Digital technologies are impacting all areas of business and society, pushing companies to re-think their processes as our world becomes increasingly connected.
“IoT is driving digital transformation,” says Thierry Evangelista, global portfolio and roadmap director, Orange Business Services. “It has the power to create new revenue streams, cut costs and increase productivity by redesigning operations and simplifying processes”.
The majority of organizations have taken active steps to make their businesses digital and already have IoT on their roadmaps. But they need to become more agile and faster, maintains Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president and global head of research at Gartner. “This is a year in which we really need to take all the digital initiatives and pilots, and drive them into the mainstream of the business. We need to get off our horse of just piloting, and we have to get into the real stuff,” he says.
Making the leap of faith
Companies are all too aware they need to put their digital roadmaps into action. But where do you start when you have no experience in creating a connected device and providing connected services? Digital transformation can’t happen without the components to make it work.
For example, consider a boiler manufacturer that wants to offer an on-demand water heating schedule so consumers can have hot water when they need it and turn it off when they are not home. The manufacturer has no history of IoT development so it needs to identify the right modules/sensors, what connectivity is necessary and how data on hot water usage will be analyzed. In addition, it needs to develop an app so that the user can check their hot water use remotely and turn it on and off as required. How is the data generated by the water tank interpreted? Will the device alert if there is a problem such as a leak? How can the manufacturer confirm the device is working remotely? Is this eco-friendly service one they can charge? All these questions need to be answered by the developers and stakeholders as they move from concept and prototype to developing a comprehensive IoT strategy.
IoT prototyping makes for rapid progress
Building a connected device in an unchartered market is not an easy task. The set of technologies and how they will work together may not be clear. It is essential that you prototype your product and test it before you get to the proof of concept stage.
Take for example security. The type of security features required depend on the type of device, the application, the connectivity and the data being sent and received. It is essential to understand the options available and which one works best before moving to proof of concept, not only to ensure security as far as possible, but also to save time.
By prototyping, your development team can look at different technologies and find the ‘best in show’ to create a viable product, while assessing any associated risks. It also gives developers a chance to correlate valuable feedback which may feed into the design process.
The prototype should be end-to-end, connecting the sensor to the device, the device to the network and on into the cloud, incorporating enterprise integration and the end-user interface.
IoT prototyping kits and boards today come in a variety of pre-built, ready to program packages. Orange Business Services, for example, has just released the IoT Soft Box developer’s kit, in association with ARM to provide a fast and simple to answer to end-to-end development. The kit uses open source software and is powered by Orange’s Datavenue, a modular offering designed to help build, implement and secure data and IoT projects.
Select, connect, manage and control
Datavenue was created around the four principles: select, connect, manage and control.
First you can select from a range of connected objects such as cameras and sensors to connect existing assets. There is also a comprehensive catalog of data that includes population movement analytics using anonymized data from mobile networks.
Secondly, it connects objects reliably with the most suitable and secured networks available. These include future-proof global cellular networks and innovative capabilities, such as eUiCC, worldwide fixed and satellite networks, as well as Orange’s dedicated IoT network based on LoRa technology.
Thirdly, data management software designed to manage data to improve efficiencies and create enhanced services. These can be installed in the cloud or on-premises incorporating remote device management, processing, and visualization.
Finally, Orange ensures end-to-end security and data protection, integration with information systems and service scalability.
Datavenue is backed up by 700 IoT and analytics experts, and Orange operates more than 10 million active B2B objects and processes 65 million items of technical data per minute. All of these are fully compliant with data protection regulations. Use cases cited include parking meters, street lights, and medical devices.
The modular solution is already used for real-world IoT development. AXA, an insurance company, has developed a range of security services that alerts users if a smoke alarm is triggered or if intruders break in, for example. At the same time, Harmonie Mutuelle, has created a service that monitors blood pressure and temperature remotely.
The IoT market opens up enormous opportunities for enterprises, but it is paramount that a detailed development strategy, including prototyping, is carried out before launching an IoT deployment.
Planning and feedback at every level of the development cycle puts you in the best possible position to succeed in this fast-emerging marketplace that is quite literally joining up societies.