Connecting technology and innovation is altering how we should re-access organizations ability to build out. We are in the middle of a technological-led industrial revolution It is becoming highly dynamic.
****I decided to revise this post as I originally got caught up in “conflation”. Two ideas merging as one and it simply lost the insights of each, simply attempting to fuse different thoughts into one entity. It honestly did not work and I struggled with what to do. By splitting them up they become separate reads and more digestible and hopefully of better value. I have to admit this is not the first time I get caught in this (or I expect the last!) and I apologize to you, as the reader *****
So here I outline a 5S framework to trigger some opening thoughts on breaking down technology design complexity. The other post, now over on my other site, deals with the growth of “apps” in IIoT “Great apps will deliver the future business value in IIoT” and is predicting a changing future based on some recent takeover announcements.
So getting that embarrassment behind me lets go back to the 5S idea.
Arriving at a designed outcome is getting complicated. Developers get caught up in the details, rightly so, to deliver on a connected world but you must always ask the “what for?”
The more I was thinking I was trying to cut through all this “unnecessary fog” as a non-techie so I started to build my 5S idea. Let me share it
Any digital inspiring organization has to deal with significant change, it becomes overwhelming for many making decisions that will determine their future. They are placing really big bets on getting the technology part right. Personal agenda’s get pushed, IT viewpoints are far to narrow, management gets caught in indecision. A technology strategy has to be designed around and into the business strategy and the future.
My simple thought here is asking different questions around a few simple triggers, perhaps this very simply 5S. They actually become very central to determining a way forward for a business in how it designs its technology infrastructure.
Firstly, how “smart” do you wish to be, through technology application, so then what then becomes your “software” needs, and where do your “store” all the inevitable data that will be generated and needing analysis (cloud, local). Then what does it take to “scale” ambition and the resulting business and finally what sort of IoT “stack” needs to be built and designed to support the ambition? So these “5S” is not a bad assessing framework initially. Let me go through these briefly:
We are moving everywhere in “Smart” be that buildings, agriculture, homes, mobility, grids, utilities, traffic, logistics, waste management, as well as in our personal lives with smartphones and how we use the smart speakers we are rapidly becoming reliant on in the home to tell us what we need to know. We are becoming highly reliant on everything connecting and enabling us to be “smart.” Every organization with a growth ambition has to look at what smart means for them
Smart dominates in the solutions we are working towards. IoT offers us that “pervasive technology” so we can optimize, exert greater control, improve, protect, have greater connectivity. Smart is offering us ways to optimize, integrate our lives in different, potentially more intelligent ways.
Smart APPS are innovative systems that gather tremendous amounts of data from sensors and other embedded equipment and through machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics, we are making information highly actionable for the user, with the aim to improve the experience, productivity, and understanding.
“Smart” needs to be central in your thinking through the end results you are looking for
I am constantly reading about “stacks” when it comes to technology design. The IoT stack is becoming the “Thing Stack”. Technology has layers that constantly are adding (stacks) of complexity. IoT stacks manage solutions for device hardware, devise software, communications, cloud platforms, and cloud applications. I keep being told “we are building a full stack” but I find that often hard to believe as new technology breakthroughs keep moving ahead of “physical” design. We are blending existing technologies with new ones.
There is an awful lot of engineering going on dealing with many unique challenges, built up over the years. The understanding of all the layers, how they work not just in the past but how they need to work in the future is demanding. Building the right technology stack is essential for delivering strategy and the underlying digital roadmap. Understanding all the stacks and their layering guides the creation of IoT solutions.
We are equally requiring “jobs-to-be-done” not just in one Enterprise but in the growing need to connect up in the IIoT Enterprise world, where connectivity and exchange become common to leverage new business values. Stacks need to tackle the hard-end in protecting and keeping the infrastructure secure and open enough for attracting in the user-end as well. That needs a real business grasp.
The IoT stack becoming the “Things Stack” is shifting our thinking. We need to build the physical with the digital. We need to understand the physical world of what we are trying to do or achieve, with the technology solutions that work with, or for the business. User interactions are increasing in their expectancies, wanting “greater connected experience” and demanding Enterprises are equally required to be very savvy about the markets they are in and wish to serve.
It does seem we are needing to think in different layers or stacks, in a more holistic way, dealing and understanding, solving and connecting the physical world, with the business abilities, the technology layers and the market changes taking place and the user experiences expected.
This rethinking “stacks” needs to build more of the interrelationships between these to get context, device and gain the best level of “interaction” to gain from the ability to connect up. It is not purely IoT to think this through and try to understand it, it is the understanding of the full business stack needed by all the relevant decision makers.
The world of Scale
A certain scale is a necessity it seems today. When you invest so much in revolutionalizing your business, pushing technology and digital transformation you need to achieve a greater return. The greater the investment, the greater need is to scale and cover the “sunk” costs. At present most enterprises are grappling with containing costs in operating expenses as they attempt to transition to a heavier reliance on technology. To build your own platform, you need to think scale. To grow your business, often it has to be able to quickly scale. Products, to successfully scale, need to move from trial to full execution and these need to have clearer “scaling” pathways and design.
We all are struggling to define our scalability parameters, so we can then recognize the solutions we need to manage our scaling ambitions. To scale is one of the toughest issues to handle. If you do not have the financial resources to “find solutions and resources to scale” you struggle. We are increasingly seeking scale through partnerships, in joining established platforms so we can leverage a network and take growing advantage of technology and communication scale. As we scale we need to find those greater “intelligent solutions” by converting our factories into “digital factories” so we can extract efficiencies and channel product solutions into scaling for those “economies of scale” these investments need.
Storage- where do you start
Data is growing at exponential rates. The more we connect up, the more we seek out and gather data, often to justify investments, we are requiring increased storage. Today, we believe the cloud solves our problems, I am not sure. When you enable one device so it becomes a connected device through built-in sensors the sell becomes what value you get out of all the connected data from that one device, some but not much. The power of data is when you connect up many. Processors, local storage, gateways, improved processors all have increasing cost implications. The more data you want to collect, the more it costs to store it.
No wonder “data is the new liquid gold” and those that manage the cloud for storage are the new valuable bankers in the world, look at Amazon or Microsoft in how they manage our storage needs. Not only do you as a client need to “house” data but you then need to analyze it. The additional slicing, dicing and simulating, the belief this needs to be in real-time, all adds even more storage need and demand assessment. Managing your data storage inventory is a growing problem
Today through the internet we are streaming information constantly up to the cloud or to our own storage facilities. The type and amount of data you are storing are becoming mind-blowing. Storage is the “beast” that needs taming.
Then we finish up with Software in my 5S frame
We are working on the concept of “software-defined hardware” so hardware devices can serve multiple applications, depending on the software it is running. These device hardware and software work together to create the “smart device”. This is the present pressure point – we can’t write code quickly enough to meet demand. Hence why low-code is currently such a hot item. The software does the talking. It glues it all together., the hardware, the device, the cloud etc. Functionality in software becomes the “golden ticket” and how we build our future applications will determine where you find yourself positioned in the eyes of your customer, or in extracting new value, to improve on what you have got.
It is recognized the building of hardware takes longer, especially in large Industrial solutions like grids, platforms, factories, utility solutions or transport. The growing question is how you accelerate software solutions so you can assist the physical side. We have seen the birth of the “digital twin” to help in this. Hence why Siemens, with all of their hardware solutions, needs the software solutions offering of platforms, connectivity, visualization, and application delivery to be in place, if it is to sell the digital solutions alongside their hardware solutions. It has multiple partners, but it is acquiring much to have internal competencies.
This in-house building has many advantages but can reduce flexibility and rate of response if some of the digital solutions (rapidly) change. In some ways when you chose to build your own platform solutions for others to come and join, the digital complexities simply “runaway” with themselves.
The platform provider needs to recognize the ultimate value is in the orchestration for others to “play,” so the supply side and demand side need equal balancing in any platform offering equation. I argue today we need to provide more value to create the demand side. Building smart apps and providing software building capabilities that accelerate solutions significantly moves towards this.
Forming a better understanding comes from breaking a problem down
It is going to be that combination of smart, stacks, scale, storage and software all combining to make the experience level that delivers the new business model and breaks down the complexity we are facing in understanding the essential needs My simple thought here is to start asking different questions around a few simple triggers, perhaps this very simply 5S. They actually become very central to determining a way forward for a business in how it designs its technology infrastructure. I know it is not that simple but it starts your journey to picking apart complexity.
***I decided to revise this post as I originally got caught up in “conflation”. Two ideas merging as one and it simply lost the insights of each, simply attempting to fuse different thoughts into one entity. It honestly did not work and I struggled with what to do. By splitting them up they become separate reads and more digestible and hopefully of better value. I have to admit this is not the first time I get caught in this conflation (or I expect the last!) and I apologize to you, as the reader*****