Building an IoT Plan that Works

At LiveWorx last week, a panel of IoT experts took the stage to discuss the drivers and benefits of IoT platforms.

The Internet of Things can help businesses develop, connect, control, and capture insight from products, but where do platform providers begin the conversation with their customers?

“Monitoring is the first step,” said panel member David Hart, CTO of ThingWorx, a PTC business. “Then there is an evolution from monitoring to controlling how data is used. After that we need to get to an autonomous and predictive way of responding to the data,” he said.

Manufacturers have driven this evolution, though it is not limited to one profile or one industry. It’s happening everywhere from agriculture to transportation and the value is different for each vertical.

Across the board, industries are changing their business models to accommodate smart, connected products, but each will require a unique IoT plan based on individual needs and challenges.

“You’ve got to feel the pain and then you go and find the IoT solution,” said panel member Alan Atkins, VP and global head of IoT at Wipro Technologies.

Concerns around capabilities, scalability, and security will also need to be addressed.

And change isn’t easy.

It’s challenging when an IT team comes in with new IoT technology and says we’re going to change the way you run your operation.

“What is the IoT benefit?” asked panel moderator Michele Pelino, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

Many benefits are in aftersales, the panel agreed. The ability to prevent machine failure through remote monitoring and predictive maintenance, and efficiencies gained in field-service execution and spare-parts management. The bottom line rewards: customer satisfaction and profitability.

“There is also a safety aspect to monitoring that you can’t quantify,” said panel member Keith Shea, VP of global alliances and business development at Wind River. “But there is value in investing in anything that improves safety, and then you go and understand the new revenue streams.”

“Where it really gets exciting is that companies can change their relationships with their customers,” Hart added.

The panel said that IoT-enabled business transformation happens across the board and IT leaders are active in the implementation of IoT solutions.

IT is likely to ask important questions to ensure company requirements are considered, such as: How are we going to manage the devices? What’s going to happen when we need to monitor the devices? How are we going to ensure security starting from the device through the transport of data into the cloud?

“What about partnerships? Where do partnerships fit in?” Pelino asked the panel. And the response quickly turned into a discussion on standards.

Partnerships and standards go hand in hand, the panel said. The very nature of IoT requires communication between connected devices and this requires standardization, which requires partnership.

“Standards need to be embraced now,” Shea said.

Panel member Sunder Somasundram, AT&T’s IoT sales director, agreed. “If you look at the industrial world, getting all of them to agree on standards is the biggest challenge we face. Partnerships go a long way to move this forward,” he said.

View LiveWorx keynotes and breakout sessions.

Image by Andrew Magill on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Filed under: Innovation, IoT Tagged: Internet of things, IoT, manufacturing, smart connected products