What IoT Can Do for You: Looking Forward
Mitchell Gracie posted on May 09, 2019 |
In the battle to lead the world into the next step in connectedness, big names like Microsoft, Siemens and SAP are turning the heat up in attempts to outwit and outlast one another. (Image courtesy of Pixabay.)
In the battle to lead the world into the next step in connectedness, big names like Microsoft, Siemens and SAP are turning the heat up in attempts to outwit and outlast one another. (Image courtesy of Pixabay.)

It should come as no surprise that, as we move toward Industry 4.0, the leveraging of digital platforms to increase efficiencies is also an opportunity for massive growth. The market for Internet of Things (IoT) Professional Services is set to increase from today’s $79 billion to a whopping $189.2 billion by 2023, according to a report released by MarketsandMarkets. That’s a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19.1 percent.

It’s never been a better time to hop onto the IoT train as its offerings to decrease costs while increasing both profits and efficiency become too great to ignore. In fact, this narrative is supported by a Mar. 2019 whitepaper released by The Economist (sponsored by Microsoft), surveying more than 250 senior business executives from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The survey found that 71 percent of respondents see IoT as a new technology to “enable the effective collection, analysis and use of supply-chain data.” The survey ranked IoT third behind cloud and robotics technologies for its effectiveness, and above AI and blockchain. Yet, while 67 percent of those respondents who have implemented IoT have described the technology as putting their organization ahead of competitors in terms of financial performance, 48 percent of all respondents have not implemented IoT into their supply-chain. This is a two-fold opportunity: for those who offer IoT services and products and for those who wish to adopt IoT into their operations.

There are, however, challenges ahead. Implementing IoT can be costly, difficult to adopt into legacy operations, and it can even bring along security concerns. It’s one thing for a business to know it ought to keep up to date with available technologies and another to have the budget and headcount to make the necessary changes.

In light of all this hustle to leverage digital supply-chains, the battle for providing the best IoT solutions has been turned up to 11. Both Microsoft and Siemens, two of the world’s leaders in IoT, have recently announced their own enterprise platforms for OEMs, professional developers, domain engineers and plant supervisors. Each offering brings the combined potentials of cloud, AI and IoT technologies to the fingertips of OEMs, letting them keep more money in their pockets and the possibility of capturing more market share.

So, let’s take a dive into some of the newest developments in the IoT-sphere and see some of the digital platform options for OEMs in the market today.

Siemens MindSphere and Mendix

Siemens announced its acquisition of Mendix in 2018 with the intention to integrate the software developer into its cloud-based, open IoT operating system, MindSphere. Siemens hopes that this combination of Mendix, the application and enterprise development platform, with MindSphere will help satisfy the industrial software needs of OEMs around the globe. By expanding their talent pool with Mendix’s AI-assisted and visual development model, Siemens looks to help businesses build their own IoT solutions without a large coding-knowledge base and staff.

The low-code nature of Mendix can help businesses without large coding divisions still leverage IoT to decrease costs and increase efficiency. (Image courtesy of Mendix.)
The low-code nature of Mendix can help businesses without large coding divisions still leverage IoT to decrease costs and increase efficiency. (Image courtesy of Mendix.)

“Innovative MindSphere applications are being created everyday by Siemens, our partners and our customers,’” said Tony Hemmelgarn, President and CEO at Siemens Digital Industries Software. “With technology from Mendix, we can empower customers, regardless of technology background, to use low-code development to transform the way they approach and solve business problems. Adding the ability to create native MindSphere applications using the Mendix no-code/low-code approach can provide capabilities that are unmatched by any other industrial IoT provider.”

As the Microsoft-sponsored whitepaper showed, 47 percent of the OEM executives surveyed are yet to implement IoT solutions into their business strategies. While cost and legacy systems may be holding such businesses back from taking the plunge into IoT, Siemens’ MindSphere with Mendix mitigates against some of those concerns. The low-code nature of the platform offers the ability to integrate IoT into a business’s supply-chain without the need for all the time-intensive and costly coding. Furthermore, the service has its roots in both cloud and AI, bringing together some of the most sought-after technologies today into a single solution.

Microsoft and Express Logic

Microsoft recently stepped up its IoT game with the announcement of its acquisition of Express Logic, a real-time operating system (RTOS) for IoT and microcontroller units (MCUs) at the edge.

In 2018, Microsoft announced $5 billion over four years in additional investments for their IoT and intelligent edge offerings. The multibillion-dollar investment sought to expand their Azure suite, culminating in services such as the Azure Sphere, Azure Digital Twins, Azure IoT Edge and Azure IoT Central. The acquisition of Express Logic also falls within the realm of that expansion in funding.

Microsoft refuses to be left in the dust of its competitors and has infused a large amount of capital into integrating IoT solutions with its suite of Azure services. (Image courtesy of Microsoft.)
Microsoft refuses to be left in the dust of its competitors and has infused a large amount of capital into integrating IoT solutions with its suite of Azure services. (Image courtesy of Microsoft.)

With over 6.2 billion deployments of its ThreadX RTOS, Express Logic is one of the leaders in RTOS deployment. Regardless if a business’s products are smart lightbulbs, medical devices or factory sensors, Express Logic’s RTOS offerings have been able to help speed up time-to-market while providing security and safety.

Microsoft intends to leverage the ease-of-use that Express Logic’s RTOS bring into its suite of Azure services, such as Azure Sphere. This acquisition was one to bring about Microsoft’s domination in the IoT and MCU-security industry. Where Azure Sphere can’t be implemented, often due to the constraints of certain devices, Microsoft hopes to directly implement Express Logic’s ThreadX RTOS because of its connectivity to the rest of the Azure IoT Hub.

SAP CIAM

For companies that have already implemented IoT technologies into their supply-chain, there are still other services out there to help optimize the security of their data from their sensors as well as communications between partners.

As the world steps into a new age of connectedness, new worries about the security of data develop each day. Luckily, SAP has announced its new business-to-business (B2B) solutions to tackle these frights and cement trust between businesses, partners and customers.

SAP Customer Identity and Access Management (SAP CIAM) is a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) offered by the German multinational software company that hopes to help the management of partner and user data through “secure identity, consent and access control with built-in authorization processes.” According to SAP, the SaaS will allow businesses to build trust between one another and forge stronger relationships when sharing data. Moreover, SAP CIAM will help mitigate against any legal or regulatory risks associated with poor data security.

IoT can also be leveraged to strengthen B2B communications, fortifying the ability to grow and maintain close relationships throughout product lifecycles and their supply-chain. (Image courtesy of Pixabay.)
IoT can also be leveraged to strengthen B2B communications, fortifying the ability to grow and maintain close relationships throughout product lifecycles and their supply-chain. (Image courtesy of Pixabay.)

“Effective Experience Management is built on engaging customers and partners at every touch point,” said Ben Jackson, general manager, SAP Customer Data Cloud. “Those first conversations are critical, as they set the tone for the relationship. As the relationship matures, so does the complexity of managing a potentially massive network of external stakeholders globally, with access to internal data. SAP CIAM for B2B is the first package of solutions that offers policy-based access control, looking at the wider context of who you are before granting a partner user access to data.”

According to Jackson, SAP CIAM provides a way to provide businesses “a smarter way to manage a deeply complex ecosystem while maintaining trust.”

What’s Next for IoT

Predictions from Gartner are telling businesses and consumers to expect nearly 20 billion connected devices by 2020. As the industry of IoT changes between now and then, there’s a lot of room to accelerate a business’ growth with the leveraging of IoT solutions into a product’s lifecycle or supply-chain. Its ease of integration into the cloud to enable better edge processing, its use of AI and neural networks as well as its need for better security protocols exemplify the powerhouse that IoT is for future markets. Improved platforms are announced each month and it’s never been a more exciting time to see how the IoT industry will bloom to meet its challenges. The announcements of new services and platforms from the likes of Microsoft, Siemens and SAP are only the beginning of IoT finding its stride.


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