Aligning IoT Architectures with the Requirements of the Different Applications

June 23, 2015

One of the challenges for IoT-engaged enterprises in building and implementing a stream of IoT applications is the diversity of use cases. Enterprises tapping into emerging opportunities in IoT will quickly identify this diversity challenge, with many applications having a range of unique characteristics such as long life battery requirements, high bandwidth, low latency, regional wireless area network coverage, advanced edge analytics capabilities, etc.1

In M2M, this challenge can be overcome by deploying parallel M2M stacks, each addressing and delivering the requirements of the individual use case. In IoT, enterprises need to leverage the modular and flexible structure of IoT application platform architectures to overcome this diversity challenge in one single ‘stack.’

This modularity and flexibility in the architecture ensures that various application attributes and configurations will work both individually and in combination with other applications within the same architecture. As discussed in a recent White Paper, “A New Agenda Item for Enterprise Executives: Enterprise IoT,”2 new IoT application platforms allow for enterprises to focus their scarce development resources on the elements within an IoT development which add business value, namely applications and data, and it becomes critical for enterprises to select the right IoT application platform from the beginning. The right IoT application platform is one that manages diversity with simplicity.

The Enterprise Use Case – Multiple IoT Applications

Take a manufacturer of car tires such as Continental, Goodyear, Bridgestone or Michelin. These enterprises may view the IoT as an opportunity to gain real-time insights into the performance and status of their tires as installed on cars. IoT use cases will be implemented in close collaboration with car manufacturers, and data will become a crucial input not only for helping to ensure the health and safety of the driver, but also to support asset maintenance for vehicle owners. Production design teams will be able to receive important usage information and operational teams will receive forecasts of sales that can be fed back along supply chains. In such a scenario, the IoT application is fundamental to the core of the operational business.

The potential for IoT solutions to assist car tire manufacturers do not end there. In a far from exhaustive list of potential IoT applications relevant and beneficial for car tire manufacturers, the diversity of such use cases are outlined below in the figure below, from applications in the manufacturing and logistics environments to corporate and building management systems. These applications can be installed with varying degrees of complexity and challenge throughout car tire manufacturer’s operations and businesses. The facility to engage an IoT application platform to assist the management and aggregation of data from all these sources with accelerated application implementation times will be critical and highly cost-effective. This is the type of IoT roadmap that all enterprises will need to consider when optimizing their initial IoT portfolios while also planning for the future.

Use case Area/Department Data Impact
Connected Heavy Manufacturing equipment Operations Machine status and performance for preventive maintenance with minimum operational disruption Cost savings
Connected Manufacturing Tools Operations Performance and usage monitoring of tools to ensure correct SOPs Quality control improvements
Fleet management Logistics Fleet tracking, asset management and route optimisation for efficient routing Efficient logistics with customer services
Access security Human Resource Providing appropriate access control and management Ensure secure areas and property
Connected lighting Finance Replacement of traditional lighting with LED saving bulbs and new power management schemes Direct and indirect cost savings (reduce maintenance costs)
Asset tracking Operations / Logistics Tracking of parts and finished goods through plant and into logistics Efficient asset management and improved location status
Connected Office equipment Finance Automated asset registers and improved servicing arrangements Cost savings and improved asset management for insurance purposes
Smart Metering Operations Energy management data including potential connection to Demand Response Systems Cost savings from energy solutions

 

This is only an illustrative list. An exhaustive list of potential IoT applications would be impossible to determine since enterprises will be constantly incentivized to identify additional ways to differentiate by implementing new sensors and data devices, connecting these to their IoT application platforms, and processing, analyzing and actioning the data that flows.

For each of these eight use cases, the requirements from the IoT application platform will be different, and the key message here is that any selected IoT application platform needs to have a highly scalable, agile and flexible architecture to meet all these requirements – not for the single application scenario but for the multiple application real world environment of an enterprise.

For more insights around Blueprints and Feasibility Studies for Enterprise IoT, read the Second Machina Research White Paper.

1 For a full exploration of the differing attributes and characteristics of M2M and IoT applications, have a look at the “DNA of M2M” online tool available for enterprises and service providers from Machina Research. The tool identifies 27 characteristics such as security, billing, device integration, geographical coverage, analytics, access to power, and application complexity, and assist companies to understand the requirements of each application.

2 ThingWorx White Paper on “A New Agenda Item for Enterprise Executives: Enterprise IoT” was published in May 2015.