Internet of Things - Managing Projects

Vikrant Sankhe, General Manager Key Account Management, Siemens

Excitement about in­vention and technol­ogy is omnipresent. Digitalization has made us believe in realities which were distant some years ago. Case in point, IoT. Imagine what life would be like when everything is connected. Where there is a surge in machine-to-ma­chine communication making life simpler and to an extent more virtual, when everything from a streetlamp to a seaport becomes ‘smart’ in the true sense of the word, how every aspect of our lives and business will change? And what would make that possible? Internet of Things!

The internet has made it possible for seamless collaborations across countries. IoT devices enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of com­munication and collaboration even more, as information and data is shared automatically between team members regardless of their location. In fact, it was one of the biggest pre­dicted project management trends.

Picture a client discussion sce­nario, “Just connect the device and get it on-line!” is often asked by the manager while defining the use cases. During customer and user interac­tions, the primary IoT functions are defined: “We want to receive alarms, read-status, asset-control and veri­fy the communication. All secure of course! Oh, by the way the project needs to be ready in 2 months and we need to have a demo next week for the investors.” Does the situation sound all too familiar?

Now the value of IoT is not tech­nology, but, lies in the creation of new propositions and potential reve­nue systems. The real value of IoT is at the intersection of gathering data and leveraging it. The information gathered isn’t of much use unless there is an infrastructure in place, to analyze it in real time. Current­ly, the data used today is mostly for anomaly detection and control, not optimization and prediction provide

the greatest value. This has resulted in a fundamental shift to approach and strategy. Intelligent and smart devices are ones that carry potential to source new products and services with high degree of efficiency.

Some of the biggest challenges faced in the implementation of IoT are end-to-end covering sensors, communication and application. Sen­sors measure, it evaluates; in short, it gathers data. To put things in per­spective, the Internet of Things really comes together with the connection of sensors and machines. Coming back to the challenges faced, man­aging installations of sensors at field locations and managing these assets post implementation with respect to repairs, warranty, replacement etc. are crucial and should be always giv­en serious thought and consideration

Often we ignore the power of the ‘Platform’ in a hurry to deploy ‘Pi­lots’. The essence is missed out as the pilot calls for only few of the ‘Things’ to be connected. However, at the end state, there are millions of things that are connected along with associated multiple applications. Another big thing missed, is the firmware updates of these millions of devices in field. Hence, one needs to consider Firm­ware update OTA (Over The Air) functionality within integrated Plat­form.

As millions of devices get connect­ed, the amount of data generated will also be BIG! Such massive amounts of unstructured data are of no use to anyone, unless it can be utilized well or has a context. To develop a model that forecasts behavior, data scientists require context and time-series data. Otherwise it becomes very difficult to consume this information and truly see what is happening now and what could happen in the future. People need real-time data to make the best possible decisions. With pervasive monitoring, this information is cap­tured and delivered for business in­telligence analysis. This BIG data also calls for the fundamental shift from on-premise to Cloud with Mobile in­tegrated Applications.

One can make technology work efficiently in limited scaling in a ‘point solution’ with isolated business benefit. To scale up to an applica­tion having a positive effect on wider business performance requires a con­crete plan backed with technological prowess. To be able to build on your initial success, consider the business strategy of your Internet of Things (IoT) project at the start. To effec­tively deploy IoT within this strategy, planning for robust network infra­structure is critical to be successful. Edge computing provides a means to assure reliability of the service to avoid unplanned downtime with high customer satisfaction. End-users at plants adopting IoT for near re­al-time predictive maintenance, pro­cess optimization and visibility also need a robust architecture with edge computing to assure high data integ­rity and avoid missed alerts. On the other hand, the automatic transmis­sion of a vast amount of data makes things automatically measurable and analyzable. This in turn, increases the efficiency of processes as decisions can be made quicker. The decisions will also be more accurate because they are based on empirical data. The biggest challenge of having so much data available is data security.

In the recent past, hackers used stolen credentials to gain access to the Ukraine Power Grid and cut power of 30 sub-stations and 225,000 cus­tomers. The attack included installa­tion of custom firmware, deletion of files including master boot records, and shutting down of telephone communication. It’s a demonstration of emerging Internet of Things (IoT) hacks: While companies often ignore the security of peripheral devices or networks, the consequences can be disastrous.

Hence, security will need to be considered at various levels such as the platform, communication, sensor security and third party integration security among other things.

We need a scalable Open Cloud Platform like MindSphere with data analytics and connectivity capabili­ties, tools for developers, applications and services covering end-to-end Se­curity.

When we begin making things intelligent, it’s going to be a major engine for creating new products and new services. We need to evaluate and utilize data and to gain break­through insights, drive the perfor­mance and optimization of assets for maximized uptime and also establish feedback for design improvisation as an ongoing process.

The Internet of Things is prob­ably the biggest trend that’s taking place in the world of technology as we speak. It is one that is going to give us the most disruption as well opportunity over the next few years. And hence managing the scale by de­sign is utmost important.