What’s physical? And, what’s digital? Well, the two are increasingly converging as advanced sensors, mobile devices and other disruptive technologies spawn the emergence of an interconnected, intelligent ecosystem where networks, applications and data centers speak to each other.
Virtually everything in this Internet of Things (IoT) driven era, from badminton rackets, homes and watches to shipments, hotels and rivers, can be defined and measured in terms of data points. The true value of this data lies in the smart insights we can gather from them through actionable analytics. And, by harnessing these insights, you can reimagine every aspect of your business, from product design and sales to enterprise asset management, facilities management, and customer service.
One critical factor determining whether the IoT promise translates into actual results, will be the adoption of cloud computing. Businesses across various industries today use the cloud to store and harness data from connected computing devices, including ‘smart’ meters and appliances, and radio-frequency identification tags.
By 2020, the world will be drowning in about 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes, of data, as compared to 4.4 zettabytes in 2013, IDC projected in 2014. To manage this massive load and make sense of the same, 400 million new application servers might need to be deployed, according to some estimates. Integrated cloud platforms offer you the flexibility and agility to address this challenge effectively.
The IoT Cloud
Cloud is a natural fit for the back-end requirements of connected devices. Thanks to IoT cloud platforms, cognitive systems can harness both structured information, such as databases, and unstructured information, including emails and social media posts much faster. A cloud setup can help you accelerate implementation of core enterprise IoT projects, while reducing complexity, and offering greater visibility into the end-to-end process lifecycle. You can also leverage the cloud to reduce the time-to-market for new IoT Solution, thereby enhancing your business agility.
How does one begin then? To start with, you can move a limited number of systems and functions to the cloud, and then scale up based on growing business requirements. This would mean doing away with the burden of large, upfront capital expenses, while enjoying greater flexibility. Because your cloud provider would be managing the associated infrastructure management costs, your in-house teams will be free to focus on more strategic aspects of your IoT projects. Cloud platforms can also help build and decommission test environments, as and when required. Thus, you can create faster Proof of Concepts (PoCs) to evaluate the business viability of new IoT products and services.
Contours of an ideal IoT cloud
To get the maximum value from your IoT initiatives, choose a cloud platform that can effectively integrate applications and processes with easy-to-use interfaces. The platform must also foster smooth transition of deployments between private and public clouds, and on-premise infrastructure, thereby creating a ‘hybrid’ cloud environment.
We cannot overemphasize the value of data insights for smarter decision making. Therefore, it is crucial for the IoT cloud platform to be embedded with powerful Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) engines. By connecting sensors and devices to these engines, the cloud can ensure the right data is routed to the back-end applications, thus paving the way for actionable insights.
An ideal cloud platform should also offer integrated security mechanisms for better data encryption, and user and device authentication. It should simplify the integration of device and user identity into IoT workflows, allowing you to proactively resolve issues related to authentication, authorization and access control.
- Manufacturers can connect their factory robots to the cloud, which will aggregate and store all relevant data captured from robots and external devices such as conveyor belt machines. Tailored algorithms will facilitate analysis of the data, and plant managers can use the resulting insights to avoid mishaps on the factory floor.
- Retailers can use cloud technologies to build next-generation mobile apps such as m-wallets integrated with their customer loyalty programs. Customers can avail offers by clicking on digital coupons in the app, and have them scanned at the store’s checkout.
- Cars can be connected to the cloud using wireless technologies, smart chips, onboard computers and mobile apps. This would help automotive manufacturers offer cloud-powered versions of digital services such as advanced voice control, and always-on access to emergency services and roadside assistance.
LTI’s IoT Connectors suite
Based on our in-depth understanding of the rapidly evolving IoT landscape, we have built a comprehensive IoT Connector suite that focuses on the interaction of your IoT data with customer data. The suite allows you to achieve higher efficiencies, increase sales, and enhance customer experience by connecting the scalable Salesforce IoT Cloud with your Salesforce ecosystem. You can thus effectively leverage IoT, customer and product data for better business outcomes around key areas including sales and customer service.
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