Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Connecting the Dots Between Enterprise Mobility and IoT

Lisbon, Portugal
I had the privilege of having breakfast with Dr. Moshe BenBassat, Founder/CEO of ClickSoftware, on a deck overlooking the Mediterranean this morning.  Over an English breakfast, Dr. BenBassat shared that back in 1985 his team had developed software tools to diagnose equipment for the military.  It seems two thirds of all parts replaced were unnecessary.  The parts were being replaced in an effort to find and fix a problem without having first properly diagnosed it.  His team was tasked with designing an artificial intelligence system to process and analyze data in order to properly diagnose problems so only the required parts would be replaced.

In 1985 there were huge challenges to this task.  There were not wireless data networks commercially available.  There was not a lot of data available.  There were no IoT (Internet of Things) solutions deployed to gather data, there were not "big data" systems that could crunch numbers in seconds and there were no IBM Watson artificial intelligence systems available to diagnose problems and come up with answers in seconds.  Dr. BenBassat's team was successful, but the final solutions could only be used in areas where there was a lot of time available to come up with an answer.  The system couldn't work in a real-time environment.

A lot has changed since 1985.  Today, equipment/assets, using embedded wireless chips and sensors (M2M), can report on itself and wirelessly send data to a server.  This data can be processed in real-time, analyzed and the diagnosis can be shared wirelessly to the mobile device of a service technician.

Today, with big data analysis, service companies don't have to just rely on manufactures' data to understand when maintenance or repairs are required.  If you have thousands of wind turbines operating and reporting their sensor and system data to your server, it does not take a lot of time to start seeing patterns using big data analysis.  These patterns can help you diagnoses problems, and better plan your future maintenance and repairs in a manner that does not result in unplanned shut-downs.  This results in improved productivity and output.

Dr. BenBassat's system designs, math and algorithms for artificial intelligence were accurate and powerful in 1985, but the technology was not there.  It is a different story today.

Today, it is not the lack of technology that prevents these productivity gains, rather it is the lack of management connecting the dots to existing systems and technologies.  I teach SMAC (social, mobile, analytic, cloud) strategies just about every week somewhere in the world.  Most of my work is not teaching about new technologies, but rather helping CIOs connect the dots to what is already available today.

Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.