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The Internet of Things - Rambling Thoughts by Jim Fletcher
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We really don't think consciously about it, weather impacts every aspect of our life. It impacts our mood, what we wear, where and when we shop, what we eat, when we sleep -- the list is endless ...
So why don't we use weather more in our analytics and insights services to determine the real relationships and how to impact sales, ads, etc ... through the just announced availability of a range of weather APIs in IBM's Bluemix, anyone can now develop apps and services that integrate weather. This is just the start of a continued availability of services and solutions that integrate weather -- predictive, current, and historical - into our solutions.
Here's more info on the new announcement: https://console.ng.bluemix.net/catalog/services/weather-company-data-for-ibm-bluemix/
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Yesterday, IBM and Cisco delivered a significant announcement around the Internet of Things. The announcement talked about Analytics at the Edge, but perhaps what is more important was that it set the direction for "Analytics Everywhere". When I look at the Internet of Things and the connectivity and information processing models it will entail, it is a combination of most every model we have seen throughout the history of IT. There will be use cases that require "a mothership" as the control point, and master information source. There are scenarios where much of the processing can be handled "at the edge" with decisions and responses driven in isolation at the edge. There are scenarios that will require peer communications between "things" that are co-located or perhaps located across the globe from each other. There will be "cloud to cloud" information interchange requirements ... and security challenges at levels we have never imagined.
The "Internet of Things" is about business transformation, and the flexibility of being able to effectively and efficiently process information at whatever space is appropriate will create new new opportunities. Yes, we have seen some of these scenarios "in prior lives", but we have never seen the ability to develop and deliver the capabilities at the level of cost effectiveness we can today, nor have we ever considered the level of instrumentation that we can now do. Sensors are inexpensive and they enable a breadth of information that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago. Connectivity is nearly ubiquitous and inexpensive. Data storage costs are at levels where you can afford to keep data you aren't sure you will ever need, but might. And Analytics capabilities are becoming simple to deliver and available - with Watson Analytics being a great example of that evolution. #watsonIOT #IOT
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I suspect many of you are scratching your heads today, saying "IBM bought the Weather Channel???". Well first off, we bought "The Weather Company" which includes an amazing cloud-based data ingestion and analytics platform, a very successful B2B business that includes a solution that makes all of my airline flights smoother by providing plane to plane awareness of bumpy air, a proven weather prediction capability that has some of the highest accuracy in the world, and a B2C business that includes a smartphone app that is the most used app in existence today.
And when we think of weather, its much more than knowing it will be sunny tomorrow. Its detailed micro-forecasts that allow us to know the specific weather for a specific local at any time of the day. Its the ability to be pre-warned of impending weather events like extreme winds, lightening, or hail storms. Its heat indexes, windchill, dew points, pollen indexes, UV indexes, etc etc etc. All of these elements of weather when coupled with the awareness that the Internet of Things will bring as everything becomes connected created so many new opportunities.
Now lets think about all of this data in a world that has the Cognitive Insight capability that IBM Watson provides and will grow to provide ... the possibilities are truly endless.
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As is always the case with CES, exciting announcements are made. Today a new standard for Wifi was announced that should be available in 2018. Here's an article on it: Halow Wifi
The new standard focuses on improved range (up to 2x) and lower battery consumption. I have seen some articles focused around larger bandwidth hogs like file transfers, but as we look at IOT solutions, we're going to see a need for efficient connectivity, and exchange of small bursts of information. We could see apps that may have looked at BLE but now can leverage Wifi Halow instead.
Many have also positioned the technology more around the Smarter Home, but it would equally apply to a range of offerings as IOT will drive wide spread connectivity needs.
Lots of possibilities -- another great space to watch.
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IBM last week reaffirmed its commitment to Watson and the value that Cognitive Computing will bring to our future. With IOT we're moving to an era of massive data, driven by orders of magnitude reduction in the cost of collecting and maintaining that data. But what do we have when we have lots of data -- well the answer is simple -- "lots of data". With billions of devices potentially connected and interconnected, traditional approaches to leveraging operational data will become unmanageable. Why collect all of this data if we're not going to do something of value with it?
So what's the answer? Well, Cognitive Computing will become a key aspect of the value for IOT. Cognitive Computing will allow us to draw insights that would have not been possible in the past. We'll find the root cause for failures faster, allowing us to further prevent failures through operational insights provided by Cognitive techniques. We'll be able to turn "lots of data" into truly actionable insights, and provide them to technicians in a prescriptive form.
Think about how Watson has transformed the medical field. Medical personnel are now presented with a list of diagnoses with a probability for each based on analysis of the symptoms. What prevents us from applying these same techniques to inanimate "things"? Why not leverage the wealth of data being collected from "things" to feed a Cognitive system which produces not only a list of potential failures with a confidence factor about their possibilities, but more importantly what if a Cognitive system provided insights into maintenance - where maintenance operations become individualized based on operational environments potentially saving millions in unnecessary maintenance, while also eliminating failures.
We're truly at an inflection point in the possibilities and opportunities to revolutionize our future.
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As I am sure many of you have heard by now, IBM is making a major investment in the Internet of Things (IOT). On Thursday April 9th, IBM will have a web streamed event around our announcement and what it will mean to our customers and the industry. Here's a link to the live event: IBM IOT Event Link.
With its strong capabilities in streaming and historical analytics, its IOT Foundation for data collection, its breadth of database capabilities, and its Bluemix and Cloud solutions IBM is well positioned as a major player for the Internet of Things. Couple that with the industry expertise that IBM has built over the years in areas such as Asset Management with Maximo, Smarter Cities, and Smarter Buildings. As real time information will become available, so many aspects of how our clients do their jobs will forever change.
And the change will start with the engineering. Engineering and operations will digitally integrate. Rich visualizations, coupled with augmented reality capabilities will improve safety, reduce maintenance, and enable workers to better perform their roles.
Its an exciting time, and I am so glad to be in the middle of the IOT revolution.
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The non-tech media has finally caught wind of the Internet of Things (IOT) and is highlighting what happens when you don't secure your solution. They are showing cars that have their braking and steering systems controlled remotely. They are talking about home automation systems being hacked with lights and heating being remotely controlled by the hacker. They are talking about home appliances being turned on and off without the homeowner intervening. Just today USA Today featured an article on Congress wanting to hold special workgroups around the area of IOT security -- USA Today Article
So while this makes for great news stories, the need for security in any connected solution has always been critical. In this modern connected world, the ability to hack in and take control will happen unless we do something to prevent it. Any IOT solution requires security at the connection level to assure that the control "pipe" is not hijacked and used for unwanted purposes. IOT security is also needed at "the thing" to assure that it cannot be taken over and controlled by an undesired source, such as a hacker. A good IOT solution would also place bounds on what "the thing" is allowed to do and actions when "things" are controlled outside of normal bounds. For example, who would preheat their oven for 8 hours -- the "smart oven" would reset itself if preheated for too long.
But there is also a new class of security needed for many of those "things". Location - is the "thing" where you thought it was. Has it been moved to a different location, so that the stop light you though you were managing is now no longer where you thought it was. It might sound far fetched but think of the implications?
The net is that we have to be concerned with security with any intelligent and connected solution. Whether being hacked with a USB device introducing malware, hijacking the device over the network, or simply signing in with a weak password (perhaps the biggest concern) the impact is real and we have to assure whatever we build, that security is a major focus of the solution.
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Nothing like titling a blog entry with three TLAs (thats three three letter acronyms). But when I look at technologies driving change, these two will drive a 180 degree change in how disciplines like Smarter Buildings and Enterprise Asset Management evolve.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) allows us to define, operate upon, and visualize "anything" ... and visualize it in context of everything around it. The Internet of Things (IOT) will allow us to collect real time operational information about everything ... and aggregate that information so that I understand the relationship between the "things" and derive patterns about how the things interoperate.
So now what do I have -- by integrating the ability to accurately visualize, drill in, rotate, look inside, etc etc etc and to understand how things are operating now and in the past, and predicting how they will operate in the future without ever having to physically touch the "thing" we're enabling an infinite realm of possibilities to improve operations, improve health and safety, and forever change how we do our jobs ...
Exciting times to come ....
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I attended the second meeting of the Raleigh Internet of Things group yesterday. It was amazing to see how many people from so many disciplines that were interested in meeting for an exchange session on the Internet of Things. The excitement and the possibilities of what IOT will mean to all of our lives is huge.
Yesterday's meeting had presentations from 4 different presenters representing both large and small companies. Over 100 people attended. What is clear is that IOT will be an entrepreneur's paradise. Everything will become connected and interactions between things that we never have imagined would occur WILL occur.
One example from yesterday's meeting was from Big Belly Solar. The solution is a connected trashcan which can report when it needs to be emptied. Connectivity is provided by a 3G connection, power supplied by solar, and the ROI for a trashcan that costs 5x what a traditional can would cost has been shown to be less than a year. The savings come from personnel and truck roll cost reductions, and the a side effect will be immediate awareness of an "out of the normal" usage pattern that has an overflowing trashcan needing attention.
Think of the possibilities -- so much fun to come ...