Leave no machine behind – how to help customers get to vital IoT data
Andrew Brown, the executive director of Enterprise and IoT Research at Strategy Analytics, interviews Telit executives Bill Dykas, the product manager for IoT Platforms, and Ricardo Buranello, the global vice president of sales for IoT Factory Solutions, to discuss what the company is doing in IoT and how it is addressing the needs of its customers
Andrew Brown: As one of the leading IoT hardware and software vendors for more than 20 years, can you give us insight into what Telit customers are looking for from an IoT solution and how has it changed?
Bill Dykas: Telit is a highly diversified company. We have many different technologies for supporting customers around IoT; including hardware modules to help customers wirelessly connect their IoT applications, with technology including 2G, 3G, 4G, Cat M1, NB IoT, to short range such as Bluetooth and ZigBee to Wi-Fi, LoRa, Sigfox, GPS and GNSS. This gives us a deep view of the industry and we now have more than 7,000 customers using our technology. On top of the hardware, we have our software and services business and are a global MVNO. We approach this industry from multiple angles, from companies that are building consumer goods, to tracking devices and smart meters, to security systems/smart home alarms, through to the industrial IoT where companies are integrating IoT on the shop floor in large enterprises.
In the last 10-15 years, the market has changed dramatically. Around 15 years ago, the market was highly concentrated among fewer players, while today the market is highly fragmented. For example, our revenue comes from seven thousand customers, not a few. This is going to be the reality for IoT for a long time. Larger companies are trying to innovate or develop products using IoT concepts, or sell the benefits of IoT based on new revenue generation or reduced costs. Consolidation is happening in the IoT market, as larger companies are investing in this space.
The exposure that these companies have brought to IoT, coupled with our experience in the industry, will help us expand our presence in the market. In terms of our deployments, the efficiency and relative return on investment is clear.
AB: What companies is Telit working with to bring solutions to market? Why are strategic partnerships so important when you are a customer looking at deploying an IoT solution?
RB: Partnerships are critical to helping fuel our future growth in the IoT market. We have many examples of important partnerships, but some of our key partners include SAP, TechMahindra, Wind River, Cisco and Mitsubishi. SAP offers our software platform to their customers. We work closely with SAP to offer our technology to every customer with whom SAP is engaged. We offer our device management to their customers to simplify IoT data collection and normalisation and quickly send that data to target SAP databases and business applications. It allows customers to fully integrate things with web-based solutions, mobile apps and enterprise systems. For example, a car manufacturing production line has multiple machines that connect to SAP systems. Connecting these systems to enterprise software used to be very challenging. However, using our technology, customers can now get that machine to communicate with an SAP system with two button clicks, reporting variables such as productivity levels, problems, proactive maintenance or other issues in the manufacturing process, and SAP sees enormous value in that.
We offer additional capabilities to SAP and other customers as well. These include not only connecting machines to enterprise systems on premises, but also in the cloud. Once the information is in the cloud, a company can have access to their information. This means that an engineer no longer has to fly halfway across the world to fix equipment-but can see the diagnostics information on the screen and handle the maintenance remotely, which is vastly more cost efficient.
TechMahindra is a huge system integrator. We have a close relationship with them where we sell and implement solutions with their customers. Wind River, an Intel company, is another great partnership that we closed this year. Wind River is utilising Telit’s IoT platform technology for its device management platform, which it has built into its Helix Device Cloud Platform, incorporating our deviceWISE capabilities, such as remote monitoring, software over-theair/firmware over-the-air updates, alerts, rules, update campaigns, data management and monitoring.
This year we also partnered with Cisco, which is looking to bring data from operational devices over the network. They validated our deviceWISE Asset Gateway Software on their IOx-enabled edge computing gateways, namely, Cisco ISR829 Industrial Integrated Services Routers and Cisco IE4000 Industrial Ethernet Switches and the software is now available as an integrated Cloudready industrial IoT solution. These highly-secure and ruggedised Industry 4.0 appliances provide edge intelligence for industrial asset management, condition-based monitoring, predictive maintenance and other mission-critical IoT applications across industrial markets around the world.
We have also partnered with Mitsubishi to embed our software into their systems, for example, the Mitsubishi MES Interface IT lets customers integrate manufacturing assets with enterprise systems using the Telit deviceWISE IoT Platform, which is embedded in the interface to enable developers to use APIs to connect and integrate with production machines using existing enterprise IT systems.
We also have a range of other regional partnerships. We recently closed deals with new partners in France, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, in order to have local reach with important system integrators. We are also actively looking to develop relationships, not only with system integrators, but also with technology alliances, that help build-out key solutions, for example, analytics platforms.
AB: In our research, we have seen customers wrestling with how to tackle the future data tsunami and integration of IoT data into their enterprise systems. How does Telit help customers handle those challenges?
RB: We are heavily involved with partners and clients to connect their OT and IT. For example, when we go to a customer and say we can make a Siemens PLC (programmable logic controller) talk to a Mitsubishi PLC or other OEM PLC, we are able to offer that off-the-shelf, as our capabilities are built in, and we can get different OEM PLCs to connect just by identifying the tag numbers. The value to customers is immediately clear. With partners, we can connect PLCs and integrate production machines and processes with relational databases systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP), manufacturing resource planning (MRP), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and SCADA applications. Built-in standard device drivers and enterprise connectors make the overall integration easy.
There is little value unless the data can be read by the analytics platform. Today, if you want to use IBM Watson, Microsoft Azure or any other cognitive platform on the market, the hardest thing is to get a machine to talk to that platform. We say that we can get any machine to talk to any platform, usually within a day. However, the most impressive thing is not only that we can connect new machines, but that we can connect old machinery as well, that may be vital to a process. For example, by reading digital or analogue I/O or sensors we can translate the output into a format that can be read by IBM Watson for example. Our mantra is: leave no machine behind. Our value is in connecting any enterprise device to any enterprise platform. Multiple systems will co-exist, and it is our job to help them talk to each other. People forget that there are two edges: the edge devices on the network and the edge of the enterprise, and the ability to move data crossover between the two.
We are in a good position in the ecosystem; we do not compete with large enterprise software or system integrators, but we are an enabler that helps move data into premise, cloud or hybrid environments. We can put Telit deviceWISE and our Telit IoT Portal in any of those environments, for example, some regulated customers need to deploy on premises for specific reasons – and we can meet their needs wherever they want to deploy.
In terms of our vertical reach, we are agnostic whether present in car-maker production lines, pharmaceutical (data collection) or security (connecting alarms to the network), we have the potential to grow across the whole industry.
AB: What is the long-term, single most important aspect in IoT, for customers to think about?
RB: My answer might be a surprise, but IoT is not really the focus. Our customers are looking for ways to accelerate business outcomes, and transform their business. The shift to become a digital business is driving all enterprise today, and Telit plays an important part in enabling their transformation. The IoT brings endless possibilities for a company to become more efficient, reduce cost, and create new revenue streams. However, customers have learned over recent years, that the complexity of bringing all these things to life is far greater than they expected. A company must define the outcomes they are attempting to achieve first, and then start at the edge. Consider the enormous, complex, and diverse nature of the things that are part of your plan. This was something that many took for granted in years past, but now most large enterprises realise they need genius level expertise at the edge. This is part of the Telit DNA, it’s where we started as a company nearly twenty years ago, and where we thrive as a partner, and trusted advisor for some of the largest brands in the world.