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Creativity: The Secret Sauce for Successful Consultants

One of the challenges we’re seeing in business today is the need to re-learn the problem solving process. This need is increasing demand for creativity as a critical competency of the consultant of the future – driven by how businesses capture value harnessing the connectivity and intelligence enabled by the Internet of Everything (IoE). Read More »

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How To Gain an Edge by Taking Data Analytics to the Edge

In Part 1 of this blog series, I talked about how data integration provides a critical foundation for capturing actionable insights that generate improved outcomes. Now, in Part 2, I’ll focus on the two other challenges that must be met to extract value from data: 1) automating the collection of data, and 2) analyzing the data to effectively identify business-relevant, actionable insights. This is where things, data, processes, and people come together.

Let’s start with automation.

After IoT data is captured and integrated, organizations must get the data to the right place at the right time (and to the right people) so it can be analyzed. This includes automatically assessing the data to determine whether it needs to be moved to the “center” (a data center or the cloud) or analyzed where it is, at the “edge” of the network (“moving the analytics to the data”). Analytics at the Edge

The edge of the network is essentially the place where data is captured. On the other hand, the “center” of the network refers to offsite locations such as the cloud and remote data centers — places where data is transmitted for offsite storage and processing, usually for traditional reporting purposes. The edge effectively could be anywhere, such as on a manufacturing plant floor, in a retail store, or on a moving vehicle.

In “edge computing,” therefore, applications, data, and services are pushed to the logical extremes of a network — away from the center — to enable analytics knowledge generation and immediate decision-making at the source of the data.

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In Education, The Internet of Everything is Really a Thing

When talking about whether or not something is important in modern-day life, my Millennial sons often ask, “Is that really a thing?”  For example, renting a dog on Craigslist, is that a thing?

I’m here to tell you that the Internet of Everything (IoE) is really a thing in Education, and the use cases for IoE are bound only by our imaginations.  Imagine facial-recognition software for online courses that will be able to monitor and determine student engagement and provide that feedback to teachers.

Andrew Barbour in his eCampus News article, “How to prepare for everything,” discusses in great detail how the Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything is helping colleges and universities to decrease costs, increase efficiency, and improve student outcomes.

Barbour explores the importance of creating the right foundation to support the Internet of Everything, which is the integration of people, process, data, and things to make things intelligent.  And, he shows that IoE is already here.  Read the full story here.

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Cisco Partner Case Study in Oil and Gas – Canadian Natural Resources by Provist

Cisco partner Provista IP Communications* provided a solution to Canadian Natural Resources that delivered a flexible off-shore wireless network supplying data mobility whilst remaining secure and manageable.

When you search for case studies in Oil and Gas there are lots that cover the carpeted areas of organizations – office areas mainly, but fewer that actually reach outside to places like manufacturing or refinery areas, or even oil rigs. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to read the case study from Provista. Provista are a Cisco partner based near Glasgow with a presence in North-East Scotland and the Midlands in England.

You’ll hopefully remember my blog: Ferguson Group Ltd keeps an Eye on Operations with Cisco Physical Security, in which I talked about the coming of a new ‘space-age’ equivalent for Scotland. In that blog we looked at physical security and video in particular. With this Canadian Natural Resources (CNR) case study we can see how the Cisco technologies go further out to inhospitable environments and help keep workers away from danger, and more productive if they have to be off-shore.

Read the case study and you’ll see the provision of Cisco wireless technologies helped enable CNR overcome some business challenges:

1.  “The cost of resourcing engineering consultancy and deployment time was significantly higher due to travel restrictions.”

2.  “It would be difficult to ensure that installed wireless networks would remain active in the event of a single device failure.”

3.  “Canadian Natural regularly had guest visitors to their off-shore oil platforms and thus requested a secure, but separate, connection for guests to make use of.”

Provist goes on to say that there were some major business benefits are being achieved:

  1. Cost/Safety: “Provista’s solution ensured that there was no need for highly-trained technical staff to be present at the remote sites.”

  2. Lower Downtime: “Canadian Natural technical staff have a longer window of time to deploy replacement equipment in the event of a failure.”

  3. Worker/Guest Productivity: “Employees and guests can be more productive off-shore as a result of the wireless network access.”

The case study goes on to talk about the implementation and Cisco elements for management and control. This is an example of how Oil and Gas customers will often start building networking infrastructure in the carpeted areas (like CNR did) and then extend out to non-carpeted areas such as oil platforms. The number of oil rigs that have a pervasive WLAN is actually relatively low. Sure, there are numerous proprietary networks for sensors and the like, but we’re now seeing the implementation of WIFI on rigs that are providing converged (i.e. compatibility and convergence with IT and OT – or Operational Technologies systems and networks), as the Internet of Things, and the Internet of Everything continues its journey of becoming more pervasive. This is a convergence based on Industry standards.

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2015 Manufacturing Industry Predictions

What’s new and trending for the industry? Well, predictions for the upcoming year as a motif is certainly not new but is definitely trending, considering the deluge of pundits concentrating their well-informed thoughts about which industry happenings will emerge through hyperbole and into reality. Amongst go-to industry resources I find myself perusing is LNS Research, who has chosen to break down their Top Three 2015 predictions by industry trend/topic: Industrial IoT; Industrial Energy Management; Environmental Health and Safety; and Asset Performance Management.

Another annual favorite that I’ve blogged about in the past—including commentary on Cisco relevance—is IDC Manufacturing Insights, who this year took on a refreshing, new format entitled IDC Futurescape: Worldwide Manufacturing 2015 Predictions. The team of IDC manufacturing practice analysts quantify and qualify their ten most critical imperatives to be addressed by global manufacturers in 2015 and beyond—based on the coalescence of technology and line of business interests—including a few that are very pertinent to Cisco’s Internet of Everything (IoE) initiatives:

  • In 2015, customer centricity requires higher standards for customer service excellence, efficient innovation, and responsive manufacturing, which motivates 75% of manufacturers to invest in customer-facing technologies.
  • By 2016, 70% of global discrete manufacturers will offer connected products, driving increased software content and the need for systems engineering and a product innovation platform.
  • By 2018, 40% of Top 100 discrete manufacturers and 20% of Top 100 process manufacturers will provide Product-as-a-Service platforms.
  • In 2015, 65% of companies with more than 10 plants will enable the factory floor to make better decisions through investments in operational intelligence.

Before the analyst predictions pushed their way onto my laptop screen, I was asked by Cisco’s press relations team to put forward my top 3 for the industry. So on All Saints Day, before heading out on weeks of travel to China, India, and several of the United States outside my home residence, I produced three ideas that didn’t make it to our PR megaphone. As part of this blog, I’ve decided to share these three predictions, with some relevant observations from my Nov-Dec travels and customer interactions …

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