Plain English "Internet of Things" architecture - Part 4

Gist: The overviewmachine and business cloud posts were all about device enablement and plumbing to get machine data to this tier. Here, the "rubber meets the road".

What does the Nest thermostat, Google Glass and Pebble smartwatch have in common? They are examples of what the "Connected Customer" tier can become.

It is here that an IoT strategy comes to fruition for most businesses, and most clearly represents the value delivered to the customer. For most businesses, and its customers, this user experience is the realization of what their IoT strategy dollars are buying them.

4. Connected Customers:  Since this is the tier facing our customers, partners, employees and others, this is where all essential marketing questions of product, pricing, packaging and location need to be thought through.

It is here that all machine data is filtered, translated, aggregated, inferred from, visualized (or converted to speech) and provided with appropriate context for the end users.

The greater challenge in this tier is the classic user experience one, more than the technical or others. Interacting with your car, thermostat or other machines requires us to think differently.

With the explosion of technologies such as wearables (Google Glass, Pebble watch), mobile apps (Salesforce 1, Automatic), In-dash displays (Ford / Sync), and others, the balance between cognitive overhead and functionality access can be tricky.

The development focus in this tier must transition to design first, technology second.

The implementation here can vary widely in complexity depending on what the presentation client is. Technology offerings in this space range offer ease of implementation, speed and some very compelling offering.

Technologically, the choice of an integration friendly Business cloud platform that supports open standards and API based integration, can make plumbing in this tier easier.

Key technologies in this space often include mobile app platforms such as Salesforce 1, Appcelerator, wearables such as Google glass, Pebble, Natural User Interfaces such as Xbox Kinect, Leap Motion, Text / SMS & telephony based such as Twillio, and typical web technology options etc.

Often, solutions in this space will have multiple clients or apps to allow differing levels of interaction and user experience. Typically, web and mobile, and sometimes web, mobile and a wearable device based.

Summary:

If you are thinking about the "IoT" space, the gap between what would seem like "science fiction" and reality is narrowing fast.

Connecting your products and services with your customers is becoming mainstream, and a lot of interesting product and integration solutions are evolving to meet the market demand.

Resources:

I enjoyed learning a lot about this space with some very bright thinkers in the recent Dreamforce. Enclosed are links to some interesting keynotes, sessions with our customers, and our partners.

Dreamforce 2013