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DESIGNING THE FUTURE OF SMART CONNECTED THINGS

White Paper
Harbor Research was recently given the opportunity to examine a new application development platform that takes a refreshingly new approach to integrating smart devices, people, systems and the physical world. ThingWorx leapfrogs the current machine-to-machine (M2M) markets noise and clutter about device connectivity by viewing core application development, device management and collaboration for smart connected systems as a unified challenge that can be addressed by a single, scaleable solution. In so doing, ThingWorx is re-defining the concept of connected platforms and creating a new market meta-category.

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

echnologically, the 21st Century began with a very big bang; two major technology developments have evolved that are now on a path of convergenceThe Internet of Things and The Internet of People. The collaboration technologies collectively driving social networking and Enterprise 2.0 and beyond are spreading throughout the Internet driving an unprecedented wave of growth. Meanwhile, intelligent device networking - The Internet of Things - is upon us. Billions of devices, are currently being connected to the Internet. The types of devices being connected today extend far beyond the laptops and cell phones we have become so accustomed to. Today, virtually all products that use electricityfrom toys and coffee makers to cars and medical diagnostic machinespossess inherent data processing capability. Any manufactured object has the potential to be networked.
The Advent of Smart Connected Systems and Services

In its simplest form, Smart Systems is a concept in which inputfrom machines, people, sensors, video streams, maps, newsfeeds and moreis digitized and placed onto networks. These inputs are integrated into systems that connect people, things, processes, and knowledge to enable collective awareness, creativity and better decision making. We prefer Smart Connected Systems over other terms in common usenotably M2M, which usually stands for machine-to-machinebecause it captures the profound enormity of the phenomenon - something much greater in scope than just machine connectivity. These phenomena are not just about people communicating with people or machines communicating with machines; it also includes people communicating with machines, and machines communicating with people. Smart connected devices are a global and economic phenomenon of unprecedented scale - potentially billions if not trillions of nodes. Soon, any device that is not networked will rapidly decrease in value, creating even greater pressure to be online. Consider the following:

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

Today the number of connected devices on the planet is surpassing the number of people - 7+ billion - depending on your definition of a sensor, there are already many more sensors on earth than people; A single large chemical plant produces more data in a day than the New York Stock Exchange and AMEX combined; Estimates of data produced by the so-called Smart Grid could reach between 35 and 1000 petabytes per year. Whatever we chose to call it -- Smart Systems or Pervasive By 2020 there will be Computing or The Internet of Things we are referring to digital microprocessors and sensors embedded in everyday more than 50 billion objects. But even this makes too many assumptions about smart devices on what the smart systems phenomenon will be. Encoded infor- networks mation in physical objects is also smarteven without intrinsic computing ability. Seen in this way, a printed bar code, a house key, or even the pages of a technical manual can have the status of an information device on a network. For that matter, all of these characterizations do not even begin to address the human-machine dimension of collaboration. But very few people are thinking about smart connected systems on that level. Current IT and telecom technologists are operating with outdated models of data, networking and information management that were conceived in the mainframe and client-server eras and cannot serve the needs of a truly connected world. Smart Systems should automatically be understood as real-time networked information and computation, but it isnt. The Internets most profound potential lies in the integration of smart machines, information systems and peopleits ability to connect billions upon billions of smart sensors, devices, and ordinary products into a digital nervous system that will smoothly interact with individuals and systems. The nature and behavior of a truly distributed global information system are concerns that have yet to really take center stagenot only in business communities, but in most technology communities, too.

Enter ThingWorx

This paper is about an important new connected platform offering from people who are thinking about the scope and on the scale that Smart Systems deservesThingWorx. In our years of work on the Internet of Things phenomenon and its real-world effects on business, we have not encountered very many compelling visions about the complete integration of things, people, systems and the real-time world. The ThingWorx team of innovators understand that the tools we are working with today to make products smart on networks were not designed to handle the scope of new capabilities and interactions.

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

ThingWorx connected application platform is not a simple incremental improvement, patch, Band-Aid, or new flavor of what we already do. Their development represents a true shift in thinking about how devices, people and physical systems will be integrated and how they will interact. The ThingWorx approach is not about leveraging aging IT technology into a new application context; its about looking forward to a single, unified platform for interactions to which any PERSON or any THING can contribute, and which liberates information interactions by abandoning traditional relational databasing and the client-server computing model.
Figure 1: Connected Platforms Drive Collaboration Between People, Devices & Systems

People

3D Collaboration

Devices

Systems

At the same time, taking this initiative seriously does not mean junking all current IT practice in one fell swoop. The pillars of present-day information technology will not crumble overnight, nor has the great existing investment in them suddenly lost all value. There are reasonable, fiscally sane paths for migrating to the future. But migrate we must. The assumptions and practices of the mainframe and PC eras are now decades old and not suitable for the smart systems era.

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

M2M and Classical IT Technology Only Tells Part of the Story

Before delving into the new thinking that makes this story possible, lets talk about why its necessary at all. The IT and telecom sectors have failed to re-evaluate their relationship to advancing technology and to their constituents. The business and technology paradigms to which these industries cling today are far too limiting, too cumbersome and too expensive to foster and sustain new growth. From a Telco perspective, todays discussions of M2M systems focus almost exclusively on communications -- the pipe -- and very little on the information value. In other words, on things that look good to the carriers. There are many popular visions about wireless monitoring and wireless control. The tools we are using to Such as it is, wireless is a fantastic new advance -- no question. But, focusing on the communication element alone as make products smart on first-order business value amounts to grabbing the wrong networks today were not end of the technology stick. Wireless communications alone designed to handle the steals the limelight and potentially eclipses the real revolution -- utilizing new networking technologies and processes to complexity they are being liberate information from sensors and intelligent devices to required to support leverage collective awareness and intelligence. From an IT perspective, todays corporate IT function is a direct descendent of the company mainframe, and works on the same batched computing modelan archival model, yielding a historians perspective. Information about events is collected, stored, queried, analyzed, and reported upon. But all after the fact. Thats a very different thing from feeding the real-time inputs of billions of tiny state machines into systems that continually compare machine-state to sets of rules and then do something on that basis. In short, for connected devices to mean anything in business, the prevailing corporate IT model has to change. The next cycle of technology and systems development in the smart connected systems arena is supposed to be setting the stage for a multi-year wave of growth based on the convergence of innovations in software architectures; back-room data center operations; wireless and broadband communications; and smaller, more powerful client devices connected to personal, local and wide-area networks. But is it?

Whats Required....

When it comes to preparing for the global information economy of the 21st century, most people assume that the IT and telco technologists are taking care of it. They take it on faith that the best possible designs for the future of connected things, people, systems and information will emerge from large corporations and centralized authorities. But those are big, unfounded assumptions. In fact, most of todays entrenched players are showing little appetite for radical departures from current practice. Yet current practice will not serve the needs of a genuinely connected world.

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

What are the major obstacles that need to be overcome? Leveraging collective intelligence: For all its sophistication, many of todays M2M systems are a direct descendent of the traditional cellular telephony model where each device acts in a hub and spoke mode. The inability of todays popular enterprise systems to interoperate and perform well with distributed heterogeneous device environments is a significant obstacle. The many nodes of a network may not be very smart in themselves, but if they are networked in a way that allows them to connect effortlessly and interoperate seamlessly, they begin to give rise to Its The Application Dummy...... complex, system-wide behavior. This allows an entirely new order of intelligence Given the immature state of Smart Systems, most people have trouble understanding the important role applications will play. to emerge from the system as a whole Today, applications are cumbersome and complex to develop. an intelligence that could not have been Whether the application is developed by the company deploying predicted by looking at any of the nodes it or a third party, they are often custom developed which entails individually. Whats required is to shift the a very high level of engineering complexity due to disparate data focus from simple device monitoring to a formats, diverse networks, different operating systems, and so on. model where device data is aggregated Applications are whats really required to drive growth and inform into new applications to achieve true smart connected systems value. systems intelligence.
It is easy to think of the ThingWorx platform as being yet another connectivity platform. But its really an application development platform - not just functionality for provisioning and managing device communications. As hard as it may seem to imagine, there really are no existing application development platforms available today specifically designed for connected systems.

Automated development: When telephones first came into existence, all calls were routed through switchboards and had to be connected by a live operator. It was long ago forecast that if telephone traffic continued to grow in this A careful examination of marketplace offerings clearly demonway, soon everybody in the world would strates that todays M2M software platforms have not kept pace with evolving technologies, particularly application development have to be a switchboard operator. Of tools for connecting devices, people, systems and businesses. course that has not happened, because automation was built into the systems to handle common tasks like connecting calls. We are quickly approaching analogous circumstances with the proliferation of smart connected devices. Each new device requires too much customization and maintenance just to perform the same basic tasks. We must develop software and methods to automate development and facilitate re-use, or risk constraining the growth of this market. Optimizing all assets - tangible and intangible: New software technologies and applications need to help organizations address the key challenge of optimizing the value of their balance sheets, allowing them to move beyond just financial assets and liabilities to their physical assets and liabilities (like electric grids or hospitals) and then to their intangible assets and liabilities (like a skilled workforce). The task of optimizing

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

the value of financial assets, physical assets and people assets requires new technologies that will integrate diverse asset information in unprecedented ways to solve more complex business problems. Flexible, scaleable systems: IT professionals rarely talk these days about the need for ever-evolving information services that can be made available anywhere, anytime, for any kind of information. Instead, they talk about web services, enterprise apps and now cloud computing. The Web stores information in one of two basic ways: utterly unstructured, or far too rigidly structured. The unstructured way gives us typical static Web pages, blog postings, etc., in which the basic unit of information is large, free-form, and lacking any fundamental identity. The overly structured way involves the use of relational database tables that impose rigid, preordained schemas on stored information. These schemas, We are reaching a designed by database administrators in advance, are not at all agile or easily extensible. Making even trivial changes to critical juncture on these schemas is a cumbersome, expensive process that the path to smarter affects all the data inside them. Just as importantly, they systems where make deep, inflexible assumptions about the meaning and context of the data they store. Both of these approaches to organizations will data-structure enforce severe limitations on the functions be crying out for you want most in a global, pervasive-era information system: a completely new scalability, interoperability and seamless integration of realtime or event-driven data. The client-server model underlying approach the Web greatly compounds the problem. Some things that look easy turn out to be hard. Thats part of the strange saga of the Internet of Things and its perpetual attempts to get itself off the ground. But some things that should be kept simple are allowed to get unnecessarily complex, and thats the other part of the story. The drive to develop technology can inspire grandiose visions that make simple thinking seem somehow embarrassing or not worthwhile. Thats not a good thing when defining and deploying real-world technology to deliver innovation. This is where the new values of ThingWorx platform really come into focus.

Model-Based Development Reduces Complexity and Time

The fact that a rapidly expanding range of devices have the capability to automatically transmit information about status, performance and usage and can interact with people and other devices anywhere in real time points to the increasing complexity of applications. This only compounds when we consider the billions or more of networked devices that many observers are forecasting will be deployed. Some basic design principles must be put in place to guide the development of smart connected applications.

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

The tools we are working with today to make products smart on networks were not designed to handle the scope of new capabilities, the diversity of devices and the massive volume of data-points generated from device interactions. These challenges are diluting the ability of organizations to efficiently and effectively manage development. The rigid and fragmented nature of software offerings available today make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to leverage design and development work sprouting up across different device domains and applications. In fact, the rate of operational change today significantly exceeds the design-develop-deploy cycle of existing tools and is expected to increase 5x in 10 years. This makes increasing the pace at which applications can be developed and deployed a critical requirement. What is needed is a common means of connected application development that can leverage tools across families of interrelated devices and diverse domains. What would this entail: Software and development tools to address a broad range of application requirements - increasingly, customers will need a single unified framework to design and build solutions that can interoperate across diverse data environments and under widely differing usage scenarios; Software and tools that allow users to quickly build their own functions, capabilities and applications making people, devices and systems accessible as well as easily integrated with business and operations applications. Users need to be able to quickly integrate smart devices with new applications for analytics, usage and on-line collaboration that are reliable, secure and scalable. Software and tools that leverage re-use - given the scale of the Internet of Things it will simply not be humanly possible to write all the code required without large scale re-use and collaborative self-service participation. We are reaching a critical juncture in market development where organizations will soon be crying out for a completely new approach - one where the effort invested to develop new applications can be quickly and easily utilized again and again across an ever broader spectrum of devices, integration and interaction schemes. Customers expect evolving software tools to be functional, ubiquitous, and easy-touse. Within this construct, however, the first two expectations run counter to the third. In order to achieve all three, a new approach is required -- but what kind of approach? The bit, the byte, and later the packet made possible the entire enterprise of digital computing and global networking. Until the world agreed upon these basic concepts, it was not possible to move forward. The next great step in ITcompletely fluid information and fully interoperating devices, people and systemsrequires an equally simple,

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

flexible, and universal abstraction that will make information itself truly portable in both physical and information space, and among any conceivable information devices. ThingWorx unique model-driven and iterative development environment allows users to create data representations - Things - of a physical device, person or system. The essence of an Thing is completely abstracted from its real-world embodiment and is mutually interchangeable. Examples of things includes:
Figure 2: Connected Platform Drives New User and Customer Values
Existing Systems (M2M & Similar)
Existing Systems Are Organized In Hub & Spoke Manner Which Create Data Silos and Prevents Systems From Acting In An Interoperable Manner Application Development Is Custom and Very Complex - Few If Any Tools For Users To Quickly Develop Applications Software Platforms Typically Focus On Single Data Types Limiting Range of Execution Processes Intelligence Tools Work Off Of "Curated" Data Sets Limiting The Questions That Can Be Answered To Those Known In Advance Scalability Limited Lack of Peer-To-Peer Schema For Data Relationships and Data Fusion

Connected Collaborative Platforms


Open Interoperable Data In Multiple Parallel Formats (Structured, Unstructured, Time-based) Collects, Tags, And Relates Different Data Types Creating An Operational Data Store That Becomes More Valuable As The Quantity Of Data And The Density Of Relationships Grows Operates With Search-Based Information Discovery Users Can Find Information And Discover Patterns Without IT Specialists or Complex Data Normalization Mashups Enables Business Users To Quickly Assemble New Ad Hoc Application Solutions Functionality For Collaborative User Participation For Sharing Data and Building Applications Instant Messaging-based Connectivity Enables Real-time Interaction Between Devices, People, And Systems

Properties: static and dynamic state data/information that are a Things real-time projection to the world; Services: Things can implement and invoke services; Events: Things can generate and subscribe to events; Streams: Things can store simple or complex activity streams; Contained Things: Things can contain other Things; and, Mashups: Things can have mashups bound to them. This model-driven development approach dramatically reduces solution development time, increases quality and fosters reusability. This model-based approach when com-

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

bined with self-service tools that allow users to search for information and mashup simple workspaces results in a 5X increase in solution development velocity.

Data Equality Drives User Innovation and Collective Intelligence

In todays world, information is not free (and thats free as in freedom, not free as in free of charge). In fact, thanks to present information architectures, its not free to easily merge with other information and enable any kind of search-based intelligence. What would truly liberated information be like? It might help to think of the atoms and molecules of the physical world. They have distinct identities, of course, but they are also capable of bonding with other atoms and molecules to create entirely different kinds of matter. Often this bonding requires special circumstances, such as extreme heat or pressure, but not always. In the world of information, such bonding is not all that easy. Todays software platforms focus on execution processes that generate one of three types of data - unstructured, transactional or time series. For each of these data types, a specific set of intelligence tools have evolved to provide insight but, in most cases, these tools limit the questions that can be answered to those known in advance. So for a user attempting to do something as simple as asking a certain multi-dimensional question, creating new information from multiple data types that is an easily perceivable, manipulable, or mappable model of the answer to that question is a significant challenge.

Facilitating search-based discovery, enabled by data and information accessibility and cumulative systems intelligence, is a fundamental requirement for next generation platforms

The ThingWorx platform fundamentally changes this paradigm, treating data from things, people, systems and the physical world as augmented representations. In other words, treating diverse data types equally. This enables processes connecting diverse data in any combination to be rapidly built and deployed. The traditional approaches to data discovery and systems intelligence have two failings: they cant provide a holistic view of these diverse data types and, the types of intelligence tools available to users are, at best, arcane and typically limited in use to specialists.

ThingWorx brings search-based intelligence to the world of connected things. Their platform includes a tool called SQUEAL which is a search, query and analysis tool that acts on unstructured, transactional and time-based data simultaneously. Users can use SQUEAL to find information and discover patterns on their own, without requiring specialists or IT support. This allows users to determine where deeper analytics or the creation of an ad hoc business process can add value.

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

Given the immature state of todays real-world systems, most people have trouble grasping the power and importance these capabilities enable. The ability to detect patterns in data is the holy grail of smart systems and The Internet of Things because it allows not only patterns but a whole higher order of intelligence to emerge from large collections of ordinary data. The implications are obviously immense. ThingWorx uses an entirely new approach that avoids the confinements and limitations of the todays differing data types and tools. It allows data to maintain their fundamental identity while bonding freely with other data. Facilitating discovery, based on data and information accessibility and cumulative systems intelligence, is one of the fundamental purposes of ThingWorx platform. They are designing a system for a genuinely connected world in which there are no artificial barriers between pieces of information.

Collaborative Futures

At the end of the day, the convergence of collaborative systems and machine to machine communications implies a total paradigm-shift in IT. The depth of this shift has begun to suggest itself, but it is by no means accomplished. Its a shift from knowing what happened to knowing what is happeningall the timeand then automatically controlling systems and assets with that knowledge. For businesses to really succeed at community building, they will need to fully embrace the real-time benefits of collaboration technologies. Collaboration demands that we design not only devices and networks but also information interactions in ways not addressed by classical enterprise applications and systems today. To address this challenge, ThingWorx includes integral collaboration elements, including discussion forums, blogs and wikis, to capture and codify tribal knowledge. The intersection of Enterprise 2.0 and the Internet of Things creates value at two disparate ends of the business spectrum. The adoption of Web 2.0 social networking and collaborative software for businesses is creating new value for businesses, driven from social collaboration between employees, partners, customers and suppliers. On the other end, the rise of the Internet of Things has helped transform manufacturing companies into value-added service companies. Manufacturers are learning that by putting products on networks they are essentially placing themselves into continuous contact with their customers, thereby enabling them to better understand their customers needs and act appropriately. The intersection of these two emerging trends creates an opportunity for business users/developers and OEMs to evolve their business model and drive competitive differentiation by cleverly combining the collaboration tools and environment of a common enterprise social networking platform with the ability to support remote devices, machines, and people as peer members of the community.

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

The Internet and new collaboration technologies are allowing companies and their customers to interact with unprecedented levels of richness. This collaboration can come in many forms, from an end user and call center operator working together to solve a problem with a piece of equipment, to a service engineer devising optimized methods to streamline repetitive tasks, or a customer working with a service or product design engineer to design a new and improved piece of equipment. These collaborative efforts often lead to new innovative solutions that create long-term value for the OEM, the user and all the value adders involved in its use. Relational capital, that which grows from customer intimacy and collaboration will define new rules of competition. Examples of next generation interaction between intelligent devices and humans are plentiful. But to fully understand the true power of collaborative technology in the context of smart systems, applications must be realized on a large scale. The next chapter of this story will require a sophisticatThe convergence of ed platform that allows edge devicesbe they business, or device applications and consumer, human or machine, operated wirelessly or wired, collaboration creates an host-based or cloud enabledto participate in coordinated opportunity for users and knowledge sharing, problem solving, and transactions that span dynamically created communities.

customers to interact with unprecedented levels of richness

This will take personalization to another level, turning things into learning machines that can be trained to know a users habits and behaviors. Based on a humans needs (e.g. a user, fixer, designer, etc.), intelligent devices will be able to infer needs and deliver highly individualized content without requiring a user to search, or in many cases to think about. While these new tools are inherently disruptive and sometimes challenge an organization and its culture, they are not technically complex to implement. Rather, they are a relatively lightweight overlay to the existing infrastructure and do not necessarily require complex technology integration. An example device integration package for such a community includes the ability to chat with the device to request status and execute commands, the ability to share files, the ability for the device to blog to its community home page or send updates to a feed, and the ability to establish a direct peer-to-peer (P2P) connection to a device for remote desktop or more specialized diagnostics. ThingWorx platform innovation recognizes that valuable data can be stored in many locations in many different formats and that a key function is the ability to aggregate diverse data types from many sources as well as the ability to provide data feeds to other existing enterprise applications, knowledge bases, and customer portals. Finally, one other very important aspect of collaborative systems are their openness, which allows anyone to create applications that can be subscribed to and used by other members of the community. These applications may be horizontally focused, such as a predictive maintenance analysis package, or vertical applications focused on specific

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Designing The Future of Smart Connected Things White Paper

markets. The fact that these systems can be completely open provides third party Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) with access to a customer base that they otherwise may not have been able to viably approach and eliminates the burden on them having to deal with gaining access to critical device information. Open platform-based development has proven itself as powerful mode of innovation and development.

Getting There First.....But To Where

Though their business models are intermingling today, all of the major categories of suppliers in the traditional so-called M2M software arena have historically operated within well-established assumptions about product scope and business models. No one would characterize the existing players of being technology or business model innovators or disruptive in nature. Radical new thinking about information technology must begin at the most basic levels, with new conceptions about the interactions of information with people, systems and devices. ThingWorx team is future proofing their innovations by making the fewest possible assumptions about the nature of networked objects and the data they produce, carry or process - the company takes a much broader, all-encompassing view of information. Ultimately, this type of platform solution will alter traditional business models and how new applications are realized.

No one would characterize the existing market players as business model innovators or disruptors

Since all of this that we are describing is a radical departure from current platform offerings and business practices, and is driven by a very unique set of needs, it stands to reason that this type of solution does not fall within the narrow specialties of the existing players. In fact, the platform being described is probably best viewed as an entirely new market category. This is particularly true given the disjointed patchwork of device solutions presently in place and the apparent lack of vision from existing players of whats required in the future. The opportunity to lead in developing and shaping this market looks wide open to players like ThingWorx because they have figured out how to solve tomorrows challenges as well as todays.

About Harbor Research


Founded in 1984, Harbor Research Inc. has more than twenty five years of experience in providing strategic consulting and research services that enable our clients to understand and capitalize on emergent and disruptive opportunities driven by information and communications technology. The firm has established a unique competence in developing business models and strategy for the convergence of pervasive computing, global networking and smart systems.
2012 Harbor Research, Inc. All rights reserved

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