How to Win Big with (I)IoT, Industrial Analytics & Big Data

Written By Rick O’Brien, President of SemperCon.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is on track to change the way businesses work. Enterprises are already going digital—employees are using mobile devices to access information, communicate and collaborate. Just as mobile devices and applications have become ubiquitous, cloud connected sensors, industrial devices, machinery and equipment are also being developed at a rapid rate.

sempercon cloud iot Companies that depend on durable, physical goods to conduct business—from manufacturing, mining and agriculture to healthcare organizations, transportation and logistics—are already realizing the opportunity of the Industrial Internet of Things. In a recent survey of 450 businesses across the world, 30 percent indicated that they already adopted IoT technology. In another, half of the interviewed business leaders indicated IoT as a key priority in their strategic use of technology to win, serve and retain customers.

Want to get into a career with Internet of Things? Here are some IoT-involved openings.

Whether a business serves consumers or other businesses, IIoT can help with more fully engaging customers, increasing productivity and simplifying internal processes. The productivity gains associated with IIoT enabled business models can be significant. Recent studies have estimated that manufacturers, for instance, can boost productivity as much as 30 percent and reduce maintenance costs by as much as 30 percent with IIoT. Businesses more interested in boosting customer value leverage IIoT solutions in order to commercialize industrial analytics and business intelligence. By taking a ‘big data’ approach and launching product-service hybrid offerings, significant value is extracted from IIoT.

cloud imageSuch solutions produce a large volume and variety of data that IT departments must be prepared to manage. The sheer volume and structure of data collected from hardware devices challenge conventional data storage methods. Businesses that require real-time business process support from IIoT systems will need to scale fast enough to transfer the entire collection of raw data being generated to and from a location.

Industrial IoT solutions’ administrative and user dashboards differ to some extent based on whether they are designed to drive new revenue or promote internal cost savings. Generally, system administrators should be able to control features, manage users, and access real time system diagnostics and reporting via a cloud-based dashboard.  Alerts and notifications also play an integral role for IIoT solutions. Well configured user monitoring and alert functions allow business leaders and administrators to keep their fingers on the pulse of their business—supporting user adoption and customer utilization. When developing customer-facing solutions, convenience will be especially critical. Tech buyers value mobility and thus prefer IIoT solutions with mobile accessible user dashboards.

Did you miss the IoT Drinks & Demos in Philadelphia? Check out the List of Upcoming Events at Tech in Motion so  you don’t miss the next one.

The user interfaces of IIoT apps must present data so that it’s both useful and immediately actionable. Data filtering, predictive and visual analytics can all be used to simplify IIoT data and enable smarter business decision making. Industrial IoT solutions must also grow smarter as users think of innovative ways to apply its business intelligence. Data service exchanges allow IT leaders to extract critical data points from a wider pool of devices and partner with third party data service providers to continuously evolve their IIoT offering.

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We are still at a stage where few IT leaders understand the process of developing an Industrial IoT solution. The properties encapsulated above only brush the surface of meaningfully applying IIoT to businesses. This IIoT strategic planning checklist covers 50+ practical and technical IT requirements that should be evaluated when determining how IIoT can evolve your business processes and customer offering.

Sempercon was a demo company at Philadelphia’s Drinks & Demos: IoT Editionrick o brien this summer. Check out the past event and join the Tech in Motion chapter here.

About the Author

Rick O’Brien is a serial entrepreneur with 20 years experience leading product development, marketing and sales for mobile, hardware and software technology startups and enterprises. Nearly eight years ago he launched Sempercon, a software development firm that specializes in building Internet of Things, mobile and web app solutions for enterprises and startups.

Mobile Security and Scalability: The Future (From Chicago)

Tech In Motion Chicago hosted a panel this summer to discuss the future of mobile in regards to security. A recent Cisco study showed that “by the end of 2014, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2018 there will be nearly 1.4 mobile devices per capita.” With all this growth, companies are taking larger strides in determining how to make sure their mobile sites and applications are both secure and scalable in order to meet demand. Tech in Motion members in Chicago got to hear about the topic from some top mobile security experts in their field:

  • Richard Rushing is the Chief Information Security Officer of Motorola Mobility.
  • Andrew Hoog is CEO/co-founder of viaForensics, a mobile security firm whose mission is to advance mobile security worldwide.
  • Amit Shah is the Co-Founder and CTO at Vaporstream.
  • John Storozuk is a Senior Security Product Manager for Product Security at BlackBerry.

To kick the event off, Andrew with viaForensics did a live cell phone hack of an iphone where he was able to go into the phone’s pictures, contacts, emails, etc. He essentially downloaded a corrupt RSS feed and gained access to that secure data through it. According to Andrew “Your phone knows you better than your spouse. How well do you know your phone?” Because of this, it becomes all the more necessary to take precautions to guard yourself against an attack.

photo 5One of the attendees asked our panel the pertinent question of how, as a mobile user, you can best secure your data. Our panelists answered “iOS (iPhone) encrypts by default. Always make sure you use a passcode – this is just a basic precaution. For Android, turn the encryption on in the settings. Only about 1-3% of Android users use this feature.”

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According to Richard, there is a general lack of concern about security in some sectors. The devices that we use know us so well and if someone is a hacker, it’s a dream that all of the info that we cherish is kept in one spot that goes with you from place to place. Take a look at security – even with PCs – they have had the same problems forever. Mobile has better platforms for security than PCs ever did.

photo 2Another topic that seems to be a buzzword right now in mobile is the idea of BYOD (bring your own device). According to John, BYOD allows users to choose their own device but in order to implement this in the most secure fashion, the best practice is for the corporation to tell its employees which devices are more “secure” and more easily managed by the IT department. Andrew suggested that companies take BYOD one step further and implement BYOS (bring your own security) which allows companies to turn their employees and customers into the first line of defense. He feels that BYOS is a game changer.

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Amit was able to give his opinion regarding security from a startup perspective. Basically, startups look at the security dilemma as “I need security but I need money.” Most startups aren’t evaluated on security until it’s too late. They have real decisions that have to be made as an app developer, and these decisions need to be made based on a balance between security and functionality. His advice was to be sure to at least protect yourself (your app) against the most basic attacks.

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After the panel discussion wrapped, there was some great Q&A from our attendees and the event ended with additional networking. Thank you to everyone who came out to our mobile event! Please check out what Tech In Motion was up to in August while exploring the ed tech field in Chicago.

As always, a huge thank you to our sponsors Workbridge AssociatesJobspring PartnersChicago SmallBizDev Hackathon and headline sponsors Microsoft and BlackBerry for their generous financial support. Also thank you to Bonfire Wines who was onsite sampling.

The Future of Mobile in Boston

On Tuesday, June 17th, the Boston chapter of Tech in Motion held an exciting tech talk that was all about mobile at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge. The panel included some great mobile representatives from the Boston community, including Yoni Samlan, Head of Mobile at LevelUp, Dan Bricklin, Chief Technology Officer at Alpha Software, Greg Raiz, Founder and CEO of Raizlabs and Manny Elawar, a BlackBerry Developer Evangelist.

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The evening started with some food and networking before the panel convened to to discuss the topic at hand. To kick it off, the moderator Mark Eisenberg faced the panelists with the simple, but fitting question – where does the panel see the future of mobile going?

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The entire panel was in agreement that mobile phones are everywhere and they have become a common part of the average person’s everyday life. To illustrate the impact of mobile tech, Greg prompted the audience to raise their hands if they had a smart phone – and almost everyone had a hand in the air. Greg also mentioned how if you have a great idea, mobile apps make it easier to reach an entire population. Yoni spoke about being excited about wearable technology, predicting that they will seem as normal as a smart phone in the upcoming years.

From there, our moderator dove into other topics. There was the popular question of bringing your own device to work as opposed to having one supplied by the company. Many of the panel agreed that as smartphones advance, people would prefer to work on their own device due to the comfort and convenience of it being their own, personal device.  However, there is also the complication of security when dealing with high profile companies and projects.

Greg pulled from his own personal experience to say that “it’s important that my employers have the devices that they need in order to get their jobs done; [we want] to empower them to have the choice on what device they use”.

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Our panel then went into the discussion of creating mobile apps across various platforms; with the emergence of not only smartphones, but tablets as well. Several developers have to think of ways for the apps that they are creating to be supportive over all kinds of devices. Dan Bricklin spoke highly of using HTML5 to create apps.

“If you try to program an iOS without HTML5, you have to be a really good iOS developer,” Dan said. “It’s really good at a lot of business stuff, so you can build for a lot of different platforms.”

“For every enterprise you run into, you have a different legacy system and you have to put all the pieces together, which is the hardest part,” Manny chimed in. “So when we have a solution that allows developers to bring everything together, that is a great thing.”

Things got a little heated, however, when Greg wanted to mention that HTML5 isn’t the only way to go when creating applications. It is simply up to the reference of the developer.

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At the end of the discussion, Manny reflected again on how he feels mobile is going to be shaped.

“Everything is going to be connected, and there is going to be a new definition of mobile,” Manny commented.

Mobile will be defined differently in the sense that phones will still be the most important part – but new technological advances will change the way that we connect to stationary objects that we use every day. They are what will help redefine mobile. Manny gave an example that he hopes one day when he can get into a car, connect his phone, be able to adjust things like his radio preferences or whether he wants the windows open, all based on the information given from his mobile device.

Following the panel discussion, the speakers took questions from the audience.  Inspired by what had been discussed, the audience came up with some amazing questions that sparked further conversation between the panelists. Once the official panel discussion concluded, a large number of audience members pushed their way to the front of the room to see if they could get one-on-one time with our speakers. This panel definitely left the audience thinking about the future.

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We want to send out a big thank you to all of our speakers for their participation, Mark for moderating, the NERD Center for hosting us, and our monthly sponsors Workbridge Associates and Jobspring Partners as well as Fisku and Blackberry. Please join Tech in Motion: Boston to hear about our upcoming events!

Kids, Music, and Entrepreneurship

Jon Kraft PhotoThe first time my business partner Girish Venkat pitched me the idea for Thrively, I was in the middle of working with Bill Gross at Idealab to get a company called UberMedia off the ground, and we desperately needed a CTO. Although I loved Girish’s vision, I knew I couldn’t abandon my other project, so I flipped the tables on him and recruited him to be our CTO. Girish and I worked together for over two years at Ubermedia, but eventually the pull of Thrively became too much, and we made the decision to join forces and get started building it.

The “pull” of this project was not just intellectual, but emotional. My strengths lie in the world of multidimensional analysis, slicing and dicing data, and breaking things down into their individual components so that they can be better understood. I helped to build several companies using these principles, most notably Pandora where we embarked on the Music Genome Project.  Thrively uses similar principles to match kids to activities and opportunities.  I was fascinated by the idea that by understanding children’s underlying strengths and how activities build and support those strengths, we can connect kids to the activities which can have the greatest impact.

I have spent most of my adult life working with kids in various ways. When I went to Stanford, the fall quarter – as incredible as it was – at some point felt like a trap. I felt like a gerbil in a giant, utopian habitat, but unable to escape. It was both an entirely new and intimidating social experience and a stressful and intense academic experience, and the campus was so huge and all-encompassing that I really never left. At least, I had no idea of how to do it. By the time the winter quarter hit, I knew I had to find a way off campus, and by spring, I found my outlet and my sanity coaching Little League in Palo Alto. I continued to do that for five years, and I also picked up coaching at the Stanford Area Youth Basketball League my sophomore year. I never felt trapped on campus again, because I was connected to the community in a fundamental way, through kids.

As the father of three incredible children, I am constantly amazed by the energy with which they throw themselves into their activities, and I find myself fascinated by what appeals to them in each one they love, and what makes them want to stop going to other ones. There is nothing more exciting than a child who has discovered something they’re passionate about. But it’s not always easy!

Girish’s idea for Thrively turned me on to strength-based education, and the idea that, if we built this right, we would democratize a very important element of education and personal development – that which occurs outside of school. No longer do you have to be a superhuman parent scouring the nooks and crannies of the Internet for unique opportunities that you think will inspire passion in your kids. You can simply engage with a platform that will understand your children’s strengths, connect them to the vast world of opportunity, and allow our engine – the same kind of seemingly magical and omniscient engine that allows Pandora to construct the perfect radio station – to direct you and your family to incredible opportunities you may never have discovered.

A big thank you to Jon for speaking at Tech in Motion Orange County.

About Jon Kraft

Jon Kraft is the co-founder and CEO of Thrively, a website that helps children identify their strengths, and recommends targeted extracurricular opportunities to help children build on those strengths. Jon is married, the father of 3, and in addition to starting a number of technology companies in his career (including Pandora), he has been a dedicated youth sports coach for more than 30 years.

From Russian Linguist to CTO: A Recap of Philadelphia’s First Fireside Chat

On Wednesday, March 26, Tech in Motion Philadelphia hosted their first ever fireside chat at CityCoHo Philly Nexus with Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Richard Bunker of the Neat Company. Led by Christopher Wink of Technically Philly, the conversation covered Bunker’s journey from Russian Linguist to successful CTO, with a healthy dose of insight into the future of the Neat Company.

“I was paying to go to school for Russian literature by doing jobs as a programmer for Polaroid and Pepsi,” Bunker said about his beginnings, “and I discovered there are better paying jobs as a programmer than there are as a Russian literature student.”

Bunker’s path to CTO was never a straight line, but instead a varied path that included positions such as managing director, president and CIO. His first leadership gig was at SEI, as Vice President over about 50 software developers, followed by a stint as CIO for Procurian.

“CIO’s don’t become CEOs, so I made the move to the front office,” said Bunker of his transition to a Chief Technology Officer position.

Bunker leads the tech department as CTO of the Neat Company, which offers an integrated system of software, hardware, cloud services and mobile applications that allows users to perfectly scan documents and manage them in Quick Books, Constant Contact or other programs. Neat’s technology recognizes the type of document that is scanned with their hardware and intelligently parses the data accordingly.

“We’re going to keep selling hardware. We have groovy scanners,” Bunker acknowledged, “but the value is in our software…And I went to high school in the seventies; I’m allowed to say groovy!”

A little known fact about the Neat Company is that they process 12.5 Lowes receipts per minute, according to Bunker. Anyone with a small business has receipts and is going to keep scanning them. While Bunker believes this could be done directly with an in-browser application, Neat’s clients still prefer the mobile app.

“A lot of the hard stuff – synchronize, categorize, move things around – is going to move to the cloud,” said Bunker, indicating that the mobile app would soon become just a thin app. “We’re operating a cloud business at scale.”

When the conversation turned from cloud services to the Philadelphia tech scene, Bunker was full of optimism for the city, citing the high number of students and how the money made when companies are sold stays in the area as the former founders begin new startups. Neat Company even sponsored a code camp recently to give back, but Bunker sees the real growth for the community coming in the future.

“We are hiring people and we are doing things very close to what you would find in Silicon Valley,” Bunker told the audience. “These skills are becoming part of the community; those skills become a part of Philadelphia.”

While Chris Wink was a stimulating moderator for the conversation, Bunker inspired quite a queue of technologists waiting to speak with him after the Q & A wrapped up. Beforehand, he left the crowd with a phrase that has become his mantra.

“I try to say yes when people ask me to do things,” Bunker said with a smile.

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In addition to an educational evening from Bunker and Wink’s dialogue, guests also enjoyed bites from the Corner Foodery and beer donated by Shawnee Craft Brewing Company. CityCoHo graciously donated their space for networking and the fireside chat, as well.

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Thank you to sponsors Jobspring Partners and Workbridge Associates, who made the event possible.To join the Philadelphia chapter of Tech in Motion, please sign up here.