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Field services operations bullish on emerging technologies, finds Red Hat global survey

By Zenobia Hegde

For many industries, from transportation to utilities, manufacturing and more, field workers are pivotal to the success of business operations, the satisfaction of customers, and the growth of the bottom line.

Field workers are now at the forefront of digital transformation where artificial intelligence (AI), smart mobile devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and business process management (BPM) technologies have created new opportunities to better streamline and transform traditional workflows and workforce management practices.

To better understand how these technologies are being applied and the impact they are having in the enterprise, Red Hat commissioned research firm Vanson Bourne to survey 300 IT decision makers from organisations in the U.S., Europe and Asia that employ a significant field workforce. The survey examined investment trends, current and future adoption patterns, use cases and implementation challenges.

According to the results, strong technology investment is expected by respondents with an average increase of 25% through November 2018, reflecting the importance of technology in transforming field service operations. Top business factors identified as influencing this investment include increasing field worker productivity (46%), streamlining or optimising field operations and processes (40%), and improving customer service (37%).

When we consider the current trends that are broadly driving conversations in the tech industry, AI is one of the leading topics. While still an emerging category—currently implemented by only 24% of respondents—we believe the technology has great potential across a variety of industries and use cases. It comes as little surprise that an additional 30% of respondents plan to implement AI in 2018, aligning with an average anticipated increase in investment of 26% for certain respondents over the same period.

The AI umbrella encompasses a number of specific technologies for those respondents that have either implemented already or plan to implement to address more specialised uses cases, including:

Predictive analytics (55%)
Machine learning (46%)
Chatbots or virtual digital assistance (45%)
Robotic Process Automation (44%)

Despite being more established technologies, mobile, BPM and IoT seem to defy their relative maturity in the market with respondents indicating double-digit growth across the board in both investment and implementations through November 2018. While 67% of respondents have already implemented mobile apps for field service operations, an additional 19% plan to implement new mobile apps, supported by a 20% average expected increase in investment by certain respondents.

The outlook for BPM and IoT is similar. Respondents expect implementations to grow from 61 to 81% for BPM and from 53 to 73% for IoT, fueled by 20 and 24% average expected increase in investment by certain respondents, respectively.

However, along with the appetite for technology investment and implementation growth, respondents are keenly aware of the technical challenges their organisations face in developing and implementing applications for field workforce management. Access to timely and relevant data is critical for field workers in remote locations, harsh environments, or areas of low network connectivity, as is the ability to protect that data as it flows between the field and back-end systems.

As a result, securing data access was the top challenge identified in the survey at 34%, followed by:

The pace […]

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WISeKey to launch The TransHuman Code at the “Davos Gathering of Minds”

By IoT – Internet of Things

WISeKey International Holding Ltd, a leading cybersecurity and IoT company announced that The TransHumanCode.com is the first interactive “knowledge platform” for managing the convergence of humanity and technology, its impact on our daily lives, and the long-term implications. This dynamic initiative will be introduced on January 24 in Davos, Switzerland during the world’s foremost assembly […]

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World’s First Connected Car Cyber-Security Service

By IoT – Internet of Things

Trillium Secure, Inc. has announced the April deployment of SecureIoT in Tokyo, Japan. This represents the world’s first 24/7/365 connected car Cyber-Security as a Service (C-SaaS) platform. The project brings together strategic go-to-market partners including automotive manufacturers, electronic component suppliers, insurance providers and commercial fleet owners. Identical C-SaaS deployments are scheduled for North America and […]

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HPE, PTC, and Wind River join effort to speed IoT software purchasing

By Zenobia Hegde

Three of the biggest software vendors in IoT – HPE, PTC, and Wind River (Intel) – have agreed to join the IoT M2M Council’s (IMC) fledgling template RFP Program for IoT Software Platforms, which will be presented at the IMC’s conference at CES.

Using input from many vendors and more than 100 software buyers in an open-source process, the IMC developed a template reference document that will ease buying of IoT software, and later, hardware and connectivity solutions. HPE, PTC, and Wind River have agreed to have their platforms assessed by the IoT M2M Council which represents 25,000 enterprise users and OEMs that buy IoT solutions.

The RFP program will simplify sourcing of IoT platforms for buyers by providing reference documentation and demonstrating capabilities of established software platforms, and for participating vendors, it will ultimately shorten the sales cycle.

The RFP template will be discussed at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where large numbers of OEMs that buy IoT solutions will see it for the first time. The IMC developed a template RFP document earlier this year in a wiki-based, open-source process with input from more than 100 IoT buyers, and has now retained a third-party consultancy to validate vendors against the RFP.

The validation process, conducted by UK-based Beecham Research, includes surveying vendors for responses to the RFP, contacting their customers anonymously for references, and a hands-on analysis of the platforms for ease-of-use.

“No other industry group or major consultancy is talking to buyers at scale and looking at the actual IoT sales process. My staff spends a lot of time responding to RFPs. The IMC’s RFP program gives us a report from a credible third-party that allows us to respond to RFPs more quickly, as well as a place to send potential buyers where they can access a template RFP document and learn more.

If this program reduces my sales cycle, even just incrementally, it will be well worth it,” says Volkhard Bregulla, VP of Global Industries, Manufacturing, & Distribution at HPE, with a seat on the IMC board.

IMC rank-and-file membership comes from 24 different vertical markets on every continent, and a plurality self-identify as “operations”, meaning that they are unlikely versed in communications technology. “The template RFP provides a non-technical reference, and can go a long way in establishing a common language for IoT technology among people actually doing the buying,” says Bregulla.

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Loyalty or lock-in? Most smart speaker users won’t budge from Amazon or Google

By Zenobia Hegde

More than two thirds of current owners of Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers are planning to buy another smart speaker within the next six months, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics.

The report, Smart Speaker User Survey: Brand Awareness and Ownership, also found that 75% of Amazon smart speaker owners would choose another Amazon speaker, and 69% of Google owners would choose another Google product. The report concludes that “this may simply suggest high levels of satisfaction, or a recognition that the technical platforms are different and that switching would involve unwanted complexity”.

Other key findings from the research include:

24% of respondents already own at least one smart speaker
Amazon and Google account for 94% of all smart speakers in use
More than a quarter of all respondents intend to buy a smart speaker in the next 6 months

“The early runners in the fast-growing smart speaker market look set to dominate for some time,” says David Mercer, principal analyst and the report’s author. “High customer satisfaction levels and the possibility of platform ‘lock-in’ will make it challenging for competitor platforms to carve out significant market share in the near term.”

“At this early stage it appears that Amazon and Google are successfully meeting customer needs, in spite of adopting contrasting strategies,” comments David Watkins, director of Strategy Analytics’ Smart Speakers service. “This is good and bad news for competitors: it will be tough to dislodge Amazon and Google; but new approaches to smart speaker design and user experience can help win over new customers.”

Strategy Analytics will be attending CES in Las Vegas January 9-12 where analysts will be available to discuss the company’s smart speaker research in more detail.

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Alchemy IoT introduces ‘IoT Asset Intelligence’ associated with Big Data, IoT and AI

By Zenobia Hegde

Alchemy IoT, a provider of AI-powered applications for industrial IoT, introduced “IoT Asset Intelligence,” a new industry approach that addresses the complexity and market fragmentation associated with Big Data, IoT and artificial intelligence. It outlines today’s disruptive mega-trends, and Alchemy’s industry insights and vision, before outlining practical steps organisations can use to align company goals, resources and teams toward value streams centered on industrial equipment, fleets and operational performance.

“IoT Asset Intelligence combines our best thinking into an actionable framework to plan, implement and gain value from AI-based IoT initiatives – especially for smaller organisations that may lack the resources for expensive consultants and data scientists,” said Victor Perez, CEO of Alchemy. “We are committed to the customer journey as much as the technology that is transforming the way industrial companies operate and win in the market.”

Recent studies by the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimate that by the year 2020 there will be 30 billion connected devices globally. With connected devices outputting sensor data 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the sheer scale of data production is staggering. The IoT Asset Intelligence framework provides practical steps for improving operational efficiencies, empowering better decision making, promoting collaboration and innovation, and delivering more value to the organisation.

The central theme of the IoT Asset Intelligence framework is visibility and efficiency through a blend of data-driven processes and a renewed culture around innovation and critical thinking. Like Lean and other operational improvement methods, IoT Asset Intelligence requires executive support and leadership to achieve sustainable success – as change and breaking with entrenched norms is as much a cultural “transformation” exercise as it is a process and technology play.

The following are the IoT Asset Intelligence core tenets:

Appoint an IoT champion: to be the single-point-of-contact, for the initiative and to help shift company culture.
Establish top-line goals and ROI opportunities: establish goals early in the process to have a clear path to success.
Conduct asset and process assessments: identify new data points to gain a strong understanding of what existing assets and processes exist in the organisation to better optimise them.
Identify processes for improvement and align new value streams: these processes are the best candidates for improvement.
Apply AI and machine learning for data analytics and automated workflows: not all data is good data – leverage AI to filter out irrelevant data to make data streams more powerful.
Present performance data in graphs for contextual 360-degree views: teams need to access performance data in a clear, visual representation that will allow them not only to see progress, but identify areas for improvement.
Integrate with existing ERP, EAM, MRO and MRP platforms: work with existing tools to optimise and enhance current processes, not just create new ones.
Provide graphical intelligence for executive decision-making and strategic planning: leverage data intelligence to make meaningful business decisions at the highest levels.
Practice continuous improvement: always improve – never be satisfied.

Alchemy will soon publish a comprehensive paper on the IoT Asset Intelligence framework that will be available from its website. For more information on the company, please […]

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Aeris CTO Hosain elected chair of IoT M2M Council

By Zenobia Hegde

Syed Zaeem “Z” Hosain, a founder and the chief technical officer at Aeris, was named the new chairman of the IoT M2M Council by the trade association’s Board of Governors at their annual meeting, held in November in Boston. With more than 25,000 members worldwide, covering 24 different vertical-market sectors, the IMC is the largest and fastest-growing trade organisation serving the IoT industry.

Hosain has been with Aeris – a technology provider in IoT – since 1996, when the company was founded, and has more than 38 years of experience in the semiconductor, telecommunications and computer industries. He has held leadership positions for several industry associations and technical standards bodies, and is the author of the book, “The Definitive Guide: The Internet of Things for Business.”

“By reaching out to buyers of IoT technology on such a large scale, the IMC can provide solutions providers with a natural platform to promote their products and services, and also learn about enterprise users and OEMs that are deploying the technology. For example, we have data that show a plurality of them self-identify as ‘operations’ – not ‘IT’ or ‘R&D’ – and now we’re digging deeper, and tracking if there are movements in these categories,” said Hosain.

To cultivate interaction between buyers and sellers in the IoT sector, the IMC has recently introduced a number of new programs, including a software widget survey-tool that tests a user’s readiness for IoT deployments and a template RFP program for its members that are interested in sourcing IoT software platforms.

The group has also been named as the exclusive organiser of the Consumer Electronics Show’s (CES) new area dedicated to IoT infrastructure – more than 6,500 square feet of exhibition space already has been booked for the January 2018 event to take place in Las Vegas.

“This is the first time CES will host a dedicated IoT area of this kind, and it’s a major achievement for the IMC. Our IMC mission is about bringing buyers and sellers together, and CES attracts tens of thousands of OEMs from markets that are crucial to the IoT,” said Hosain.

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H2O Flow Pro chooses Exosite’s IoT software platform to develop a sustainable technology solution to conserve water

By Zenobia Hegde

Exosite, a provider in the Internet of Things (IoT) platform market, announced that H2O Flow Pro chose Exosite’s IoT platform to develop a sustainable technology solution that conserves water. As a result of its work with Exosite, H2O Flow Pro is the first IoT water conservation solution offered in the western U.S., specifically in Arizona, California and Texas.

By leveraging Exosite’s real-time alerts and automatic shutdowns for broken systems, H2O Flow Pro now enables irrigation system distributors and contractors to monitor water flow, prevent water loss and respond more quickly to leaks. H2O Flow Pro can also empower property owners to make better-informed water-management decisions, improve service models and achieve greater analytics-driven efficiencies.

H2O Flow Pro envisioned a solution that would hasten a change from a reactive approach to water loss issues – including broken pipes and damaged sprinkler heads – to a proactive approach using an IoT water conservation solution to decrease water loss for its customers. H2O Flow Pro chose Exosite to help develop the solution.

“With Exosite, our engineers were able to focus on building the best device hardware without having to worry about the software side of the product,” said Bret Berry, CEO, H2O Flow Pro. “H2O Flow Pro enables predictive maintenance, providing our customers more peace of mind from the outset. Adding connectivity through Exosite’s IoT platform has enabled us to offer our customers the highest level of proactive water loss monitoring and mitigation that is unmatched by other providers.”

With Exosite, H2O Flow Pro’s connected solution provides powerful insights that improve irrigation monitoring, performance and troubleshooting. The immediate feedback, alerts and actions help to halt water loss, mitigate damage and accelerate repair time so that broken systems can be returned to operational status within 24 hours. Historical data is sent to, stored in and processed by the Exosite platform.

“Our IoT platform enabled H2O Flow Pro to create an entirely new business opportunity that offers major cost savings to property owners and increased efficiencies for contractors, while, on a more macro scale, addressing one of our world’s most formidable environmental challenges,” said Lizabeth Converse, COO, Exosite. “H2O Flow Pro’s solution will make a positive impact on the environment, business owners and consumers long-term. These tangible results underscore the value IoT solutions can deliver.”

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BrainChip triumphs at the 2017 Milipol Innovation Awards

By Zenobia Hegde

BrainChip Holdings Ltd., a developer of software and hardware accelerated solutions for advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning applications, was selected the 2017 Milipol Innovation Award winner in the cybersecurity category. The competition recognises companies exhibiting at Milipol 2017 with the most outstanding technology solutions related to homeland security.

BrainChip has been recognised for its innovative software suite delivering high-speed object search and facial classification and its performance-accelerating hardware. BrainChip Studio employs a type of AI known as a spiking neural networks, a form of neuromorphic computing.

BrainChip Accelerator is a computer plug-in (PCIe) card that represents the world’s first commercial hardware acceleration of this type of AI. It delivers a six-fold performance boost to BrainChip Studio and can process up to 16 channels of video simultaneously. BrainChip was honored with this prestigious award based on the groundbreaking technology of BrainChip Accelerator.

The Milipol Innovation Awards judging panel included security experts from the French Institute of Geopolitics, the National Gendarmerie and PA Consulting Group, Accenture Security and Frost & Sullivan. The winners were announced by the organisers of Milipol, which is being held at the Paris-Nord Villepinte until 24 November.

Live demonstrations of the BrainChip Studio software and BrainChip Accelerator hardware are being given throughout Milipol. Additionally, Inspector Jean-Francois Lespes, chief of the Indictable Offense Department at the Toulouse National Police, is explaining to visitors how BrainChip Studio helps major criminal investigations.

BrainChip is co-exhibiting with one of its commercial customers, leading avionics and information technology systems provider, Rockwell Collins. BrainChip’s technology is embedded into Rockwell Collins’ Perimeter Surveillance Radar system (PSR).

Earlier this year, BrainChip Studio won the respected 2017 New Product of the Year for Video Analytics by Security Today Magazine.

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NTT Communications to acquire Secure-24, a U.S. based managed services provider

By Zenobia Hedge

NTT Communications Corporation, the ICT solutions and international communications business within the NTT Group, and Secure-24 Intermediate Holdings, Inc. , a U.S.-based provider of comprehensive managed services, announced that their respective shareholders entered into a definitive agreement on November 13 (Japan Standard Time), pursuant to which NTT Com will wholly acquire Secure-24.

The demand for managed services is growing steadily worldwide and managed-IT services, one of Secure-24’s core businesses, are expected to see especially significant growth in the U.S. market.

Secure-24 specialises in delivering effective, comprehensive managed services that leverage proprietary, highly automated operation tools. Its clients represent Fortune 1000 companies in sectors including manufacturing, finance, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, insurance, government, transportation and more.

Mike Jennings

NTT Com will leverage Secure-24’s extensive portfolio of managed application and database services, including SAP, SAP HANA, Oracle, Hyperion, JD Edwards, Microsoft, Epic, custom, industry and other mission-critical applications.

Secure-24 is structured for continued growth, fueled by an in-house training academy that builds engineers from a mid-to-long-term perspective. In addition to over 100 industry and partner awards and acknowledgements, Secure-24 has been named one of Computerworld’s 100 Best Places to Work in IT for five consecutive years.

NTT Com and NTT Group companies including Dimension Data expect to combine Secure-24 services with NTT Group capabilities such as cloud to enhance their ability to meet hybrid IT requirements with high-quality managed services that are increasingly in demand worldwide.

“This acquisition brings the unparalleled service levels, application expertise, security and compliance support of Secure-24 to the global NTT community,” said Mike Jennings, CEO of Secure-24.

Going forward, NTT Com will continue supporting the business transformation of customers by steadily enhancing its IT functions and systems, including for evolving applications on cloud platforms, and thereby satisfy expanding needs for diverse, global managed services.

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