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Internet of Things (IoT) Technology Stack

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Internet of Things (IoT) Decision Framework (21-slide PowerPoint presentation). Internet of Things (IoT) products are more complex than typical products, since there a 5 layers of technology to consider, whereas other products may only have 2 or 3. With each additional layer, the complexity includes exponentially. The IoT Decision Framework provides a structured approach [read more]

Also, if you are interested in becoming an expert on Digital Transformation, take a look at Flevy's Digital Transformation Frameworks offering here. This is a curated collection of best practice frameworks based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts. By learning and applying these concepts, you can you stay ahead of the curve. Full details here.

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Internet of Things involves providing innovative digital services and delightful Customer Experiences.  IoT encompasses an accumulation of network-based devices that extend internet connectivity beyond standard devices.  These devices can communicate and interact over the internet, and can be remotely monitored and controlled.

IoT devices run on network connections like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Near-Field Communication (NFC).  IoT devices include smart appliances, e.g. webcams, printers, routers, wearables such as Apple Watches and Fitbits, refrigerators, security systems, and speakers (including Amazon Echo and Google Home).

Coupled with network connection, IoT presents unlimited capabilities and opportunities to transform the technological landscape.  These opportunities can be segregated broadly into 3 key strategic models:

  1. Enablers – The developers and executers of the underlying technology.
  2. Engagers – Those who shape, invent, incorporate, and offer delivery capabilities of IoT services to others.
  3. Enhancers – Those who add value to what engagers offer by developing their own creative services.

IoT devices integrate technologies like cloud computing, data analytics, and mobile communications.

In order to offer value propositions concerning Internet of Things, organizations need to have a blend of 5 main types of technology offerings.  These technology offerings comprise the “IoT Technology Stack:”

  1. Endpoints
  2. Simple Hubs
  3. Integrating Hubs
  4. Network and Cloud Services
  5. Enhanced Services

The IoT technologies that comprise the IoT stack—Endpoints to Enhanced Services—offer a set of choices to businesses aspiring to develop IoT offerings.  Many organizations are in the business of delivering Network and Cloud Services, some create Endpoints before moving on to develop Simple Hubs, and others offer Hub Integration services.

Let’s talk about some of these offerings in detail.

1. Endpoints

  • The Endpoints category of IoT technology gather data and manage various gadgets.
  • Endpoints monitor changes and provide input in response to environmental changes.
  • Endpoints include single-purpose sensors and actuators that collect and evaluate data from their surroundings and control objects using the internet.

2. Simple Hubs

  • Hub devices connect Endpoints to Networks.
  • Many internet-connected simple hubs can be found in a building dedicated to control a single function (e.g. water, lighting, security, air conditioning etc.).
  • Hubs are incorporated into home heating / air conditioning, washing machines, engines. Hubs enable appliances to adjust in accordance with the user’s behaviors and self-optimize to enhance efficiency, using embedded intelligence and storage.
  • For instance, Hubs controlling lighting gather sunlight data from window sensors and modify the brightness of a room correspondingly.

3. Integrating Hubs

  • These complex hubs are used to link simple hubs with other connections, to offer an assortment of relevant services.
  • Much like the iPhone or iPad which developers use, Apple developed the first IoT integrating hub in 2014, the HomeKit. HomeKit integrates multiple simple hubs from diverse vendors and display them on a smartphone through a unified user interface.  Electric power, security, motion and video monitors, HVAC, smart refrigerators, entertainment, lighting, and window shades are some of the systems that HomeKit integrates through the click of a smartphone’s button.
  • Oracle’s complex integrating hub assisted the yacht that it sponsored lift the America Cup in 2013. The yacht was integrated with 300+ sensors and cameras to carefully examine its coordinates, wind speed, direction, pressure on the sail, etc.  During the competition, the team gathered and analyzed huge amount of data daily, using Oracle servers and high-speed wireless connections, which improved the yacht’s performance tremendously on a run-time basis.

Interested in learning more about the offerings that constitute the IoT Technology Stack?  You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Internet of Things (IoT) Technology Stack here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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