The Internet of Things is here, and it will not hesitate with its introduction. It seems as if more and more apps and devices that solve everyday problems are emerging by the second. We now have smart thermostats that adjust the temperature automatically based on time of the day, what room in the house is being used the most, and many other variable inputs. We have smart watches that measure your blood pressure, track your steps taken throughout the day, how often you stand up..etc. Name almost any everyday task, and undoubtedly someone will have come up with a way to automate it.
The question that arises here: What do we do with all of this information?
The rate at which data is created is enormous, in fact its so fast that its almost impossible to fathom the actual amount of data that exists. But as we gain more and more data on things like our habits, we must figure out ways to use them efficiently. It is not efficient to have a million devices that each measure something independently, nor would anyone want to have that (unless maybe they are a gadget geek). Rather, what we strive for in the Internet of Things age is to integrate and combine devices, to create communication between devices that actually works. We are hoping to negate having to manually enter for example your food log from your iPhone app to your grocery list so that you don’t forget to restock on your bananas for tomorrow’s study session in the library.
This brings me to the topic of APIs (application program interface), or in other words basically the ground rules of how one software interacts with another. With the increasing number of products that interact, comes an increasing complexity in the APIs. In light of this, companies such as Google are creating a move towards an API-centric future, creating a standard that will make the interaction between devices easier. This movement is currently on the rise and developers must step into the game and join. It is predicted that those who fail to join this movement could fall out of business, as products such as self-driving cars for example are great examples of the importance of acquiring and training talented individuals that work with the APIs.
Do you think that the world is ready for such a fundamental shift, or will firms lag behind or fail to acknowledge the importance of this movement?
In recent years, there has been rapid development in IoT solutions being deployed to advance business intelligence. Through this technology, devices such as smartphones, tablets, refrigerators, TVs and thermostats can share data freely among themselves via the Internet and offer customers greater control over their surroundings.
The IoT can help to create opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and the technical systems, resulting in better productivity and precision leading to economic benefit. For 2015, Cisco (worldwide leader in IT) predicted that there would be 25 billion connected devices, and that this number will double going towards 2020. So far, investments in IoT have mainly been done in the IT and telecoms industry, which can be seen as a natural consequence of the amount of generated data and application capabilities for mobile devices. However, the application is increasingly spreading to several other industries as well.
This trend may revolutionize industries by allowing companies to engage with customers in a new way, improve their value propositions and build new revenue streams. Take for example the medical healthcare systems. IoT devices can be used to enable remote health monitoring and emergency notifications systems. Patients with heart problems or blood pressure that need to be monitored can monitor this with specialized implants such as a peacemaker. These devices are becoming increasingly popular for chronic patients, helping one to manage vitals and medication routines. By using this kind of technology, the doctor can monitor their patients via their smartphones, and the patient can be discharged faster with fewer check-ups.
Another example is energy management. In todays society there is an increasing focus on the need to be sustainable in how we threat the environment. One way of behaving this way is to manage our energy consumption. Through IoT one can utilize the sensing and activation systems connected to the Internet to optimize the usage. Over time, it is likely that IoT will be integrated into all consuming devices, such as switches, light-bulbs, television and so on. By integrating such devices into the IoT, consumers can control all devices from distance, and it would enable scheduling (for example turning off heat/light is given times of the day), changing lighting conditions and so on.
A third example of how IoT may revolutionize an industry is in manufacturing. IoT systems may enable rapid manufacturing of new products, dynamic response to product demands, and real-time optimization of manufacturing production and supply chain networks, by network machinery, sensors and control systems together. Through IoT it is possible to automate process controls, and to optimize plant safety and security through operator tools and service information systems. However, IoT is also becoming an increasingly important managerial tool for assets management, by giving information about predictive maintenance and measurements to maximize reliability.
The above-mentioned examples were just some of the industries that now are starting to see the benefits of IoT. Based on the technology of IoT, Cisco gives predictions that industries will look completely different than from today. Like in the early days of the Internet, IoT is a undeveloped market. New companies with new business models, approaches and solutions will appear. Furthermore, Cisco predicts that IoT will force businesses to transformation. Like with the wave of the Internet, companies need to adapt and develop strategies and plans for how they can leverage IoT to transform all aspects of their business. This will enable them to capture the value of the technology. Lastly, Cisco predict that IoT will cease to exist. The Internet has grown from being new and mysterious, to be as normal part of consumers life as electricity. The same will be for IoT. In not distant future, it will be difficult to imagine that all things were not connected and that the benefits brought by IoT were not always present.
There are thousands of apps around. For multiple platforms (iOS or Android) or in multiple browser. You probably use them on many devices: Your phone, tablet or laptop. But all those applications have very limited functionality on their own. Only by communicating to their user, connecting them between each other and swapping all kinds of information they become powerful.
And that’s where APIs come in. API stands for Application Programming Interface and describes the information and rules software programs interact with each other.
The traditional way of development focusing on web frameworks (e.g. Microsoft .NET, Ruby on Rails, PHP) can require costly integration into other software when not set up properly. Adaption to special needs can easily amount to a project in middle five figures.
An API centric piece of software executes most or all functionality through API calls. So why is this important?
With API-Centric Design the core function of a software (for example the Twitter Stream of new Tweets) is build separately from the way a user accesses it (in our example Twitter can be accessed through a browser, an iOS app from an iPhone, iPad, Android devices, aso.). There is only one core product running in the background and then many different customized front-end ways of accessing the core product running in the back-end. All the communication between those parts happens over? You guessed it: APIs!
No more changing and tweaking the core product because on a windows phone was a display error. You just handle that over the windows phone front-end client.
Bah…. that was a lot of techie talk. So what?! Well that brings us to our next big thing:
The Internet of Things
There are estimates that until 2020 there will be more than 50billion connected devices. That’s a lot! And it will shift who and what communicates over the internet. Today people communicate with people or people communicate with machines and systems. But in the age of the internet of things systems mostly communicate directly with systems. And they don’t care about pretty graphical interfaces on some gadget with touch screen. For those systems to work you need solid APIs connecting many back-ends fast and in a reliable way. And what would be more suitable for this task than software created through API Centered Design?
Oracle recently released an API Management Tool. So did IBM and Intel. These big corporations undertake those steps to be well prepared for what is about to come: The internet of things. It’s gonna be a paradigm shift.
But Where is the Money?
APIs aren’t new. And there are a lots of them. In the Programmable Web Database are more than 14’000 APIs registered. But with the emergence of mobile and the internet of things, they’re in the spotlight again. API centered software enables micro services that fit a specific need an solve a well detailed problem. Other programs can build upon existing APIs using their functionality to expand and build their own. This layer structure can help to automate tedious tasks by integrating and arranging the right APIs. There are many offerings already that allow fast creation of API-based back-ends (e.g. Treeline or Stamplay). APIs therefore build a solid foundation others can build upon. Google does that for a while already and offers a ton of APIs for others to use (e.g. Google Maps). But if you and especially your users call them regularly you have to pay for them. And they’re not cheap:
This example brings us to our first business model with APIs: If you’re providing some service that is of value to others, you can charge for every time a user or program is calling your API and uses its functionality. Even if it’s just a couple cents per call, if your API gets used thousand times a day, that’s steady income.
Another business case is to offer your API for free and animate other developers to build upon your existing API. Through referrals from that software you then generate additional sales. Uber does this with success: By offering their API for free they animate developers to build upon their core product. If someone signs up for Uber through another program that uses the Uber API, they pay the developer who build the new product a commission of $5-10.
There will be many more business models emerging around API. Especially connected to the Internet of Things. The paradigm shift opens up new business opportunity ready to exploit.
What business models including APIs do you see? I’m very interested in reading about them, so please leave a comment!
The internet of things is currently a hot topic and has the potential to disrupt the way industries an we as individuals work and live (Gartner, 2015). Yet in our daily lives many of these technologies we see are not connected to each other to make a truly integrated system. There is however a new office building in Amsterdam called the Edge, who declares itself the world’s most sustainable office building.
The Edge, which opened its doors on 29 May 2015, is a multi-tenant office building that is far ahead of its time in terms of quality, sustainability and user comfort (The Edge). The moment you wake up as an employee, your connected to the building. Your schedule is checked, and when you arrive at the office, your car is recognized and you are directed to one of the parking spots with electric powering for your electric vehicle. When you enter the building you are appointed to one of the types of desks in the building based on your schedule (sitting desk, standing desk, work booth, meeting room, balcony seat, or concentration room) (Randall, 2015). By using this appointing technology the office is able to provide 2,500 employees a working space with only 1,000 desks. Once you arrive at your desk, the temperature and lighting changes to your preferences. Currently the office provides 39,673 square meter of floor office, whereby 92,3% is rented and there are in total more 28,000 sensors in the whole building. Data is constantly stored and used for big data analysis to optimise every possible aspect of the building.
The British rating agency BREEAM, gave the the Edge the highest sustainability score ever awarded: 98,4 percent. Not only do employees experience the comfort and stimulating working environment, the building produces more electricity than it uses. Thermal energy is stored 130 below the ground and generates the required heating and cooling of the building. In the summer when it is hot, warm water is stored and isolated below the ground and in the winter this energy is used.
While this building provides us an insight of what the future of working might hold, the question is if office building and possibly homes will look this way in the future? Or is this just a prestige project carried out by multiple partners? What aspects do you think will be implemented in offices in the near feature? What are your thoughts on this?
Gartner. (2015). The Internet of Things Enables Digital Business. Retrieved September 27, 2015, from Gartner.com: http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/internet-of-things/
Randall, T. (2015, September 23). The Smartest Building in the World. Retrieved September 27, 2015, from Bloomberg Business: http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-the-edge-the-worlds-greenest-building/
The Edge. (n.d.). Info. Retrieved September 27, 2015, from The Edge: http://www.the-edge.nl/en/info
Last Tuesday Salesforce announced the launch of its IoT (Internet of Things) cloud. Salesforce is a company that offers customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to other firms, to get an insight in their leads, contacts and activities to ultimately raise their revenues. (Salesforce.com, 2015)
With the new IoT cloud Salesforce offers, companies can make use of the Internet of Things and the data produced by clients, partners and all electronic devices and sensors. The IoT cloud will allow them to process an enormous amount of data and make use of that to proactively respond on customers demand. (Salesforce.com, 2015)
The cloud connects all devices, sensors, websites and other forms of interactions with Salesforce to create an overview of the clients of a firm, and give them a good indication of the customers needs. With simple and intuitive tools, business users can process the data offered to filter the important events and proactively respond to them. Ultimately Salesforce IoT will allow its users to improve the customers experience. (Salesforce.com, 2015)
The IoT cloud makes use of Salesfoce’s Thunder, which is world’s most scalable event process engine, designed to connect billions of events and process them real-time. Thunder allows companies to gets insights in aspects of their business, that were invisible before. All of this will create opportunities to further improve the customer experience. (Salesforce.com, 2015)
With the new cloud, Salesforce is turning the internet of things into the internet of customers, CEO Marc Benioff said during a conference in San Francisco. Big Data is providing a big opportunity for companies these days, the Salesforce IoT cloud will help these companies to explore these opportunities and respond to them. (Ecommercetimes.com, 2015)
I believe the Salesforce IoT cloud is a great example of how a company can make use of big data to improve their business. However, a lot of companies are still sceptical about the use of “big data” and “cloud computing”, not seeing it as an addition or even pillar of their strategy. Which is a waste, because it allows you to get to know your own customers so much more in-depth, that makes be believe it creates chances for all companies in all sorts of industries.
Author: Jessica Dooper (358278jd)
https://www.salesforce.com/nl/form/sem/landing/sales-cloud.jsp?d=70130000000tYju&DCMP=KNC-Google&keyword=salesforce&adused=75782668110&mkwid=su9wtPKOa&pcrid=75782668110&pkw=salesforce&pmt=e&pdv=c [Accessed 19 Sep. 2015].
http://www.salesforce.com/nl/iot-cloud/ [Accessed 19 Sep. 2015].
http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/Salesforce-IoT-Cloud-Makes-Thunderous-Debut-82492.html [Accessed 19 Sep. 2015].
The Internet of the future will be heavily shaped by a few key trends, from hybrid and personal clouds, to new visualization and analytics techniques that will solve challenges in the domain of Big Data. But perhaps most noteworthy of all is the expectation that new companies and applications will realize the concept of an Internet of Things.
By 2020, the global internet will have 100-billion connected devices. But no longer will the majority of these devices be comprised of computers and smartphones. Instead the future envisions a web of connected washing machines, fridges and vacuum cleaners.
Companies such as Microsoft and Cisco have heavily invested in projects related to bringing the Internet of Things into fruition. They have partnered with key institutions such as the Industrial Internet Consortium and the Allseen Alliance, both dedicated to standardizing how things will connect and communicate.
Today the Internet of Things is a far away prospect in its infantile stages of conception. We see more and more devices becoming connected, such as TV’s and Alarm Systems, but connectivity on an industrial scale is lacking. One of the primary causes of this predicament stems from the lack of a common, industrially-applicable framework for the connection and communication of the myriad of ‘things’.
Allseen Alliance has released AllJoyn, a free software originally created by Quacomm but given to the Allseen Alliance for further development. It is designed to operate in any device, regardless of the manufacturer or operating system, and mediate direct communication via wireless linkages (i.e. Wifi or Bluetooth). The basic idea being that objects broadcast what they can do in the immediate vicinity. Ideally, upon entry into a defined space, your future smartwatch should be able to access and command all connected devices located therein.
The Thread Group, supported by Samsung, ARM and Google’s NEST has another perspective on how the framework for the Internet of Things should look like. Most notably, Thread explicitly distinguishes itself from being ‘just another standards body’ and bases its framework on existing standards and adds software for functions like security, routing and setup. According to the group this is imperative to minimize battery usage in devices which will have to deal with a multitude of active, broadcasting devices. Thread’s de facto sponsorship of the Bluetooth Smart brand has allowed it to capitalize early on the Internet of Things, as do its partnerships with Google and Samsung.
As the horizon draws near, companies are rushing to create the foundations of an increasingly connected global economy. The Internet of Things represents only one of the trends we expect to be realized in our lifetimes but it is taking measurable strides, being driven by a host of companies and interest groups representing a broad and diverse range of potential users. An environment of near total connectivity brings forth many challenges that will have to be confronted in the economic, social and ethical domains. Luckily, all efforts to develop a framework for the Internet of Things are open, exemplifying the level of collaboration and farsightedness that will be necessary in this awesome undertaking.
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