Internet of Things: The Next Big Thing after Cloud, Mobility and Big Data

July 24, 2013
Internet of Things: The Next Big Thing after Cloud, Mobility and Big Data
Adaire Fox-Martin, SVP Industry, Value and Solutions , SAP APJ, on what's pushing the tech needle.
Imagine a world so connected. As you lock the doors of your house to leave for work, your car heats up by itself to ensure you have a cosy comfortable ride , enroute your car monitors your drive and can alert you of possible routes for traffic jams or any speeding vehicles coming your way . As you park your car in the office basement, your desktop boots up and the coffee machine has your cappuccino ready. Sounds like a StarWars world? Well the Internet of Things( IoT) makes all these possible and that is why it is being labeled the next big thing in the tech world after Cloud , mobility and Big data. Adaire Fox-Martin, senior vice president, Industry, Value and Solutions , SAP Asia Pacific Japan speaks on how organization can leverage IoT and Machine-to-Machine( M2M) interaction in the future to spearhead new benchmarks of productivity, automation and ease.

How does SAP define the Internet of Things?

Adaire Fox: The IoT such as smart cities, connected vending machines, connected cars and smart homes will change the way we live our lives today and open new business scenarios for companies across industries like utilities, retail, automotive, public sector and healthcare. 

We look at all smart machines, whether wiror unwired, and see them as extensions of mobile devices; they all need to be secured, managed, and enabled to run applications in much the same way as a mobile phone.  M2M Communication is increasingly possible via what is known as the IoTs and the intelligent sharing of information between various machines/devices/gadgets.  Managing this smart machine to machine (M2M) evolution requires a comprehensive architecture and technology solutions that we’re working on with our partners.

And how can this change the way things are done in this world?

AF: With advances in RFID, miniaturization and analytics, M2M makes the IoT an increasingly tangible possibility. Think of such M2M communication as the “social collaboration” of machine-to-machine or machine-to-man. Such technology is beginning to mature where innovations in Big Data Analytics, combined with Mobility and GPS, allow tailored promotions to be offered to consumers on their mobile devices.

We see IoT as the ultimate social media collaboration of man and machine - a step above M2M, which is primarily used to collect vast amount of machine data from network-connected embedded microprocessors. We expect it to integrate data from machines, ERP, CRM systems, social media etcetera in real-time, allowing humans to intelligently interact with devices, devices with devices, and devices back to humans.

What are some of the associated pieces of technology (for e.g RFID, Big Data, in-memory computing) that will need a boost in adoption before IoT becomes a reality?

AF: In order for M2M to deliver on its true potential, a number of stakeholders - including end users in the industry verticals, service providers and regulators - need to address a few action points. Enterprises would need to experiment with pilots and pay close attention customer feedback to understand what customers will accept. Customer concerns about privacy and security will determine the viability of many M2M applications.

Telecoms operators need to continually develop their own business models and customer offerings. It is inherently a complex ecosystem, but it will need to be simplified for widespread take-up. To win over new business and convince skeptics, the provider community needs to agree on technology standards, develop open protocols and establish network technology that will last over long deployment periods.

All this has to be topped with governments taking positive action and address growing spectrum congestion, help simplify technology standards and consider streamlining regulations in some sectors to foster innovation.

What are some of the points that companies/ organizations who plan to leverage IoT should keep in mind?

Smart companies are building new business models leveraging trends such as M2M which is simply the direct communication between objects and systems without the need for human intervention. Today the M2M market is an adjacent and incremental opportunity to the traditional mobile market because it has a broad reach and can have an impact on solutions across all industries.

In order to gain competitive advantage with big data and mobility by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by Mobile to Mobile (M2M) communication, the key to the strategy lies in partnering with the right “software platform” and “network management” partners to bring together the three key factors of M2M: network provision, platform, and network management.

What are the industry verticals that you think would benefit the most from this new concept?

AF: As an emerging technology,M2M communication is a fast growing revenue segment of the telecommunication industry. According to Forrester Research, M2M service revenue is expected to reach US$17 billion globally by 2016.

Industries like oil and gas, transportation and logistics management rely on it to keep us safe. Medical device manufactures use it to keep us healthy. In the Mill Products & Mining Industry, M2M is used to collect data from the process control systems of fixed manufacturing assets via enterprise interfaces.  M2M, using cellular technology or Wi-Fi mesh networks, opens up a new avenue for the remote data collection from mobile or regional distributed assets.

Another example is automotive industry and connected cars. Equipped with internet access that can share data between devices inside and outside the vehicle, these cars can bring additional benefits to the driver. In some smart cities, these cars are also connected to public transportation grids making inner city traffic more manageable.

In the traditional mobile model, companies like Asian Paints India are gaining newfound business capabilities by implementing mobile platforms that allow sales personnel to connect, manage and analyze customer requirements in real time. 

What is a projected time-line for IoT to start seeing mainstream adoption in India?

AF: Emerging technologies such as “machine to machine” could be as transformative as any innovation that has arrived since the dawn of the internet age. The decision makers tasked with keeping large corporations ahead of their competitors by staying up-to-date on the latest trends in technology hold a unique perspective, as they have a deep professional stake in knowing what the future holds for their businesses. It is encouraging to see that Indian IT decision makers (ITDMs) are excited about the opportunities M2M will bring as a crucial component for a business’ future success.

Also read: Internet of Things – A Thing of the Future?

According to a research note published in MarketsandMarkets, the total M2M market is expected to reach $85.96 billion by 2017 at a CAGR of 26.1 percent from 2012 to 2017. Forecasts by analysts promise anything from 12 billion to 50 billion devices connected by 2020, up from just 1billion in 2010.

We at SAP considerAsiaas the rapidly growing markets for M2M deployments and have outlined machine-to-machine (M2M) strategies for Indian telecom market. SAP’s M2M activities are aimed at assisting telecom operators who work with enterprises in verticals such as automobile, retail, energy, healthcare and manufacturing.

What are a few technologies in which SAP plans to make a foray in the near future ( with respect to IoT)?

AF: At the core of M2M are three key elements: Mobility, Big Data and the Cloud.   These are precisely the focus areas that we’ve designated as innovation factors at SAP.  We have our MDM product, SAP Afaria, running on HANA (our BigData In-Memory Database), all in the Cloud. Supplementing this Mobility management, SAP HANA provides a big data infrastructure to handle large volumes of data that are streamed from “things” so as to make intelligent choice through the use of analytics.

Cloud computing is a major focus area for SAP in 2013 and a key driver for sustaining our growth momentum. It also plays an important role in boosting M2M communication. Until the advent and proliferation of the cloud, any new application requires a suitable back-end server infrastructure, often with little certainty about the potential scale of use or volume of data flow. But the spread of low-cost cloud computing vendors is helping to ease the rollout by providing flexible and scalable technology platforms to support them.

Source: ComputerWorld India