• June 22, 2016

What Are the Next Steps in Achieving the Internet of Things?

There is no doubt that the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) framework offers the world an incredibly seductive and powerful vision of our future.

When tiny sensors and actuators are embedded in every device we own and throughout all of our physical infrastructure, suddenly every single item in our global environment can be tracked, monitored and controlled. Our whole lives get smarter and more quantified, leading to huge economic, social and personal benefits.

Where previously we had to guess about cause and effect, IoT offers us the ability to know. Where previously we had to estimate future trends based on the past, IoT offers us the ability to track everything, in real-time. Where previously we had to physically control infrastructure in person, IoT offers us the ability to do it all from our screens, remotely.

The Internet of Things has vast implications for virtually every area of human endeavor, from utilities to agriculture, from resources to city planning.

But how do we get to that glorious future?

Over the past several years, I’ve spent a great deal of time examining the current crop of Internet of Things projects – the first wave of real-world implementations of this systemic change which will eventually alter everything.

Over that time, it has become apparent that a great deal of the way that technologists and line of business executives currently think about Internet of Things projects is that they are the ‘sexy new thing’ on the block.

The thinking goes that because technologists suddenly have a new IoT tool in their kitbag, organizations should trial this technology. They should test it, evaluate it, and see where it fits into their organization, if it does at all.

There’s nothing wrong with this: This is the natural response of organizations to a new tool. They organically want to take it for a spin.

But as the IoT framework starts to gain some maturity, what I’ve also started to see from organizations who have some experience with this new set of tools is a growing realization that IoT is not so much a revolution in terms of how they think about their businesses, but more of an evolution.

This is based around the understanding that to gain the full potential that IoT offers an organization, that organization should naturally already have gone through a certain level of internal digital transformation. The one follows from the other.
Much of the digital transformation that has been sweeping through every type of organization globally over the past several years has been focused on four key areas: Social, mobile, analytics and cloud.

The new breed of social technologies offers organizations a radical new way to gain a deep understanding of their customers and stakeholders, in real-time. The mobile trend is breaking the chains of both customers and staff, allowing each to interact with an organization’s core resources in ways and with a speed and flexibility that they have never been able to before.
Analytics is allowing every aspect of an organization’s operations to be tracked and monitored in a way that directly shapes business strategy. And of course, cloud is driving incredible service delivery reform within every organizations’ IT infrastructure.

Taken together, these trends are effectively driving total digital transformation within organizations.
What many organizations are starting to find is that the Internet of Things represents a natural outreach of these technologies, rather than a whole new area in and of itself. In point of fact, successful Internet of Things projects may significantly rely on having these ducks lined up internally already.

For example, if an organization does not already have a significantly developed analytics capability, it may struggle to process the vast amount of new data flooding in from an Internet of Things deployment. Similarly, without mobile capability it may not be able to enable its workers to take full advantage of that data. Cloud brings rapid scalability to such projects and makes them efficient. And so on.

We’ve seen this kind of maturity progression before. As organizations increasingly virtualized their IT infrastructure, for example, this naturally led them to a maturity level to be able to shift resources into the cloud.

The good news is that Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has a growing amount of experience in dealing with this complex area.
When the City of Auckland in New Zealand wanted to deliver a visionary big data project designed to provide a safer community and more efficient roadways for its citizens, for example, it turned to HPE for assistance.

The deployment has seen Auckland deploy HPE’s integrated big data platform, HAVEn, to analyze, understand and act on vast quantities of data of virtually any type including text, images, audio and real-time video. The system leverages data from a variety of sources, including thousands of security and traffic management cameras, a vast network of road and environmental sensors as well as real-time social media and news feeds.

HPE’s Intelligent Scene Analysis System, 3PAR StoreServe Storage, HPE StoreAll Archive and HPE FlexFabric are also being used to help deliver the solution.

“Only HPE could comprehensively deliver the custom solution, expertise and ecosystem at this scale to transform our vision into reality.” — Roger Jones, CIO Auckland Transport

In another example, HPE is working with vehicle manufacturer Ford to discover key trends around vehicle fleet management that could help to lower operational costs and optimize underutilized vehicles.

The Ford Fleet Insights experiment included HPE fleet vehicles that were equipped with wireless sensors plugged into each vehicle. Ford data scientists and IT leaders used the HPE Vertica analytics engine, part of the HPE HAVEn platform, to explore patterns and multiple dimensions of fleet driver activity. Also, each driver could access their data using a custom smartphone app to recall trip details, if needed.

The outcome? A series of discoveries around which commuting commonalities could provide future breakthroughs for better managing fleets, personalized services and recommendations for individual drivers. And these are lessons which can be applied across the corporate and government sectors in similar vehicle fleets.

In both of these cases, it was important that the organizations concerned had a solid understanding of existing IT infrastructure during their specific Internet of Things projects. And in both cases, HPE engaged in a true partnership with the different organizations, bringing our experiences bear to help accelerate change.

To meet these challenges, HPE recently launched the availability of our Universal Internet of Things Platform.
At the launch, HPE director and general manager of IoT, Nigel Upton, said: “The value of the IoT lies in enriching data collected from devices with analytics and exposing it to applications that enable organizations to derive business value.”

He added: “The HPE Universal IoT Platform dramatically simplifies integrating diverse devices with different communications protocols, enabling customers to realize tremendous benefits from their IoT data, and is designed to scale to billions of transactions tried and tested in rigorous large scale Global Telco and Enterprise environments in a variety of smart ecosystems.”

When human civilization moved from walking to driving cars, we needed a number of steps in between – horses, then horse-drawn vehicles, and so on – as well as a number of constituent parts such as the ability to build shock absorbers, axles, steering mechanisms, roads and more.

In the same way we need more than just protocols to connect devices, but governance systems, procurement systems, methodologies, organizational structures, and infrastructure that is positioned to usher in, and benefit from, the Internet of Things revolution.

It is only when we understand this bigger picture that we will be able to grasp the full benefits that the Internet of Things revolution can bring: And start to transform our world to the vision we can see on the road ahead.
Click here for examples of how HPE has helped organizations globally undertake the Internet of Things journey — and to get in touch to talk about the next steps in accelerating change.


This post is written by Roger Lawrence, Chief Technologist for Innovation at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Click here to learn how HPE can help you go further, faster, through accelerating transformation and driving innovation in your organization.