Where old meets IoT, SaaS integration

Old meets new in the Internet of Things (IoT). It has been seen that we as humans only look forward when supported by evidence we already know (the past). This means, says Joseph Zulick of MRO Electric and Supply, that it becomes harder to find solutions that we have not already considered.

What is SaaS? Software as a Service. Companies working in this space vary from the giants like Adobe, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft down to small companies.

Where old systems and connectivity were done on individual wires and connected to custom purchased software packages, we have made a leap forward. In the last five years most companies have developed hardware that can be integrated into communication systems that can provide information via networking systems and then tied into software that is now provided as a service.

IoT interfaces and SaaS strategies (Software as a Service) companies who have developed sensors are now developing interfaces for these sensors so that more data can be acquired and done so through fewer internet addresses.

SaaS gave us better systems

SaaS has given us systems that are more robust, flexible and current. Integration systems exist even within some of the most popular SaaS systems. Look at Waze, the navigation software. Input from users improves the performance and updates the information immediately with accidents and reroutes you to faster or shorter solutions.

This system uses GPS sensing to recognise slowdowns in users and recognise traffic problems. All of these provide benefits to the users and this becomes the value added to the driver. Many CRM, business collaboration or contact management systems are all Software as a Service; Salesforce, Slack and even Remote work with Basecamp by 37signals is expanding with new work from home guidelines.

Zoom is a huge company that grew during this time with the virus. Remote communication is imperative and so important that you can tell by how difficult it is to buy a web camera during this crisis. Zoom revenue has grown Year on Year by 77.93%. Their software has improved, and this is one of the values of software as a service, updating regularly.

Mission-critical

These SaaS systems are more important than ever when we get in depth in manufacturing. With more workers working remotely the need to remote in or connect to machine monitoring systems is not just more than important, it’s imperative. Companies like SAP are providing remote details and support companies which gather the data and provide software to integrate the IoT data into the behemoth software that manages all plant production systems are needed more than before.

Xometry is a company who is not specific to the SaaS world on selling software but in Software as a Service they’re focus in the manufacturing space is one that has changed the landscape. They chose to focus on manufacturing.

Manufacturing focus

Joseph Zulick

Now, you may ask how can you manufacture something and call it a service or even consider software in this arena. They turned the strategy upside down by developing software to allow for quoting of manufacturing services and they put those who need these processes completed and connected them to manufacturers who have these processes and standardised pricing.

Amazon has been exporting their excess capacity to major companies for a long-time offering system of computing, storage, analysis and processing under their AWS Amazon Web Services. They have found a way to use their excess capacity and sold it as a service via software to use this excess. One of their biggest partnerships like this has been with Netflix. In much the same way as websites use media hosting sites so does Netflix.

The website would be crashing constantly if every member was streaming movies through their site. Instead, when you click on a movie the media host software is engaged and pulls the media stream from the servers elsewhere. These are independent of the website. They say, “AWS enables Netflix to quickly deploy thousands of servers and terabytes of storage within minutes.”

It also has the ability to use big data to analyse the viewers needs and profiles.

Because of the rapid shift in software these SaaS companies have to be far more flexible and innovative. Most are integrating some or all of the Machine Learning (ML) strategies such as integration to find patterns, picture identification, Optimise the systems, Find Anomalies and Segmentation. Most of this type of software develops the model by determine metrics of the Feature Selection then Model Tuning.

Deep Learning means automating the tuning, reducing the need for human intervention. More detailed algorithms require less human decision making, instead you determine the important items on the front end.

What are the benefits of SaaS?

Scalability. Most of this type of software is designed to be modular in nature so that as you grow, it grows.

Lower initial entry costs. Software as a Service allows for more updating and fine tuning. This is because in the old business models software was treated as a product with a one-time investment. With better up to date integration, this is important when you look at predictive software programs that are evolving like PredictionIO or MetaMind.

The other benefit within these systems is that they can detect unintended and unaware bias in your company.

Occasionally, hidden costs of upgrading or expandability do occur. This is what allows for the lower entry-level pricing. Lack of ownership. The software becomes more of a monthly fee than a cost. Some detractors view this as a negative since it is not a product, they truly own it.

Many companies like this business model since the pricing doesn’t hit the company with a one-time fee and from a book-keeping standpoint, they don’t have to track depreciation, not to mention it’s a predictable regular charge which makes it easier to plan around.

The author is Joseph Zulick, writer and manager at MRO Electric and Supply.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

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