By Meghan Fritz-Oracle on Jan 27, 2015
In part one of our blog post series, Oracle Group Vice President Scott Armour discussed the obstacles and opportunities he sees on the horizon for Internet of Things (IoT). Here is the second installment of the Q&A, outlining the effects of IoT on customers, how Oracle can address the concerns IoT and M2M service providers face, and the use of intelligent devices in specific verticals.
Q. Welcome back, Scott. Now one of the promises of IoT is its ability to change the way businesses interact with their customers. How does Oracle expect this to change today’s customer service solutions and processes?
A. IoT allows businesses to better understand how they interact with their customers in the physical world. Organizations have been mining social media to understand what customers are saying about a company, and now IoT can help companies understand how customers use their products which allows them to follow the full product lifecycle from start to finish.
A great example is the automotive space. Twenty years ago, most automakers had very limited engagement with their customers and over time, provided warranty and service plans to help build a stronger connection and collect performance data about their vehicles. More recently, automakers have been downloading and storing diagnostic data when a car is in for servicing. Better data, without a great deal of context about where the car was driving, under what conditions, and by which driver. Today it’s possible to collect data remotely as the car operates and thus gain situational data in context which is much more valuable and also enables predictive analytics. The key here is that the business (automaker) now has the ability to offer a highly valued service to their customer by predicting issues and taking charge of getting repair work scheduled and completed.
This is all made possible by extending the enterprise programming model down to the devices themselves. Enterprises gain insights from data collected by devices and in turn can push rules down that help devices identify problems sooner and thus enhance customer experiences in new ways. Oracle leverages the embedded versions of Java, Databases, and Complex Event Processing to make all this possible.
Q. One of the biggest concerns for M2M and IoT service providers are making services scalable, secure and simple to deploy. How does Oracle address these issues?
A. Oracle’s recommendation is to start with Java as a scalable, horizontal IoT platform that provides hooks into existing security architectures, service-oriented architectures, and application management/ provisioning systems. Java has a built-in security “sandbox” to ensure that only approved applications are allowed to execute. While Java scales from multi-core, multi-processor servers to small-embedded devices, many customers are also exploring the use of the smallest version of Java, Java Card, on integrated hardware security modules. Java Embedded technologies on that device can then easily use that security module to secure data, communications and applications via Java’s security framework.
Regarding simple deployment, Oracle is extending its server-side management and deployment tools to bridge between the IT and device worlds. Each IoT device needs to be securely and uniquely identified, provisioned, and managed through the full lifecycle merited by the device. Oracle has a great deal of expertise regarding how to handle that process within IT – and we expect to soon roll out a seamless mechanism to help customers bridge the gap between devices and IT. This will, in turn, make it easier to set up devices to collect data, harvest that data, and integrate it with business systems.
Q. Are users best served by having more intelligent devices in specific verticals or should IoT service providers build the intelligence closer to the heart of the network?
A. It depends. Even in cases where practically identical IoT installations exist, some cases will be better served having strong intelligence at the edge and in other cases all data should be collected and analyzed in the enterprise. An example would be a company that is instrumenting a campus office building and a similar building located halfway across the globe in an area where power and connectivity aren’t as reliable. On campus, it’s convenient to analyze everything centrally and take actions from there. In the remote case, local intelligence will aid in the proper operation of that building.
Therefore, the best solutions and IoT infrastructure are flexible and scalable. Choosing to operate two buildings differently shouldn’t require two completely different sets of sensors, gateways, and control systems. It’s better if they are as close to the same as possible to save design, installation, and maintenance time and money. But you will want solution flexibility to adapt to changing conditions. Ultimately all important information should find its way to the heart of the network as that’s where broad-based analytics convert information and insights from multiple installations into new logic that is passed back down to the edge in a virtuous cycle of constant improvement.
An ideal choice is to use intelligent devices as they can help convert raw data from sensors to information and thus minimize traffic on wired or wireless networks. Intelligent devices offer future proofing in anticipation of new needs or functions not yet realized at installation time.
All the best,
Your OPN Comms team