By Bill Zujewski
Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce event begins Monday and Axeda will be there in full force. We have 2 customers, Ventana Roche and Isilon, presenting their Axeda to Salesforce.com integration stories on Monday. I’ll be on a panel entitled “Current Challenges & Opportunities in the Connected World” on Nov 19th at 2pm. We’ll also be in the Developer Showcase exhibit hall, booth #7, previewing a new application that will be available on the AppExchange.
Why is an IoT platform company at Dreamforce?
Because machine data is very valuable information when it comes to managing customers, their assets and their cases. Extending the Salesforce.com cloud with machine data enables proactive service, streamlines customer support, and enhances case, asset, and account management. For our customers who are manufacturers, connecting machines and integrating the machine data into the Salesforce.com Sales and Service Clouds, it will enable your Salesforce.com users to use an application they are comfortable with to access machine information. This new data provides Salesforce.com users with greater visibility into customer and asset information and delivers a long list of benefits. Then in turn users will be able to:
- Understand how customers are using equipment
- Review machine down-time and idle-time to understand the quality of service
- Troubleshoot issues more effectively with real-time machine information and logs
- Reduce call times with better information to resolve cases
- Get notified when equipment issues occur before a customer contacts you
- Review past machine issues and historical alarms to diagnose recurring problems
Machine Data is also very valuable to sales and marketing organization as it can drive more sales and improve customer satisfaction. Equipment usage information is very valuable to understanding a customer and account situation. For example, high machine utilization can uncover a customer’s need for more capacity and addition equipment. Low utilization can be an early warning sign of equipment problems or potential churn to a competitor’s equipment. Machine data can also provide visibility into consumable levels and enable your operations organization or supply chain partners to replenish the machines proactively.
Net/net: Machine data is making its way into Salesforce.com. Axeda’s customers are taking us there… and we are jumping on the bandwagon and making it easy for them to do so.
By Dan Murphy
Salesforce has its sights set on the Internet of Things, and – like Axeda – the company is focused on helping organizations to turn data and connected products into real business value.
While thousands of companies have transformed business functions from service to sales to R&D, few have achieved greater success than Ventana Medical Systems – whose M2M success story was featured in a GigaOm podcast this week.
At Dreamforce – Sean Casey, director of IT at Ventana, will share how his company uses M2M connectivity and Salesforce integration to improve service levels and customer satisfaction across the organization. Sean will present ‘Improving Patient Care with Connected Medical Devices’ on Monday, Nov. 18, at 10 a.m. at the Palace Hotel - Presidio
But Ventana won’t be the only Axeda customer showcasing their M2M story at Dreamforce. Additionally, Jason DePardo of EMC Isilon will present ‘Extending the Value of Connected Product Data’ on Monday, Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. at the InterContinental San Francisco, InterContinental Ballroom A.
And Axeda’s own Bill Zujewski, CMO & EVP of Product Strategy, will participate on a panel discussion ‘Current Challenges & Opportunities in the Connected World’ on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. at the InterContinental San Francisco, Telegraph Hill.
You can find the Axeda team in Booth #7 in the Developer Zone in Moscone-West, where we can give you a preview of our new Salesforce AppExchange and demonstrate how integrating machine data into the Salesforce Cloud delivers real, tangible value to businesses.
Hope to see you there!
By Bill Zujewski
This is the fifth and final post in a multi-part series, which specifically explores the challenges of dealing with wireless technology as part of an M2M (Machine-To-Machine) initiative. Today’s post will focus on data storage and application development.
In our first four posts, we’ve covered the key steps for establishing, managing, maintaining, and securing wireless M2M connectivity. But all of this leads up to the one essential question:
How will you use all that data?
And for a dose of truth: lots of data is pretty meaningless if you don't have a plan for it.
The ability to turn wireless machine data into consumable and useful information is critical to making an M2M initiative successful and impacting your organization's bottom line. But there isn't always a clear path, and it can be awfully challenging to see the promise land when you're buried in facts and figures.
In its raw form, machine data is arcane, proprietary, and not very usable for most organizations. Businesses need tools and strategies to make raw data easy to consume, and need to come up with a data model and programmatic interfaces that make it easy for programmers to develop applications and integrate machine data into other systems.
Here are four key steps that businesses should take to make machine data consumption and integration easier:
- Understand the originating data formats. With no real standard for M2M communications, M2M data is highly fragmented and often varies from device to device. There’s a difficult learning curve involved, but understanding the data formats you’ll be using with different devices will help you prepare to translate it into formats you can more easily deal with.
- Normalize the data. Store machine data in a normalized format regardless of the device sending the data. For example, trip records from vehicle devices are very different depending on the device supplier, but for most of them you can extract common information: the start time, end time, and points hit along the way. Regardless of the device used, store the information the same way. Consider using a relational database or data repository that you are familiar with. This will enable you to manage the historical data more effectively and efficiently.
- Expose the data using modern APIs (like REST or SOAP) to turn raw data access into familiar API access. This will improve developer productivity.
- Make it scalable. Rest assured – your M2M initiative will grow, whether by bringing new machines onto the network, or retrofitting older ones for connectivity. Ensuring that your data storage and access architecture is built to handle the influx of data is key.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of making M2M data usable is that it involves a lot of low-level designing and application logic which can be time-consuming and tedious. Leveraging M2M/IoT platforms that are device-agnostic, can handle massive amounts of data, and include elegant APIs out of the box will dramatically reduce the time needed to translate and manage machine data, and accelerate your time to market for new applications and integrations.
By Bill Zujewski
This is the fourth post in a multi-part series, which specifically explores the challenges of dealing with wireless technology as part of an M2M (Machine-To-Machine) initiative. The series will offer insights to help designers and developers prepare for and overcome the unique challenges involved with implementation. Today’s post will focus on global connectivity.
The Internet of Things is a global phenomenon that's not slowing down - it's really just picking up speed, with impact just starting to materialize. Many of the leading connected productmanufacturers build, deploy, and support connected assets all around the world, and combined with wireless, M2M technology goes a long way in helping organizations expand their M2M initiatives across international borders.
International wireless connectivity isn’t necessarily difficult to establish, as most carriers offer a version of a global SIM. The challenge is that global M2M connectivity adds layers of complexity and significant additional considerations that connected businesses need to juggle – or they risk setbacks and disruptions in service.
Some of these challenges include:
- Ensuring compatibility with various networks or carriers: An asset in Germany will rely on a different network than one in India. Manufacturers need to ensure their machines can connect to different networks in different regions – something that becomes even more difficult for mobile assets (e.g. shipping containers) that need to connect to various networks as they move throughout different regions. Otherwise, businesses risk losing sight of and access to their machines.
- Managing economics: Rates from carrier to carrier vary greatly, so businesses need to do their due diligence to ensure their connectivity will be affordable, especially for mobile assets that rely on more than one network. Without proper research and planning, connectivity costs could unexpectedly skyrocket.
- Ensuring reliability: Don’t assume you’ll have connectivity in all parts of the world. In many areas, even wired connectivity is not guaranteed. Manufacturers need to understand where their connectivity may be at risk, and which wireless methods are the best options. Downtime doesn't just halt productivity -- it can literally cripple profitability.
For an effective international M2M initiative that doesn’t break the budget or risk service, flexibility is key. Manufacturers should design an architecture that is carrier, device, and SIM management agnostic – so that machines can smoothly rely on different networks and communication devices anywhere in the world.
By Bill Zujewski
This is the third post in a multi-part series, which specifically explores the challenges of dealing with wireless technology as part of an M2M (Machine-To-Machine) initiative. The series will offer insights to help designers and developers prepare for and overcome the unique challenges involved with implementation. Today’s post will focus on security risks.
Security and privacy concerns are front-of-mind for everyone – regardless of industry. But they’re even more prominent for the M2M community, and breeding skepticism around the future growth of the ‘Internet of Things.’ And there's reason: Cybercrime and government spying is headline news every day. There's no doubt the state of privacy and terrorism in a hyperconnected world . will be front and center for 'Internet of Things' as it continues to move mainstream.
In reality, the biggest security risk of the ‘Internet of Things’ is someone accessing a machine and making it malfunction – machines are almost never used as a Trojan Horse to access the network it’s on. However, ensuring the security of machines, networks, and data is trickier in a wireless environment – but it needs to be a top priority for every business involved in M2M.
Here are five security strategies that every wireless M2M initiative should include:
- Encrypt utilizing the machine when possible. Many new devices have encryption chips that will allow for easy encryption of traffic without relying on the wireless network. Older devices may not have this option and will likely want to utilize carrier wireless traffic encryption.
- Encrypt from the data center to ensure that any traffic between the wireless carrier and the your business applications travel over an encrypted pipe. This may require setting up a VPN and APN with your carrier. Axeda and AT&T deliver this service as part of our joint core offering.
- Configure your assets so that machines can only receive instructions from your M2M cloud platform. Axeda customers’ assets are configured such that they can only respond to instructions from Axeda’s Machine Cloud.
- Turn off unnecessary services. Ensure that ports or services on your device are disabled or turned off. That debug interface that is so useful in testing can be a backdoor for malicious attackers.
- Whitelist web sites and services such that the machine cannot access web services that are explicitly approved. Axeda and AT&T’s offering can help to enhance the security of your wireless solution with this service.
The good news is that, so far, there have been few recorded incidents of a connected product leading to a data breach or cyber-attack. Demonstrating that connected products are secure and data is handled responsibly is essential for the future of the industry.
By Bill Zujewski
This is the second post in a multi-part series, which specifically explores the challenges of dealing with wireless technology as part of an M2M (Machine-To-Machine) initiative. The series will offer insights to help designers and developers prepare for and overcome the unique challenges involved with implementation. Today’s post will focus on carrier integration.
Declining costs around cellular components have had a huge impact on how quickly the 'Internet of Things' has grown – its significance cannot be understated. Cheap components have enabled the industry to expand into countless new verticals -- it's also why providers like AT&T have turned their full attention to the M2M industry in a big way.
However, cellular connectivity brings M2M architecture and management considerations.
For one, manufacturers need to effectively and efficiently ensure that existing connected machine solutions can integrate with cellular infrastructure and mobile carrier business systems.
Here are three other things to consider:
- On A Data Budget: Manufacturers need real-time visibility into how their communications are performing against their cellular data plan, and need to be able to adjust data plans and data flow when necessary. Otherwise, they risk going over budget.
- Connectivity Management: Similarly, manufacturers need to be able to understand the status of their connectivity, and the performance and health of their assets at all times.
- Asset Management: Finding connected assets in a carrier’s system can be difficult, as the carrier’s system only identifies assets by their SIM ID. This means manufacturers often have to manually associate the asset’s SIM ID with its VIN or serial number – a long and pain-staking process.
The best solution is to leverage M2M platforms that have already achieved integration with carrier systems. This will drastically cut your time-to-market and start-up costs.
By: Bill Zujewski
This is the first post in a multi-part series, which specifically explores the challenges of dealing with wireless technology as part of an M2M (Machine-To-Machine) initiative. The series will offer insights to help designers and developers prepare for and overcome the unique challenges involved with implementation. Today’s first post will focus on “reliability”.
For obvious reasons, wireless technology will play a key role in the future of M2M. And right now, the stage is being set. Technological advances in edge devices and cellular networks have made it easier and less expensive for mobile assets to be connected, removing two significant barriers to adoption. Fact is, machines communicating via cellular, satellite, or wireless connections will be just as big of a part, if not bigger, of the Internet of Things as machines with wired connections.
But it's not all sunshine and rainbows: the unfortunate reality is that wireless communications aren’t always as dependable as wired internet connections.
That said, there are a number of steps connected product manufacturers can take early in the M2M development and implementation processes that will help ensure the level of connectivity M2M initiatives require.
1. Design an architecture that assumes and accounts for intermittent connectivity by building in intelligence that queues up data when offline to be sent out once connectivity returns.
2. Build in connectivity redundancies, so that if one kind of connectivity fails, another will take over. For example – if a moving asset loses its cellular signal, the machine can automatically switch to satellite communications. This strategy is essential for mobile assets that require continual connectivity.
3. Test your assets’ connectivity. Connect the asset, take it to a specific location, and see what the connection quality is. In the end, nothing beats real-world testing.
Even though nothing is more dependable than a wired connection, wireless M2M is opening new doors for the industry – from the shipping and fleet industries to a wide range of consumer products. Wireless connectivity is a critical part of the industry’s future – it just takes a bit more thinking and planning to make it work right.
Please join us for an Axeda webinar with Modus, "Top 5 Things to Speed Your Deployments of a Usage Based Insurance Program" on Wednesday, September 25th at 11:00 a.m. EST
Part 6: Extend Machines with Connected Services to Differentiate
Today’s blog post discusses how machine data can be leveraged to deliver new applications that extend the utility of the machine for end-users. In my previous post on “what CEOs need to know about M2M”, I gave examples of business processes that have been enhanced and improved using machine data. These examples were about improving efficiency and taking out costs and demonstrated value to the machine manufacturer. As you recall, this was level 5 on the M2M value curve. But what about the end-user of the machine… how can we use the connectivity to deliver direct value to them?
The ultimate goal for product manufacturers, what we refer to as Level 6, is product differentiation. This level is about changing the product experience for customers by adding value-added apps that enhance the value of a machine. This is where connected capabilities have the capacity to transform a business and increase customer loyalty… where innovation is achieved by enabling end-users and customers to interact with the machine data… where manufacturers can reinvent their user experience.
There are many types of custom applications that can enhance the utility of a machine. Organizations can present data from the connected product to users and end-customers via portals and web applications that they can view while using equipment in real time. For example, a web application connected to the machine may allow the user to remotely control the machine or monitor the consumables on the machine so they can to be replenished in a timely manner. The manufacturer can also provide an application to audit all machine activity and make it easy to generate compliance reports. In fact, many of our customers now provide a web portal with their equipment that provides these fore mentioned capabilities and more.
The other big trend we are seeing is “mobile apps”. Smart phone and tablets are emerging as a way to put applications that interact with machines in the hands of field personnel and end-users who need remote access from anywhere. In some cases, workers can go home earlier knowing if something goes wrong the machine will contact them on their phone (maybe a text message) and they can quickly access the machine via their mobile device. You can see how this can reduce the labor costs for an organization while at the same time improve effectiveness of their employees.
Net/net: value-added applications can be used to improve competitiveness and drive market share. Apps can also be new revenue- generating offerings when sold as value-added services. For the most progressive companies reaching this highest level, Axeda provides easy-to-use development tools and APIs to access collected machine data and to rapidly create new innovative customer-facing applications that differentiate their offerings. The Axeda platform also includes a rules engine and scripting engine. Combined with the RESTful and SOAP-based web services, developers are empowered to rapidly build and deploy new applications.
In all these examples, think of Axeda as the “M2M Application Enablement Platform”… the software that collects the machine data, transforms it, stores it and then makes it easy to access and incorporate it into new applications. In my next post, I’ll share Axeda customer examples of apps that differentiate their machines and provide a competitive advantage. You’ll see how these expanded offerings are driving rapid adoption of their connected services. Why? Because instead of trying to “sell” connected services to their customers, their customers are demanding it… their customers “need” the new applications and they fully appreciate the value that the apps can deliver to their operations and business. Just like the consumer world, in the industrial world, the notion of an “app store” for machines is emerging.
There have been a few blog posts recently about what the name is of this area of technology we work in… whether they are blog posts in EE|Times, GE’s Industrial Internet, Wired’s Programmable World, or Cisco’s Internet of Everything, and even internally here at Axeda there have been some vigorous discussions about the use of “Machine” in regards to “Machine Cloud” and “M2M”.)
The discussion here has been around what really constitutes a “machine” when you have “ant-sized” computers such as the KLO2 chip as reported in the MIT Technology review in May, or does an iPhone count as a machine? For sure the systems GE talks about in the industrial internet are machines…and big ones at that! According to Wikipedia (yes I know, not the greatest source available, but bear with me) the definition is: “A tool that consists of one or more parts, and uses energy to achieve a particular goal. Machines are usually powered by mechanical, chemical, thermal, or electrical means, and are frequently motorized.” And they go on to add: “Historically, a powered tool also required moving parts to classify as a machine; however, the advent of electronics technology has led to the development of powered tools without moving parts that are considered machines.” So I guess if we don’t need moving parts, then our little ant-sized chip still does qualify as a machine, and I have to modify my prior position with some colleagues.
But to me none of these terms are instantly grokable to anyone outside of the space, and maybe that’s ok. I don’t need to know the intricate and arcane terms for brewing, but I like a beer. So does Aunt Alice need to know that her smart meter sends data back to the utility company via some form of M2M connection so that they can monitor her usage, send her off-peak incentives, or allow her to use an app on her iPhone to see exactly what she is using? Probably not, to her, it’s all just magic.
So what are some examples of connected systems that can deliver up some magic for you, and allow you to explain what IoE, IoT, M2M etc. are to your friends and family:
By monitoring consumable levels in MRI machines, operations can resupply in advance to avoid downtime. Service, sales and marketing can observe consumption over time, and deliver the right service, at the right time to avoid costly delays and patient/staff rescheduling.
Gauging the temperature of manufacturing assets warns the service team if there is a risk of overheating and lets finance know when warranty guidelines are not being upheld. (For one of our clients customers, their outsourced cleaners ran the machines out of parameter like this causing a $100,000 failure. By having the data showing when this was happening, the customer was able to pursue the cleaning company for restitution.)
Tracking wind turbine speed alerts operations when an asset is under producing, and helps research and development develop a more resilient blade.
Implementing a usage-based insurance strategy is revolutionizing the auto-insurance industry. Operations and finance teams can track speeds, idling time, parking location, distances traveled, hard stops and more, leading to decreased premiums for consumers.
So it probably doesn’t matter what you call it, but M2M allows you to fully harness the data that you can get from your machines as long as you have the innovative teams to see the possibility when they are developing the systems. A connected strategy can allow your company to make faster, smarter and more informed decisions across many departments and allow you to be more proactive with your customers.
If you have other examples that you use to describe the M2M space when you are having a cup of tea with your version of Aunt Alice, I’d love for you to post a comment below.
Putting together a connected product strategy is not as plug-and-play yet as maybe it should be, but I think there are some strides being taken towards making it a lot simpler for those who wish to build connected machines. For a manufacturer wishing to go it alone, and not rely on the emerging ecosystem of companies who are partnering to provide solutions can be a daunting task. Not only is complexity increasing with the choices you have for devices, the networks and protocols, and the security implications, but there can also be an increase in costs with more applications needed to be developed, more integrations to your ERP or CRM systems, or purely the amount of data that you may be pumping from the devices back to the databases.
So why would you build this all by yourself and not take advantage of people who specialize in these areas, and can work together to get your products all chatting on the Internet of Things (or the Machine Cloud as we call it). I worked for a company a few years ago that had a legacy system to do inventory management, and due to rapid acquisition and growth, had to scale that system up. But it was running on older hardware and operating systems, as well as the actual development platform, and it mean that the company effectively had to become their own software house to support that vital product. Going off and building your own is effectively turning you into a software house when that may not be your core capability.
Some of the unique things you need to know about when building M2M apps over more traditional enterprise-type software are:
- Do I need short-haul or long-haul drivers?
- How do I create embedded agents, message translators of raw data to business information?
- How do I efficiently organize my data in an M2M data model?
- How do I cope with queuing, throttling and caching compression of a constant stream of real-time data?
After all, you should really be focused on your business and its future. Improving your product experience, increasing your agility and empowering not only your service and support staff, but as we saw in my last blog, your customers as well.
That’s where the Collaborative Ecosystem comes in. where the 5 main areas of an M2M deployment come together to get your products to market faster than you can do it by yourself. So whether you are building connected products for mHealth, for transportation, for Usage-Based-Insurance (UBI) or for utilities, partnering up with people who have the most knowledge in their area makes the most sense.. after all, would you build your own email system nowadays, do you have software engineers building a credit-card processing application?
The 5 areas are of course;
- The Network and Connectivity Providers
- The Hardware and Component Providers
- The Application Service Providers
- The Business Systems Providers
- The Cloud Application and Platform Providers
At Axeda, that ecosystem looks something like this:
And that doesn’t even include all of the device manufacturers in the Axeda Ready Program that is a technical approval program for hardware and module manufacturers in the M2M industry to ensure device compatibility with the Axeda Platform. Programs like this speed time-to-market for multiple devices that can communicate with a platform, and ensures accurate and secure data communication, as well as setting technical support expectations based on their certification. And when those devices are used with an ecosystem network provider, and the applications are written by an ecosystem application provider, the whole process can go a lot faster than trying to do it yourself.
Recently at Axeda’s user conference, Connexion ’13, we had members from each area of this ecosystem, as well as analysts and customers; speak in keynote sessions giving their vision on where the market was going, and how the ecosystem was a strong driver to get there. So I put together a video with highlights from their presentations, to view it, click here:
Some of the benefits, as I see it, to joining the ecosystem rather than going it alone are not only that you free up resources to drive innovation, but you also get:
- Fast time-to-market with new solutions and initiatives
- Approved security protocols
- Efficient data communication and machine data processing
- Built-In business and administration tools
- Less code to write yourself
- The flexibility to extend and customize
- Benefits of input from multiple customers
But that’s just my view; and as I said in my first post, I’m a newbie at all this, so I’m sure some of you will have comments. So add them below and share them with the rest of us. And if in the meantime you want to see someone else's view, check out this recent post on VentureBeat talking about the very same dilemma.