Brought to you by HARMAN’s Engineering a Connected Life program. The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent HARMAN’s positions, strategies or opinions.
The Internet of Things as a concept isn’t a new one; the phrase itself was coined in 1999 by British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton. At the time he was working for Auto-ID Labs at the time. Though when he made the original statement he was talking about a network of RFID connected objects. As a result of numerous technologies advancing to a point where this larger IoT framework can become reality the Internet of Things has grown into a vastly larger entity today encompassing far more forms of connectivity as well as countless devices and reaching into numerous areas of our lives.
As the Internet of Things continues to grow, many estimates suggest IoT Devices are expected to reach 6.4 billion by the end of 2016 and spike up to 21 billion devices by 2020. Many of those devices will of course be found integrated into our personal lives. Many of the applications for connected devices will be integrated into our daily life and to deliver services for us from companies.
From an enterprise perspective I see three main issues that need to be dealt with from the tech perspective: management of connected devices that are deployed to the customer, a flexible cloud infrastructure to handle services and data collection, and a solid analytic backend to help enterprise make use of the data that is generated through the connected devices and their interactions. So, lets take a closer look at these three underpinning needs for a successful IoT deployment.
Device management might seem like a no brainer, but making use of the device management platform in the right way to best serve the end user for the product and services they desire is key. One way a device management platform can be leveraged is by ensuring that the devices are up to date at all times. It is much easier for the enterprise to push updates to devices then to rely on the consumers to do so. This approach ensures that the device is always up to date and that any security concerns due to out of date software are mitigated. Another benefit of utilizing a device management platform to update devices is that it ensures that the end user will continue to receive consistent services without experienced any negative effects that might be the cause of out of date software conflicts.
A device management solution always lays the groundwork that allows the enterprise the flexibility to facilitate connectivity between devices and consumers in new ways. Being able to have a smart electric car talk with a smart home and coordinate lowest cost and most efficient charging schedule based on known events in a calendar are just one way a device management platform might facilitate such communication. Another way would be by tapping into what is arguably the center of the smart home, the TV. Smart TVs are a mainstay of today’s tech landscape and finding new ways to leverage their connectivity and prominent place in the modern home can be the key to deliver new and useful services to the consumer.
There is likely little question that no single technology facilitates the rapid expansion of the Internet of Things more so than that cloud. Cloud technology has it made it possible to do far more than just connect a single device to the Internet; it has truly become the glue that makes the Internet of Things such a powerful force. The cloud has allowed companies to create suites of devices that can all connect back to a single platform hosted in the cloud and communicate together, store their data and be controlled. But it also allows for delivery of services to end devices that are capable of offering them.
Some of the more familiar applications of the cloud are Software As A Service or SAAS, it has actually become quite a common model today. Another popular cloud application is Platform As A Service or PAAS which makes it possible to build and maintain applications without the need to develop their own infrastructure, and ideal fit for companies which want to service connected customers but do not have the scale to offer a robust infrastructure to support them. SAAS and PAAS would not be possible without connectivity, and luckily there is no lack of that when it comes to the IoT. For companies looking offer services to their customers through connected devices being able to leverage the cloud and platform or dedicated providers to do so can be a big advantage in time and money.
The third piece to offering real value to customers through connected devices, and ultimately in deriving value from the Internet of things is tying everything together with an analytics platform that allows you to leverage the data which is collected by the connected devices. Data is at the heart of connectivity; devices collect data from their environment and can report back on their interactions with other devices and users. Collecting this type of data can allow a provider to better fine tune their service in real time as well as deliver more value to the end user by tailoring the service more specifically to them.
When it comes down to it connectivity of devices offers companies many new options in ways to better service their customers and provide new and exciting services for the end users. But connectivity is just the first step, the devices need to be managed, they need a cloud platform they can connect back to and that will collect the data and they absolutely must have an analytic engine to make use of all that sweet data that they are collecting and generating. Not every company is going to be in a position to build all of these aspects themselves which is why it makes sense to utilize companies that already have such an infrastructure in place, it will save time on development and costs on deploying and maintain such an infrastructure. But ultimately it will get you to market quicker, leave you more flexible and allow you to better service your customer, which is what every company wants.