From agility to capability – innovation in the cloud
This week’s Innovation Through Interconnection event (hosted by Equinix as part of London Technology Week) brought together speakers from a variety of industries – united by stories of innovation, IoT, and the cloud.
LEGO Group’s VP of Corporate IT, Esben Viskum described his company’s two platforms: a stable enterprise one for the likes of SAP and Microsoft business applications; and an agile engagement one for more customer-facing elements (home to the likes of the LEGO Ideas platform for crowdsourcing new product ideas, and a plethora of LEGO mobile apps). Each has a better natural fit along the graph of cloud deployment options from private on-premise and co-location, through to public PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS (depending on where you are a maturity curve too). The challenge is in getting the applications that reside in each space to work together towards the same business outcomes, regardless of where they’re hosted and with whom (and what teams are responsible for their operation).
Nuno Godhino, GE Healthcare’s GM and CTO Software in Europe, talked about creating ‘digital twins’ of physical devices so that they can be modelled digitally and their data analysed to help organisation better use and manage the physical assets themselves. GE Predix is the company’s platform for building applications that connect with the ‘Industrial Internet’ (a term he used to focus on industrial IoT use cases as distinct from home and personal devices), collect data, analyse, and deliver insight. He had stories of vast cost efficiencies born of seemingly small operational improvements across transportation, healthcare, and mining when they’re targeted and can be applied at scale (for example, GE’s Movement Planner tool aggregates data on train speed, traffic, and location from locomotives; just a 1 mph increase in average speed across a fleet can bring $200m of savings in operating costs for the customer).
And it wouldn’t be an overcast grey day in England without talk of the weather. The Met Office’s CIO and Director of Technology Charlie Ewen treated us to an insight into the platform that powers the predictions that drives those conversations (as well as critical environmental insights for a host of use cases, from oil rigs at sea to planes in the air and wind turbines on the ground). As I trailed in last month’s blog from the Smart IoT London event, the Met Office is due to re-launch its Weather Observations Website (WOW) as a weather IoT platform next week. It’ll ingest observations from large scale automated sensing equipment and citizen meteorological enthusiasts alike, and provide a host of reuse APIs that help organisations innovate off its curated weather data and build an ecosystem of specialist applications on a freemium model.
For those organisations that want to develop their own specialist apps (for themselves, or for a marketplace), there’s now a growing number of specialist cloud platforms (IBM’s Watson IoT Platform – built on the IBM Cloud Platform, which I touched upon last week; the Met Office’s WOW – launching on Microsoft Azure, GE’s Health Cloud – sitting on top of the company’s GE Prefix platform, for instance) which are designed to do more of the heavy lifting so they can focus on adding value closer to their customers.
If there’s a binding theme from the day’s proceedings it’s how the cloud provides the interconnections for innovation and collaboration at scale, and how these collaborations forge ecosystems – for developing, integrating, and delivering services. As Charlie Ewen put it: “agility for the delivery of outcomes, not just as a way of organising development teams”; agility that comes from a more mature adoption of cloud technologies – beyond cost savings and efficiencies, through managed and repeatable optimisation, to innovation and transformation.
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