This continues a series of columns from practitioners I respect. The category "Real Deal" describes them well. This time it is Sanjay Poonen, President and Corporate Officer at SAP, and a thought leader in Analytics, Big Data and Mobility. For Sanjay, the Internet of Things (IOT) becomes a reality when mobility meets big data on the cloud – it’s like a triple word score in Scrabble. According to him, the Internet of Things is about making life simpler if only machines and appliances would talk to each other! Sanjay will be talking about IOT at the CTIA conference in San Diego on October 12th, but here’s how he sees it in a nutshell:
I don’t like waking up to discover my 5 am conference call was cancelled overnight. Imagine if my calendar could talk to my alarm clock and all the devices in my life were synched. My day would be a lot different. The cancellation would reset the alarm clock AND the coffee machine. Messages to my mobile device would tell me I’m low on gasoline, the trains are running late, there’s no milk in my refrigerator and the grocery store is running promotions. I’d be directed via location awareness right to the aisle where milk is stocked, and through precision retailing, I’d get a personalized coupon for 50% discount on my mobile device.
Much of this is already possible through the intelligent sharing of information between machine-to-machine, or M2M. Four key elements are required for M2M and the Internet of Things to work – Tagging Things, Sensing Things, Shrinking Things and Thinking Things. With advances in RFID, miniaturization and analytics, M2M makes the Internet of Things increasingly tangible. M2M communication is the “social collaboration” of machine-to-machine or machine-to-man.
Such technology is beginning to mature. In the area of “precision retailing” new innovations in Big Data Analytics, combined with Mobility and GPS, allow tailored promotions to be offered to consumers on their mobile devices. Consumer companies are exploring smart vending machines that have tiny computers on a wireless network which leverage information like usage data and weather forecasts to determine replenishment schedules. On a hot day, being able to get your trucks to the vending machine fast enough might be the difference in a breakout profitable quarter.
All of these machines, whether wired or unwired, can be considered as extensions of mobile devices; they all need to be secured, managed, and enabled to run applications in much the same way as a mobile phone. Managing this smart machine to machine evolution requires comprehensive architecture and technology solutions, something we at SAP are working on with a number of partners.
Mobility, Big Data and the Cloud are the core elements of M2M. Today’s market of Mobile Security players is tactically focused on Mobile Device Management (MDM). While an important market, I see MDM as rapidly commoditizing, with the real distinguishing characteristics being the ability to manage hundreds of millions of devices. The only effective way to solve this is in the Cloud, but most MDM solutions today don’t scale and aren’t built to leverage the Cloud. Those are precisely the areas where SAP is making big strides by investing heavily in MDM solutions.
But beyond MDM, market research shows that every mobile device has an average of 40 business or productivity applications. Applications being administered by a company need to be managed, hence the growing area called Mobile Application Management. Most devices in the enterprise also have hundreds of documents that need to be accessed, and whether that happens via DropBox or inside a firewall document sharing location, enterprises will need a Secure Content Management story to their Mobility Security solutions.
And finally, your device is also supplemented by other “things” on the Internet that need to be securely provisioned and monitored for data. Think about your smart car, smart refrigerator, smart thermostat – the smart vending machine, the smart city and much more. Supplementing Mobility management, SAP HANA provides the best infrastructure to handle large volumes of data streaming from “things” so as to make intelligent choice through the use of analytics. This enables smart vending machines to decide when to alert the “supply chain” for replenishment as well as correlating the data with weather information!
This continuum is at the center of SAP’s vision for Mobile Management for IOT. It’s about managing millions of devices, billions of applications and documents, and trillions of things on an axis encompassing Richness and Reach: first you need to manage your mobile devices and mobile apps, then you need to secure your content, and then you’re ready for the Internet of Things.