Application platforms, big data and collaborations are IoT enablers
In my second post, I will explore two areas, application platforms and big data, where the four attributes of scalability, heterogeneity, agility and flexibility appear as important elements in the enablement of M2M and IoT in the future. But none of these technologies alone will create the market opportunities, and here, collaborations will find their way and greatest progress in the ‘Subnets of Things.’
Application platforms are significant enablers of IoT
To date M2M solutions have typically included a range of application layers to manage the underlying application of the solution. These actual solutions could range from user-based insurance applications for insurance companies, humidity control applications for greenhouse owners, or asset tracking applications for freight management. What they all had in common was a complex and tightly integrated structure for the overall solution.
With the advent of IoT, this complex and tightly integrated approach has been fundamentally transformed. As part of the developments in IoT, and certainly as an enabler of IoT, the emergence of abstracted M2M/IoT application platforms have:
- Created a significantly quicker and more open environment for agile application development and integration including the possibility of ‘mashing-up’ applications,
- Removed the complexity and narrow application approach in M2M solutions to a more flexible approach allowing multiple applications to interact through the one platform
- Enabled the share of data across all integrated applications as well as seamlessly and effectively integrated back-end systems through established APIs.
IoT requires quicker application development platforms to address the growing requirements of enterprises in maximising the benefits in this market opportunity, and at the same time, IoT needs to be enabled by scalable application management platforms, handling the new volumes of data and applications.
Big data just became that bit bigger with IoT
M2M introduced many enterprises to big data. This was not only the management of larger volumes of data, but data which presented a variety of structures (from completely structured to semi-structured and totally unstructured data), generated in different situations, and most significantly, captured and shared in real-time, and processed with the greatest of speeds.
With more and more data being acquired, transmitted, stored, shared and/or exchanged, the IoT will drive increased volumes and the associated mix of data structures, situations and speeds. Enterprises will begin to explore beyond the traditional confines of business intelligence approaches, and include data from external sources to better understand the trends, patterns and insights available from the analysed data.
To be able to handle these volumes of data, M2M and IoT service enablement and application platforms as well as associated databases and analytical tools will need to be highly scalable, and sufficiently agile and flexible to manage the heterogeneity in data types and structures. In IoT, it is the unknown and unexpected that becomes the real driver of benefits.
It is important that big data does not stop at the acquisition and processing/analysing of the data. While opportunities for service providers will be identified here, the important and most valuable steps for the market as a whole lie in the significance (value) of data. This value emerges in the usage and analysis of data across the multitude of applications, generating potentially new and actionable insights. It is this multi-application process for big data which will enable initiatives such as Industry 4.0, the further development of self-driving cars, and more intelligent approaches in the management and distribution of for example energy across the grids. It is not a question of more data, it is a goal of identifying and using more significant data.
Collaborations in ‘Subnets of Things’ will be the starting point
As M2M and IoT analysts, we are frequently asked by clients and service providers who they should partner and collaborate with. In complex, fragmented and expanding markets, this is not an unreasonable question. However it is a question that is best answered with one additional and simple question: in which specific area do you want to collaborate? The Internet of Things can be characterised as an ever-expanding universe of connected things, and to guide companies through this system, identifying specific collaboration partners within a specific topic area is a wise starting point.
At Machina Research, we have developed a generic term for this effect: ‘Subnets of Things.’ In ‘Subnets of Things,’ a limited number of logical points of control for multiple applications is established including a limited number of points of data aggregation, driven potentially by a common cause or technology standard. Underpinned by the significance of the applications and the data that each stakeholder brings to the community within the ‘Subnets of Things,’ this group of partners or ecosystem players begins to create new and innovative services in M2M and IoT. Early and larger examples of this concept are identified in smart cities and virtual power plants, and as outlined, Machina Research anticipates this framework to develop within enterprises, industries, geographies and markets.
In reflecting the texture and attributes of IoT, ‘Subnets of Things’ will remain scalable, agile and flexible, constantly evolving and creating (or re-creating) new and exciting business relationships and partnerships between diverse set of stakeholders.
In the changing world from M2M to IoT, the “ABC” of Applications platforms, Big data and Collaborations are the new “things” for enterprises to consider. In which ‘Subnets of Things’ will you be involved with?