Internet of Things (IoT) – What is NEXT?
“Internet of Things” requires just “Things” i.e. any product(s) which can connect to Internet and “Internet”. Day by day, many traditional products are connecting to internet and so the volume of “Internet of Things” is quickly increasing. However, it is important for these things to be more connected to their Masters (I mean “human”) to better serve them easily. Today most of the human are connected to social platforms and mobile thru cloud. Analytics, artificial intelligence and Machine learning techniques are used more and more to bridge the gap between these “dumb” products and “intelligent” human. So, I think the logical next step of “Internet of Things” could be “SMART Things” with Social, mobile, analytics and cloud capabilities.
What are SMART Things?
“SMART things” are Social / Mobile / Analytics capable products, Remotely connected to Cloud and related Things, thru Internet Technology. It could be the next stage for IoT.
How can I make my product SMART?
This smartness can be imparted to products either by (re)designing them with SMART focus or by adding external sensors & gateways or with an attached device, say “Electronic Brain”. So, many physical products can become SMART, with an internal or external “Electronic Brain” or “Smartness Enablers”.
Not all Things in this world require this “Electronic Brain”, and not all things need to become SMART, in the coming years. Only those things which can add better value to Human, by becoming smarter and also make business sense will evolve to become smarter. The rest of the non SMART things will also coexist. So, your product may or may not have to become SMART.
How big is the Change for my company?
When an existing product becoming SMART thing, the net addition is only this “smartness enabler”. For example, in case of vehicle telematics, the telematics device enables the vehicle to be remotely tracked / managed. It changes a traditional vehicle to become an intelligent transportation system, though the net addition is mainly the telematics device which can be procured from the market. So, for many product companies the change could be as small as adding few new suppliers, who are producing such “smartness enablers” for various industries.
For the same reason, many experts zoom in to “Smartness Enablers” directly while talking about IoT, ignoring the physical product which is being enabled. If you are a traditional product company, this direct zoom to “Smartness Enablers” may appear unfamiliar and complex. It may give a feeling that your company has to learn a lot and needs massive change. But remember, all the sensors, devices, Internet etc., are only enablers; without the “Things” (your physical products) there is no Internet of Things or SMART Things. Soon, you may be able to choose your smartness enabler from catalogues like any other “bought out components” in your product. In other words, even though the benefits are multifold, the change is only gradual and incremental.
However, as your products become SMART, they create new opportunities such as new services (B2B or B2C), bigger market, better price etc., which make them more profitable. So, you may have to expand your company but the absolute change could be minimal. When you add new services, you can connect to your customers digitally, have customer usage and field data. This completes the feedback loop, so that your products can evolve with its customers. In addition, by feeding this field data effectively in to your digital design process, you can start predicting your product’s maintenance, manufacturing and design requirements. So, the products may really become smarter in knowing themselves…and can be managed to be efficient throughout their life time, remotely.
What are the phases of SMART things?
In my view, below are the phases of SMART Things with increasing value. Basically, when the Things start to communicate, it produces huge amount of data, not all of this data is useful. So, these massive data are to be considered using the Analytics engines to simplify and decide the action. Then the action can be monitored and controlled thru Mobile kind of devices. Now further integration of combining several Things of a person can be done in some social platforms where billions of people are already connected.
Who are the stakeholders for SMART Things?
As you can see in the above diagram, in addition to the Product owners; each of the SMART Enablers, are key stakeholders. They will continue to produce new sensors, actuators, gateways, platforms, Tools, Technology, Mobiles and Clouds to enable SMARTness to the Things. There will also be self regulated consortiums, country & global level standards, regulation bodies, and Service providers who will integrate and implement SMARTness.
What is the Roadmap for SMART Things?
In my view, Smart Factories are the extension of CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing) originated in 1973. SCADA, CAD/CAPP, PLM, ERP etc were the building blocks of CIM. Extension of CIM, using SMART enablers results in SMART Factory. Different SMART factories may produce different SMART Things. A Smart home may have several SMART Things and a SMART City may have several SMART homes. The Value of the SMART factory, Thing, Home & City increases as they progress from C1 to C4. Their Scale increases from S1 to S4 and different technologies can be plotted as shown in the example below…
What are the Risks?
As with any new technology, there will always be risks and teething troubles. Privacy and Security can always be a concern. However, if billions of people could be connected across borders and their privacy could be maintained by the security experts today; why not connecting the things? That is why, in my view, using the Social platforms as a mean to integrate several “Things”, so that each owner can control their “Things” thru their social platforms could be simpler, quicker and also safer. How? We all know that anonymity breeds crime. If billions of SMART things could automatically control each other anonymously, both privacy and security can become a menace. But, when all the SMART things are attached to their owner’s identity thru the social platforms, they are better connected to their Masters to serve them better; safely.
Who can help me?
Sogeti High Tech can. With complete portfolio of Mechanical, Electrical, Electronic, System and Software engineering services across different sectors, Sogeti High Tech engages with global enterprises to build successful products and services, through Digital engineering solutions, globally.
If you are a Product Owner, our Global Engineering Services, Digital Customer Experience & Security experts can collaborate with you to figure out if and how your product can become SMART, chart a roadmap for you and help you achieve your goal from beginning to end.
If you are a SMARTness Enabler, we can collaborate with you in defining your product and take it to market as an alliance partner.