Pre MWC Thoughts On 5G

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Arriving ahead of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona always makes me wonder what will be the big plays from the leading operators, carriers and equipment manufacturers. The ‘Intelligently Connected’ theme from the GSMA would suggest that emerging innovation surrounding smart connected IoT devices feeding massive amounts of data to drive AI would be in the spotlight. It will!  However, it will play a significant second fiddle to 5G, where everyone will be looking to see the progress made from last year to now, 2019, the year when the whole industry is looking to monetize it.

Using a construction site analogy, the foundation has been poured and the building has been ‘topped’ out – in this case, the 5G standards have been finalized and global test beds are now switched on, so now it is ‘show time’ to fill the building with fixtures and fittings . However, there is still a lag in 5G devices and use cases so I would expect to see an avalanche of announcements from mobile device manufacturers (some have already announced the return of the foldable phone).

Lastly, 5G continues to bring new business model challenges to everyone. Operators continue to be pressured to deliver revenues and profits from 4G investments, while looking for ways to make the 5G license costs appear to be the right choice and not part of government price gouging. One thing that I will be looking for is the evolution of the operators’ market places where they bring IoT-related data to cloud ready enterprise SaaS platforms. It is here where the contextual data will be used to drive enterprise data management systems such as CRM and generate valuable business outcomes.

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IIoT - Industrial IoT
IIoT and the Changing Ecosystem

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IoT, Industry 4.0, Industrial IoT (IIoT), odds are that you have heard these terms used around you recently. IoT in the consumer space is a pretty straightforward concept to understand. IoT is an interconnected world of computing, mechanical and digital devices such as in a smart home consisting of thermostats, webcams, smoke detectors, smart doorbells who can talk to each other and managed from the internet or a smartphone.

On the other hand, when we look at things at a larger scale or we can say, an “industrial scale” then it is a whole new IoT world. Industrial internet of things (IIoT) is an extension of IoT and is the use of IoT largely in manufacturing applications, and supply chain management. IIoT is driving the next wave of the industrial revolution or we can say it’s opening a gateway to ‘Industry 4.0’. The key idea driving Industry 4.0 is a connected world comprising humans, machines, sensors and data working together in real-time to transform business and manufacturing processes.

Industrial IoT Components

A traditional manufacturing environment application works by connecting machines to a centralised data centre. The pain points here are there isn’t any interconnection between machines, the latency rate is high and processes are manual and thus prone to errors. Contrary to this, IIoT puts a modern approach and makes processes decentralised. IIoT makes machine interconnection possible converting them into automated and smart processing units. With IIoT machines have the ability to talk to each other in their own Machine to Machine(M2M) language.

The basic components that drive an IIoT system are:

  • Secure intelligent assets such as sensors and smart controllers – that can sense, communicate, store and transmit information
  • Communication and data storage infrastructure – often cloud-enabled
  • Data analytics and smart business apps that generate information from the data
  • Skilled workforce

 

How IIoT Can Revolutionise an Industry

IIoT is transforming the manufacturing industry and other supply chain intensive industries by maximising efficiency, reducing downtime and increasing the overall production. While IIoT adoption is still in a nascent stage, there are some industries that have taken the first mover advantage and have started demonstrating readiness use cases.

The Smart Factory

The adoption of IIoT has reshaped traditional factories to create smart factories. The systems work with interconnected machines and real-time data exchange that merge the departmental communications along with unified operations and information systems.Industrial IoT Smart Factory

How is IIoT making factories ‘smart’?

IIoT has revamped how the traditional units worked. The slow and manual processes are now automated processes with M2M communication. This can be easily demonstrated through an example of how Smart Factories deal with preventive maintenance.

A smart factory has machines, sensors, databases, and humans all working in sync with each other. Sensors within machines can automatically notice a fault and the software logic sends an automatic alert to the right human to analyse the cause behind the fault. With Artificial Intelligence incorporated, machines determine the cause of the faults and go beyond predictive to prescriptive approach pre-empting problems before they exist. This in return reduces the maintenance cost and increases uptime of the factory by introducing parameters to fix machines with accuracy. In-return this leads to increased shelf-life of components and less-time involved in problem detection and rectification.

Energy & Utilities

The Oil & Gas industry is embracing IIoT with a multitude of benefits. Now the energy and utilities have an ability to easily sync data and simultaneously operate across multiple locations. This is made possible with the adoption of cloud, and installation of sensors that capture real-time data on the operating conditions of assets, monitor physical conditions such as temperature, pressure and humidity, and even environmental conditions. The practical scenario here is that Oil & Gas companies are remotely controlling their drills and monitoring the earth’s crust by remote control sensors and maintaining the flow of resources.

Logistics

With so many moving parts in a logistics system, from factories, collection points, and the transport network, it was difficult to maintain and manage a single view of the entire process. Through an ecosystem of sensors on the machines and vehicles covering the entire supply chain, it is now possible to access real-time data. It allows advanced functionalities such as virtually positioning hundreds of vehicles and optimising their route. In the process saving energy and reducing the time for delivery. The consequence is reduced costs for fuel, vehicle maintenance, and staff, plus increased customer experience through shorter and more accurate delivery times.

Other Industries – Promising the change

The adoption of IIoT will go beyond the early adopters and revolutionise several other industries. The Transportation industry is ripe for transformation given that infrastructure is being strained and margins reduced. The challenges of demand and aging infrastructure can be best handled by IIoT.

“The success of smart cars will eventually depend on how ‘smart’ the infrastructure is,” opines Vernon Turner, Executive Analyst, Ecosystm. “Several smart cities are already thinking along these lines, and adoption of IoT in Transportation is set to rise exponentially.”

Another industry that will benefit immensely from IIoT adoption is Healthcare. At the moment, asset management IoT systems have been adopted by several organisations, as in-patient remote monitoring systems that allow clinicians to monitor and analyse patient data remotely.

The real value of IoT will be realised when clinicians have a clear workflow that allows them to monitor patients outside the hospitals,” says Sash Mukherjee, Principal Analyst, Ecosystm. “In the past, healthcare organisations have been influenced by the Manufacturing industry – by Lean and Six Sigma. They will benefit from implementing Industry 4.0 technologies, that will transform not just the provider organisations, but healthcare in general.”

 

Turning IIoT into a Profit Engine

Given all of this information about IIoT you may be thinking about the ROI, associated costs, benefits and the industry-wide exposure of the Industrial IoT. It is imperative that companies large & small are embracing Industry 4.0 change. IIoT is benefitting businesses through differentiated offerings, a creation of newer revenue streams and increased monetisation of existing offerings.

The Ecosystm IoT Study, 2019 looks at the drivers of IoT adoption across industries.

Ecosystm-IoT-Study-2019

The data shows that the key drivers of IoT adoption can all affect the profit margin of an organisation.

  • Innovation. In today’s competitive world, innovation in product designing and service delivery is directly related to a positive impact on profit margins. Organisations are looking beyond cost savings through their investments in IoT and are using IIoT to bring new, innovative products and services to the market. They are looking at creating innovative businesses that can leverage technology and offer cost savings.
  • Workforce Optimisation. It is impossible to bring change without workforce optimisation. Organisations are working on the valuable insights offered by IIoT systems which further provide ways to optimise the workforce and accelerate productivity. Implementation of automated production units and the reduction of manual labour is bringing both productivity gains and increased profits. It is also boosting employee morale – happier employees impact the profitability of organisations, reduces turnover, improves customer interactions, and promotes more job ownership.
  • Customer Experience. Customer expectations have gone up and so have methods to improve customer experience. Organisations are taking IIoT seriously, as it’s unleashing capabilities to improve processes throughout the product life cycle while also improving product quality through better QCs. Feedback to product improvement time has reduced – customer features and product improvement requests can now be handled more efficiently, based on customer data.

Businesses that fully capitalise on IIoT systems are successfully building a competitive edge through their innovative products, optimised workforce, and differentiated products and service offerings to enhance customer experience.

What Lies Ahead?

As IIoT percolates into other industries, we will potentially see a new industrial revolution. This has obviously been attracting investment and technology companies quickly to offer related technology offerings that tech buyers would do well to consider along with IoT.

Cloud

Data management will become an obvious challenge with IIoT-driven data proliferation. Already the industry has been talking about going beyond cloud to “fog” computing.  The real value of IIoT will be realised when the solutions become able to operate on the Edge. This will see an increased uptake of SaaS offerings that will be required for quick and accurate data-driven decisions.

AI

AI will eventually go further than basic machine learning and incorporate deep learning for better predictive and prescriptive analysis. IoT devices with embedded AI will truly revolutionise industries. This is another technology area that tech buyers should keep an eye on, irrespective of the industry.

Security and Risk Management

An explosion of IIoT devices and data will bring new risks. Cybersecurity experts and teams will be required to constantly monitor vulnerabilities, follow security best practices and eventually predict breaches.

 

The Future

Industry 4.0 is very much a buzzword in certain industries, with several advanced organisations already following the business and technology practices. Naturally, there are still many companies that do not see the need for new technology or would rather invest in other areas.

For organisations that are looking to modernise, innovate and remain competitive, Industry 4.0 is a good benchmark of how technology can be leveraged. IIoT is a key enabler of Industry 4.0 and has the potential to deliver benefits to majority industries through increased intelligence and curated data – the question is how soon we can witness it on a scale.

Which are the other industries that you think will benefit from IIoT? Leave your comments below
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IBM HCL hybrid cloud
Ecosystm Snapshot: IBM & HCL Join Hands to Gear up Hybrid Cloud

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IBM is aggressively pushing their products and services with multiple partnerships being announced over the last few months.

In the recent announcement, HCL Technologies and IBM stated that they were collaborating to assist organisations on their hybrid cloud journey. The joint services will offer seamless integration of their customers’ cloud across any private, public and on-premise environment. The hybrid cloud approach is aimed at eliminating the concerns of mixing the different cloud environments yet maintaining scalability and security. HCL will feature new refactoring and re-platforming services to allow organisations to migrate, integrate and manage apps and workloads on IBM’s cloud.

Speaking on the subject, Phil Hassey, Principal Advisor ,Ecosystm, thinks that “the most attractive aspect of this collaboration is that it will bring together the best of both vendors. IBM has such a long history in Infrastructure Management, whereas HCL has – most particularly in the past 5 years or so – built up capability in the space.”

The good news for tech buyers is that they will derive benefits from HCL’s customer knowledge and hands-on approach with the combination of IBM technology, cloud and – of course – Watson. HCL has acquired significant IBM assets that they could extract more value from. The infusion of AI into hybrid cloud will lead to increased automation, improved outcomes and effective investments by clients.

When we look at the individual benefits to IBM and HCL from this deal, Hassey says, “IBM needs new customer logos and HCL can provide that. Conversely, IBM can provide larger enterprise clients to HCL. However, it is not a straight customer swap, they will work to maintain relationships independently.”

IBM is pushing hard towards their plans to capture more market with many big deals announced recently – and undoubtedly many more yet to happen. It is well-documented that IBM has gone through many reinventions but is still deeply entrenched in many of the world’s largest organisations. “IBM is such a large machine that different aspects and offerings are always operating at different speeds”, says Phil. “It needs to accelerate the uptake of Watson, and Watson being available on any cloud will help this.”

The hybrid cloud is desperately looking for big scale integration and transformation capabilities, so this agreement between HCL and IBM will hopefully help kickstart that.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold
Ecosystm Snapshot: What is the Use Case for the Samsung Galaxy Fold in Your Business?

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Today Samsung announced their new “Samsung Galaxy Fold” device – and while it won’t be available until at least April 26. This foldable hybrid phone/tablet device is not the first foldable phone – but it will likely be the first one to have mass market availability and will be the first that businesses consider deploying.

But what is the business opportunity for the Samsung Galaxy Fold? It is not a slim, sexy phone, and it is not a large screen tablet like an iPad or Galaxy Tab S4 (although the screen is actually bigger than the smaller screen Tab A 7” tablet). It will be an expensive device (US$1,980) – but depending on the configuration will likely be cheaper than a high-end phone plus a high-end tablet. It doesn’t come with a stylus, but has the ability to help users multi-task (supporting up to three apps at the same time) and also supports DeX – Samsung’s under-rated ability to turn the phone into a PC-like experience. It also supports Samsung Knox, so the security capabilities that Samsung is becoming well known for will be supported by the Galaxy Fold.

Samsung Galaxy Fold Appearance

Initially, it looks like a device that could replace the “phone and tablet” combination, but the reality is that many of the types of role that have both devices (engineers, repair people etc) typically require ruggedized devices – even a white goods repair person is working in wet and dirty environments and would at least have some type of case on their device. The unique nature of the Galaxy Fold likely prohibits a ruggedized case – and possibly any case at all (as the fingerprint sensor is on the side of the device).

A “Shareable” Device

One factor that strikes me about the Fold is the fact that large screens not only make content easier to consume – but also easier to share. Travelling salespeople – who typically do meetings in cafes or offsite meeting rooms often pull out their tablet or laptop to demonstrate a product or show a presentation or video. Laptops are not great for this – as the interface is designed for one user – not multiple, and many don’t have 4G connections.

You often see software salespeople pull out their tablet to demonstrate their SaaS platform – so this is one of the use cases for the Galaxy Fold – it is a pocketable tablet that has 4G (or 5G) connectivity. Any situation where a white collar executive is sharing information is a potential opportunity for the Galaxy Fold. Only time will tell whether such executives are willing to accept the compromises (thicker device, smaller front screen).

The Ultra-Portable Laptop

The Fold could be the device that shows the real benefit of Samsung DeX – the extra memory and processing power might convince some businesses or end-user computing teams to dump the laptop for some of their employees – and give them a device that can be a phone, tablet and PC. Carrying your laptop between work and home in your pocket might be an attractive option for some users.

An Executive Status Symbol

The Fold will make its way into the senior management ranks too. The device will draw attention and interest – so those who seek such attention will be drawn to it. But if you look around the senior executive community you see those who don’t mind having a larger device in their pocket normally do so because they have covered the phone in a massive “Otter Box” case – they are looking to protect their asset – again the lack of protection may be an inhibitor for this buyer. And the other execs who like a slim, sexy device may be put off by the size. It is hard to know exactly where the Galaxy Fold will land.

Whatever happens, it is great to see the rate of innovation in the smartphone market start to accelerate again after 3-4 years of stagnation. From an engineering and design perspective, the Fold looks incredible. What role it takes in the end-user computing strategy of businesses across the globe isn’t yet clear – but the idea of a device that helps your business users better share content could certainly be an opportunity.

If you’d like to discuss your End User Computing strategy feel free to reach out to me at: tim.sheedy@ecosystm360.com – or if you have any thoughts of other use cases for the Samsung Galaxy Fold please post them in the comments below – let’s keep the conversation going!

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End User Computing
It’s Time For End User Computing To Take Centre Stage

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For most companies, End-User Computing (EUC) is considered an expense to the business. EUC strategies are typically exercises in cutting costs – with often not much more than lip service given to the needs of employees (or employee personas). I know – I help companies write these strategies, and the costing component is always the piece that gets the strategy over the line.

But the winds are changing. Employee Experience (EX) is taking off as a serious business initiative. For example:

  • Edmunds.com wrapped the traditional Facilities and Human Resources functions into a combined WEE Team which represents Workplace and Employment Experience. They engaged in a campaign to rid the company of the term “Human Resources”
  • Airbnb has a dedicated team to “drive the company’s health and happiness”
  • Nitro has “turned old-school HR on its head and instead created Employee Experience (EX)

In our upcoming CX research, the early data is showing that EX is the number two initiative for businesses across the globe in 2019. And for information workers, the technology that sits in front of them is a HUGE component of their experience – and their ability to get and stay productive.

Productivity Should Be The Focus Of Our EUC Strategies

Smart businesses understand that. They allow employees to choose (or bring) the devices that they need to remain productive. While desktop PCs might not be making a comeback, they are increasingly being adopted as an alternative to the “laptop as one device” strategy that many businesses embrace. Sometimes a powerful computer with a big screen (or multiple screens) is what people need to get the job done. Other times a small form factor desktop is perfect. Employees may need tablets or smartphones. And other times they need regular laptops, convertibles, or 4G connected laptops. Smart businesses also focus on seamless security – knowing that security is a key enabler of productivity. We are seeing that “The best, most secure device for the job” is taking off as a EUC hardware strategy in businesses that are striving to build a productive and enjoyable employee experience. This helps them to keep employees productive and will help them attract and retain the best talent.

And EUC goes beyond the device to the entire user experience

Collaboration initiatives often disappoint. Limited adoption, and limited interoperability between applications limits effectiveness. There is often a disconnection between the collaboration system and how it helps employees hit their goals. Microsoft is currently rebooting its collaboration strategy – and has created a more modern system that more closely mimics the processes of a typical information worker (Teams).  Slack is also taking the world by storm – as it is a collaboration tool that helps people the way they work today – it doesn’t require any training.

IT Operations

IT Operations professionals need to take a fresh look at EUC – but this time within the context of the other initiatives in your business. Do you already have a team focusing on EX? Are there initiatives you can help with – or piggyback on? There is real academic research proving the link between happiness and productivity – or the “state of flow”.  IT holds the key to productivity – and therefore happiness – for information workers in particular – it’s time to step up and put employee experience and productivity – not costs – at the centre of our IT end-user computing strategies.

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IIoT_Edge Computing
5 recommendations to accelerate implementation of IIoT Edge computing solutions in Manufacturing

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Is IIoT Edge Computing solution a real Internet of Things (IoT) trend for 2019?

As large hardware manufacturers like Cisco, HPE, Dell and more are building specific, robust and secure infrastructure for the edge, it is believed that there will be a lot of money flowing in the IIoT Edge computing world.

The Development and implementation of Edge-Machine Learning solutions is a complex process and requires a combination of rich industry experience, knowledge of automation (PLCs, SCADAS, HMIs), electrical & mechanical engineering along with unique Edge Computing distributed system. This is used by Data Scientists to develop Machine Learning algorithms which can be utilised by IIoT applications in the manufacturing industry.

For organisations looking to implement these solutions, it is always a good idea to know more on adoption and ask for the continuation of a pilot project for more than a year.

Below are the top 5 things that one should follow to accelerate implementation of IIoT edge computing solutions in the Manufacturing industry –

1)    Get help to find the needle in the haystack

With the fragmented ecosystem of IIoT vendors and companies talking about the Industrial Internet or Industry 4.0, the challenge that always appears in front of the customers is to ask for free pilots from the manufacturers.

It is not just finding the needle (IIoT best or cheaper solution) in the haystack (ecosystem), it is how this needle matches with your business and technology strategies.

I know, I am selling myself, but my recommendation to you is to get advice from independent IIoT experts.

2)    Avoid OT Vendor Lock-In: We need machine data availability

Powerful Edge Analytics-Machine Learning applications require data exchange with the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) of the manufacturers. By looking at the specifications we may think that it will be an easy task to extract the data from PLCs going through different ways or manufacturer’s help-guides. However, the problem is vendor lock-ins, most of the top PLC manufacturer’s do not allow “easy” data access and extraction methods neither to the customers nor to any third parties.

It is not a question of protocols, it is a question of vendor lock-in and data availability.

Customers must seek and claim for open-source solutions to avoid vendor lock-in during the long run. The open source can better lead to the path of innovation in their manufacturing plants.

3)    Edge Computing and Machine Learning: The last frontier to break between IT/OT

In my article “IT and OT, Friends or Foes in the Industrial Internet of Things?” I was optimistic about the quick convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT), I was wrong. If you visit and inspect a manufacturing plant floor, you will see how much progress is still to be made.

Edge Analytics is a key component in the integration of IT & OT and requires a knowledge of both to make it work. The lack of skills & knowledge in the IT and OT fields impact the business & operations and creates a dilemma on which department should lead the Edge Analytics projects.

Manufacturing companies need a role with authority (Chief IIoT Officer or CIIoT) and resources to lead the IT/OT convergence strategy.

4)    Do not stop by the dilemma of Edge: To Cloud or NOT to Cloud

When I wrote in 2016 “Do not let the fog hide the clouds in the Internet of Things”, the hype around Edge Computing and Machine Learning started. There was a confusion about fog computing and edge computing and how this layer will impact the IoT architecture, especially cloud workloads.

Today, many cloud vendors offer IoT platforms and tools that combine the Cloud and the Edge application development, machine learning and analytics at the edge, governance, and end to end security. On the OT side, companies like Siemens have launched MindSphere, an open cloud-based IoT operating system based on the SAP HANA cloud platform.

Manufacturers should continue to deploy and develop Edge Computing – Machine Learning applications to monitor the health of their machines or to improve their asset maintenance or to monitor the quality control of their plant floor processes and shouldn’t stop because of the fear of the integration of their platform with the Public or Hybrid Cloud environment.

Edge Computing solutions help manufacturers to improve their competitiveness without the Clouds but make sure your Edge IIoT solution is ready for easy integration with the Clouds.

 5)    Connected Machines is the only way for new Business Models

Security is another major obstacle for the adoption of IIoT in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers have been reluctant to open their manufacturing facilities to the Internet because of the risks of cyber-attacks.

In a fast-moving era where platforms and services require products and machines connected, every manufacturing factory should be able to tap into machine data remotely and make it available for Machine vendors. This requires every Edge Computing / Machine Learning system to be built with the capability to share data remotely via open and secure protocols/standards like MTConnect and OPC-UA.

Having machines connected is the first step to make machines smarter, to build smarter factories and to flourish new business models as Remote Equipment Monitoring.

Key Takeaway

The benefits of using Edge Computing / Machine Learning solutions are very attractive to the manufacturers because it offers minimal latency, conserve network bandwidth, improve operations reliability, offers quick decision-making ability, gather data, and process the collected data to gain insights. The ROI in such IIoT solutions is very attractive.

To get these benefits and to grace IIoT journey, manufacturers have to step-up and accept to receive tangible and innovative business value.

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Ecosystm : Cisco Live Barcelona IoT Strategy
Cisco’s IoT Strategy Re-emerges At Cisco Live Barcelona 2019

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Recently I attended Cisco Live in Barcelona as part the ICT industry’s market research coverage of Cisco’s Internet of Things (IoT) strategy. The event is targeted at Cisco’s IT community who look to hear and see Cisco’s latest offerings. Given that we, as analysts, have been talking about IoT for several years now, and Cisco was one of the early leaders in this space with its Internet of Everything vision, it was important to hear and see how Cisco’s go-to-market strategy has evolved.

Driving Intent Based Networking to the IoT Edge

Where is IoT now?

The IoT market is in an interesting phase whereby initial enthusiasm for IoT’s capability has been overshadowed by the difficulty to move proof of concepts (POCs) into viable positive returns on return on investments. Coupled with this, Cisco appeared to have hit the pause button for several months in 2018 while it regrouped and did much internal alignment with the rest of the company.

The outcome of this reset was delivered by Cisco IoT GM, Liz Centoni  and Vikas Butaney  VP of IoT Product Management. There were no overt references to Jasper, App Dynamics or any other acquisition which may have played a part in early strategies. Instead, the announcement was as much about internal Cisco collaboration and alignment combined with external enablement processes to give customers a better IoT experience. Centoni highlighted the following:

  1. The IoT offerings are now in alignment with Cisco’s overarching Intent Based Network strategy (IBN). This includes taking IBN from the Enterprise to the Edge of the network.
  2. To deliver IBN functionality, Cisco announced a series of new industrial strength routers for the edge of the network that are also enterprise compatible

These two announcements give Cisco customers the ability to connect IoT sensors with an end-to-end connection using the same IOS XE operating system, while making the following benefits available:

  1. Give the Edge or the ‘Extended Enterprise’ the same multi-layered network security that Cisco is highly regarded.
  2. Enable infrastructure scalability via automation by using Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (DNA) as part of complete network compatibility whereby IoT deployments are no longer classed a bespoke projects, but can be repeated.

Finally, Centoni made a couple of additional announcements that could drive Cisco back into the forefront of the IoT market. First the IoT industry has been challenged to recruit IoT application developers while there is ongoing uncertainty of the size and speed of the market formation. However stability and consistency across the IoT network could accelerate both the time to deploy and the number of applications. Cisco has rightly associated its DevNet community of over 550,000 developers lead by charismatic Suzie Wee. This community will be able to drive applications to the edge of the network thus sparking innovation from Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), its huge partner network and of course its sizeable group of Cisco Certified developers.

The second announcement was the availability of 3 new Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) aimed at making successful IoT deployments. Cisco’s customers have long trusted CVDs so it was encouraging to see that there are now CVDs for industrial automation, distribution automation and remote and mobile assets. By releasing the CVDs with support from a trained partner ecosystem, Cisco is encouraging its customers to accelerate IoT deployments with fewer risks and improved critical success factors.

This launch was as much needed for Cisco as much as it was for its customers. By refocusing on its network strength and realigning the go-to-market programs with security, developers, partners and IBN, the IoT strategy feels more integrated than before. However, it must be said that much of this couldn’t have happened prior to other significant internal changes being made.

Advice To Tech Buyers:

Cisco has shown that still has the internal ability to move quickly once it knows what the goals are. In this case, customers were frustrated that IoT projects were all too often islands onto themselves. Given that there is consistency across the IoT network hardware, customers should be more comfortable that the common IoT challenges of security, complexity and scalability have been addresses. In addition, there will be satisfaction knowing that they are fully supported with a partner organization that is being trained and a developer community that is ready to write and maintain the applications.

Advice To Cisco:

Nailing down its IoT network strategy was critical for Cisco. This will go a long way to encourage new partner ecosystems to be formed based on the ability to know that their customers will be supported in an end-to-end manner. However, phase two of the strategy should be to seamlessly link into Cisco’s inter cloud strategy and its Data Center/UCS using common platform products for Edge computing. As IoT solutions roll out and mature, customers will seek broader business related AI-based applications that go beyond network analytics.

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Ecosystm Vodafone IBM Joint Venture
Does Vodafone and IBM’s Cognitive Connection Make IoT Sense?

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Recently IBM and Vodafone announced a new strategic commercial agreement, as a joint venture, to provide their clients with the ability to integrate multiple clouds that have a need to access emerging technologies such as 5G, AI, Edge Computing and Software Defined Networking. Under an eight-year engagement valued $550 million (€480 million), IBM will provide managed services to Vodafone Business’ cloud and hosting unit.

Businesses are becoming more and more challenged to run their operations and business processes in a seamless manner as data is distributed and managed across more and more clouds. Together, Vodafone Business and IBM aim to remove these complexities to support the basis of any digital transformation and enable a company to share data freely and securely across its organization.

On the surface, this announcement makes sense if you are a Vodafone business customer who wants to take the next step in a digital transformation journey. The convergence of multi-clouds has the ability for companies to enrich their own data management systems with external sources. With the purchase of Red Hat late in 2018, IBM now has the ability and credibility to offer that capability. However, as many IoT-based solutions create the data to fuel these cloud processes, IBM has not had a clear Edge Computing or network connectivity strategy. This is where Vodafone can help IBM connect the edge of the network to the enterprise systems. This announcement seems like a complimentary win-win situation for both sets of IBM and Vodafone customers.

Red Hat is undoubtedly one of the premier cloud management companies and IBM invested heavily in its multi-cloud connectivity assets. IBM is hoping that the deeper that Red Hat is involved in the multi-cloud connectivity market, the more it will pull through IBM’s high-value business services in cognitive computing and machine learning and other compute-intensive technologies.

However, this market is still shaking itself out and there are many other competitive offerings to Red Hat. There are startups such as RightScale and Morpheus who can offer up multi-cloud management. Alternatively, as a mature company, VMware competes head to head with Red Hat and has had a long-standing partnership with Vodafone. In particular, VMware and Vodafone have partnered in telco specific functions such as NFV and 5G.

To understand the importance of VMware in the midst of this announcement is to appreciate the end-to-end customer experience that VMware can bring to telco customers such as Vodafone. As 5G rolls out and NFV-based network slicing becomes a valuable onboarding differentiator VMware could offer its vCloud NFV solution to Vodafone’s customers. Vodafone’s customers could have access to the same multi-cloud services from VMware and not IBM while obtaining AI, cognitive and ML services available from the major public cloud providers (such as AWS, Google and Microsoft). VMware’s position at the edge of the network would, therefore, appear to leapfrog IBM’s position. Vodafone Business’ customers could bypass IBM and its cloud services strategy. At the end of the day, IBM could be left with only the managed services contract while missing out on analytics and cognitive business services.

To negate this scenario, IBM will have to lead more and more with Red Hat and be willing to downplay the cognitive and machine learning services. Business solutions in vertical markets such as agriculture are extremely price sensitive and customers will look closely at the cost of connectivity followed by the cost of data acquisition to enrich their business outcomes. We believe that if the cost to run data science and cognitive services are too expensive, then Vodafone customers will seek the same tools and services from other cloud service providers and not IBM.

Finally

Our advice to tech buyers who are in the midst of business transformation should consider how they fuel their decision-making engines for analytics, machine learning, and cognitive computing. Real-time processing and dissemination of business outcomes is one of the table stakes for a successful digital company. As a result of that, seamless end-to-end processing across a complex and distributed enterprise infrastructure is a challenge that needs to be overcome. Tech buyers should ask if IBM’s edge computing strategy and Vodafone’s connectivity are mature enough to funnel IoT-data generated smart data to a broad inter-cloud infrastructure.

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CES 2019_Autonomous Pods
CES 2019: Autonomous Driving Shines Over 5G

4.4/5 (5)

4.4/5 (5)

My return to CES, the Consumer Electronic Show, was something that I had been looking forward to for some time. After all, it had been almost 4 years since I attended the last CES when the Internet of Things (IoT) was the latest solution looking for problems to be solved. As an industry analyst whose passion for IoT is well known, I was frustrated at the weak offerings, poor quality demos and wasted money at the booths. CES had halls and halls of IoT ‘stuff’ that made little or no sense to me, with almost no chance of these startups being around in 2019. But, that’s what these shows are meant to do.

Roll forward to 2019 and my mission was very specific. I was only interested in two major things – 5G and autonomous/self driving vehicles. I was determined not to get soaked up in the awesome glory of 8K televisions, and kitchens that would even scare off Chef Gordon Ramsey!  5G has been positioned as the natural platform for IoT innovation – fast, high capacity connectivity for applications such as autonomous vehicles, video and medical services. However, at this year’s CES, it seemed that the technology world and the trade press had finally gotten into the same room and realized (just like IoT) that 5G can mean many things. To that point, businesses were keen to call their new technology offerings that can be called 5G, 5G. I could see history repeating itself – hype and confusion this year, followed by disillusion and disappointment next year.

Let’s start with AT&T. When is 5G not 5G – when it is 5G E? AT&T insists on using the term 5G for its advanced 4G LTE network. I assume that if AT&T’s commercials say that 5G E is 5G then who are we to doubt them! In my humble opinion it is misleading and muddies the waters into convincing customers that they already have 5G. (By the way the ‘E’ stands for Evolution, or as one journalist put it “it’s a work in progress towards 5G’. Other global operators also made claims that they too were the first to market or the first to have a customer. However, 5G from a marketing aspect was a bust at this year’s CES. It was supposed to be a leading theme, but in reality it lacked reality. Perhaps selling to consumers is easier than selling to enterprise customers who know that 5G will require an upgrade of the entire network infrastructure, which in turn will take time.

Despite the marketing and messaging confusion, 5G is the underpinning technology of some very exciting technologies being shown at CES – in particular in the transportation industry. Here there was proof that progress has been made in the last 4 years. It was clear that core technologies such as mapping and location tracking have made it possible for the auto industry to think about services both inside the vehicle and outside it. Companies such as TomTom, Naver Labs and HERE showed the levels of progress that they have made in navigation, mobility services, and fleet management. Adjacent technologies for EV (Electric Vehicle) combined with advanced high quality mapping, make it possible to know better where to recharge and how to accurately navigate highways as efficiently as possible.

CES 2019_IoT

Innovation in this space takes on a new meaning when the vehicle isn’t a concept car, but rather a fully laden truck. At CES there was no shortage of trucking companies showing off their highly connected vehicles. For example, Paccar Inc., the parent of Peterbilt Motors Co. and Kenworth Truck Co. had an exhibit that featured a pair of battery-electric Peterbilt models and a hydrogen-electric truck from Kenworth and Toyota. Autonomous truck startup TuSimple also returned to CES, where it offered demonstrations of the sensors and machine vision behind its self-driving technology and announced plans to expand its US fleet to 40 trucks by June.

CES 2019_Autonomous trucks At CES, autonomous vehicle concepts from all of the global car brands were on display. Typically the German and Asian manufacturers showed a wide range of vehicles that continued to look like ‘travel pods’ or people movers rather than traditional automobiles, while US-based brands tended to focus on the infotainment services within the car. In summary, CES’s auto offerings showed that there is a very strong ecosystem of partners determined to change the way that we get from point A to point B in a safe and sustainable manner. In parallel, the ability to extend vehicle ride sharing across multiple modes of transportation including bicycles and helicopters (Bell’s Nexus product) is driven by high speed, real-time and accurate data fed from thousands of intelligent sensors.

CES 2019_Travel Pods

CES 2019_Autonomous Vehicle

In conclusion, CES confirmed for me that despite the technical greatness of 5G, telecom operators continue to appear to be lost in their positioning of the product. Part of this may be stemming from the significant investment and consequently the risk of return on that investment. Part of it may be – like IoT – defining what 5G is really all about. Early IoT success stories have shown that it’s as much about positioning the business value around the data as it is about connectivity. Finally, CES showed me that while fully autonomous driving societies are several decades away, the strong industrial ecosystems that exist today are making significant progress towards that future.

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