Accelerating deployment in the Internet of Things
Neil Bosworth of Gemalto outlines the opportunities that today’s new levels of connectivity bring, and helps demystify what it takes to deploy an enterprise-wide Internet of Things solution.
If 2016 was the year that the Internet of Things broke into mainstream consciousness, 2017 will be the one where it starts to prove its worth. While consumers are being wowed by virtual assistants that turn on the lights, those in enterprise are discovering how to demonstrate real value to their business.
The initial hype has been overcome, the technology and connectivity is here and sensors are bringing in data that is robust. Now this foundation stage is complete, attention can turn to the more exciting task of rapid experimentation and eventual widespread adoption.
Many companies have completed proof of concept ideas and tinkered with small scale tests. But to be truly useful, these projects must mature quickly. It is this challenge that organisations must address as the need to scale rises in prominence.
The fascinating aspect of this new world of digitalisation combined with connectivity is its limitless possibilities. Each company has its own objectives and its own advantages. The reason for bringing previously disconnected devices and machines onto a network will differ in every case. But the goal will invariably be the same: to drive the company to new heights.
It can be daunting at first. Those on the front-lines of operations and those at the very top of management understand the transformational potential of the IoT. But achieving company-wide buy-in can be a challenge both in terms of internal investment and overcoming the risk of doing something new for the first time.
If building and deploying IoT solutions in the enterprise is to be a success, there must be recognition that each use-case is not the same. A large-scale project that aims to connect tens of thousands of endpoints is markedly different to one in the low hundreds. While those looking to connect large, complex infrastructures together may have to create a bespoke solution, there are alternative options for those with smaller scale objectives. This is where opting for a partially pre- designed and pre-certified endpoint solution can result in significant savings, both in terms of costs and time.
Two common application scenarios for the Internet of Things are predictive maintenance and remote monitoring. There are countless machines that the digital revolution has hitherto passed by, but adding predictive maintenance and remote monitoring to a company’s toolset can have a dramatic effect on its productivity.
What many industries have in common is that non-connected devices are often deployed remotely and manned (if at all) by employees who generally have limited technical skills. Thus, when something malfunctions, there can be high associative costs for problem identification and resolution. The obvious solution is to install something that can monitor performance in real-time and send alerts and diagnostic information as soon as a fault is detected or, ideally, before it happens – and potentially provide a route for remote troubleshooting as well.
Developing a bespoke solution for doing this can be a time consuming and costly exercise. But to address the problem, Gemalto has developed a range of simple and reliable plug-and-play M2M terminals. They ship with embedded Java allowing for easy and fast application development.
Assessment is the bedrock of any IoT project. The goal and the constraints must be known, including costs, deliverables and timescales. Once a company has confirmed these parameters, there are a further five stages before deployment. These are concepting, prototyping, pre-production, approvals and certification, and production.
When approaching design of an IoT device, the temptation will naturally exist to craft something bespoke. This has its advantages in that it will cater specifically to its purpose. However, there are hidden drawbacks that mean a purpose-built solution like a Gemalto terminal is ideally suited for the majority of IoT enterprise projects. If we look at a breakdown comparing what it takes to complete an IoT deployment using a pre-built solution compared with a wholly bespoke design, a Gemalto terminal could be deployed within six months, a good year ahead of the bespoke solution, and with considerable time savings. The key benefit of the Gemalto terminal is that everything required is limited to the software level.
With the footprint of a credit card and encased in robust plastic housing, the miniaturised Cinterion EHS6T M2M terminals work in virtually any scenario providing secure connectivity. They also have on-device debugging, multi-threading programming and program execution. These cellular terminals allow to quickly connect your industrial applications with virtually zero design time, no hardware skills, minimal integration effort and no costly approvals.
The future is clearly a connected world. Waiting for a product or machine to fail and then attending to it is inefficient. Instead we can monitor its status and diagnose issues before they become severe. This alone could have far-reaching ramifications for dozens of industries, reducing downtime for customers, lowering support costs, and optimising productivity. And by adding connectivity, you open up possibilities for innovation that cannot exist when devices and machines are offline.
We are approaching a point where the barriers to entry are rapidly diminishing, allowing companies to take accelerate their progress in the Internet of Things. Critical to this acceleration is understanding the nuances of the ways in which IoT projects evolve from prototype to production, and the ways in which you could accelerate that process.
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