What the Internet of Things will look like 10 years from now

I was asked recently where do you see the Internet of Things in 10 years?

It is a cool question to think about, and to frame it properly it helps to think back to what the world was like 10 years ago, and how far we have come since then.
iPhone launch 2007

Ten years ago, in 2007 Apple launched the iPhone. This was the first real smartphone, and it changed completely how we interact with information.

And if you think back to that first iPhone with its 2.5G connectivity, no front facing camera, 3.5 inch diagonal 163ppi screen and compare it to today’s iPhones, that is the level of change we are talking about in 10 years.

In 2027 the term Internet of Things will be redundant. In the same way that we no longer say, “Internet connected smartphone”, or “Interactive website” because the connectedness and interactivity are now a given, in 10 years time all the things will be connected and so the term Internet of Things will be superfluous.

Having said that, while the term may have become meaningless, that is only because the technologies will be pervasive, and that will change everything.

With significant progress in low cost connectivity, sensors, cloud-based services, and analytics, in 10 years we will see:

  • Connected Agriculture move to vertical and in-vitro food production, which will see higher yields from crops, lower inputs required to produce them including a significantly reduced land footprint, and the return of unused farmland to increase biodiversity and carbon sequestration (in forests)
  • Connected Transportation will enable tremendous efficiencies, and a major increase in safety as we transition to predictive maintenance of transportation fleets, as vehicles become autonomous and have vehicle-to-vehicle communication protocols as the norm, and as insurance premiums start to favour autonomous driving modes (Tesla cars have 40% fewer crashes when in Autopilot mode according to the NHTSA)
  • Connected Healthcare will move from the current reactive model to a more predictive healthcare, with sensors alerting of irregularities before any significant incident occurs, and the possibility to schedule and 3D print “spare parts”
  • Connected Manufacturing will enable the transition to manufacturing as a service, distributed manufacturing (3D printing) and make mass customisation with batch sizes of one very much the norm
  • Connected Energy with the sources of demand able to ‘listen’ to supply signals from generators, will facilitate moving to a system of demand more closely matching supply (with cheaper storage, low carbon generation, and end-to-end connectivity). This will stabilise the the grid and eliminate the fluctuations introduced by increasing the percentage of variable generators (solar, wind) in the system thereby reducing electricity generation’s carbon footprint
  • Human computer interfaces will migrate from today’s text-based and touch based systems towards Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR and MR) systems, with voice and gesture enabled UIs
  • And finally, we will see the rise of vast Business Networks. These networks will act like automated B2B marketplaces, facilitating information sharing amongst partners, empowering workers with greater contextual knowledge, and augmenting business processes with enhanced information

Many other aspects of our lives will be greatly improved (I’ve not mentioned improvement to logistics and supply chains with complete track and traceability all the way through the supply chain as a given, for example).

We are only at the start of our IoT journey. In 2007 when the smartphone was starting out the incredible advances we’ve seen as a consequence (i.e Apple’s open sourced ResearchKit being used to monitor the health of pregnant women) weren’t obvious, but they have happened. With the increasing pace of innovation, falling prices for components, and amazing network effects from the connected Internet of Things, the future looks very bright, even if we no longer use the term Internet of Things.

Photo credit Garry Knight on Flickr

SAP’s Vehicle Network explained by SAP VP Laurens Eckelboom

I had the good fortune to meet SAP’s VP Connected Vehicles, Laurens Eckelboom at Mobile World Congress recently and I invited him to come on the IoT Heroes podcast to tell us all about what SAP is doing with its Vehicle Network and other connected car initiatives.

Here’s the transcript of our conversation:

Tom Raftery: Hi everyone, welcome to the IoT Hero Show. My name is Tom Raftery, I’m VP & Global IoT Evangelist for SAP, and with me on the show today, I have Laurens Eckelboom. Laurens, do you want to introduce yourself?

Laurens Eckelboom: Absolutely Tom and pleasure to be here. My name is Laurens Eckelboom and I’m VP and Head of Business Development for the SAP Vehicles Network and Connected Vehicles working in Palo Alto California.

Tom Raftery: Okay, super. So Laurens what is a vehicles network, because we all know what vehicles are and we all know what networks are, but what’s a vehicles network?

Laurens Eckelboom: That’s a great question and actually SAP Vehicles Network is more like a marketplace. A marketplace around vehicle and mobility centric services with the focus on the B2B side of it, so what we are trying to do is connect on the one hand side supply, vehicle and mobility centric supply focused on parking, fueling and location based services. We aggregate, aggregators in that space, we try to standardize those business transactions and utilize a set of standard API’s to offer that aggregated inventory to the demand side of the marketplace, which are sales channels and sales channels could be vehicle manufacturers, it could be aftermarket providers, insurance companies, etc, etc with a large consumer base. That is in an nut shell what we do.

Tom Raftery: Okay, so and this is all delivered, the reason we’re talking is because it is all delivered using IoT technologies.

Laurens Eckelboom: Absolutely.

Tom Raftery: It’s being the IoT Hero show, I said I’d better bring it back to that. So there are many actors involved in this Laurens?

Laurens Eckelboom: Absolutely, there are many actors, there are many stakeholders that we bring together and again that is the power of SAP Vehicles Network, and yes, it is powered by SAP HANA Cloud Platform let’s emphasize that, but what we are trying to do is that we create an ecosystem where we did not only combined supply and demand where we bring not only content and transactionable content together and offer that to a large ecosystem of companies that have access to a large consumer basis. But we also try to come up with new cross pollination for data, new business models, new revenue streams, all because the more the marketplace is growing, the more the network is growing, the more the stakeholders are benefiting from it.

Tom Raftery: Okay and this is an unusual model I think because if we think about IoT and vehicles, people immediately think of maybe something like smart parking, but what the vehicles network is it’s much much bigger than that because if my understanding is correct. SAP is kind of standing in the middle of all kinds of vendors, of services for vehicles, so it’s a much, much bigger place, is that correct?

Laurens Eckelboom: That is absolutely correct and you’ve hit the nail on the head, if you look at it more realistically then of course we are a part of the SAP Leonardo Family, IoT family of brands within SAP and if you look at the value of proposition around the connected vehicles then we have 4 activities that we can identify, and SAP Vehicle Network is only 1 of those 4 activities, but if we look at it more broad then you know we are providing vehicle insights at more like fleet and B2B telematic solutions to a broad range of customers, not only data gathering, but also analysis and predictions that are associated with it, which is of course fascinating and a very rapidly growing activity within SAP.

The second activity that we do under the Connected Vehicles brand is ride sharing under the twogo brand, ride sharing to provide an economically friendly, more sustainable solution to companies to organize ride sharing initiatives that they have and also associate with all kinds of incentives around ride sharing.

Then the third activity is as we discussed SAP Vehicles Network, which is a B2B marketplace around vehicle and mobility centric services.

And last but not least, we are also providing SAP Connected Parking, which is a standalone Kiosk based on HANA Cloud Platform that is absolutely paperless and has the capability of being operated remotely in a new revolutionary design, very simple and very easy to do maintain and to operate, and again a 100% based on our cloud platform.

Tom Raftery: Okay, so just talking that one for a second, because that one is very easy to grok, the connected parking. Who would be the typical customers for that?

Laurens Eckelboom: So as you know SAP is a software company and the Kiosk is hardware right? So for us this is an outbound OEM solution where we will provide or are providing the IP of the hardware to what we call new ghost companies that will take over the design, the assembly and distribution, and install it at their customers inventory and then you need to think about parking operators, the large operators in America, but also think about other use cases such as airports, think about potential municipalities, real estate companies and other types of locations where you could use the unattended Kiosk in various ways of use cases.

Tom Raftery: Okay and this I presume obviously then connect back into the vehicle network as well, so you could have the two of them wired up together for all intents and purposes?

Laurens Eckelboom: Absolutely, the beauty of it is that the kiosk is part of opening up a lot of parking inventory that today is not accessible, that is not online accessible. So with the kiosk we are putting these offline locations on the grid, we make them available to reserve, to book, to pay, and that obviously benefits the whole ecosystem of SAP Vehicles Network because all the consumers now have a broader choice of parking inventory to go to in a seamless and frictionless way.

Tom Raftery: Okay and how long as the vehicles network been in operation?

Laurens Eckelboom: It’s pretty new, we launched the SAP Vehicles Network in America in October 2015 and in Europe in November 2015, so we have one and a half years on the way, but it’s exciting to see the growth, it’s exciting to see the development, and so we could not be happier with the direction that we’re going to today.

Tom Raftery: Okay, and in terms of, I mean do you call them customers or do you call them partners, people who are using the network, who interesting is on the network that we can work with?

Laurens Eckelboom: So we have two roles basically on SAP Vehicles Network, on the first of all on the supply side, every marketplace has a supply and demand, on the supply side we are working with companies that have access to a large inventory of parking spaces, and those parking spaces are online available, so that means that you could online or mobile interact with these spaces. We call that POP’s, Point of Purchase, which is different than POI’s, which is only static information. So we work with the market leaders for on and off street parking where we have the availability of their complete inventory, and by bundling that inventory, now suddenly through one API connection you have access to all this aggregated inventory, to these millions of parking spots, without the needs to sign up individually for these operators. [emphasis added]

And we do the same for fueling and we have a second activity within a marketplace is fueling, cashless fueling, where we could tie in a navigation experience towards a fuel station, with an identification use case through the head unit of the car, or through any companion app that through the cloud directly interacts with the transaction handler software, so we can activate the right fuel pump so that you don’t pay for the wrong fuel. And for somebody in front of you,

Tom Raftery: That’s important.

Laurens Eckelboom: Yeah, that’s of course very important. And we do the payments authentication and authorization through the cloud, and so all these elements are coming together, then the fuel pump will change its display you know saying hey, I’m ready. So the only thing you still need to do, we’re working on that as well, but you still have to get out of your car and put that nozzle in the gas tank and then that’s it.

Tom Raftery: It won’t fuel itself

Laurens Eckelboom: Yeah, that would be nice right, and we can tie that experience also into a business use case where if it would be a business trip, you could also tie that into Concur for your trip reporting.

Tom Raftery: Okay, so you pull up to the fuel pumps, you fill the car, you then have a reserved parking space you pull up to that, and at the end of the day the parking billing and the fuel billing all appear in your expenses report automatically?

Laurens Eckelboom: Exactly.

Tom Raftery: Or automagically maybe we should say.

Laurens Eckelboom: I like that better.

Tom Raftery: Interesting, so this obviously is great for business users. Is there a consumer aspect to it or is it all business to business?

Laurens Eckelboom: No, there is a huge consumer aspect to it. As I said prior in our conversation that we are looking for the demand side within the marketplace, for consumer facing companies, and we identify basically four tiers, one tier is of course the vehicle OEM’s where we are looking for direct integration in the head units combined with a companion app. The second tier would be rental car companies, where we interact with their user base. The third one would be aftermarket, where we work with dongle and Telco’s with an OBD2 Solution and a companion app that interacts with the car, and the fourth use case is of course an app that is out there whether it’s an insurance app or an existing parking app or maybe it’s a city specific app, where we can add locations and relevant services around parking and fueling into that app.

So those are the use cases that we have, and then seguing more towards your question, these services can be consumed by consumers, by a BMW driver, by a Mercedes driver that once you access parking, but of course they are also more like business use cases available that as basically comparable as a consumer use case, but by tying it to Concur, you can suddenly create a whole business use case scenario where a trip reporting and expense claim management is also integrated. I hope that makes sense.

Tom Raftery: It does and nobody likes doing expenses, so anyway you can make it easier for us, it’s so much appreciated.

Laurens Eckelboom: I feel your pain

Tom Raftery: You mentioned insurance, what would be the use case for the insurance industry?

Laurens Eckelboom: So insurance companies are realizing that there main channel of interaction is more and more mobile. Anyway they segue from people towards online, web towards mobile, and so to that ends they are adding more and more functionality into mobile apps, and that functionality goes further than a regular insight in your policy, there is now also a way to apply for an insurance policy whether it’s car or house or associated to insurance products, but also now they are looking on how they can increase interaction with their app, how they become more relevant, and have be brought interact more than twice a year, which is typically the renewal cycle of insurance to a more like weekly or even daily interaction, and to that end if you would add things like parking or fueling services to that app, suddenly the interaction with that app is becoming more repetitive and more frequently.

And by doing that they are adding more relevance and stickiness to their app and that is what they are looking for, they are looking more for a more like almost like a kind of a mobility value proposition to their end users that acts as there companion for more daily use cases.

Tom Raftery: Okay, interesting, nice. So we’ve covered a lot about it, is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet?

Laurens Eckelboom: Well, I mean there’s a couple of things that I think are really exciting and that is for instance the Hertz, Nokia, Concur and SAP showcase at MWC 2017 because I think that what is really interesting about SAP Vehicle Network is also that we can bring multiple large companies together, and create new innovative use cases, not necessarily by coming up with new technology, but by bundling the individual value propositions, and create whole new use case scenario that also provides a more delightful user experience, and more relevance and stickiness towards individual app or individual companies. So what we did in the Hertz case was that we used a Hertz mobile app as a front end and added additional solutions to it that would go way further than your rental car experience.

So to that end, you know the app during the Mobile World Congress, did not only enable you to, you know the moment you enter a rental car facility to select a car and do your regular rental car managements steps such as looking at the agreement, adding fuel services to it, maybe increase the insurance but after those steps you know the use case was that had interacted with vehicle to the cloud, so I’m a tall guy 6’4 I used to be 6’5, but at 6’4 these days, and so if I step into a car through the cloud the car recognizes me as Laurens, 6 foot 4 so the seat would go backwards, it recognized that I like 90’s music better than today’s music, so the radio would tune on 90’s music.

And the app could behave like a keyless access point, so I could pop the trunk, I could open up the car and there the keys of the vehicle would be available and I could actually start the car, so that would be one of the examples, but then we’re going to convert that car into a mobile wallet, the wallet on wheels by opening up the SAP vehicles network parking and fueling inventory, having the ability to push navigation from that transaction to the head unit of the car, and then when you’re at your point of interaction whether that’s a parking garage or whether that’s a fuel pump, there is an interaction through the cloud with that hardware, and by adding the components of Concur to this whole use case scenario, we suddenly create a whole business scenario.

And then also I think one of the unique things that we do is that we bring IoT also to business processes, and that’s of course our strength within SAP, and that is something unique and we are very proud of that. And so everybody is benefiting from it, it’s not only the user, the business traveler that has a delightful experience, but also these transactions through the cloud through the real world are coming back into one of the core things that we do, business processes.

Tom Raftery: Okay and that announcement, at Mobile World Congress with Nokia and Hertz, is that available now to Hertz users, or is it something that going to be rolled over the next however how many months or years?

Laurens Eckelboom: Yeah, absolutely. This is something that of course is not available today, it was a showcase, but it says something about innovation and the roadmap ahead, so rest assure that in the future that many of these elements will become available within not only the Hertz app, but also in other comparable use case scenarios.

And another example that I would love to give to you is with Mojio. Mojio is a aftermarket solution, it’s actually a connected car platform for T–mobile in the US and Deutsche Telecom in Europe, and here the Mojio team decided to add SAP Vehicles Network services around parking and fueling to their current use case, which is focused around basic telematics and navigation and issue management capabilities, and the unique thing is that they have access to a large target audience of T-Mobile customers in the US, and with the distribution network of T-Mobile stores in the US, so here you will see that hundreds of thousands of T-Mobile users and T-Mobile customers have now the ability in the next couple of months to start interacting not only with Mojio’s key and core competence, but also with transactions, paying for parking, starting to pay for fueling and this is all about the network you know.

Now you see that the transaction is starting to come in and now we also start to learn about behavior and other elements and that is very exciting, we could not be more happy about that.

Tom Raftery: Oh, fantastic, great. Okay, we’re coming towards the end of the show Laurens, we’re running out of time. Just for the people who are interested, what else is coming down the line with the Vehicles Network that you’d like to tell people about?

Laurens Eckelboom: I think that and that is great question. There’s a couple of things that we are working on besides the parking and fueling scenario, we are focusing now on location based services around parking and fueling, and we feel that parking was never a destination, but it will be great at the moment you parked, you could get a cup of coffee with a participating Starbucks around the corner or maybe a second bagel, and the same for fueling, of course I think the optimal use case scenario at a fuel station is that while you’re you know getting gas, you’re going to buy something at the convenience store, whether that’s a free coke or you know and we can tie that into your trip, we can also segment and fine tune that base on the time of the day, we could tie it in to how long you’ve been driving, so there are all kinds of deeper detailed scenarios available.

And after those services that I described, we will continue to add new vehicle mobility centric services to the marketplace. Think about I think in the near future insurance related services, roadside assistance related services, but also think about maintenance service, maybe in the future even multi modelling because again we also go to that direction, so it’s exciting and there’s a lot coming.

Tom Raftery: Fantastic, great. Laurens if people want to know more about you or about the vehicle network or any of these things, so where should I go?

Laurens Eckelboom: Go to sap.com and look for SAP Vehicles Network. We have a nice website with more examples, more information and the other way to reach out is send an Email laurens.eckelboom@sap.com and I’m happy to answer any question you may have.

Tom Raftery: fantastic Laurens it’s been great thanks for joining us on the show today.

Laurens Eckelboom: Thanks so much Tom I appreciate the opportunity.

You can listen to the audio over on the IoT Heroes website or check it out below:

IoT, and the transition to the digital services economy discussion with Constellation’s Andy Mulholland

Over on the IoT Heroes podcast I recently had a chat with Constellation Research analyst Andy Mulholland. Before coming out of retirement to head up IoT research for Constellation, Andy was Global CTO for Cap Gemini, and so he knows a thing or two about IT!

Andy publishes extremely insightful articles on the Internet of Things regularly over on his blog, so I was keen to have him come on the show.

In the podcast we had a wide-ranging discussion on the implications for (primarily) manufacturing organisations of the Internet of things, the transition to the as-a-service economy, and how people can get up-to-speed on happenings in the IoT space.

If you have any interest at all in the Internet of Things, and how it will effect our society, you should check out this episode of the show – you can subscribe to the RSS feed, subscribe on iTunes, or simply click Play on the player below to hear our discussion

 

Photo credit Toyota UK

SAP Announces: Leonardo, Jump-Start program, and Leonardo event to help organizations get started with IoT

…learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else

Leonardo da Vinci

SAP made a big announcement today related to its Internet of Things (IoT) products. The announcement is in three parts:

  1. SAP is branding its IoT Innovation portfolio SAP Leonardo – naming it after the great visionary, inventor, and artist Leonardo da Vinci
  2. Then, following on from SAP’s announcement of the €2bn investment in IoT, SAP is a launching a Jump-Start program to help organisations get started on their IoT pilot programs quickly and reliably and
  3. SAP also announced plans for its first global SAP Leonardo event for SAP customers, partners and IoT experts in Frankfurt Jul 11-12

 

SAP Leonardo

Digging into the announcement a little bit, SAP has long needed strong branding to pull together its offerings in the IoT space. The choice of the Leonardo name is a particularly apt one given, da Vinci’s timeless association with breathtaking vision (Leonardo dreamt up helicopters, tanks, submarines, amongst other things long before the technologies existed to create them). But there is another, possibly less obvious reason, it is an appropriate choice of name – the Internet of Things crosses all verticals (this is one of the reasons I find it so interesting), and so too did da Vinci. He didn’t restrict himself to painting, or sculpture, as many other great artists did. In fact, the Wikipedia entry for Leonardo states

Leonardo was an Italian polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time

Apt indeed.

The SAP Leonardo Portfolio has the following components:

  • Connected Products – Enable end-to-end visibility to product-centric operations and ability to optimize compliance visibility and service availability
  • Connected Assets – Connect production systems and assets with manufacturing and Maintenance business processes to reduce operational and maintenance cost and increase uptime of assets.
  • Connected Fleet -Track, monitor, analyze and maintain all moving assets, wherever they are in the network
  • Connected Infrastructure – Delivers new forms of digital operational intelligence to transform physical-infrastructure systems to improve service, drive economic growth, and allow for more efficient and cost-effective operations, infrastructure compliance and risk mitigation.
  • Connected Markets – Foster local markets, cities, urban and rural areas to optimize utilization of natural resources and assets, reduce emissions, congestion and energy usage and improve the environment.
  • Connected People – Strives to improve lives, work and health by connecting people and communities and providing better lifestyle experiences and opportunities for organizations to evolve into new business models

 

SAP Jump-Start program

Then under the new SAP Leonardo brand, and following on from the recent announcement of SAP’s €2bn investment in the Internet of Things, part two of the announcement talks about the new SAP Leonardo Jump Start program. This is, I believe, hugely important for any organisations looking to start an IoT pilot program in earnest.

The offering consists of an executive design thinking session to kick off the customer’s project and identify an area for innovation, a rapid prototyping workshop to develop a real prototype to validate the vision, and finally an implementation phase to convert the prototype into a live pilot project and define an IoT roadmap for further business processes.

To my mind, the most interesting aspect of the offer though is that it has a fixed price for the software and services to cover the pilot and first year of usage of SAP Leonardo solutions. I can see this proving very compelling for organisations looking to investigate seriously the IoT, but not wishing to encounter sticker shock.

The details of the offer are as follows:

  • Today there are offers for 4 solutions in Q1 – Connected Goods, Vehicle Insights, Predictive Maintenance, and Asset Intelligence Network
  • In Q2 SAP plans to further offer Global Track & Trace, Distributed Manufacturing
  • Jump-Start uses the standard solution in pilot and all are Cloud solutions
  • It is available in all regions
  • Industry Value Engineering is included to help generate the business case
  • The pilot includes services and a 1 year contract for the Cloud license for 1 solution. The pilot is a 3 month project.
  • Can be purchased by client through their sales representative or visit SAP.com.
  • And SAP are currently evaluating opportunities for 3rd party participation.

 

And finally there is the announcement of the first SAP Leonardo event this coming July.  This should provide an amazing opportunity for customers, partners, and SAP experts to discuss progress on the first six months of the SAP Leonardo announcement, and Jump-Start program.

Leonardo da Vinci once famously said:

…people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things

Leonardo da Vinci

With this announcement SAP are telling the market that now is the time for SAP to go out and happen to the Things.

IoT Heroes podcast

Back in the early days of podcasting (2005-08) I ran a popular podcast called PodLeaders where I regularly interviewed luminaries from the tech world such as Vint Cerf, Matt Mullenweg, Robert Scoble, and others.

I have always had a soft spot for podcasts. I love listening to them as I walk the dog every morning, and/or when I’m on planes, or when I’m driving. And so, with the recent upsurge in podcast popularity,  I recently decided to start up a new podcast focussing on the Internet of Things. I’m calling it IoT Heroes.

I will publish roughly one episode a week. Sometimes it will be a dedicated podcast, more often it will be a case of republishing the audio from one of the video interviews I carry out.

For example, I have just published as a podcast the recent video interview I did with Fybr CTO, Mrinal Wadhwa. Fybr do the full network stack for IoT devices which need to be in the field, reliably sending info back to base and using very little power so the battery life is in the order of 10 years. Typical use cases are parking meters for cities, soil moisture sensors for agriculture/horticulture, and sewage flow sensors for waste water organisations.

Apart from the interview with Mrinal, I’ve already published interviews with Industrial Internet Consortium Executive Director Richard Soley, with Eclipse’s VP Marketing Ian Skerrett, and with Labs Network Industry 4.0 Lead Anke Riechers.

If you want to subscribe to the podcast, the url is http://tomraftery.libsyn.com/rss, and if you want to add it to the blogs you follow, you can find it on IoTHeroes.com.

In the meantime, use the player below to enjoy the podcast with Mrinal:

New business models for utilities

Several months before joining SAP, I was asked if I would give a talk (and be on a related panel) at the European Utility Week conference in Barcelona this year on the topic of New Business Models for Utilities.

The event is the premier utilities event annually in Europe with 12,000 attendees, and 600 exhibitors. I was honoured to be asked, and of course accepted, without hesitation.

The talk wasn’t video’d but you can check out the slides I used above. In slides 3-29 I outline why utilities need to adopt new business models (revenues are falling due to factors like falling costs of generation, the rising popularity of renewables, climate change, etc.). In slides 33-40 I discuss some of the evolutionary business models open to utilities. While slides 41-60 outline some of the more revolutionary opportunities open to utilities – many being enabled by the Internet of Things, and utilities digital transformation.

With all the changes occurring, utilities need to disrupt, or they themselves will be disrupted.

Free, open online course about the Internet of Things

SAP have just announced Imagine IoT – a free course on openSAP, SAP’s Enterprise MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) learning platform.

Why is this important?

The Internet of Things is an incredibly nascent area. Today. But it is going to explode. Slowly at first, and then all at once, such that some day soon everything will be smart and connected.

Think back to the state of the Internet in 1994. Almost no-one had a website, or their own domain even. Most companies didn’t even have a company email address, never mind one per employee. That’s where the Internet of Things is today. Most devices, are dumb and not connected, but soon all devices will be connected, the same way everybody has an email address, and when they all start talking to one another, it will transform the world as we know it even more than the Internet has to-date.

Now you see why the Internet of Things is important. It is globally transformative. Now, if you want to learn a little about the technologies underpinning the IoT, this course could well be for you.

The course is open to all comers and in the course

you will learn the fundamentals of the Internet of Things (e.g., sensors, the cloud, and more) and be introduced to new interaction paradigms (augmented reality, wearables, and more) that are changing how we interact with the world around us. You will also learn how to design and create your own IoT prototype

At the end of the course there is a “prototyping challenge” where you submit the prototype you have designed and completed during the course for feedback from your peers. The prototypes will be voted on and the winning prototypes will be showcased, and get to choose how SAP donates $50,000 to charity.

The course consists of 3 weeks of lectures commencing on September 28th, followed by four weeks of the prototyping phase.

The course curriculum looks like this:

  • Week 1: Get to Know the Internet of Things
  • Week 2: Go Deeper into IoT with SAP
  • Week 3: Create Your First IoT Prototype
  • Week 4: Submit Your IoT Prototype
  • Week 5: Evaluate IoT Prototypes of Your Peers
  • Week 6: View Results of Your IoT Prototype
  • Week 7: Winners Announced

And the course doesn’t require any previous knowledge of coding (though, it probably wouldn’t hurt!).

I signed up for the course, and I’m looking forward to trying out some of the technologies that will be showcased.

Full disclosure – I work for SAP but I’d have blogged about a worthwhile initiative like this regardless given how important and pervasive the Internet of Things is going to become. Knowing how to work with IoT will be a hugely important skill.

Global Internet of Things Evangelist for SAP

img_1349
My SAP phone on my SAP laptop

I have been recruited into SAP in the role of Global Internet of Things Evangelist starting this month.

When I left RedMonk earlier this year, I mentioned that I was talking to a couple of people, but that there was still a window of opportunity for other companies to get in touch about my working for them. SAP, and a number of others, saw the post and got in touch.

It has been an exciting few months in the meantime. I’ve had fascinating discussions with lots of companies (including the CEO of a US electric car company who wanted me to move to Palo Alto to work for his organisation).

After weighing the various options though, I decided to accept SAP’s generous offer, for a number of reasons:

  • The Internet of Things is at its very inception – it is now where the Internet was in 1994 – back when organisations didn’t have websites or a company email address even. So there are going to be seismic changes in the workings of the IoT over the next few years. This ever changing landscape, and the incredible outcomes which will accrue, are what makes this topic fascinating for me.
    Also, when I worked on cleantech, it was an area which was very broad and cut across many verticals. IoT similarly crosses many verticals, so it maps very closely with what I’ve already been doing.
  • Then there is SAP – SAP is a large enterprise software company. SAP has in the region of 77k employees, and reported revenues in excess of €20bn in 2015. By any measure SAP is an enormous organisation. And I have only ever worked for very small companies, so why go for SAP?
    Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? Working for a small company it is very hard to make an impact, but when you are working for a company with hundreds of thousands of customers, if you make even a small difference, it can have really significant outcomes.
  • fullsizerender
    And then there’s the fact that we live in the city of Seville. It is a beautiful city, and my family and I love living here. SAP had no problem with me living in Seville and didn’t even think of asking me to move to Germany, to Palo Alto, or even require me to work out of the SAP Madrid office. This was a big factor inthe decision too.

So now that I have started, I am looking forward to getting to know all my SAP colleagues, helping craft SAP’s Internet of Things strategies, and showcasing all the seriously impressive IoT solutions that are possible with SAP’s software.

If you want to get in touch to know more, feel free to leave a comment here, DM me on Twitter, email me at tom.raftery at sap.com, or get me on my mobile +34 608 252 871

The Internet of Things – trends for the telecoms, data centre, and utility industries

I gave the closing keynote at an event in Orlando last week on the topic of The Impact of the Internet of Things on Telcos, Data Centres, and Utilities.

The slides by themselves can be a little hard to grok, so I’ll go through them below. I should note at the outset that while many of my slide decks can be over 90, or even 100 slides, I kept this one to a more terse 66 😉

And so, here is my explanation of the slides

  1. Title slide
  2. A little about me
  3. The IoT section start
  4. IoT has been around for a while, but the recent explosion in interest in it is down to the massive price drops for sensors, combined with near ubiquitous connectivity – we’re heading to a world where everything is smart and connected
  5. According to the June 2016 Ericsson Mobility Report [PDF], the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to surpass mobile phones as the largest category of connected devices in 2018
  6. Depending on who you believe, Cisco reckons we will have 50bn connected devices by 2020
  7. While IDC puts the number at 212bn connected devices. Whatever the number is, it is going to mean many devices will be creating and transmitting data on the Internet
  8. What kinds of things will be connected? Well, everything from wind turbines (this is an image from GE’s website – they have a suite of IoT apps which can “improve wind turbine efficiency up to 5%” which in a large wind farm is a big deal)
  9. Rio Tinto has rolled out fully autonomous trucks at two of its mines in Australia. They developed the trucks in conjunction with Komatsu. The trucks, which are supervised from a control room 1,000km away in Perth, outperform manned trucks by 12%
  10. A nod to one of my favourite comedy movies (“See the bears game last week? Great game”), while also introducing the next three slides…
  11. Planes – according to Bill Ruh, GE’s CEO of Digital, GE’s jet engines produce 1TB of data per flight. With a typical plane flying 5-10 flights per day, that’s in the region of 10TB per plane per day, and there are 20,00 planes – that’s a lot of data. Plus, GE is currently analysing 50m variables from 10m sensors
  12. Trains – New York Air Brakes has rolled out a sensor solution for trains, which it says is saving its customers $1bn per year
  13. And automobiles – in the 18 months since Tesla starting collecting telemetry data from its customers’ cars, it has collected 780m miles of driving data. It is now collecting another 1 million miles every 10 hours. And the number of miles increases with each new Tesla sold
    And since 2009 Google has collected 1.5m miles of data. This may not sound like much in comparison, but given its data comes from Lidar radars, amongst other sensors, it is likely a far richer data set
  14. With the rollout of smart meters, UK utility Centrica recently announced that it will be going from 75m meter reads a year, to 120bn meter reads per annum
  15. Wearables, like the Fitbit now record our steps, our heartbeat, and even our sleep
  16. This was my heartbeat last November when I presented at the SAP TechEd event in Barcelona – notice the peak at 2:30pm when I went onstage
  17. Lots of in-home devices too, such as smoke alarms, thermostats, lightbulbs, and even security cameras and door locks are becoming smart
  18. Even toy maker Atari has announced that it is getting into the Internet of Things business
  19. Which is leading to an enormous data explosion
  20. In 2012 analyst form IDC predicted that we will have created 40ZB of data by 2020
  21. In 2015 it updated that prediction to 75ZB
  22. Where will this data be created?
  23. Well, according to the 2016 Ericsson Mobility Report, most of the IoT devices will be in Asia Pacific, Western Europe, and North America
  24. When?
  25. That depends, different devices have different data profiles for creation and consumption of data, depending on geography, time of day, and day of year
  26. And why?
  27. Because, as Mary Meeker pointed out in her 2016 State of The Internet report, global data growth has had a +50% CAGR since 2010, while data storage infrastructure costs have had a -20% CAGR in the same timeframe
  28. In 2011 EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes famously said that Data is the new gold
  29. And if that’s true, as is the case with any gold rush, the real money is to be made supplying the prospectors
  30. Now, let’s look at some of the trends and impacts in the telecoms industry
  31. From Ericsson’s 2016 Mobility Report we can see that the big growth for the telecoms is in data traffic
  32. And not content to be merely infrastructure providers, telcos are looking to climb the value chain
  33. To facilitate this data explosion, telecom companies are building fatter pipes with LTE growing significantly in numbers between 2015 and 2021, while 2019 will see 5G kicking off
  34. Telcos are now offering cloud solutions. Their USP being that their cloud is fast, reliable, and end-to-end secure
  35. There are huge opportunities for telcos in this space
  36. In the next few slides I did a bit of a case study of AT&T, and some of the ways it is leveraging the Internet of Things. First off AT&T has partnered with solar company SunPower to connect residential solar panels for remote monitoring of the panels’ performance
  37. In its connected vehicle portfolio, AT&T manage the connections for Tesla, Audi, GM, and Uber. They have 8m connected cars atm, and expect to grow that to 10m by the end of 2017
  38. And, an interesting data point to back that up – in the first quarter of 2016, in the US, 32% of all new cellular connections were for cars. The largest percentage of any segment
  39. 243,000 refrigerated shipping containers connected through AT&T

  40. AT&T have a partnership with GE for intelligent lighting solutions for cities and public roadways
  41. In the equipment and heavy machinery space, nearly half of all tractors and harvesters in the US are connected through AT&T
  42. While in healthcare, AT&T predicts that wellness tracking and virtual care solutions will reach 60m homes & 74m users by 2019
  43. Then there’s outdoor advertising. AT&T knows data analysis. For years they owned the largest telemarketing organisation in the US. Now, with cellular data, they can completely transform outdoor advertising. Previously for advertising hoardings, the amount of footfall, or vehicular traffic passing a sign could be guesstimated, but no more info than that was available. But now, because AT&T knows where everyone is, their gender, age, and approximate income, they can transform this business.
    Recently they carried out a study with a customer who wanted to advertise to women in the Dallas area who earned over $75,000 per year. They queried the data and found that the customer only needed to buy two billboards in all of Dallas, to adequately cover the target demographic. Needless to say the customer was impressed
  44. Because they don’t have a monopoly on ideas, AT&T have opened up their M2X Internet of Things developer platform to allow outside developers create solutions using AT&T’s infrastructure
  45. They’re far from being alone in this – Verizon have an Internet of Things platform as well called ThingSpace Develop
  46. While t-mobile has announced that it is teaming up with Twilio for its Internet of Things play
  47. And it is not just cellular technologies they are using – there are also other low bandwidth radio protocols such as Lora and Sigfox which the telcos are looking at to broaden their reach
  48. I spoke to a senior exec at a telcom firm recently (who for obvious reasons preferred to remain unnamed) and he told me:
    Telcos want to own everything, everywhere“The internet of things is certainly one way for them to get there
  49. How is all this impacting the data centre industry?
  50. Well, in the next four years data centre capacity will need to increase 750% according to IDC. Also required will be significant ramp-ups in analytics, security and privacy
  51. As Jim Gray pointed out in his book The Fourth Paradigm:

    “As datasets grow ever larger, the most efficient way to perform most of these computations is clearly to move the analysis functions as close to the data as possible”

    In other words, instead of bringing all the data back to the data centre to be processed, more and more of the analysis will need to be performed at the edge

  52. As a graduate biologist, this reminds me of the reflex arc – this arc allows reflex actions to occur relatively quickly by activating spinal motor neurons, without the delay of routing signals through the brain
  53. So there will be a greater need for event stream processing outside the data centre – this will bring about faster responsiveness, and reduce storage requirements
  54. This also explains the rise of companies such as EdgeConnex – companies who provide proximity, and lower latency
  55. And the rise of new designs of racks for hyperscale computing, such as the 150kW Vapor.io Vapor Chamber which, according to a study conducted by Romonet is $3m cheaper per MW and reclaims 25% of floor space
  56. Other initiatives in the industry include Google’s attempting to create a new standard for HDD’s to make them taller, adding more platters, and thus increasing IOPs
  57. Microsoft and Facebook are getting together with Telefonica to build a 160TB transatlantic fibre cable (the largest to-date) to handle the vast streams of data they see coming
  58. While Intel are warning that organisations need to become more security aware, as more devices become connected
  59. I also decided to address a trend in data centres to require renewable energy from their utility providers, and did so by referencing this excellent letter from Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith on the topic (recommended reading)
  60. Finally, what about the utilities sector…
  61. Well, there are many ways the internet of Things will impact the utilities vertical, but one of the least obvious, but most impactful ones will be the ability to move energy demand, to more closely match supply. If you’re curious about this, I’ve given 45 minute keynotes on this topic alone
  62. Another way the Internet of Things will help utilities is renewables management (such as the GE example referenced earlier), and preventative maintenance applications
  63. And finally, energy information services will be a big deal, for everything from remote monitoring for seniors, through to device maintenance, and home management
  64. The conclusions
  65. Thanks
  66. Any questions?

I received extremely positive feedback on the talk from the attendees. If you have any comments/questions, feel free to leave them in the comments, email me (tom@tomraftery.com), or hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Technology is moving us to a world where energy is cheaper, smarter, and less carbon intensive

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 11.51.40

The graph above is a graph of electricity demand on the Spanish electricity grid taken from the demand page of the grid management company Red Electrica de España.

The data comes from April 26th this year through to Mar 3rd. The sever small graphs along the bottom are daily demand curves, going from Tuesday April 26th on the left, through to Monday May 3rd on the right. You can see that the demand curves for each day are virtually the same.

Saturday and Sunday are however, obvious due to the lower demand on those days, and if you are wondering why Monday the 3rd looks to be lower than the rest of the weekdays, it is because that Monday was a holiday in Spain.

The large graph on top is a zoomed-in look at the demand on one of those days – Friday April 29th. From that you can see that the demand starts to rise early in the morning with the peak occurring between 8-11am. Demand then falls off until late afternoon when people are cooking their evening meals, peaking around 9pm, and then falling until it starts again the following day.

The pattern varies slightly by day of the week, as well as by season, but overall while it is variable, it is also highly predictable.

Graph of predicted energy demand vs actual demand on Spanish grid on April 29th
Graph of predicted energy demand (Green) vs actual demand (yellow) on Spanish grid on April 29th this year – graph from REE

This can be problematic though when you have high penetrations of variable energy suppliers, such as wind and solar.

Here is the energy supplied to the system by wind, for example on April 29th

Energy supplied by wind on the Spanish grid on April 29th this year
Wind energy on the 29th of April on the Spanish grid

As you can see, it doesn’t map well with the demand, and this is challenging for grid management companies, especially with increasing pressure on them to decarbonise.

That can lead to circumstances where wind power ends up supplying 140% of your demand, as happened in the Netherlands last summer. Fortunately, the Netherlands has good interconnects, and so was able to sell this excess energy to its neighbouring countries. This won’t always be the case though, and will become a more common issue as the penetration of wind and solar increases globally.

 

Obviously, if you can’t manage the supply side of the grid, what about managing the demand – how achievable is that?

Interestingly, this is now becoming a real possibility. Already there are companies who aggregate the demand of large organisations with facilities for reducing demand, if required, and sell that reduced demand to utility companies. This can save the utility from having to build new generation sources to meet the increased demand at times of peak load.

Demand flexibility graph
Demand flexibility

What if this were more widespread?

Looking at the chart above, if we could shift the yellow demand line up during its overnight dip, and then reduce the yellow demand line during the morning and evening, this would make the grid more stable, and allow for the introduction of more variable generators (solar and wind) onto the system, as well as reducing the requirement for expensive ‘peaker plants’.

Sounds great Tom, how to do that?

Well price is always a great motivator. In Germany last week where there was an excess of energy on the system, so pricing went negative, meaning large customers were being paid to use it.

Negative pricing on the German energy market
Graph of negative pricing on the German electricity market

Reduced, or negative pricing is a better option than wind farm curtailment because curtailment lowers the income for the wind farms, making them a less attractive investment for renewables developers, while reduced pricing moves the demand to a more suitable time.

Now, with the advent of the Internet of Things, everything starts to be smart and connected. If our electricity devices can listen for realtime electricity signals from the grid, they can adjust their consumption accordingly.

Of course, not all loads in the home are movable  – not many people will decide to cook their evening meal at 3am just because the wind is blowing and energy is cheap.

However, many loads are eminently movable. Pool pumps, are a good example. And also many loads that have a heating or cooling component associated with them, such as an electric hot water heater. When it is well insulated it doesn’t matter when it heats the water. Similarly for fridges, freezers, ice bank air conditioning, and so on. These are straightforward and affordable forms of energy storage.

Dish washers, washing machines, clothes dryers can also be made to listen to electricity pricing, and adjust their behaviour accordingly. Often, when you put the dish washer on in the evening, you don’t care when it comes on, as long as the dishes are clean and dry when you get up the following morning.

As more of our appliances become connected and smart, this will become the norm. Obviously, for widespread adoption, this kind of behaviour has to be totally automated. If the device owner has to think about it, it won’t happen.

Smart grid appliance

And then there are the real storage options, using batteries. This can be in the form of batteries in electric vehicles using vehicle-to-grid technologies, in-home batteries such as the ones Tesla, and others sell, or reconditioned electric vehicle batteries – a market that is just starting to get going.

So, good news, technology is moving us inexorably to a world where energy is getting cheaper, smarter, and less carbon intensive.