IoT Agenda

March 5, 2018  11:10 AM

The future of fixing: What field service means for us in the next 50 years

Athani Krishnaprasad Profile: Athani Krishnaprasad
augmented reality, Internet of Things, iot, IoT analytics, IoT applications, IoT data, Predictive maintenance, Service providers, Skills

You probably haven’t noticed them, because why would you? They work behind the scenes, an almost imperceptible force that, almost like magic, fixes our society. Behind the cover of night, during lulls in traffic, riding in on a fleet of branded trucks … they save our cities from chaos, our airports from disaster and our homes from inconvenience. They’re the fixers, and they keep our world moving.

To be specific, the industry of fixing is actually called field service — and the technicians that make up its ranks are experts in engineering, automation, science and basic tinkering. The machines that run our lives (buses, dishwashers, planes, trains, power plants, oil rigs and the entire plumbing system) are fixed by field service technicians, ones who are dispatched at the drop of a hat to solve issues like downed power lines or defunct airplane parts.

But as technology advances further and machines evolve their ability to “think,” what will happen to this important industry? The future of fixing must evolve alongside technology, and so too will our army of fixers. The next 50 years of progress in our society means major changes for how it’s run — and how it’s fixed.

Machines that know they’ll break

All machines break down at some point. Airplane parts get replaced almost daily, and power lines need to be replaced more times than probably anyone would like to admit. The issue is that until recently, we didn’t know when these outages would occur. That’s probably why you’ve been stranded at the airport, sitting at your gate, waiting for maintenance on an airplane.

Until recently, fixing and maintaining machines typically looked like this: When a machine broke or a part malfunctioned, the manufacturer of said machine would dispatch a technician to take a look. Off she went with her truck and tool belt, out to the remote field or into the city to investigate. From there, after evaluating the machine, a part order would usually be issued and the technician would return another time to install the part. So it went, the long and not-particularly-optimized process of clipboards and steel-toed boots.

Today, however, the machines in question are being built with monitoring technology, cloud-based connections and diagnostic information that help field service teams stay abreast of changes. So now, a machine might alert the manufacturer when a part is performing less than optimally, so the legacy lengthy process can be circumvented. Eventually, by analyzing patterns and data, we’ll be able to predict exactly when these outages will occur, helping avoid downtime even further.

What about the fixers?

With all of this knowledge empowering technicians and the field service industry as a whole, it’s hard not to fear a reality where automation and data analysis takes jobs away from field service technicians. While the progress for society is obviously a boon, what happens to the fixers?

It’s clear that, like many other industries, field service will soon undergo some serious changes — and it too will need to prepare for them. Because these field technicians are the ones who know these machines most intimately, the opportunity to reskill and work alongside technology cannot be taken away. Because at the end of the day, applying the data analysis to a machine and making decisions on when to fix and when to replace, will still take a human — ideally one with a keen understanding of the past and future capabilities of the technology.

And as a new generation of technicians rises up — digital natives who have grown up with technology — the knowledge transfer from old guard to new guard can be facilitated by the technology itself. Using augmented reality to simulate repair settings, for instance, can help workers better understand automated maintenance while also facilitating the training of new team members.

It feels like it happened overnight — but all of a sudden, the machines that power our society have completely transformed. Now, instead of halting our world’s progress when they break down, trained professionals are able to fix, replace and ultimately increase our productivity as people and technology further and further intertwine. As the next 50 years progress, the fixers of our society will need to learn to work with technology to not only keep the present running smoothly, but to ensure that our future is optimized. The stakes are high, but one thing is for sure — the future of field service matters.

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.

March 2, 2018  1:34 PM

Java is the perfect match for internet of things apps

Ritesh Mehta Ritesh Mehta Profile: Ritesh Mehta
Application development, Internet of Things, iot, IoT applications, IoT devices, Java

Businesses and organizations today are always on the lookout for new tech that uplifts excellence, but is cost-effective. Software or apps that are Java-based help companies realize these values.

Java is an open source, platform independent and most preferable technology, as well as global standard, for implementing every kind of app, including web-based, client-server, cloud, mobile and enterprise. Organizations are adopting Java app development to drive innovation, lower costs and boost services.

The rise of the internet of things

The internet of things and the rise of M2M ecosystems are in the process of converging with big data and cloud computing, which requires a seamless platform that runs from the device to the data center with Java. Oracle offers a secure, comprehensive, integrated platform for the whole IoT architecture across all vertical markets, with key features that include:

  • Faster market time
  • Real-time response capabilities for millions of devices
  • IT systems integration
  • End-to-end security
  • Worldwide, coordinated partner ecosystem
  • End-to-end compatibility, as well as lifecycle management

Java, the go-to language for the internet of things

Java remains the number one choice among developers and is the leading development platform in the world, with millions of Java developers worldwide. It’s the go-to language for IoT apps. According to Oracle, one of the biggest perks of Java is the robustness of the app code. While C makes use of explicit pointers to reference memory, all object references in Java are implicit pointers that could not be manipulated by app code. This rules out potential concerns automatically, such as memory access violations, which could inevitably cause an app to stop suddenly.

Developers choose Java for IoT gateways

A recent survey suggests that Java is gaining strength for developing embedded IoT apps. Java programmers are often using the programming language for IoT gateways. The data makes clear that a huge percentage of Java developers are working on IoT or planning to work on or partner for IoT efforts.

The Java programming software was designed to be easy to use and thus easy to write, compile, debug and learn compared to other programming languages. This helps in creating modular programs, as well as reusable code. One of the most significant benefits of the Java language is its ability to move easily from computer system to computer system.

Top reasons to use Java in embedded apps

  1. It makes use of the extensive library of standard APIs. Java SE7 has almost 4,000 standard APIs, which can be used for anything from networking to concurrency. What this means is that one already has almost everything needed written already and there is no need for minimal rewrites to make the applications work.
  2. To be platform independent. Java enables writing one and running apps on any other application. This means that one could use it on desktops and embedded systems, with no worries on platforms or devices where it’s going to run. Furthermore, even if porting the app to a later Java version, all it takes is to recompile the code.
  3. It avoids segmentation fault. Java is one very robust app programming language. Unlike C or C++, Java uses implicit pointers for all object references, which helps avoid buffer overruns, violations of memory access and other possible problems that could cause the app to hang or stop. Java, in effect, can help avoid a whole lot of headaches.
  4. The language is low maintenance. Java can be run with only 64 MB of RAM on a machine that runs Windows XP. Embedded machines have better specifications, meaning that Java applications could run on these systems efficiently. As a matter of fact, the Java ME Embedded from Oracle runs on systems with just 130 KB of RAM and 350 KB of ROM.
  5. To forget the small things. The Java virtual machine can deal automatically with memory management, so there is no need to keep track of object references or reallocate memory manually. Ultimately, one could avoid memory leaks. The Java virtual machine can also handle concurrency support.
  6. To deploy applications anywhere, easily. Embedded systems are not the same as desktop computers as typically they do not have screens or displays. Java enables using a desktop or laptop computer for developing the app and then deploying it somewhere else. One could compile the code anywhere, with no need to write complex cross-compilation codes. Furthermore, one could use remote debugging to work out errors in the deployed applications.
  7. To become more productive with Java. Working with Java allows one to have the best tools in the market. One can use Eclipse or NetBeans to make writing code not just easier, but faster as well. One could have code automatically completed and the syntax could be checked instinctively even before one finishes typing it out. With no need to rely on text editors , one could cut development time drastically.
  8. Java is everywhere. Java can be used anywhere, and it is everywhere — from device to data center. The embedded system would be networked to other embedded systems and a data center where the data that it gathers can be analyzed, compiled and then searched. The great news is that enterprise-level apps are also written using the Java platform.

Why Java is needed for IoT

Java is a platform that offers network portability. It’s also one of the few programming languages that developers can easily learn. These two aspects merge to make Java the perfect program to help devices connect. Almost all devices, from personal computers to mobile phones, use Java. It’s an integral part of the internet world, making it a great choice for the internet of things. It offers every device the best functionality level and gives it a high security level, as well as a good amount of scalability in the industry.

Java developers and programmers are working on developing innovative IoT applications, which help in achieving the goal of a connected world. Java programmers jobs are plentiful, thus there is always room for more talent to join.

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.

March 1, 2018  12:21 PM

Five tips for securing your IoT devices

Tae Jin Kang Profile: Tae Jin Kang
Internet of Things, Internet security, iot, IOT Network, iot security, Network security, Password, Passwords, software updates, UPnP

According to a 2017 Boston Consulting Group report, the market for IoT products and services is expected to reach $267 billion by 2020. Gartner estimates that there will be 20.4 billion IoT-connected components worldwide by 2020, and that more than half of major new business systems and processes will include an IoT component.

The adoption and use of IoT is progressing at a tremendous pace. Interestingly, many non-technologists do not realize that IoT networks are comprised of varying types of computers. Many of these computers are application-specific and are designed and hardwired to reduce costs. As a result, they provide limited options in terms of the software you can run, and whether they can be patched or even secured. Consequently, it is important to remember that an IoT device — as with any new computing device — brings with it inherent security risks.

That leaves the onus of securing IoT devices and the network on your IT staff. The following are some tips to improve your organization’s cybersecurity:

  1. When software updates are issued, immediately install them. With the discovery of bugs and security vulnerabilities, IoT vendors will release a software update that remediates the detected vulnerabilities. However, most IoT devices do not have a software update distribution model like that for PCs, so you bear the responsibility of staying current about and installing these updates. Failure to do so can leave your IoT platform and network vulnerable to hackers — amateur and sophisticated alike. Take the time to download new firmware and minimize the potential to have your device hijacked or, worse, lose valuable data.
  2. Password protect all of your devices and accounts. The generic password issued with every device should be changed as quickly as possible. Additionally, every IoT device you manage through an internet-based account should be protected with a strong username and password that include a combination of numbers, letters and symbols. The more random this sequence, the better. It is imperative to avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. This differentiation prevents hackers from accessing multiple accounts with just one compromised password.
  3. Create separate networks for your IoT devices. Most Wi-Fi routers support guest networking — the ability to give visitors a connection to your network without granting access to shared files or networked devices. The same type of separation works well for IoT devices that have questionable security as well. This means that if a hacker successfully intrudes your IoT network, she will be less likely to access your most important computer files.
  4. Avoid IoT devices that require constant internet connection to operate. Many of the IoT devices on today’s market come paired with cloud-based services, meaning they are always connected to the internet. This consistent connection heightens their likelihood of sending sensitive data back to the manufacturer, thereby creating another potential security hole.
  5. Turn off the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) feature as soon as possible. In addition to slowing your router’s response time, this feature leaves your IoT devices, computers and other network devices vulnerable to attack. While it was designed to make it easier to connect devices to the network, UPnP is a poorly secured doorway that hackers can use to access your network.

This should not be considered an exhaustive list by any means, but a good starting point. Utilizing these tips can significantly improve your performance while minimizing your IoT network and devices’ vulnerability to hackers.

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.

March 1, 2018  11:11 AM

IoT myths busted for your business

Maciej Kranz Profile: Maciej Kranz
Artificial intelligence, Blockchain, Consumer IoT, Enterprise IoT, fog computing, Internet of Things, iot, IoT analytics, IoT applications, IoT data, IoT devices, iot security, Machine learning

From smart toothbrushes and pet beds to connected cars and cities, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) had an IoT thing for just about everyone — a testament to how ubiquitous internet-enabled technologies have become in both the enterprise and consumer realms. Given all the exciting tech at CES, it is easy to see how businesses can get wrapped up in the IoT hype.

The problem, however, is that all this hype often leads companies to focus on IoT’s short-term impact. Sure, starting the IoT journey with improving and automating existing processes to yield immediate efficiency gains is a great first step. But to reap the full benefits of IoT’s transformational potential, we must chart IoT roadmaps that lead to new value propositions, new business models and new markets.

The hype around IoT is compounded by several common misconceptions about how it should be used and how it should be implemented. Interestingly, I have seen the same IoT misconceptions arise repeatedly, preventing organizations from starting on their IoT journeys or derailing their initial IoT efforts. So, if you are looking to start (or restart) an IoT project, you’ll need a clear and fact-based understanding of IoT.

With that in mind, here are the top five IoT myths busted for your business.

Myth #1: IoT is all about consumer devices and the connected home

Reality: To date, most IoT value and opportunity are in the business and industrial sectors, which are actually ahead of the consumer realm in IoT impact.

Connected refrigerators, toasters and other household appliances can make our lives easier, yet are some of the most overhyped aspects of IoT. For the most part, the real impact of IoT has been found in the business world. In fact, analysts predict that B2B IoT segments will generate more than $300 billion annually by 2020, while consumer applications will generate $150 billion in that same time frame. With consumer IoT still developing, $150 billion is no small number, but business IoT clearly presents the biggest opportunity to bring about transformative change.

Consider Japanese industrial equipment manufacturer, FANUC. By gathering data from IoT devices installed at customer sites, FANUC offers remote monitoring, analytics and predictive maintenance services to clients. As a result, GM, a FANUC customer, has avoided 100 potential failures of vehicle-assembling robots, while preventing assembly line interruptions that can take up to eight hours to resolve.

In the long run, I do believe that the most disruptive IoT innovations will actually happen in the consumer IoT space. However, in the meantime, the business model of interconnecting devices in the home will continue to focus on monetizing user data.

Myth #2: IoT is a single market where one size fits all

Reality: IoT comprises many markets, each with unique environments, legacy technologies, requirements and ecosystems. Thus, the integration of horizontal, vertical and regional capabilities into a solution is key.

In what I like to think of as the “first wave” of the internet, tech companies focused on developing horizontal capabilities for IT, service providers and consumers. But this strategy alone would not work for IoT, which is a collection of markets, sub-markets and ecosystems where lines of business — the major IoT buying centers — want business systems, not individual technologies.

To succeed in IoT, technology providers must either develop highly targeted horizontal capabilities and integrate these tightly with vertical and regional ecosystems, or they can focus on one or two use cases in a specific market. Both strategies allow them to target large total addressable markets. A great example of the former approach comes from FogHorn Systems, which develops edge intelligence software for industrial IoT applications. With a demand for its software across sectors, FogHorn recently built an end-to-end partner ecosystem to ensure the delivery of hyper-local technologies. The ecosystem features industrial IoT consultants and systems integrators who provide domain-specific data analytics, application software development and on-site implementation services.

Myth #3: IoT is all about connecting billions of devices — the more connections, the better

Reality: IoT is about generating actionable data that can be analyzed to drive better business decisions.

As we’ve seen from some high-profile flops like IoT-connected juicers, simply trying to connect as many “things” as possible is a recipe for IoT disaster. Yes, those connections are the basis for IoT, but the true value stems from the real-time or near-real-time data streams such connected devices generate that can be analyzed and turned into actionable business insights. For example, using IoT sensors to monitor the condition of its vehicles, mining company Rio Tinto enables predictive maintenance to address issues before they become major problems. The company now saves up to $2 million per day every time it avoids a breakdown.

Myth #4: IoT by itself is transformational

Reality: IoT must be combined with other exponential technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, blockchain and fog computing to deliver a comprehensive and long-lasting impact.

To unlock the transformational power of IoT, enterprises must integrate it with other groundbreaking technologies. In particular, the convergence of IoT with AI and machine learning, blockchain and fog computing will also help overcome key IoT barriers to adoption, such as security, cost, complexity, and speed. For instance, AI and machine learning provide a deeper analysis of real-time IoT data streams to drive more robust decision-making, while fog computing makes IoT data available on the edge of the network to solve latency, bandwidth and reliability challenges. Additionally, blockchain enables secure, audit-level transactions, without the need for a centralized intermediary between communicating devices.

Together, these technologies create some very formidable combinations. Think of drones: When powered by IoT and AI, autonomous drones can operate more efficiently than their piloted counterparts, safely avoiding bad weather, trees and other obstacles. As a result, field service organizations can use these devices to inspect oil rigs, or surveyors can easily document remote and rugged terrain.

Myth #5: IoT will never be secure

Reality: IoT can be secure and safe.

With cybersecurity incidents in the news daily — from the KRACK attack on Wi-Fi systems to the infamous WannaCry ransomware — businesses and consumers alike have many justified fears about the security, safety and privacy of millions of IoT devices. Undoubtedly, the pace of technology driven by IoT requires new approaches to security. The good news is that security vendors, enterprises, startups and even device makers are all finally making IoT security their top priority. Enterprises, in particular, increasingly understand the risk-and-reward, tolerance levels of their security investments, with many now focusing on stronger security measures as a growth advantage.

We now see more organizations moving from the traditional “security by obscurity” method to an end-to-end, comprehensive, policy-based architectural approach to IoT security. At the same time, horizontal and vertical standards bodies are actively developing IoT security frameworks, standards and methodologies to ensure the safety of connected devices and IoT systems. We even see governments playing a role in overcoming IoT security, such as the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines on how manufacturers must inform customers about device security. In the end it comes down to this: IoT security is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone from startups and service providers to corporate end users, industry and government organizations must increasingly follow and share best practices to make IoT safer and more secure for all.

As with other over-hyped technologies, it is challenging to decipher which aspects of IoT are real and relevant, and which are myths and misconceptions. Because IoT has the potential to be so transformative to every business, it is imperative to separate fact from fiction as you get started on your IoT journey. So, before diving into an implementation, take a step back and truly understand IoT, its role in the enterprise and the value it can deliver when properly and securely deployed. I hope that by dispelling the most common myths about IoT, your company will readily make your next IoT initiative a successful reality.

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.

February 28, 2018  1:47 PM

Network densification is the key to IoT growth

Greg Najjar Profile: Greg Najjar
5G, Connectivity, Internet of Things, iot, IOT Network, Wi-Fi, Wireless network

Whether 260 feet underground riding public transit in Portland’s Robertson Tunnel or 20,310 feet above ground on Denali’s summit, consumers today expect that their devices will have a working, lightning-fast connection. These expectations are heightened for organizations looking to incorporate IoT initiatives into their business processes.

Increased bandwidth requirements from enterprise users make an already difficult problem more complex and challenging. Managing traffic growth, while providing consistently fast network speeds across all areas of the country, has proven to be an Achilles’ heel, standing in the way of IoT realizing its potential. Dead zones in rural areas and challenges in metro areas with heavy user density are still not uncommon, and both serve as barriers to IoT growth. Nearly every industry is touched by the aspirations of “smart experiences,” whether a car manufacturer or a sports venue owner. These innovations cannot mature without a strong data connection.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to solving the issue, a number of technologies are popping up that each hold a fragment of the key to increasing blanket coverage and delivering on the promise of IoT.

Fixing what’s already in place

The hype surrounding 5G is palpable, and for good reason. However, when considering specific use cases, such as tracking packages, it may be better to offload this type of data transfer to another network (like 3G). In instances where location data is smaller in footprint than a typical SMS text message, leaving the fastest network for the most critical data transfer can be a good approach.

It’s possible that the real “fix” is rolling out new towers or small cells in areas where there are currently dead zones. This approach will help to keep devices connected, using proven technology that’s already been deployed throughout the U.S.

Variable connectivity options

Rather than relying on one specific network, we’ll begin to see devices and data platforms that can draw info from a variety of sources that are available at any given moment. This can use data delivery techniques that are already in place, and those that are still nascent in their existence.

For instance, our company recently partnered with Sirqul, an IoT provider offering software that combines data across mesh networks to track and identify individuals’ behavior, location and intent. It faced a challenge getting valuable all-encompassing data in busy locations where Wi-Fi isn’t available to everyone. With our assistance, Sirqul can now bring smart experiences to life in more venues by utilizing high-speed cellular connectivity. This partnership is just one example of the importance of diversity of network sources.

Increase access to frequencies and densify across the board

The interconnected device forecast in 2020 is 25 billion according to Qualcomm’s white paper, “The 1000x Mobile Data Challenge.” For that amount of use, mobile network density and availability will both need to increase at incredible rates. The best way to address the challenge of providing connectivity for all IoT devices is densifying networks and creating more spectrum. In order to keep up with the traffic, more capacity in the radio access network will need to be created. Monitoring and implementing the latest in upgrades for system capacity, data rates and coming up with strategic new techniques for connectivity are the best ways to future-proof for 2020.

Each mobile carrier has debuted its plan for 5G connectivity, and testing is underway in some instances. Furthermore, early testing for unlicensed spectrum in the CBRS and LAA bands has been largely positive. Innovation in these bands could be a boon to more dense, consistent connectivity.

IoT has promised us a hyper-connected smart world, and the networks enabling it must be ready to deliver. Meeting these expectations has been a challenge for mobile carriers, but the telecom industry has aggressively worked to create ubiquitous connectivity in both heavily populated urban locations and rural areas where dead zones are commonplace. Telecom engineers continue to enhance network capabilities and create new ways with which IoT platforms can provide the best connectivity and enable IoT to deliver on its promise.

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.

February 28, 2018  11:36 AM

AR/VR is changing the way enterprises do business — ready to jump in?

Andrew Till Profile: Andrew Till
ai, AR, augmented reality, Virtual Reality

The proliferation of technology has vastly changed the enterprise as we know it. IoT, artificial intelligence, and augmented and mixed reality technologies are being developed at a rapid pace. They have changed the way we work, engage, create and produce products in all industries.

The public has heard a lot about how these emerging technologies are changing the automotive industry, enabling connected and autonomous cars, but the adoption of technology is changing the way each and every industry does business.

Think about the healthcare industry, where AR/VR is expected to have very big impacts in enhancing the success of operations and improvement of care. Imagine a surgeon in the operating room who is able to get vital information on the patient in real time via a headset instead of having to look away from his work and potentially missing something important.

Construction is another space where many expect AR to play a key role in enhancing efficiencies of the business. Imagine a project manager or construction worker being able to step onto a worksite and see where everything is supposed to go during each phase of the building process — before bringing it to life — or during the construction phase being able to ensure that every nut and bolt is exactly where it should be down to the micron. Think of the possibilities! It is these types of technologies, especially AR/VR, which will change the way the enterprises and industries work, making things faster, more efficient and, dare I say, engaging!

So, where should an enterprise start when thinking about adopting AR/VR technology? The approach should be as if you were adopting any type of new tool for your business — there must be a long-term plan set in place around an area of business that is core to your success to change or enhance.

Enterprises should not be misled by the headlines around AR/VR in the gaming world. Implementing AR/VR is not for play; these are serious tools for enhancing all aspects of a business, from elevating the capabilities of the workforce to the customer experience, and the implementation of them into any business model should be treated as such.

One best practice would be to bring AR/VR into the wider digital transformation program. This allows the enterprise to focus on key problems in their business and choose products and services that truly address those specific areas and make life simpler, more engaging and even more collaborative for employees.

As enterprises continue to implement new technologies, new doors open for even more innovation. Look for AR to be linked with another new acronym: AI, but in this case not artificial intelligence — but augmented intelligence. This will allow the enterprise to provide employees what they need based on their personal work objectives, style and, importantly, the context of the task that they are performing and organized goals. Additionally, look for VR to impact video conferencing and collaborative work spaces. As an enterprise grows and the workforce becomes global, VR will be used to connect internal teams for more engaging collaboration sessions or even customer meetings.

Innovation in enterprise technology is not slowing down, and it is improving the way we work at all levels of the business. With AR/VR technologies, enterprises can take advantage of enriched experiences and groundbreaking applications of tech that enhance the business in every way.

Are you ready to take the plunge into virtual or augmented reality for your business?

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.

February 28, 2018  10:20 AM

Making the case for healthcare IoT: Is it necessary?

William King Profile: William King
Connected Health, Healthcare, Internet of Things, iot, IoT data, iot security, Wearables

There is an underlying ecosystem that is working to connect everything we do across all industries with the goal of providing easy and seamless access to information and suggestions that affect our everyday decisions. This is the internet of things. Currently, the IoT providers we use every day — Google, Apple, Microsoft or Amazon — are delivering technologies for practically every need. They are making the dream of a fully connected world a reality, and yet, each of these IoT providers continues to fine-tune their individual ecosystem for their own needs, seemingly at odds with an integrated IoT agenda. To be truly successful in enterprise IoT, we have to embrace a standardized and connected ecosystem. Nowhere is this more important than in healthcare, where IoT must be fully connected without breakdowns, such as privacy breaches.

Healthcare is struggling to reconcile the challenges of collecting data from numerous sources (global health data, prescription data and payer data) and connecting these disparate data points to get actionable insights. Data is still the gold we seek, but health information is scattered and siloed — often due to data security — with healthcare providers, payers and manufacturers each viewing a different version of the truth. We can overcome this challenge to benefit patients, physicians, payers and drug developers if the healthcare industry can produce greater and safer interconnectivity in a single ecosystem. Throughout the drug lifecycle and the patient journey, a connected healthcare ecosystem could be the answer life sciences companies are seeking to demonstrate value from treatment outcomes.

Here are three critical value drivers for successful healthcare IoT.

1. Accelerating drug development and access to new treatments

If the vast amount of data that is generated by patients is truly connected via an ecosystem, the future pathway of research and development can be altered for the better. Real-world evidence (RWE) is already championed for its ability to go beyond data captured in a controlled clinical trial environment to data captured in real-world scenarios, which can then inform future trial design. In fact, we are already seeing how RWE can impact access to treatments via FDA regulatory decision-making, where RWE has been used to determine the risks and benefits of novel medicines in some FDA approvals of new or follow-on therapies.

2. Improving patient outcomes

For the first time, physicians will have a complete picture of their patients’ health through an ecosystem that uses diverse connected devices. In real time, healthcare practitioners can now monitor a patient’s health, activity levels and reaction to treatments. For example, if a patient with diabetes suffers a hypoglycemic episode, that data is fed directly back to the physician or specialist in real time for immediate action. And, according to Apple’s recent announcement, patients will soon be able to access their own medical records right on their phone.

This expands a physicians’ holistic view of the patient with data that monitors sleep patterns, weather conditions, dietary information and any other factors that might impact outcomes. All of these indicators have a cumulative impact on the outcome previously relied on from standard medical interventions. In short, for the first time, the healthcare provider will have a better shot at optimizing treatments based on the surrounding environment for better outcomes.

3. Supporting patient adherence

Wearables are no longer a luxury; they are a part of everyday life. Life sciences companies have taken notice and today are looking for more viable and long-term applications for such devices and platforms to advance adherence rates.

In another example of where technology has merged with health, manufacturers are working toward integrating elements of gamification in health-related devices to enhance behavioral rewards mechanisms that encourage patients to stay on their medicine. The underlying principles of gamification are designed to promote positive action and reinforcement for the patient. This could be as simple as adding a reward system to a medical app, where patients earn points or badges for taking their medication at the correct times of day. The ability to use this data and analyze behavior patterns for continual improvement will continue to advance improved outcomes.

In closing, I go back to my original argument: Is healthcare IoT necessary? The answer is yes, as the benefits outweigh the risks. But first, we must continue to lay the groundwork and address the silos we are accustomed to working within. By applying technology and expertise from multiple sectors, we will be rewarded with a more cost-effective, outcomes-based healthcare system that benefits every stakeholder in the value chain.

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.

February 27, 2018  4:01 PM

Keeping up with digital change requires a new approach to security

Michael Xie Michael Xie Profile: Michael Xie
Attack surface, Automation, Digital transformation, Integration, Internet of Things, iot, iot security, Network security

We are living in an era of hyperconnectivity between systems, applications, devices and data. Technologies such as IoT, mobile computing, cloud-based services and multi-cloud infrastructures are not simply being added to the network; they are being interconnected in ways that are redefining not only business, but also the fabric of society itself. Digital transformation has disrupted how we are entertained, communicate and conduct business. In turn, this is changing how your consumers and employees expect to interact with your corporate data and infrastructure. Economic trends show that such evolution is providing undeniable value to users.

As a result, information technology has become an artificially intelligent and pervasive source of economic value creation. In other words, information technology no longer simply supports the business. In many important ways, it is the business, and its success is being measured in microseconds.

In a recent Gartner EMEA survey, 47% of CEOs are being challenged by their board of directors to make progress in digital business, and 56% said that their digital improvements have already improved profits. According to Gartner, “While IT delivery is still a responsibility of the CIO, achieving revenue growth and developing digital transformation were identified most often as top business priorities for organizations in 2018.”

To meet these demands, today’s businesses have had to deploy a broad, dynamic and highly elastic network of networks. This is compounded by the volume and variety of interconnections between devices and resources, both inside and outside of the network, making them both dense and complex. In security terms, this means that organizations are actively generating a vast and growing digital attack surface that is constantly in flux.

Traditional security has become a barrier to success

The challenge that many organizations face is trying to map their legacy security infrastructure to their new, dynamic network infrastructure. Issues like speed and scalability, along with limited visibility and control, mean that security is viewed as more of a barrier to success than an enabler. The fact that siloed security products cannot communicate with other security devices makes things like collecting and correlating threat intelligence, detecting and responding to advanced threats hiding in your extended attack surface, and orchestrating policies and protocols across the distributed networked difficult, if not impossible.

And cybercriminals have risen to the challenge. Multi-vector attacks are designed to bypass traditional security tools that can’t keep up. New malware and infiltration technologies exploit the seams between different networked systems. Advanced evasion techniques monitor and learn traffic patterns in order to mimic legitimate traffic. And increasingly, they are doing this to target vulnerable network resources, such as unpatched network or IoT devices, because IT teams are stretched too thin to track and inventory the devices on their network or even maintain basic security hygiene protocols, such as patch and replace.

Security transformation must be integrated and automated

As the speed and scale of cyberthreats expand, security must be transformed as well. This starts by it being seamlessly integrated into all areas of digital technology, including applications, connected devices and multi-cloud networks. This allows it to protect the business data being spread across these distributed environments. It must also be able to translate user intent into automated business response by using broad visibility and integrated threat intelligence, and then automatically responding to events detected anywhere across a global network.

This can only be achieved by replacing legacy security systems with technologies that can use open standards and a common operating system. These allow different security technologies to integrate and operate as a single, consistent system. Such a holistic approach enables unified visibility and controls that can dynamically span and adapt to elastic networks.

Because humans cannot keep up with the complexity of today’s networks and data, for example, a common security framework centralizes and automates deployment and configuration. This ensures that repetitive tasks are accurately duplicated so security devices can safely scale as resource demands scale. This also means less resources being spent on deployment and less human error, especially now, as configurations and management are required to cross beyond traditional product boundaries to enable things like seamless security visibility and orchestration.

Security transformation requires an interconnected and open fabric

The network’s potential attack surface is in constant flux. This is because the evolution of computing and networking continues to drive changes across critical business infrastructures. And also because network devices with unique vulnerabilities or specialized security requirements are constantly being added or removed to virtualized or cloud-based infrastructures. As a result, organizations require a security system that enables them see and adapt to those changes.

Think open, integrated and automated.

Widely distributed yet tightly integrated security, combined with automated response to events, is truly the only effective way to secure today’s networks. When security operates as a single system, scoping and analysis becomes accurate, resources are applied where they are effective, and new security insights are automatically discovered and addressed, anywhere across the distributed network.

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.

February 27, 2018  12:18 PM

Three ways logistics providers can embrace IoT to differentiate themselves

Ben Xiang Profile: Ben Xiang
Capacity management, Internet of Things, Inventory Management, iot, Logistics, LPWAN, manufacturers, Manufacturing, RF, Supply chain, transportation, warehouse

Gartner believes the supply chain management market will exceed $13 billion in software revenue this year, as logistics companies strive to meet digitization demands. Organizations within the industry are beginning to differentiate themselves through their investments in technologies like IoT-enabled devices, machine learning and smart machines. IoT can benefit logistics providers in a number of ways, including warehouse capacity optimization, transportation, labor management and safety.

Warehouse capacity

In Q4 2016, industrial vacancy was already at a 17-year low (7.9 %). According to Jones Lang LaSalle, in the first half of 2017, warehouse vacancy was 5.5% and it may continue to drop through the holiday season. The drop in vacancy can primarily be attributed to direct-to-consumer fulfillment and the demand it’s putting on previously vacant space. Jones Lang LaSalle finds that “e-commerce and logistics distribution companies have signed more leases in buildings under construction — an indication of a growing sector with a need for new functional warehouse space.” In other words, logistics providers are scrambling for more space.

Many firms are looking to IoT to better utilize their warehouse space, since connected machines and devices allow for optimized capacity and inventory monitoring. Forklifts, for instance, have been outfitted with IoT sensors that help logistics providers make inventory-related decisions faster. Beyond that, Grand View Research believes automated warehousing systems have increased warehouse capacity by a factor of hundreds over “traditional forklift operations.” The research analyst firm also believes investment in IoT-powered inventory management and warehouse capacity technologies will continue to grow in the near future.


IoT-enabled transportation services are perhaps the most recognizable application of IoT in logistics today. Driverless vehicles dot city street corners, public buses relay their position to mobile apps and smart grids help optimize traffic flows. But how will this type of innovation impact the movement of freight — from first mile to final mile? Since transportation is the most costly variable within a supply chain, understanding optimizations in this area can uncover huge cost-saving opportunities in the following areas:

  • Freight forwarding. Freight Forwarding is oftentimes viewed as a technology laggard when it comes to innovation. Yet, even small advancements provide added visibility into ocean freight, allowing ships to be tracked using an automatic identification system, which transmits data between ships, satellites and AIS stations around the world. Many ports are becoming more intelligent, enabling milestone tracking and reduced or eliminated wait times.
  • Trucking. When electronic logging device (ELD) legislation to monitor driving time and promote safer driving conditions was passed in the U.S., the laws opened a new frontier for truck connectivity. Along with ELDs, fleet management systems can monitor truck fleets’ idle time, downtime, speed and other important metrics, saving trucking companies and logistics providers time and money.
  • Small parcel. USPS coined a new term, “Internet of Postal Things,” or IoPT, an initiative that lets the Postal Service “develop applications to protect and enhance its core business through cost savings, operational efficiencies, new products and services, and ultimately, a better customer experience,” according to the organization. FedEx launched a product called SenseAware, which monitors just about every aspect of a shipment, from temperature to light exposure. SenseAware aggregates information through a 2G network to ensure a shipment isn’t compromised.

These examples illustrate the potential impact of IoT on transportation. The degree to which IoT continues to impact transportation initiatives will depend on how well organizations use the data to streamline processes from first to final mile.

Labor management and safety

IoT can help improve labor optimization and increase safety in hazardous industrial environments. Radio frequency (RF) module-equipped tools, for example, can track warehouse associates to better understand the cadence of activities, such as shipping and receiving. IoT-enabled monitoring and tracking makes warehouse operations more efficient. Technology like connected forklifts, pallet jacks and other material-handling equipment can help identify additional opportunities, resulting in plans to enact better processes and more ways to save money.

Improving labor efficiencies is not the only reason for using IoT-based devices in a warehouse setting. Safety is also a top concern; people and machines move quickly, and large, heavy equipment is constantly humming. IoT technology has the potential to enhance workplace safety. If, for instance, an RF gun could track associates’ movements to and from pick locations (similar to wearable devices), logistics providers could identify movements that present bigger safety risks and enact training or change procedures to make the workplace safer.

IoT technology offers logistics providers a competitive advantage

Logistics and transportation aren’t the only industries investing in IoT technology. Others , including agriculture, construction and even assisted living, are also realizing the benefits of connected devices. According to Machina Research, low-power wide area connections are set to overtake more well-known 2G, 3G and 4G networks as the leading IoT connectivity provider, powering nearly 1.5 billion devices by 2022. Clearly, major shifts are on the horizon as a result of IoT advances. Logistics providers and other supply chain management companies that embrace IoT-enabled technologies will find themselves one step ahead of the competition as the push to incorporate the internet of things intensifies.

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.

February 27, 2018  10:52 AM

A definitive list of top enterprise augmented reality trends

Brian Ballard Profile: Brian Ballard
3D, AR, augmented reality, Logistics, Manufacturing, Service delivery, Service providers, voice, Wearables

If the record-setting growth of AR/VR technology at the Consumer Electronics Show is any indication, we are in for an exciting year for augmented reality in the enterprise. But as with any fast-evolving technology, it is challenging to differentiate hype from reality (no pun intended) — especially when everyone is eager to weigh in on the road ahead. To make sense of this noisy, yet exciting, market, my team at Upskill and I have sifted through the countless AR predictions out there and compared them to what we are seeing and hearing from our customers and partners. The result is a definitive list of the top five enterprise AR trends for 2018. Here’s what you need to know:

Prediction #1: Enterprise AR will become essential to the creation, delivery and service of the world’s best-known brands.
We are now seeing competitive pressures for greater brand differentiation, faster time-to-service and first-time quality as the biggest drivers of AR adoption in nearly every step of the supply chain. Use cases are emerging throughout the product lifecycle that are impacting large, consumer packaged goods companies — not just manufacturers and heavy-duty service organizations. In fact, Gartner predicted that AR will be adopted across multiple business lines in 30% of large enterprises by 2020. The operative piece here is not the percentage, but rather the prediction that AR will be deployed across organizations as part of a broader digital transformation strategy. We should finally see large enterprises moving out of “pilot purgatory” and scaling their deployments into new areas that deliver even greater ROI.

Prediction #2: Service and logistics will take pole position in the race for broad adoption of AR.
While the use of AR in manufacturing remains a significant growth and investment area, we’ll see service and logistics’ growth rate pull ahead in 2018. If you look at the isolated use cases in these markets, there is a lot of intrinsic repeatability of high-value applications, like warehouse picking or field service troubleshooting. IDC reinforces this point, as the analyst firm believes 25% of field service technicians will use AR by 2020. This adoption growth echoes the move toward service monetization, which is becoming a huge business driver for those trying to differentiate in the field service market. The faster you can service your customers — and with first-time quality — the better.

Prediction #3: AR will become increasingly more accessible for enterprises.
This prediction is driven primarily by vendors in the enterprise space that are adapting to how customers develop AR workflows. For large organizations, it’s typically process or manufacturing engineers — not software developers — creating these workflows. Fortunately, application development tools are emerging that allow people who are not necessarily technical in nature to develop custom workflows and translate them into AR experiences. IDC even suggests, “Improvements in simple (“low-/no-code”) development tools will expand the number of non-tech developers, and by 2021, these non-traditional tech developers will build 20% of business applications and 30% new application features (60% by 2027).” The resulting lower entry barrier to AR development will accelerate broader adoption and empower those who are closest to the work at hand.

Prediction #4: Advances in speech will accelerate and make voice a vital interaction paradigm.
Delivering information via AR-powered wearables is an extremely effective way to communicate actionable, pragmatic work instructions. And, in hands-on work environments, speaking to the device is by far the most compelling way to exchange this information. As Forrester predicts, “We’ll see increasing demand for developers that know how to build augmented reality- and natural language processing-based experiences.” Although voice is still limited by how many words a user can say at a certain time and in a natural manner, it will still be a top interaction paradigm for AR in 2018.

Prediction #5: Tech giants will drive 3D content for both consumer and enterprise applications.
We’ve seen Facebook acquire Oculus, a VR company, and Microsoft acquire Simplygon, a content conversion decimation tool. We also saw Google and Apple unveil AR toolkits, which sets us up for a near future where, as Wired predicts, “a set of always-on glasses that will blur the line between the physical world and a digital contract made of pure information.” Such investments by tech behemoths will lead to the explosion of ready-to-go AR content, as well as the emergence of toolsets that make creating that content easier in both the consumer and enterprise spaces. At the same time, this raises the bar for how enterprises engage with their workforces through content-rich, bidirectional communication between people and systems of record.

As 2018 progresses, we will keep a close eye on these trends and how they not only impact the enterprise, but also the future of work. With expanded use cases, rapid content creation, advances in speech and new development toolsets, AR will empower workforces to drive real ROI and lead us to greater adoption — at last.

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.

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