Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
5/27/2014
11:36 AM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
Commentary
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Internet Of Things: In Search Of An Architecture

The IoT vision still doesn't have a clear architecture from which to build meaningful business applications, an MIT professor says.

8 Gadgets For The High-Tech Home
8 Gadgets For The High-Tech Home
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

A variety of factors are holding companies back from embracing the Internet of Things. Though Gartner predicts there will be 26 billion IoT devices worldwide by 2020, concerns about data ownership, questionable data quality, inadequate network coverage, and integration with business applications are among the IoT roadblocks.

The biggest IoT challenge, according to Professor Sanjay Sarma of MIT, is the lack of an overarching architecture to pull together myriad streams of IoT information into a flexible and responsive ecosystem of applications.

Sarma was among the participants on an IoT panel at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium on May 21 in Cambridge, Mass. He voiced concern about what he sees as a wide array of IoT point solutions designed to accomplish very specific tasks -- irrigate crops, turn the lights on in your home -- without an architecture to connect all that data in a meaningful way.

"Without connecting the dots, you'll have a disastrous, brittle system," Sarma said. "We don't have a clear architecture of where the world will go."

[Cisco says it's "all in" on the Internet of Everything -- but what does that mean? Read Cisco IoE: When Will Its Time Come?]

Using a consumer example -- the concept of the connected home -- Sarma elaborated on the challenges. "Let's say you want to change the experience when you walk into your home. The lights will come on, music will play, temperature will be set. Maybe Google Maps informs the house that you're near, and then a series of actions have to happen to anticipate your arrival." It all seems great, but what if it's not you walking into the house, but your spouse, who dislikes bright lighting, hates your music, and wants it to be cooler? Your spouse now has to change everything, making life more difficult than before.

Another panelist, Chris Kuntz, senior director of business development with ThingWorx, related that home scenario to business. "People understand it's not just about connecting your product, connecting your smart thing, collecting that data," Kuntz said. "It's about how do you connect it with a business process to effect some sort of change."

During the IoT session, panelist Dieter Haban, CIO of Daimler Trucks North America, described how the company has placed sensors in all its trucks sold in North America for the past two years. The goal, Haban said, is to maximize uptime for the vehicles and their drivers.

The sensors send information to Daimler Trucks' call center, where a customer service team notifies the relevant trucking company about a pending maintenance problem

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Susan Nunziata works closely with the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community. Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for ... View Full Bio
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Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/4/2014 | 7:28:55 PM
Re: The IoST (Internet of Shared Things)
@SusanF: I want this scenario you have outlined to be available to me now:

You program only one thing: The device that wakes you up, or, in my case, the time when you want to start your day. When that device goes off it tells your coffee or tea maker to start. There is a kitchen AI making your beakfast, your shower starts so when you step into it it's all nice and warm, etc. So, your day flows beautifully and you can spend your time doing what no one -yet- can do for your: Your brain work, your creations, your research, your writing.

While that sounds like it would make my life so much more manageable, i really do worry about security and privacy. Let's face it, we can't even manage to keep our personal data from being compromised now (Target hack, thank you very much!). I wonder, though, if the sheer volume of informatio about us and our lives in the IoT will become so much that it actually makes the hackers' jobs too difficult.

I know that sounds rather silly, but think about it this way: When you're walking home  late at night, the coventional wisdom is that you are safer in a group than by yourself. LIkewise, perhaps, IoT will unleash such a tidal wave of information that it will become every more difficult for hackers and criminals to isolate the data that really matters to them...

Surely, it won't be my taste in music that they are after.

:)
Pieterv682
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Pieterv682,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/2/2014 | 8:14:13 PM
It also needs to fit with processes and Enterprise Architecture

I have to agree with Chris Kuntz, of ThingWorx who related the home scenario to business. "People understand it's not just about connecting your product, connecting your smart thing, collecting that data. It's about how do you connect it with a business process to effect some sort of change."

We understand the security challenges with IoT and the lack of standards. As IoT adoption increases standards with be developed and implemented. It is the natural evolution of technology adoption processes.

What is equally important is to consider how IoT fits in the Enterprise Architecture and as Chris mentions "how do you connect it with a business process to effect some sort of change". There is a lot of hype around smart devices and big data, but the real value will be realized when it is wired into the operational processes of a business. Adoption (and funding) of IoT will be accelerated when organizations can "listen" for key business events from sensors, "decide" if an intervention is required and "act" in a timely and appropriate manner to these key business events.

This requires that IoT becomes part of the Enterprise Architecture that considers the data from these devices, the other systems that it interacts with and the processes that manages the interventions and actions from the information that we gather from these devices.

Our experience with mature Fortune 10 companies who use smart devices in M2M and Operational Technology (OT) scenarios show that standards will emerge but considering how to create operational benefits from these devices and big data requires some Enterprise Architecture thinking as well.

IoT will also require some thought to manage the operational process applications that deliver the benefit from the devices, and not just applications that manage the devices itself. As Chris said, it is estimated that it will require around 5 to 10 million applications to support the billions of devices to deliver business value. The architecture needs to be extended not just to the IoT devices, but to how it fits into the enterprise and its processes.

batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2014 | 8:03:18 PM
Re: Security
interesting observation/point... I trust you are right ...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2014 | 7:58:19 PM
Re: Design is very important
I think we gonna see new shift of technology as internet of things get developed more and more...
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2014 | 6:03:29 PM
Security
>> The biggest IoT challenge, according to Professor Sanjay Sarma of MIT, is the lack of an overarching architecture to pull together myriad streams of IoT information into a flexible and responsive ecosystem of applications.

If we can't figure out how to make security air tight, then perhaps architecture isn't our biggest issue. Unless we are prepared for people to break into our networked kitchen faucets and mess with the water.
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2014 | 2:45:31 AM
Re: Design is very important
yes, with internet of things we gonna see this technology develops more and more... coming to our homes for everyday use...
Pablo Valerio
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Pablo Valerio,
User Rank: Strategist
5/29/2014 | 11:22:17 AM
Design is very important
Susan,

Paul Walborsky, CEO of Gigaom, gave a keynote speech this morning in the Barcelona Digital Global Congress. He was mainly talking about IoT and sensors and one of the things I remember most about his talk is when he said that Google paid that much money for Nest because of their design.

I do agree with that assesment. While the lack of clear standards is one the important barriers for the mass adoption of IoT, a clear and simple design is important for people's adoption.

The same way that people like some products, such as the iPhone, because it is powerful but also easy to use, we need the same concept on wearables and other home devices.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
5/29/2014 | 3:51:53 AM
Re: The IoST (Internet of Shared Things)
SusanN, :D  

I was precisely thinking of The Jetsons when reading your article. :) 

" ... the system of systems that runs our lives will automatically know our tastes and desires based on analysis of various data about us." 

Well, I don't consider myself lazy, but as the available time when I am awake is so limited and I can't sleep less than what I sleep I have to prioritize how to use my time. This means that programming things is rarely a top priority. Maybe it should be? :/ 

So, for this reason, having a system of systems running my life and programming everything for me sounds like heaven. :D Think of this: 

You program only one thing: The device that wakes you up, or, in my case, the time when you want to start your day. When that device goes off it tells your coffee or tea maker to start. There is a kitchen AI making your beakfast, your shower starts so when you step into it it's all nice and warm, etc. So, your day flows beautifully and you can spend your time doing what no one -yet- can do for your: Your brain work, your creations, your research, your writing. :)

Of course, all this brings us to see the importance of ethical and efficent data collection, good use and analysis of that data, and its useful applications in both consumer and enterprise worlds.

As for the best drummer discussion, probably the one who is right is the one who thinks Ringo Star was. :D 

"I'm disappointed we're not farther along than we already are on the consumer front--I remember hearing about all these great ideas at the Consumer Electronics Show many many moons ago ... " 

Indeed. I am disappointed, too. I want to experience all the wonderful technology we are discussing in my life time.

Oops. Sorry for the long comment. This article was really inspiring and I love all the discussing around the IoT. :) 

I do hope that near(ish) future is soon enough. 

-Susan 

 

 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
5/28/2014 | 7:30:43 PM
Re: The Road to a Standard
@Startustician: And those security concerns become even more frightening on a broader scale. Imagine IoT being used for SCADA to control, say, a nucelar power plant or the electric grid. The havoc could be catastrophic without security standars in place. And, even with security standards, as we've seen in other recent cases, there's always a way to crack it.

As exciting as the IoT future is in terms of possibilities, it is downright scary when you consider how  much more vulnerable these devices will make us all.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
5/28/2014 | 7:27:16 PM
Re: The IoST (Internet of Shared Things)
@susanF: and off we go into the future that even the creators of The Jetsons could not have imagined.

As far as the consumer example goes, I think Sarna's point was that at some stage we'll get to where we don't have to even program any of those things, the system of systems that runs our lives will automatically know our tastes and desires based on analysis of various data about us. That, to me is the holy grail. I'm lazy, I don't want to program anything.

:)

As for taste in music being a test of a strong marriage, heh heh. My husband and I fight about music all the time, but it's usually along the lines of which 60s rock band had the best drummer.


The software updating needs are going to increase exponentially as we move along the IoT path. Frankly, I'm disappointed we're not farther along than we already are on the consumer front--I remember hearing about all these great ideas at the Consumer Electronics Show many many moons ago and it seems only now that we're getting to the point where we can talk about this as being commonplace in the near(ish) future.
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