Augmented Reality

3 Lenses of The IoT

16 March 2018 | Team EACPDS


There’s a lot of buzz around the Internet of Things (IoT) these days and the phrases getting manufactured and tossed around are confusing a lot of my friends.

I’m going to take a stab at clearing up some of the confusion and providing some context for the terms that may be showing up in your social feeds.
First, though, a couple of observations on how we got here.
Some of what is now known as the IoT isn’t new; it’s the Machine to Machine (MTM) and publish/subscribe connectivity protocols (MQTT) that have been around helping factory equipment talk on internal networks since the 1990s.
Other parts have been around for quite a while too; the concept of Application Programming Interfaces (API’s), Representational State Transfer (REST) calls and even the basics of Universal Resource Locators (URL) on the internet.
Add in what I call ‘Pervasive Connectivity,’ which is the idea that wired, wireless and mobile networks are almost everywhere and most people have devices to access these networks in their pockets.
It’s no wonder manufacturing and product development professionals are jumping to take advantage of what appears to be the 4th industrial revolution.
While a lot of the underpinnings are not new, the availability and acceleration of their alignment makes
for something new– and awesome!
Given that backdrop, at EAC we look at the IoT through 3 basic lenses; Smart Connected Products, Operations and Enterprises to see tangible benefits that roll up to trillions of dollars of associated annual impact.
All 3 approaches entail devices which contain a sensor network or data and connectivity of some form with the intent of pushing data to a platform for ingestion.
The platform (at least a good one) makes it easy to ingest from disparate systems and transform it into informational dashboards that help regular people, in regular roles take action and do their jobs more efficiently. It may even help companies create new jobs or whole new sources of revenue.
There’s also a layer of analytics that could happen at either the device (Thing) level or at the platform and cloud level– sometimes both. This is where we’re all headed, but it really boils down to the business case that makes sense of the strategy.
Tackling this new landscape requires not only ‘Things’ and ‘Platforms,’ but the right strategy.
Without understanding a business case, companies are likely to embark on ‘science projects’ that may, or may not result in effective change and growth.
So back to the point, here’s the short version of how I’d define these three approaches to the IoT:

1. Smart Connected Product (SCP)- one product in many places.

This is where a single product, with sensors and connectivity, would be produced by the 1000’s and end up in lots of places in the world.
As it functions, it pushes data to a platform.
The data is turned into information for the producers, service agents, owners, consumers, etc.
This way, the products functionality, performance, location or even the features being used can be tracked and reported to make the next version better, keep the current version going, or ensure timely refills or replacements, just to name a few uses.

2. Smart Connected Operation (SCO)– many assets, typically machines, in one place.

This is the factory setting where millions of dollars’ worth of equipment are already on the books of a
company and they’re trying to get as much from their investments as possible.
Connecting the control systems that are already inside of these machines to a platform grants operations access to the data that is already available, but previously unseen.
It is enlightening and even accelerating to provide direct access to the right information to the right role at the right time.
This can provide real-time and actionable information ranging from a holistic plant view down
to an explicit operation on a specific machine.

3. Smart Connected Enterprise (SCE) – real-time access and visibility to existing silos of data and information.

Think ‘Wrap and Extend’ rather than ‘Rip and Replace.’
This is truly the place we’re all imagining.
It’s the ability to keep in place many of the systems that have developed and grown up in our organizations and weave them together to quickly build role-specific dashboards and mashups that look into separate, and currently existing silos of data and information.
It also provides the ability to weave in new streams of data from newly connected products and even subscribe to existing data readily available in the public domain; weather, traffic, economic forces, etc.
Now integrate that with the ability to quickly and simply provide customers, partners, vendor and service providers with the information they’ve always wanted in relation to your product.. then you’ve really got something.
A smart connected enterprise weaves together the entire enterprise with ways to access the right information in the right place at the right time.
Think mobile mashups, autonomous integrated systems, Augmented Reality, and the list of awesomeness goes on.
This may have gone a little deeper than originally planned, I’ll blame my excitement behind the buzz.
There is truly a massive tangible benefit to getting started down this road.
Note that I said ‘started.’ This isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. The 3 lenses of the IoT should be implemented strategically over time.
And if you’re speculative or apprehensive, I get it. But I’d challenge you to stuff the skepticism and get started – your competitors already have.
Give us a call and we’ll get you going quicker than you could imagine.
If you’re already on the path and have hit a few speed bumps, we can help.
We’re in the business of transforming the way companies design, manufacture, connect to, and service their products and enterprise, and we don’t let the speed bumps slow us down.