Hilton: The power of analytics in IoT

Steve Hilton - MachNation

Analytics is a critical enabler of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Being able to aggregate, store, manipulate and analyse data from connected devices yields value to the public and private sector organisations adopting these types of solutions. The insights that organisations receive from data analytics can fuel cost savings as well as services-led innovations for the companies that adopt IoT solutions including rich analytics.

Analytics applied to IoT solution data are capable of producing some incredible insights. Organisations can use analytics for planning, compliance, process monitoring and metric monitoring. In addition, organisations can use analytics to create predictive models against which actual data can be compared.

Most vendors that supply IoT analytics solutions include other ancillary and useful tools in their arsenals (see Figure 1). We describe the two most common below.

Figure 1: IoT analytics and ancillary technology components

  • Device management--Many analytics solutions include platforms for device management that provide the ability for organisations to install, manage and update end-devices and client software. The best of these horizontal management solutions allow a simple, automated, non-vendor specific and cost-effective way to authenticate and manage myriad device types. The worst of these solutions are vendor-specific and use proprietary protocols for interconnection.

  • IoT applications platforms--Some analytics solutions include IoT application platforms. These platforms are technology tools upon which developers can build, run and manage IoT applications. The best platforms provide a well-documented, horizontal, extensible, scalable, open and secure foundation for public and private sector organisations, application developers and system integrators to build applications. These platforms should have excellent UI/UX features with special emphasis on pleasing visualization capabilities.

There are several interesting IoT vendors that offer analytics embedded in their platform products. Vendors such as Cumulocity, Virdata, Xively, Axeda, Carriots, Exosite, PTC/ThingWorx, SeeControl and others operate in this space. Each has unique attributes. For example, Cumulocity couples innovation and a very open and fair approach to development by making its huge library of developer guides publicly available online and offering a free trial of its solution. SeeControl offers packaged end-to-end solutions on its website for plug-and-play IoT deployments.

MachNation is writing a series of research documents on IoT platforms (i.e., applications platforms, device management and analytics) for subscribers to our IoT/IoE Research program.

Since we are speaking about analytics, we would be remiss to omit SAP from the discussion. SAP arguably offers the gold-standard of cloud-based analytics platforms called HANA. Having recently attended SAP SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP's end-user and partner event, we were impressed with the types of IoT solutions that were using extremely rich analytics.

SK Solutions, a UAE-based company, offers a connected construction site solution. By tracking all construction site assets--cranes, building equipment, trucks, construction goods and humans--SK has created a solution in partnership with SAP and Cisco that minimises the probability of accidents on construction sites. Overall, this results in lower costs of construction and reduces injuries and loss of life. SK Solutions has installations of SAP HANA on-site and in the cloud to optimize the processing of mission critical site data.

Germany-headquartered IFM Electronic builds high-tech sensors, object recognition, diagnostic and identification systems. IFM's business is IoT in that the products it creates are devices that collect and aggregate data. In addition, IFM uses IoT technology in its own development plants to ensure the highest levels of quality for all manufactured components. Representatives of IFM stressed the importance of analytics as part of an IoT solution.

Bosch, the global equipment and software manufacturer headquartered in Germany, described an innovative connected warehouse solution that it has deployed in Germany in conjunction with partners SAP and Vuzix. The solution is Bosch's answer to Google Glass. Warehouse workers wear a pair of connected glasses to optimize the package picking and shipping function. See this video for an example of the type of solution. Deep analytics capabilities and integrations between the IoT solution, logistics, ERP and other applications can have a sizeable impact on warehouse costs and quality of service.

All three of these enterprises--SK Solutions, IFM Electronic and Bosch--incorporated rich analytics capabilities into their IoT solutions. Their discussions and demonstrations at SAP SAPPHIRE NOW attest to the power of analytics to drive deep process improvements and innovation.

We have recently come upon another fascinating example of IoT analytics being offered by Essence Group, an Israel-based company offering a B2B2C, end-to-end, home health monitoring solution called Care@Home.

Unlike other health monitoring solutions that require an elderly or other home-bound person to wear devices and actively call for help when needed, Care@Home uses sensor-based technology mounted inside the home and connected to an IP gateway. During the first 30-days after activation of the solution, the sensors track movements of the home-based person. Algorithms create a model for the typical day of the home-based person including movements across the house, use of kitchen appliances, use of the bathroom and use of the shower. In the future if the home-based person's activities vary from the predicted model, Care@Home notifies a healthcare professional or family member with an alert. This type of IoT solution relies on rich analytics that can provide individual feedback to an end-user or facilitate collaboration between end-users and healthcare professionals.

Analytics represent one of the critical elements of a holistic IoT solution for public and private sector entities. We anticipate more development in this burgeoning field as more organisations recognise the value of analytics in re-engineering business and civic processes.

Steve Hilton is managing director of MachNation, the only dedicated insight services firm for the IoT and IoE industries. MachNation specializes in understanding and predicting the IoT and IoE industries including developments in hardware, platforms, communication services, applications and deployment services. Steve has over 20 years experience providing guidance in the technology and communications sector. For more information, visit: www.machnation.com