Product Oriented IoT and System Oriented IoT

product-and-system-iotIt can seem like there is too much noise on IoT. But caught in the noise are some real signals that IoT is coming of age, with Amazon Echo being the latest and greatest example. Bill Gates’s quote below on change is apt for IoT. 

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction.

It’s better to get started on IoT now instead of waiting because it is hard to get IoT right. It might even take your organization several iterations and nontraditional product development introduction approach.

The more one looks at IoT design and implementation scenarios the more it becomes apparent that there are 2 patterns: Product oriented IoT and System oriented IoT.

  • Product oriented IoT design is primarily related to an individual product and its function. Examples include thermostats (and connected HVAC unit), fitness bands, refrigerators and many products in industrial markets.
  • System oriented IoT design is usually applicable for a complex system that is made of several individual products/components working together. Examples include manufacturing plants, warehouses, utilities (energy, water, transmission, etc.), traffic management systems, autonomous cars, smart homes, etc.

For a number of very good practical and business reasons most of the focus of IoT marketing hitherto has been on Product oriented IoT use cases and scenarios. The Connected Prduct trend is new and is hitting its stride and will very likely become the norm for a number of product categories in consumer and industrial markets. It is also a little easier from an adoption perspective because the decision making usually rests with a single person or a small group. Remarkable advances in low power computing, widespread availability of mobile communications and broadband, and the rise of cloud computing have made Connected Products the dominant design pattern.

The objective of Product oriented IoT, among others, is to improve customer engagement and support, extend the product with additional capabilities with supporting cloud infrastructure and provide the product manufacturer with intelligence on product usage and performance. The analysis and optimization aspects are simpler and usually pertain to the function of the product.

The System oriented IoT is necessarily more involved and complex and its impact is usually felt at the organizational, community or society level. The value of System oriented IoT, when it works well, can be significant to the organization, community and to the society it serves. System oriented IoT tends to solve a higher level or organizational problem. In addition, it needs to connect, manage and orchestrate disparate components towards a higher, system level goal. For instance, the goal of a System oriented IoT for a manufacturing plant is to optimize production flow while minimizing poor quality and costs. System oriented IoT has also had a significant historical and technological underpinning in the form of proprietary control systems, communication protocols and data management systems and examples of implementations can be seen in distributed control systems, manufacturing automation systems, traffic control systems, power generation and transmission and distribution systems.

Kris Gorrepati

My 2 cents on Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing, Design, New Product Development, Software Engineering, and related topics.

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