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Staying Agile by Focusing On the “T” in IoT

In this special guest feature, Timothy Butler, CEO of Tego Inc. discusses the benefits of edge computing – solutions that will address industrial applications, which are the logical, more affordable option for small and medium sized corporations. Timothy is the original founder and chief executive officer of Tego. He is a resourceful and inventive contributor with a 20-plus year track record of success taking quantifiable risks to leverage strategic advantages in order to grow market share and assist companies in achieving profit-generating status. Tim has an MBA from the Wharton School and a master’s degree in international political economy from Northwestern University. Tego is Tim’s third technology company; prior to this, he was CEO and founder of SiteScape. Tim’s dog, Finley, comes to work with him almost every day.

Unlike traditional IoT (Internet of Things) solutions, edge computing looks to bring the power of the data closer to the asset itself so that decision making is quicker and data is nearer the hands of the right folks who can take the right actions. In practice, it’s called, “Decision making at the point of read.”

In 2017, we will begin to see more of a focus on the benefits of edge computing – and to be more specific – solutions that will address industrial applications, which are the logical, more affordable option for small and medium sized corporations. This new approach is a deviation from traditional IoT solutions, which uses the cloud to collect streaming telemetry data and send it back to a centralized system for analysis. These traditional IoT platforms are expensive, can be plagued by complexity, and returns on the investment remain largely unproven. For these reasons focusing on more agile, less expensive, and easier to scale edge solutions will likely gain in popularity and utility.

In order for this new approach to be successful, enterprises must begin to focus on the “T” within IoT as opposed to the “I.” This bottom’s up approach to the IoT is novel because by making things – products, components and industrial assets – smart and empowering them with embedded digital data capabilities, the thing becomes a interoperable data node so that many more users can benefit from the data itself. Imagine how a business would change if the products were able to tell a business-critical story to the myriad of people who engage it. The storyline could be a recitation of its entire lifecycle history for the last 15 years while the asset was deployed in the field; prove its authenticity to an aftermarket caregiver through an NSA level encrypted digital signature; or, it could contain a digital image showing the maintenance crew the content inside a lead container for safer storage and more informed management of toxic materials. By embedding data on assets, the thing itself empowers and informs entire business ecosystem. Smart assets tell a story of interest to their makers, supply chain and logistics partners and their aftermarket custodians.

Digital information on the asset itself allows each stakeholder to perform their job more efficiently, with better outcomes and to the benefit of all. The power of local digitization fundamentally changes how systems relate and entire ecosystems engage. Leveraging edge computing in this way gives enterprises the opportunity to be more agile across the lifecycle of their assets, since digitized data will reside on the product from the time of manufacturing all the way through to end use.  It will update and chronicle changes to influence downstream action, grant accessibility to those who need it, provide visibility in the field, and transform how enterprises can interact with the asset and give insight into doing business better. The very fact that now a product can retain, relay and provide (for analysis) important manufacturing details, handling instructions, directions for safe use and software control information from the time of design through to end use informs how enterprises will need to innovate over time to scale and be on par with the industry.

 

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