mechanical failure. In fact, by using a digital twin of the engine, he can customize maintenance for that particular part and even create predictive models that can articulate when parts are likely to fail in the future.
Now compare that to the experience of your last doctor’s visit. Probably very different. But imagine if sensors could capture how you were feeling right now and that information could be uploaded to a secure blockchain of your medical history, giving your doctor real-time access to a digital picture of your body and how it would respond to specific treatments. While that sounds like science fiction, it may not be too far off from reality.
While we have been making so much progress in diagnosing industrial problems, medical diagnosis still suffers from a key hurdle. Even with all of today’s technology, the information doctors gather on a patient’s symptoms has been extremely limited. While modern medicine has added X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds and other diagnostic tools to the arsenal, one major limitation has remained unchanged since the first medical diagnosis textbook — the Edwin Smith papyrus was written 4,000 years ago according to Encyclopedia Britannica, a diagnosis can only take place when the patient and doctor are together and when symptoms are present. Anyone who has taken a car to a mechanic because of an odd noise only to hear the mechanic say, “Sorry, it didn’t make the noise when I drove it” knows that this is not the best way to diagnose and solve a problem!
This millennia-old challenge to medicine is finally being addressed through the internet of things. IoT is fundamentally about creating digital data from the physical world and using that data to do new things. In medicine, what this means is that physicians can see how their patients are doing not only when they are in the doctors’ office, but when they are at home, at work, exercising or doing any of their regular daily activities. This can be incredibly important for more accurate diagnosis or more timely treatment. For example, many cancer patients need careful monitoring of their weight to ensure they stay healthy during chemotherapy. But weight can be such a lagging indicator that by the time a doctor sees a drop in weight during an office visit, it may be too late to address. If sensors worn by the patient could measure their nutrition in real time, doctors could see issues and adjust treatment plans before problems even develop. In fact, even the industrial concept of the digital twin is being used in medicine to model the performance of individual patient’s hearts to create customized treatment plans.
What IoT means for us
For all of us who rely on medicine to stay healthy, the impact of IoT may simply mean more time doing what we like and less time in the doctor’s office adjusting treatments. Take the example of patients with Type 1 diabetes. Previously, patients had to continually check their own blood sugar levels, calculate the right dose of insulin and then give themselves an injection multiple times a day. Doctors could only get insight during office visits where patients would need to bring notebooks of their blood sugar logs. Now, IoT has enabled the creation of the so-called “artificial pancreas,” a closed-loop system that senses glucose levels, calculates baseline insulin rates and then injects the right dosage. According to the diaTribe Foundation, an organization founded to improve the lives of people with diabetes, the first versions of these systems are already available in the U.S. and expected soon in Europe — IoT is already changing how we manage our health every day.
What IoT means for medical companies
For the companies working to make these new technologies a reality, the application of IoT to medicine can present vast opportunities, but also significant challenges:
Keeping data private and devices secure
First and foremost, privacy and security are critical to the success of any IoT system. However, when you add sensitive personal health information to the mix, the importance is significantly magnified. Data must be managed so that it is always accessible to the patient and their doctors, but not to others — perhaps even system managers. At the same time, the entire system from device to server must be protected from external breaches. In most cybersecurity settings this means safeguarding the data from loss or theft, but the digital-physical link in IoT introduces the new challenge of protecting the physical device as well. A ransomware attack against a medical device could leave victims literally with a choice between paying or dying.
But these challenges are not insurmountable. New technologies such as blockchain can offer the safe and secure storage of certain types of data, allowing authorized users to share information without fear of compromise or manipulation of sensitive data. Such technologies to secure data sharing are critical not only to the proper functioning of each medical device, but also to solving the next major challenge: working with many different stakeholders.
Working with the right stakeholders
Healthcare is one of the largest industries in the world, so it should come as no surprise that it is an industry with a veritable forest of different stakeholders. From hospitals to doctors to insurers to medical device companies, there can be a number of different players involved in even the simplest transaction — and that is not even considering the patients themselves!
As a result, no single company can do everything itself. Rather, the success of any new medical technology, such as IoT, relies on the ability of a company to form an ecosystem of other reliable stakeholders all working together towards the success of the technology. This means being able to articulate to each stakeholder what is in it for them. How will this technology lessen the workload on doctors? How will it reduce costs for insurers? Will it lessen the reimbursement rates for hospitals? Answering all of these questions is critical to IoT adoption and allowing that technology to help improve patients’ lives.
Regulation and approval process
The final hurdle for many IoT technologies in healthcare is the regulatory approval process. IoT’s ability to blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds has added a new layer of complexity to these regulations, adding uncertainty as to what is and what is not a “medical device” subject to regulations. As a result, companies should work closely with regulators at each stage of IoT system development to ensure that it is classified correctly and that there are no costly last-minute surprises.
The application of IoT to medicine is not just one more technology in the doctor’s toolkit. Rather, it enables a breakthrough in a 4,000-year-old barrier to better medical care, and in doing so, IoT in medicine is about improving lives and keeping all of us healthier. It is IoT for me.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — While some argue there is no such thing as a smart city, U.S. cities continue to work to earn the title.
Some of this is about nomenclature, of course. Practitioners say that the term smart city focuses too much on technology-centered gadgetry rather than people-centric solutions to problems. Smart city initiatives, they argue, need to focus less on vendors and more on the problems that city occupants need solved, including congestion and transportation issues, air and water quality, and energy efficiency and mobility. Even The Atlantic magazine recently sent a shot across the bow, arguing “there is no such thing as a smart city.”
“I abhor the term smart city unless I’m in a forum like this,” said Bob Bennett, chief innovation officer, city of Kansas City, Mo., in a panel discussion among three of the finalists of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge at IoT World 2018 conference. “You have to use the technology to solve a people problem first.”
The panelists had gathered to discuss their efforts in Kansas City, Portland, Ore., and San Francisco to bring smart city concepts to their areas.
Smart city initiatives gather steam
But if the terminology is debated, there can be little doubt that the concept has gained momentum.
IDC predicts that global spending on smart city initiatives will reach $80 billion in 2018, $22 billion of which is in the U.S., and will grow $135 billion by 2021. According to IDC, intelligent transportation, video surveillance, smart lighting and environmental air quality are the areas of greatest investment.
“Smart Cities have recently evolved from a collection of discrete flagship projects to a sizeable market opportunity,” wrote Serena Da Rold, program manager in IDC’s Customer Insights & Analysis Group.
For the city of Portland, a key initiative was to better exploit the data it gathered from internet of things devices in particular — devices connected to the internet to gather data about their environment — and smart city initiatives more generally. So the city launched the Portland Urban Data Lake (PUDL) to create a repository for data, develop analytics from its smart city initiatives and create standardized, documented access to this data. PUDL will enable the city to learn quickly from the data.
“We’re in a position to innovate and iterate very quickly,” said Maurice Henderson, chief of staff and director of strategic initiatives for the city of Portland. “The rich data sets — pedestrian data, traffic data, air quality data — inform the content investment decision we make at the city level. We can leverage that data to make mistakes and, as we like to say, fail fast.”
In San Francisco, a key area of focus was traffic congestion and mobility in busy downtown areas. The city has worked with regulators and others to ensure that bus transit is smarter.
“We have a thriving and busy city,” said Linda Gerull, the CIO and director of technology for the city of San Francisco. “So getting down the road can be a challenge.”
As a result, Gerull said that the city has introduced IoT-connected cameras and sensors for meters to ease parking issues and for buses, to help optimizing traffic routes.
“Each bus is a mini-data center,” Gerull said. “It has networking, cameras and sensors on it. We have hundreds of mini-data centers.”
Gerull said it’s necessary to partner with legislators at the local and federal level to ensure the city’s new mobility efforts secure data and offer the best transportation options to city occupants. “We are working with legislators to make these technologies useful for the city and stay ahead of the regulatory process that obviously needs to happen,” she said.
Not every panelist, however, sees federal government partnerships as an unmitigated good. Federal funds can bring unnecessary complexity.
“As far as the federal partnership goes,” Bennett of Kansas City said, “they can’t get out of their own way. Write the check, and get out of my town.”
For all the cities on the panel, another struggle is how to build out infrastructure and connectivity to enable cities to stay connected. For all three cities, one of the key technologies on the horizon is 5G, the latest generation of cellular, a necessary piece of the connectivity equation for IoT-connected devices, mobile and other bandwidth “hogs.”
Kansas City is in discussions with telecom providers, such as Sprint, to extend connectivity. But, Bennett said, the goal is to build connectivity without having the city foot the whole bill. As others have noted, the goal is to balance the goals of the private sector and the municipality.
“As we look to expand to 5G, the question is, ‘How do we as a city do it … where we’re not absorbing it completely cost-wise?'” Bennett said. “We are providing access. [Sprint is] providing the connectivity bit.”
Bennett sees public-private partnerships as critical to building out city infrastructure for the next generation.
“In 10 years, if my daughter decides to stay in the city, her world is connected,” Bennett said. “If we don’t have 5G, I live in a digital Rust Belt.”
In San Francisco, the approach has been, instead, to build out municipal broadband first. Gerull believes that broadband will support technologies like IoT and 5G and help generate revenue.
“5G is definitely part of our future,” Gerull said. “Systems that need 5G and IoT solutions will be incredible bandwidth hogs. We want to build out an infrastructure that will support these new technologies. We believe municipal broadband that is open access, net neutral, secure [and] managed is the way to do that.”
Partners, not vendors
For all cities, the focus was on creating long-lasting partnerships to support smart city initiatives long term. These relationships, Bennett stressed, make or break success in smart city projects.
In Portland, Henderson said that partnering with telecoms on infrastructure needs like 5G has benefited the city.
“We’ve learned innovative ways in partnering with telecoms to be more nimble, to look at that old infrastructure in our cities, to best leverage it and how to best prepare for this 5G world that’s coming,” Henderson said.
“I want partners in Kansas City, not vendors,” Bennett said.
Bennett added that while incremental change enables governments to stay nimble, it still requires commitment and long-term vision.
“My kids just expect the city to be connected and that everything they do is right here on their phones: paying their water bill to renewing a business license,” Bennett said. “But this takes time. This is going to be a long haul.”
The industrial internet of things is sweeping across industries from food and beverage to oil and gas to manufacturing, with IIoT devices expected to continue shipping in record numbers in these markets within the near-term — and for good reason. With the rise of IIoT comes the potential for new efficiencies and more optimized operations, leading to new opportunities to manage risk and reduce costs.
However, the real tipping point when it comes to making the transition to IIoT is deriving meaningful ROI — and that isn’t always easy. There is a very necessary balancing act between managing the existing systems and processes against the introduction of new technologies. Combine this with the need for facilities to remain up and running with zero downtime, and the task might feel impossible.
In order to ensure success when undergoing an IIoT project, start by asking yourself these four questions:
- How can we encourage synergies across teams? Operational technology (OT) and IT teams are typically a bigger barrier in the transition to IIoT than the technologies themselves. Because these teams have different goals and cultures, they must be aligned on priorities to truly unlock the potential of IIoT. I’ve seen this best accomplished with the integration of industrial experts who have a perspective from both OT and IT — since they understand each side, these folks can play a critical part in ensuring both teams are executing on priorities that benefit the entire company’s transformation.
- Are applications in the right place? A crucial part of IIoT deployment involves updating existing applications and adding new ones. This process provides a perfect opportunity to assess your edge infrastructure now and in the future. Your networking and computing needs will likely lead you to decide that some data belongs on-premises while other apps could be more cloud-native. I’d encourage the idea of an edge Infrastructure roadmap to align the priorities over time. For example, one of our latest projects has plans to update the computing infrastructure now so they can be cloud ready in two years when their edge network is completed.
- Are you set up to scale the edge effectively? When talking to customers across market segments, we come across countless IIoT and edge sites that aren’t using virtualized servers as they should be. Especially in edge environments, virtualization comes at a fairly low cost while allowing you to easily add more applications and other infrastructure in the future. They also offer many of the same IT benefits that you get in a data center, such as increased interoperability and simplicity in application upgrades.
- What’s the best way to secure this new connected edge? The running thread through any IIoT project is data, so it’s obvious that any impact upon the data has a huge effect on the functionality of your project. The risk of having data compromised or breached is real, so you need to prepare accordingly. This often requires technologies designed with cybersecurity specifically for the edge versus more generic IT offerings. Companies must work to secure their applications and data at the edge to safeguard from potential risks to the business
There is major potential in IIoT when it comes to the efficiency and productivity of your company. However, a more holistic and edge-specific approach will generate the ROI to justify the investment. Asking yourself these questions will put you in good stead to reap the ongoing benefits of IIoT and ensure success.