The Integration of IoT and Collaboration - A New Operational Platform for the Enterprise

John Cupit, CTO, Cloud and DC Transformation-Global Solution Expert Team, America Branch, Huawei Technologies USA, Inc.
John Cupit, CTO, Cloud and DC Transformation-Global Solution Expert Team, America Branch, Huawei Technologies USA, Inc.

John Cupit, CTO, Cloud and DC Transformation-Global Solution Expert Team, America Branch, Huawei Technologies USA, Inc.

Service Providers are aggressively integrating IoT technologies with Cloud-based Collaboration technologies (such as Spark) to enhance and deepen their relationships with Enterprise customers. From the Enterprise perspective, these platforms create a significant opportunity to facilitate new revenue-producing customer services and to significantly improve real-time operational control of logistics, maintenance protocols and event and incident management.

These services can support the integration of IoT devices (including but not limited to smart phones, smart watches, and other portable consumer devices), but is expanding rapidly to include inherently connected items (such as video surveillance cameras) and other items that are not normally thought of as being connected, such as shipping boxes or construction equipment. The ability to collect data streams from this diverse set of devices facilitates the collection of actionable data for each device because their status can be assessed in near real time. This supports the execution of specific operational tasks in response to the information contained within those data streams.In order to leverage the actionable data in those streams, it is now possible to couple that data with the  efficient integration of Collaboration technologies that can support the creation of “Tiger Rooms” where documents, presentations and chat sessions (as well as IoT data) can be archived and accessed in response to an alarm or incident notification. 

These solutions can bring forth advanced options to process and/or monitor incoming IoT data. It is now possible to consolidate data streams from disparate classes of devices, utilize Big Data technologies to create actionable data and to then deliver that actionable data through existing Collaboration channels for a response.

An integrated system can facilitate a platform which supports real time response times. For example, these platforms can be used by a Water Utility on water distribution systems to detect leaks, on major electric distribution systems to detect faults (utilizing in-line sensors) or to monitor temperature-sensitive products which are currently being shipped to remote locations.

  ​The key benefit of IoT technologies is all about the power of connection   

The integration of Collaboration technologies facilitates the rapid response to alarms or incidents. For example, if a sensor on a cargo trailer carrying temperature-sensitive products generates an alert, the staff monitoring the system can quickly determine the status of the products, access a troubleshooting template as well as remediation advice in the Tiger Room, quickly locate the truck, and contact the driver to bring the unit to a repair facility identified in the Tiger  Room documentation. The integrated Collaboration system could also transmit instructions and directions to the driver through in-dash navigation and communication systems that are integrated into the IoT environment.

Obviously, these services can be extended beyond the utility and transportation industries. Forward-thinking Enterprises are now extending these services within the healthcare, public safety and customer care industries.

From my perspective, It is time for Enterprises to immediately begin the evaluation of existing operational processes and to make specific determinations where IoT and Collaboration technologies can enhance or streamline those processes. The key benefit of IoT technologies is all about the power of connection. However, there is no single vendor who can provide an end to end solution that can enable and integrate IoT and Collaboration technologies. As such, these solutions often require an ecosystem approach involving carriers and vendors that are focusing on the development of IoT solutions across Industry Verticals, embedding applications and analytics everywhere.

The design and deployment of these solutions require an effort to bring  together the range of expertise and abilities required to integrate IoT and Collaboration technologies as well as to create a solution value chain. Carriers or System Integrators turn the output of the Ecosystem into industry-specific solutions with application and data analytics software. Carrier Network services connect IoT devices and cloud services, which drive the analytics and application software to create actionable data and to transport that data to parties who can act upon it.

Once the evaluation is completed, the Enterprise can begin the creation of the required specifications for an integrated IoT/Collaboration system. I strongly recommend that the Enterprise define its requirements and strategic objectives before inquiries are made with carriers or vendors. I would look for a carrier or vendor who has specific experience within the Enterprise Industry Vertical and who can add value based on that experience.

In conclusion, there is a significant ability to create competitive differentiation through the intelligent use of IoT and Collaboration technologies. The cost of the integration of these technologies can be significantly reduced through the use of Cloud infrastructure and embedded analytics. The only limitation to the scope of these solutions is the vision and ingenuity of the Enterprise and the expertise of the carrier and its supporting Ecosystem.  

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