The Connected Effect

Bill Zujewski

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Why "Connected Products" will soon be the norm...

Posted by Bill Zujewski

Jul 15, 2014 9:55:00 AM

By Bill Zujewski

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is real, delivering value, transforming industries and here to stay… and connected products from product manufacturers are at the heart of it. So what’s driving the interest and momentum?   Clearly, the coolness of “Connected Homes” and the fitness benefits of “Wearables” are sparking some of the interest.  But what other macro trends and changes in consumer and customer behaviors are accelerating the demand for Connected Products?  Here are some key trends that I see that are driving the need for Connected Products:

  • Mobile Apps – There’s an app for everything.   Need a cab? Grab a taxi with Uber on your smart phone.  Want to play some tunes in the kitchen? Bring up your Sonos app.    We are becoming accustomed to interacting with things via our phones.  SIoT connected productso I expect we’ll hear this from consumers from now on: “What do you mean … this product doesn’t come with an app?”
  • Early “Connected Products” – We’ve tasted connected products.  My TV is connected.  My Nest thermostat is connected.  My fitness band is connected.  My Music player is in the cloud.  So I expect we will hear this a lot: “What do mean … this product is not connected? Ughh.”
  • “Use” vs. “Ownership” model – Who needs to buy anything?  Need a ride?  Just use  Zip Car today.   Music? Just sign up for a streaming music service.   Need an alarm system? The camera, sensors and system are free… just pay the monthly subscription.  So I expect to hear this more often in the future: “What do mean… I have to purchase this product?  I just want it use it for a while.”

My point is this… people are going to expect what they buy to be connected.  They‘ve tasted connected products.  They’ve tasted products-as-a-service.   They love their mobile apps.  Companies who can deliver a connected product experience have a chance to differentiate and capture buyers who are hungry for connected products.

And guess what… there will be IoT consumerization of commercial and industrial products.  Tractors, windmills, trucks, buildings, projectors, generators, engines… you name  it…. they’ll be connected, come with a mobile app, and be available as a service.   The expectations from the consumer B2C world will spill over into the Industrial B2B world.  It’s already happening.  Just ask our customers… GE, Philips, EMC, Diebold, NCR, Medtronic, Tyco, Hitachi, Agilent and Stryker.

Topics: Axeda, Connected Products, IoT, Internet of Things, Apps

And the Axeda Connexion 2014 Keynote Speakers Are…

Posted by Bill Zujewski

Apr 11, 2014 10:26:00 AM

We are happy to formally announce our star lineup of keynote speakers at this year’s Axeda Connexion, our annual IoT and M2M conference coming up May 5-8 in Boston’s Innovation District. Our keynote speakers include special guests and industry experts; presentation themes will highlight how companies such as GE, EMC, Tyco, Roche, Intel, and Salesforce.com are integrating IoT into their corporate strategies and customer interactions.

cx14 elekta video ON
Watch the Axeda Connexion Customer Insight video featuring Elekta.

The Axeda Connexion 2014 keynote speakers include:

  • Todd DeSisto, Axeda President and CEO
  • Joe Andruzzi, The Joe Andruzzi Foundation
  • Alan Atkins, Wipro Vice President and Global Head of M2M
  • Brian Bedrosian, Senior Director of Embedded Wireless, Broadcom
  • Markus Breitbach, Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing, Deutsche Telekom
  • Peter Coffee, VP of Strategic Research, Salesforce.com
  • Rick Lisa, Group Sales Director, Intel
  • Paul Rogers, Chief Development Officer, GE
  • Mike Troiano, Vice President, Advanced Mobility Solutions, AT&T
  • Peter Utzschneider, Vice President Product Management, Oracle
  • Alfonso Velosa, Research Director, Gartner

This year’s conference will be our ninth event to date and it’ll bigger than ever. What else can you expect at this year’s event? We have a great agenda planned from an IoT Developer Boot Camp to our Customer Breakout Sessions.  And for a break from the action… attend a networking reception at Harpoon Brewery or join our group outing to see the Red Sox at Fenway Park.  The full agenda to the conference can be found here.

IoT is transforming the way companies do business. You don’t want to miss out on the IoT event of the year! Register here.

Topics: M2M, Axeda Connexion, IoT, IoT Conference, Keynote Speakers, Boston

How to Select the Right IoT Platform

Posted by Bill Zujewski

Mar 13, 2014 9:34:00 AM

By Bill Zujewski

During the growth and hype phase of any new technology comes customer confusion caused by the exaggerated claims of vendors.   That is certainly the case with the Internet of Things and IoT platforms where every week new definitions emerge, new claims are made and new Axeda Go Kittechnologies are touted.   Axeda is right in the center of this IoT ecosystem and we owe it to our customers, our partners and the industry to make sense of the confusion and bring reality to the forefront.

Last month we launched a webinar series entitled “Selecting the right platform for your Internet of Things (IoT)” to help companies understand what an IoT platform does and how to evaluate them.   It no longer makes sense for companies to build your own IoT platform… to design and develop their own connectivity agents, messaging protocols, machine data management and storage systems, rules engine, alarm and event processing engine, APIs and other development tools.   These elements are now pre-integrated, hardened and available in IoT platforms like Axeda.

But not all platforms are equal.  Some focus on communication and sending data from a device to a server… others focus on collecting and storing the data and making it available via APIs and tools… other IoT platforms focus on tools for managing, configuring and monitoring devices and connected things.

Since selecting the right IoT platform is such an integral step in an IoT strategy, Axeda will continue to identify the key factors to pay attention to when evaluating platforms.  Our next webinar with ARM and VDC Research, will focus on the connectivity and capabilities you need at the edge.   It will cover the various ways to gather, process and filter data at the edge and how to efficiently, reliably and securely send that data to the cloud.   Consideration will include Java vs. C, Wired vs. Cellular, UDP vs TCP vs SMS, Linux vs. Windows vs. other OS, and standards vs proprietary protocols.   I’m sure most product managers, developers and architects will find the webinar useful.

Topics: IoT, Internet of Things, Axeda Customer

IoT vs. M2M... There's a Difference

Posted by Bill Zujewski

Jan 22, 2014 2:59:00 PM

By Bill Zujewski

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is red hot… it stole the show at CES, the world’s largest Consumer Electronics event.   It is grabbing the headlines with stories about Google, Nest and the connected home and “Wearables”, one of the poster children for the internet of things.  The IoT buzz is hitting the blogosphere with new views on the future connected world we will live in.

One observation… IoT has leap-frogged Machine-to-Machine (M2M) as the new buzzword.  Is there a difference between IoT and M2M?  Yes.  Axeda defines M2M as the communication between a machine or device and a remote computer.  M2M is about connecting a device to the cloud, managing that device, and collecting machine and sensor data.  In essence, M2M is about connecting and communicating with a “thing” where a thing can be a machine, device or sensor…. Basically anything that can send data.

IoT goes beyond M2M… beyond computers connecting to things.   IoT represents things connecting with systems, people and other things.  To be clear, here are our definitions:

  • Things – Includes machines, devices, sensors, consumer products, vehicles, etc.
  • Systems – Include business applications, ERP/CRM/PLM systems,  analytics systems, data warehouses, and control systems
  • People – Includes workers and consumers; employees, partners and customers
Internet of Things

Axeda provides an IoT Platform for orchestrating data between things, systems and people.  Our IoT platform is the technology that enables things to connect to the cloud and then interact with business systems, people and other things connected to the cloud.  What might be confusing is that part of our platform includes M2M capabilities for connecting to things and managing devices, but our platform also includes the key capabilities to integrate systems and people and implement IoT solutions.   Some of our key  IoT Platform features are:

  • Extended  Objects – To store any data; Includes the ability to go beyond machine/device data and store data related to other business objects like accounts, cases, policies, configurations, warranties, service requests, and rate plans
  • Associations – To define a data model that associates business information with devices and associates sensors with physical objects;  For example, Axeda can associate an OBD tracking device with a vehicle, driver and insurance policy and store that complementary information natively in the Axeda platform
  • Groovy Scripting Engine – To provide a development environment to handle business logic in our platform.  The scripting engine also provides an easy way for developer to write scripts that interact with other external systems and applications.
  • Web Services – To provide APIs for accessing data and software application services in Axeda
  • Scripto – To provide API’s for sending non-device data to Axeda.  This could include sensor and device information from other IoT solutions or business information from enterprise systems.  This essentially enables the mash-up of web services from multiple systems with Axeda as the central point of integration.
  • Message Queue – A secure way to interact with other systems and clouds in an asynchronous way

Net/net: Axeda provides an IoT platform that includes M2M capabilities.   In my next few blogs, I will discuss customer examples of IoT solutions.  Unlike other platforms hyping what’s possible in the Internet of Things, I’ll share with the readers, real world customer success stories of Axeda integrating things, systems and people to deliver innovative new solutions that change business outcomes.

Topics: Axeda, M2M, IoT, Internet of Things

Axeda Will Have A Major Presence at Dreamforce Next Week

Posted by Bill Zujewski

Nov 15, 2013 9:26:00 AM

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 mSalesforceachine 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.

Topics: Axeda, M2M, IoT, Dreamforce, data

Wireless Gotchas! Number One: Application Development

Posted by Bill Zujewski

Oct 31, 2013 9:50:00 AM

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.

  big data
  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.

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.

Topics: Axeda, M2M, wireless, IoT, Wireless Gotchas

Wireless Gotchas! Number Two: Global Connectivity

Posted by Bill Zujewski

Oct 21, 2013 11:34:00 AM

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.

Global Connectivity
International connectivity isn't necessarily
difficult to establish, as most carriers offer
a version of Global SIM.

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.

Topics: wireless, IoT, Machine Cloud, Internet of Things, AT&T, Wireless Gotchas, blog

Top Wireless Gotchas! Number Three: Mitigating Security Risks

Posted by Bill Zujewski

Oct 8, 2013 9:19:00 AM

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.

M2M wireless
Demonstrating that connected products are
secure and data is handled responsibly
is essential for the industry.

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.

Topics: M2M, wireless, security, IoT, Internet of Things, Wireless Gotchas, blog

Top Wireless Gotchas! Number 5: Reliable Connectivity

Posted by Bill Zujewski

Sep 23, 2013 4:08:00 PM

By: Bill ZujewskiInternet of Things

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.

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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

Register Now!

Topics: M2M, wireless, Internet of Things, Wireless Gotchas, AT&T M2M Platform, M2M Customers, Connecting the Internet of Things

What CEOs Need To Know About M2M - Part 6

Posted by Bill Zujewski

Jul 24, 2013 9:37:00 AM

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.

M2M Value Cure

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.

Topics: machine-to-machine, Machine Data

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