IFS to help companies tackle Internet of Things

Monday, 21 November 2016 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Businesses that seek solutions from software development companies such as IFS are increasingly on the lookout for applications that play a pivotal role in the decision making process, visiting IFS Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Dan Mathews said.

Speaking at a breakfast forum organised by IFS Sri Lanka recently, Mathews said developers now have to provide solutions that incorporate emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) into the business processes of their clients, enabling the much discussed digital transformation.

Introducing IFS Global’s latest product the IFS IoT Business Connector, Mathews spoke of the different applications of IoT in industry, in that they operate on an entirely different scale to pop-culture’s idea of IoT in the form of fitness trackers, interconnected smart fridges and the like.

“In the industrial world, a single piece of equipment can have hundreds or even thousands of sensors. It’s on a different scale. Things get a little bit different,” he said.

IFS, he said, has developed a four-step model for industrial IoT.

“First step is about getting things connected. Sometimes it’ll be what we typically think about; things like talking to each other over the internet. The next step is the step of discovery. From the raw data, we want to get the observations that have some meaning to our business,” he said.

Any information obtained is only as good what you do with it, said Mathews.

“The only time you can make any money is if you can take that information and do something with it. It’s not enough to know that I have potential damage; it’s not enough to know that that this is happening, unless I do something with it. It’s when I proactively go out and fix the problem, when I change my strategy, when I do something, that’s when I can get a return,” he said.

Optimisation is key, he added.

The IFS Business Connector is expected to help businesses come up with strategies that increase revenue, boost profits and enhance efficiency, by making operational data become business intelligence and business processes become more efficient.

According to the company, the IFS IoT Discovery Manager gives clients management and monitoring capabilities when used with the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite as the discovery platform, to help visualise components and data flows.

The next step, IFS IoT Gateway, lets clients communicate between the cloud-based discovery and analytics of IoT data and on-premise or cloud-based IFS products. Key features include secure bi-directional communication. The IFS IoT Controller, meanwhile, aids decision-makers when IoT data analysis reveals relevant business insights; solving practical issues that occur when clients map operational technology into business applications.

“We’re in the third era of business applications. We’ve shifted from the planning stage to the organisational stage. People who buy software from us today look for applications to support the decision making process. To make better choices through understanding,” said Mathews.

“What we need business applications to do for us is to support a more digital transformation that’s about to come,” he added.

Business need to consider the changes they need to make in order to achieve that transformation, said Mathews.

“We have to embrace change. You do need systems and applications that help you with change rather than hinder you. That in itself is not enough. You need these systems to become connected to the people in your organisation working with mobile solutions for example. If you have people out in the field, the fact that they can be connected to the system when they’re moving about is important,” he said.

However, connecting people is not enough.

“Not just connecting people, but also connecting things. The equipment you use, the products and assets you have. Just think about what we can do if understand that our product is actually being used in the real world through its life cycle, we can engineer products by having that understanding,” said Mathews.

“If I have my assets connected, I can provide better service by knowing what they’re exposed to. Internet of Things helps us do this,” he added.

Pix by Ruwan Walpola