By Robert Schmid
In today’s world, it takes a village to build the right IoT solution, requiring partnerships with companies that specialize in sensors, hardware, aggregation, cyber security, analytics, and more.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) matures, we see many parallels to the development of the internet. Both have had many companies, governments, universities, and individual inventors contributing to their advancement over time. Let’s take a look at some similarities between the internet and IoT and let me describe some of the benefits of building your IoT ecosystem.
Back in the 1960s, the U.S. government introduced a very early version of the internet – ARPANet, in response to the Cold War. For about ten years, only a few computers were part of this network until the government expanded it to include some universities, starting with Hawaii’s ALOHANet.[i] It sounds simple, but it took literally decades to solidify some of the first technologies, such as packet switching, internet protocol, routing, or HTML.[ii] And this wasn’t all done solely by the government, some Steve-Jobs-type, or any secret computer society. It was the culmination of efforts from pioneers in the government, universities all over the world, leading companies, and a few notable people like Vinton Cerf or Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the modern World Wide Web.
Notice that all of the technologies are simply called “the internet” – the network connection, the data servers that store the information, and even simply the concept of sharing information. As I pointed out in another post, IoT will become just another part of “the internet”.
There really was no Thomas Edison of the internet – nor of IoT. Figure 1 illustrates the technologies that make up IoT. I’ve organized this around Deloitte’s Information Value Loop, which has five steps: Create, Communicate, Aggregate, Analyze, and Act[iii]. Each step in the value loop requires its own set of technologies, with each step requiring cyber security and a set of standard protocols to make sure all of our devices play nicely together.
Just as every IT department has their set of preferred or trusted vendors for computers, Wi-Fi, or security badge systems, they will now be responsible for including providers of the IoT technologies mentioned above. IoT is about integrating IT (information technology) with OT (operational technology), which is any technology that controls physical equipment, but doesn’t generate typical enterprise data, like customer lists, sales history, or spreadsheets of office birthdays.
Examples of OT:
- PLC (programmable logic controller)
- SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition)
- CNC (computer numerical control)
It’s this data from OT that we’re interested in. Executives want to know not just what customers are buying, but how they’re using it. Manufacturers want to know why a shipment was late or where they’re losing efficiency. Some health insurers already offer discounts to employees who wear fitness trackers and provide this data to their HR rep.
While companies across the board have been crunching away in spreadsheets and accessing the internet through the same two or three web browsers for twenty years, IoT is changing business in every industry. There are IoT service providers for manufacturing, healthcare, retail, oil and gas, city government, and nearly every other industry out there. There are companies that specialize in sensors and hardware, some that focus just on transferring OT data, and others that do analytics to help you create the pretty graphs and charts that make sense of it all.
So, when you get serious about taking advantage of all your OT data, be aware, it takes a village. Technology is now so advanced that it is impossible for any single company to own all the intellectual property or talent to call themselves “The IoT Company”. From creating new data via sensors and OT, to aggregating, storing and analyzing the data, and finally turning it into value, no one provider can do it all. That’s why each provider’s website usually includes a showcase of the partners within their ecosystem.
In fact, Deloitte Digital has recently forged an alliance with PTC, who Gartner has recognized as a market leader for their industrial IoT platform, ThingWorx.[iv] One significant attribute of their industry-renowned platform is its ability to connect into existing ecosystems, which can help clients see faster results. Together, we can deliver more value to our clients.
To be successful in Iot you’re going to want to build a strong village of partners, each bringing their own strengths to the table. Are you surrounding yourself with the right partners? Are you building the right village?
With our “Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast” methodology and our exceptional ecosystem of alliances, Deloitte Digital can help organizations jumpstart their IoT journey. To learn more, contact Deloitte’s Chief IoT Technologist, Robert “Mr. IoT” Schmid at firstname.lastname@example.org or watch Robert’s weekly coffee chats with leaders in the IoT space.
Robert Schmid is Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Chief IoT Technologist. Co-authors Ryan Manes and Mark Neier are practitioners in the Supply Chain & Manufacturing Operations practice.
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of our legal structure. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.