Enabling IoT platforms to deliver business outcomes

By | 10 minute read | March 1, 2017

Mobile World Congress

A concerted effort

Achieving real business outcomes with IoT is a concerted effort. By 2020, there will be more than 30 billion things’ connected to the Internet, and most will use wireless networks to send and receive their data. IoT devices are expected to generate 180 zettabytes of data annually by 2025; data that will require the most sophisticated and powerful analytical engines the world has ever known.

Mobility. The Internet of Things. Artificial intelligence. These are the dominant technology trends of our era. Each a powerful and transformative force in our professional and personal worlds. But right now, many companies are treating these technologies as separate phenomena. This is a mistake. Mobility, IoT and AI should not be implemented in parallel. Instead, they must be implemented in concert, as one integrated system, working together to further an organization’s strategic goals. Anything less, and we rob ourselves of their full potential.

IBM's Deon Newman at Mobile World Congress 2017

IBM’s Deon Newman at Mobile World Congress 2017

To do this requires open standards, interoperability, and a collaborative approach to the development and deployment of these technologies. In short, it requires a technology ecosystem that is committed to working across disciplines on behalf of clients.

The turning point

IBM is at the forefront of this integrated approach – the world’s largest systems integrator, actively building collaborative relationships, championing open standards, and building the physical spaces needed to foster co-creation and collaborative problem solving.

By 2020, 30 billion connected things – IoT things – will generate 40% of all data. The Internet of Things changes the way businesses create value, companies compete and partner, and consumers experience the world.

IBM Watson IoT has the privilege of working with 6,000 clients representing every industry you can imagine – from start-ups to global brands. Working together with hundreds of ecosystem partners, device network, and platform partners, application and solution providers, through all of these engagements, we’ve noticed a change in the last six months. Organizations are shifting from wonder at the potential of IoT, mobile, and artificial intelligence to confirmation of their transformative power to outcomes.

Reinventing to achieve business outcomes

Leading companies are reinventing every business system, process and experience to achieve three core outcomes.

  • Boosting operational performance and lowering costs in factories, facilities and supply chains.
  • Enriching customer experience in hospitals, schools, hotel rooms, retail stores, connected cars, connected homes. For example, in a connected work environment the use of connected white boards, intelligent lighting, climate control, and smart building services.
  • Creating new services and business models – with organizations offering a range of new services around connected products – that create revenue and build loyalty. For example, monetizing data from the Internet of Things – with solutions like the GM OnStar Go console to make it easier than ever.

There are three dominant technology trends making it possible for organizations to achieve these kinds of outcomes – not surprisingly, they represent the dominant technologies of this era: Mobility, Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. A critical point is that these technologies must be implemented in concert, as one integrated system, working to further an organization’s strategic goals.

The Internet of Things: changing the way organizations operate

Let’s take a look a deeper look at two of these trends, the IoT and AI.

In IoT, the buzz is about digital twin. Digital twin is a virtual or digital representation of a physical entity or system. It involves connected ‘things’ generating real-time data. That data is analyzed in the cloud, and combined with other data related to the thing, plus context around it.

Digital twin is an example of some of the most advanced in the industry. Both Airbus and Schaeffler are using digital twins to transform their production process, from the design phase all the way through to their maintenance and servicing. Organizations are starting to use digital twins to digitally reinvent the way they:

  • Design – handle complex product requirements, rapid development cycles, and challenging regulatory requirements
  • Build – handle demands for better efficiency, quality, and yield
  • Operate – handle demands for better performance or higher customer satisfaction

But, the magic really happens when organizations share digital twin views and data across functions, and across the product life cycle. In order to be successful, organizations need to include:

  • Analytics at every step – to constantly make improvements, at each point in the system and overall
  • Open and federated data – so it can be accessed across the organization, from engineering to operations
  • Industry context – deep industry expertise and know-how across functional areas

Artificial Intelligence: making things think

Artificial Intelligence is another catalyst for change. For a couple years, we’ve been living in a world that runs on data.

The world runs on data

The world runs on data

In this environment, AI, cognitive computing, and machine learning are driving new capabilities and creating significant opportunities. IBM’s strategy to help our clients capitalize on this opportunity is threefold: Cloud + AI/Watson + Industry.

Cloud is the underpinning of a global ecosystem. It’s powered by cognitive – to enable and enhance customer insights, engagement security, analytics. And made valuable through industry specialization, for example, IBM is making big bets in areas like healthcare, finance, and industry-based IoT solutions.

An ecosystem makes you stronger

IBM is equipped to deliver competitive advantage through game-changing technology – with Weather data to predict need and improve decision-making; blockchain to ensure transparency and trust in your supply chain; and security solutions and services to protect your ecosystems and end-points.

But these technologies don’t mean anything without a strong ecosystem. Creativity and collaboration between our clients, their business partners, their technology providers, and experts in dozens of fields. It’s only possible within an open platform like Watson IoT platform.

We are seeing new partnerships form on a daily basis – each new collaboration yields new innovation – including recently announced examples such as ABB who are developing new, service service-oriented business models by using Watson to make minute, predictive adjustments to manufacturing equipment; Ricoh who are embedding Watson into their connected whiteboards; Harman who bringing the power of Watson to their interactive speakers; and the BMW Group who are using Watson to create more intuitive driver support systems.

Creating an epicenter for IoT ecosystem

By 2025, Machina Research estimates that public and private enterprises will be spending over US$1 Trillion on IoT. As the volume of services, data and opportunities continue to expand, enabling technologies and platforms will need to surface and be widely adopted to create an IoT ecosystem across industry sectors.

In February 2017 we opened the new Watson IoT Center in Munich as an epicenter for IoT ecosystem. The center hosts an extensive team of developers, researchers and experts, including some of our partners who are co-locating with us – partners like BMW who are collocating a team of researchers at our Watson IoT headquarters building in Munich. And they’re not alone. BNP Paribas, Siemens, CapGemini, Tech Mahindra are all collocating teams at the Watson IoT Headquarters as well.

It is our clients who are the real trailblazers creating new experiences and better outcomes using Watson IoT solutions. Let’s take a closer look at how they are achieving core business outcomes.

Enrich customer experiences

KONE, a global leaders in the elevator and escalator industry, is using IoT to change the way people experience movement in buildings and urban areas. Central to everything KONE does is a laser-sharp focus on improving the quality of their customers’ experience. To help them achieve excellence in user experiences, KONE is using the IBM Watson IoT Cloud Platform to connect, remotely monitor and optimize its management of millions of elevators, escalators, doors and turnstiles in buildings and cities worldwide.

By connecting their elevators to the cloud, by listening closely, by analysing their messages, KONE can tailor the perfect maintenance to each individual elevator. To learn more about how KONE predicts and responds to selected technical issues in real-time with the ability to run tests remotely and make commands over the cloud.

Create new services and business models

By combining the business of IoT and the technology of IoT to reengineer commerce, organizations are able to discover and developer new business models and revenue streams. For example, using the car as a platform for commerce is an innovative way for automakers to have direct daily contact with their customers. General Motors has partnered with IBM Watson to develop a technology that would make the marketing and transaction experience seamless and natural.

GM OnStar Go will roll out this year on more than 2 million vehicles. It will use Watson to analyze data to learn a driver’s habits, to understand their needs, and to deliver targeted offers, from parking options to gas stations to local restaurants. Drivers will be able to pay for services through OnStar. And they will interact with it using the easiest interface in the industry: the spoken word.

In another example, Schaeffler, a German industrial heavyweight and one of the world’s leading automotive and industrial suppliers, is ushering in a new era for industrial IoT. Working with IBM, Schaeffler is accelerating the digital transformation of its entire operations and customer solutions using Watson’s cognitive intelligence and insight from billions of sensors.

Schaeffler’s goal is to be the world’s leading manufacturer of cognitive solutions which keep the world moving. Tapping the connectivity and analytics capabilities of IBM’s cloud technologies and Watson IoT Platform, Schaeffler will analyze huge amounts of data from millions of sensors and devices across its operations and provide insight to help it to be more flexible, make faster decisions and optimize the performance of equipment in the field.

By putting intelligence into ball bearings for mobility components and systems, Schaeffler’s high-precision ball bearings are poised to impact any number of industries in which Schaeffler contributes, including aviation, transportation, automotive, and aerospace.

“We want to make a contribution in making the world a little smarter, a little cleaner, and a little safer.” Klaus Rosenfeld, Schaeffler, CEO.

Improve operational performance and lower costs

Bragi, an early pioneer in the hearables market, has turned to IBM to help develop innovative business solutions for the workplace. The company’s smart earphones, The Dash, are some of the world’s most powerful micro-wearable computers with 27 unique sensors that can measure a user’s vital signs while augmenting their communications and interactivity. With Kickstarter funding, Bragi successfully launched The Dash onto the consumer market for sport and recreation, and have shipped more than 100,000 units.

The Fourth Platform

Now, tapping the language translation and speech-to-text capabilities of IBM’s Watson IoT platform, Bragi is poised to deliver its hearable technologies as a way to transform the way people interact, communicate and collaborate in the workplace. Part and parcel to Bragi’s vision is keeping an eye on what they call the Fourth Platform. While Bragi concedes we are still operating in the 3rd platform, they believe we are quickly moving into the model of the 4th platform, illustrated here:

The fourth platform

The fourth platform

The ambient and cognitive comp platform are built upon the third wave, which means in essence cloud computing, but will be different in many ways allowing for 10s of billions (smart) devices in the next phase.

A vision for the future

The vision is for users to use the The Dash to receive instructions, interact with co-workers and enable management teams to keep track of the location, operating environment, well-being and safety of workers. Bragi is now enabling head gestures as a means for users to respond to instructions or send commands for simple tasks such as turning the page in an instruction manual during hands-on or dangerous tasks.

“Hearables will transform the way we work and have a tremendous impact on the business processes of the future. The Dash is uniquely equipped to realize the potential of truly contextual audible computing.“
Nikolaj Hviid, CEO and founder of Bragi

Facilitating synergies

Enabling IoT solutions should aim to facilitate synergies between use cases to create economies of scale, providing security for the technology and users, and identifying the core network technology that will uphold and meet demand. Interoperability is the first step towards creating IoT ecosystems that cut across use cases and industry sectors, but security has to be a primary focus

Through IoT solutions, Watson IoT is helping clients to realize real business outcomes achieved through digital transformation. By improving performance and lowering cost, enriching customer experience, and creating new services and business models. Today IBM is working with more than 6,000 clients, around the globe and across industries, to help them truly realize the benefits of IoT, creating new and improved solutions to change the world. We look forward to working with you in our new ‘collaboratory’ in Munich.

End notes:

(1)   IDC: Worldwide Internet of Things Forecast Update, 2016-2020: December 2016