5 Key Steps To Success With IoT

Image of a ball of light generated by data
The Promise and Possibility of Systems of Foresight. Credit: Forbes

Are you considering the Internet of Things? Do you subscribe to the promise of 26B (Gartner) to 50B (Cisco) devices connected to the Internet by 2020? Have you thought about the Optimisation of Assets, the Differentiation of your Services, or the way you can Engage with Customers using IoT?

Despite the current hype, well over 99% of devices are still not connected to the Internet. Organisations are yet to reap any material return on IoT investments to date. Very much like Cloud computing was 6 or so years ago.

Working with customers as a Chief Technologist in HPE, and in my role on IoTAA with partners and competitors in the industry, I observe 5 clear principles that predicate success with IoT:

1. Robust and Transparent Partnerships

Unlike Cloud, Mobile, Analytics, or Social technologies there is no one vendor in the marketplace that provides everything from ‘Devices to Insight.’ So it is key to have strong partnership governance, and understand how technologies from different vendors integrate.

This is important not only for the vendors, but also on the buy side of the equation. IoT solutions transcend single buyers, and in some cases, vertical industries.

Consider a smart building, the architects, builders, developers, utilities, councils, and consumers all have a stake in the solution. Data needs to be protected, yet is the primary asset for sharing.

Getting a complete, transparent partnership model in place for all vendor and purchasor stakeholders is a strong predictor of success.

2. Agile Delivery Model

The scale of a typical IoT solution is too great, interdependencies too complex, and outcomes simply unknown for legacy delivery models to work.

Companies that begin small, then iterate rapidly in an agile manner, achieve quick wins that are critical to ongoing sponsorship. By the time you have gathered all of the requirements for a smart lighting project, the technology and business landscape will have changed.

Importantly, the Agile Delivery Model is key throughout the organisation, procurement, governance, security, recruitment etc. Not just for the IT development teams.

Indeed the funding model for a city or nationwide implementation is often derived from savings gained in the iterative nature of implementation.

3. Strong Analytics and Data Management

An outcome from any IoT deployment is unprecedented deluges of data. Companies that can scale data capacity accordingly, with defined tools and processes to analyse the data, lead the way with IoT implementations.

Typically these organisations have well run Cloud architectures, and the steps in place to transform to a Data Driven enterprise.

A hospital that can’t analyse current patient records, or co-ordinate a Discharge Summary, is in no place to cope with the tsunami of data that connecting every medical device within the hospital produces.

4. Mature Asset Management

One of the consequences of the ‘Post-PC’ era, the consumerisation of computing is a proliferation of assets throughout the enterprise. BYOD further complicates this with various ownership models: Corporate owned and controlled, corporate partly owned, individually owned and corporate secured, etc.

Organisations that don’t have a handle on the HW and SW assets connecting to and operating within their enterprise can not begin to appreciate the complexity of managing an IoT Asset Lifecycle.

5. Robust IT Security

The emergent nature of value and risk in an IoT implementation brings an evolving set of IT security challenges. From cars vulnerable to hacks over the air, to Nuclear Power Stations attacked by state based organisations. Even the meta-data, i.e. Data about a device that can be used to infer other information. E.g. Your garage door opening and closing correlated with Social Media information inferring whether you’re at home or not.

Organisations that have performing IT security functions, that evolve with the business and technology advances over time, are most likely to progress with successful IoT implementations.

Clear Roadmap to Success

The promise of IoT is great, but there are clear indicators of success evidenced in the maturity of organisations wishing to adopt these solutions.

There is also a race condition, where start-ups, unencumbered by legacy architectures can implement solutions quicker than enterprises can restructure. The best thing organisations can do to maintain competitiveness and benefit from the opportunities of IoT, is to appoint an executive tasked with leading the IoT function; continue with Digital Transformation to achieve maturity in the areas above; and begin with small scale PoC’s and Pilot implementations.

If you are considering IoT and would like to discuss this further, run an education session, or envision a strategy, please contact me.

The Case For The Virtual Reality Helmet

There’s no question that Virtual Reality is going to change the way we do everything. 2016 is touted as a pivotal year, with at least 3 large companies delivering affordable devices.

There are a couple of tweaks needed to make this mainstream, however. Firstly we need a way to untether the interface (Head Mounted Display, or HMD) from the computer. Or increase the compute power of an untethered HMD, currently a smartphone. Wireless has to be the way to go here, but there’s an immediate and obvious challenge…

…Power. Any untethered HMD needs power to run the display, which in turn means it needs a battery.

VR Helmet

My solution for this, and another HMD problem: Front-heavy, uncomfortable displays, is a light-weight helmet.

Consider the motorcycle helmet. Mine is a mere 1.3 kgs, with a plush comfort liner. You can easily wear this for hours, and many motorcyclists and race drivers do. (10 – 12 is my max so far) Helmets already comprise years of research for comfort and wearability.

Shell

For a VR helmet you could lighten the shell with ventilation, as you don’t need crash protection.

Power

The helmet allows you to place a battery on the rear, enabling far better balancing options.

Display Visor

You could design the display into the visor, so someone could literally flip it up and transition back to the real world. I imagine this to use technology similar to the Avegant Glyph, that reflects a projected image, rather than having a display mounted in front of the eyes.

Furthermore a helmet prevents one of the biggest distractions to immersion in VR, light leakage. Once you close the visor, you’ll be in the experience without any extraneous light.

The visor itself would provide a far great FoV increasing peripheral vision and the sense of immersion.

Sound

For maximum immersion you can embed decent, noise cancelling speakers in a helmet. E.g. My bike helmet already has integrated speakers. In a VR helmet you could even install surround sound speakers to enhance the experience.

Branding

Finally, consider the branding opportunities. From StarWars to Halo, there are helmet designs that aficionados will pay premium prices for.

Who wants to co-design this with me?

 

The Future Of Computing – HPE’s Machine

Ok, I admit this is a little indulgent, but stick with me for a while.

Consider how technology has revolutionised life. How it has changed your life recently. I’ll wager you didn’t video conference family overseas from your phone until recently. That you rarely researched information about a purchase before going to the shops. That you only photographed special moments, holidays, birthdays, even with a digital camera, rather than your breakfast.

Now consider how this scales when we add sensors and actuators to everything with the Internet of Things.

Again, consider the amount of compute power, storage capacity, and network bandwidth you need for this amount of growth.

Even taking Moore’s Law into account, demand will massively outstrip supply. We simply do not have the processing power, let alone the data centre capacity and electricity to meet the exploding needs of data. Especially with IoT.

Computer Re-Architecture

If you were to reinvent computers today, with the technologies that are available, would you happen upon the same architecture?

HPE’s answer to that is, ‘No.’ The outcome of that answer is a research project called The Machine. Quite literally a rearchitecture of a 50 year old paradigm that drives all computing we know today.

The Machine In Summary

In short, the idea is to replace the expensive, quick, but volatile DRAM, and cheap, slow, but persistent Storage, with Non-Volatile Memory, or NVM.

Ions

HPE is working on a new form of NVM called the “memristor” that uses ions, rather than electrons, to store data.

Once you have massive amounts of cheap, energy efficient, and persistent but quick memory, you can dispense with 80% of code today. The code that deals with the ‘volatility hierarchy.’ Essentially swapping data between layers of memory and storage.

Now we can make a computer that is ‘memory centric’ rather than ‘processor centric.’ In fact you could theoretically have limitless memory, and allow any number of processors to act on the data in this byte addressable fabric.

Photons

Finally, to shift the data between the processers and NVM, we use optical fibre rather than copper wire. Photons rather than electrons. This massively increases bandwidth, and dramatically decreases energy requirements.

Happy to Talk

I’ve been working with the Machine Team at HPE Labs for well over a year now, and would be happy to deliver a presentation to your organisation if you’re interested in the future of computing.

The Unspoken Challenges Becoming An Uber Driver

One Smiling Uber Driver
What You Don’t Consider Becoming an Uber Driver Credt: PCMag.com

As an avid Uber passenger in over 16 cities around the world, I continually interview drivers. I like to understand their motivations, business model, success, challenges, previous occupations (over half were taxi drivers) and what they love about the career choice.

As you’d expect there are many that do this as a part-time, or transition, gig. A way to keep the lights on between jobs, or to supplement another “not-quite-enough” income. Equally there are an increasing number who view it as an alternative to “working for the man” in a corporate job. Something they don’t need training for, or to undergo an interview.

The Cool

Whilst ‘flexibility’ scores highest in my not-quite-empirical research, ‘meeting interesting people’ comes a very close second. (Although admittedly they may be simply flattering me)

The Not So Cool

What is interesting though are the challenges or difficulties.

For many there’s the sudden need to learn business accounting. Tax implications and GST responsibilities.

But the biggest surprise to me, by far, is loneliness. For better or for worse, whether you do this well or not, working in an office is a corporate affair. From formal meetings to the ‘watercooler.’

Sure you meet interesting people driving an Uber. But different people. Every time.

For most people, that takes getting used to.