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Enabling Agile Business Operations in a Connected World

- October 14, 2014 - 0 Comments

We have all heard visions and use-cases about the Internet of Things (IoT). Many of these take on the flavor of pots talking to kettles and capture our imagination on what IoT can do. The question of “why” we connect things in the first place becomes obvious when we think about the value of such connections to users and businesses – a value creation that requires connecting people, processes, data, and things for the Internet of Everything (IoE). Unlocking the potential for such value means facing the reality of how we bring those four dimensions together – a complex effort that requires us to bind all types of enterprise business assets in unique ways. We’ll take a quick look at how we go from the “Why IoE?” to the “How to IoE?”

While the promise of intelligent connections across these dimensions is easy to see, how we make those connections in a replicable and scalable fashion is far from easy. We are not just connecting machines to machines (M2M), people to people (P2P), or people to machines (P2M); not just enabling B2B or B2C. We need to enable all permutations of such connections for X2X connectivity.  Unless we have core building blocks that enable this, an X2X world can become a spider-web of unmanageable connections that require reinventing and rearchitecting for every new type of intelligent connection.

Enabling X2X Connections

Let us take a look how we can bring these assets together; the technologies and services that are critical to enable this value creation; and how Cisco’s suite of software & services for enabling IoE applications will help.

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Delivering IoE Solutions requires us to have capabilities that power each of the above four quadrants as follows:

  1. People: P2M or P2P interaction capabilities are needed for collaboration and engagement. Capabilities must cater to engaging customers and workforce using context awareness (e.g. who are they? where exactly are they? what did they do? what will they do next? what information do they need?) This requires combining intelligent infrastructure, enterprise systems of record, and user apps to deliver experiences or to ease task execution. Cisco Enterprise Mobility Services Platform and Cisco Remote Expert Platform are prime examples of how such interactions are enabled by mobile and collaboration technologies.
  2. Process: Enterprise systems that power our business processes come in all shapes. These systems and applications that have been built over several decades vary from full-fledged systems for delivering a business processes to task-oriented applications. Increasingly, they depend on other systems in the cloud or partner systems. Integrating these applications to re-engineer processes and automating them is critical for agility. Cisco ServiceGrid exemplifies how B2B service processes can be automated using a grid-like SaaS platform. Application platforms that enable process agility such as Cisco ServiceGrid, Cisco Integration Platform for integration & API management and Cisco Service Exchange Platform for secure B2B exchanges can be found here.
  3. Data: Data is the digital fuel of IoE. Data needs to be aggregated across sources  (both at-rest and in-motion), analyzed for insights, and delivered to points of decision-making and action. The network and Cisco software and services such as Data Virtualization, Connected Analytics etc. play a critical part in feeding the fuel to the right engine at the right time.
  4. Things: As we connect the billions of unconnected things, we need to model things to control and manage them through their lifecycle so that we can derive data from them as well as integrate the ability to control them as part of our business processes. Cisco Energy Management solution for managing & optimizing energy usage by connecting to things is a prime example of this.

The capabilities needed for each of the above four dimensions can be implemented in the cloud, as well as, at the network edge using Cisco’s Fog Computing architecture. For example, analytics can be performed at the edge to normalize and suppress the volume of data; application services can be embedded in the network and applications deployed as needed; experience capabilities can be placed closer to users for tailoring content, media, and remote expert assistance. All this allows the innovative enterprises to hyper-distribute their business operations for scale, efficiency, and mission-criticality, all leveraging the power of the network.

Many solutions exist to solve individual aspects of IoE in areas such as Big Data, M2M, things modeling & management etc. Cisco’s comprehensive approach across these dimensions will enable us to unlock the potential for value from IoE.

Automation at Scale: Engage-Integrate-Analyze

We are well on our way to the next stage of the Internet – to enable automation at scale and transform the industrial landscape using technology. To enable that automation, capabilities for engagement, integration, and analytics need to be weaved together to create value.

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The role that our business partners will play to complete IoE solutions is critical in realizing new business outcomes via IoE. Cisco IoE software and services suite will help accelerate the provision of such solutions by our partners.

Up Ahead: Business Systems Choreography

The last few decades saw us orchestrating resources in the infrastructure. We built composite applications by stitching disparate business applications together. IoE sets the stage for massive distributed system orchestration, like we have never done before. It will be challenging, just as it promises to be rewarding.

Pots may call kettles black, and vice versa, till they go blue and humans need not care. Industrial machines and systems can chatter with each other and make autonomous decisions. Such M2M communications will be controlled by automated means to filter the noise, register key events in business systems, and notify people only when there is a need to intervene. Choreographing the interactions between complex distributed systems and people is the place where Cisco IoE software and services suite becomes invaluable.

For more information about the IoE Software and Services that are available, visit:


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