In this blog, I interviewed Dr. Ingo Hofacker, Senior Vice President Internet of Things, T-Systems Digital Division at Deutsche Telekom.
The Internet of Things is considered one of the greatest levers of digitalization, but many companies don’t know yet how to apply it. To assist customers in their quest, Deutsche Telekom is offering them the Cloud of Things IoT Platform, based on Software AG’s Cumulocity technology.
To find out how companies can benefit from these new opportunities, we spoke with Dr. Hofacker.
Q. Dr. Hofacker, regarding digitalization, where are companies currently?
A. In my opinion, the companies in Europe and North America are about equally far along. They are in an exploratory phase. That means they are trying to find out what digitalization, and especially IoT, really mean for them. They are talking with potential partners and perhaps already working on a proof of concept. But comprehensive major rollouts are still more of an exception. There are several degrees of maturity within the exploratory phase. Some companies have heard of IoT, but are not really certain what opportunities it even offers. Others already have a specific project in mind and are now facing the question of how to implement it.
Q. Can you give us a few examples of such projects?
A. We see two main blocks of topics that come up again and again: track & trace solutions and predictive maintenance. Track & trace is used to localize equipment, machines, vehicles or containers. A logistics company, for example, wants to know where its shipping containers are. A waste management company wants to monitor the location and condition of its containers. Predictive maintenance means performing maintenance in advance. This enables companies to determine whether a machine or equipment needs servicing before a breakdown even occurs.
Q. How does Telekom’s Cloud of Things help implement IoT projects?
A. Our solution contains all the components that a company needs to get an IoT project up and running. It provides connectivity for end devices and offers a high-performance IoT platform to manage those devices. In addition, customers can use analytics and visualization functions. Moreover, we support them with the integration in their existing systems and processes, standing by their side as a partner when operations are running.
Q. How do Software AG’s Cumulocity technology and Deutsche Telekom work together in this solution?
A. Cumulocity contributes a very solid, fast platform technology. As Deutsche Telekom, we host the platform in secure German data centers and ensure the connectivity, system integration and consulting. These areas traditionally fall within our core competency. For example, we have special roaming agreements to enable connectivity abroad as well. We are very well anchored in midsized businesses and can deliver worldwide. Together with Cumulocity, we have launched an innovative product on the market that is a global leader and customized to meet the needs of midsized enterprises.
Q. Are there already customers who successfully use the Cloud of Things?
A. There is a whole series of success stories, for example, from a company that provides restoration services after fire, water and climate-related damage. The company provides its customers with building dehydrators when they have suffered water damage. Now they have equipped their dehydrators with sensors. They measure the humidity and use it to determine how long the dehydrator needs to run. Once the drying process is complete, the device reports that it is ready to be picked up. This enabled the restoration specialist to improve equipment utilization and logistics processes. At the same time, the building dehydrator transmits its power consumption to the IoT platform. This data is automatically incorporated into the calculations for insurance, which in turn reduces the accounting process from two hours to five minutes. Compressor manufacturer Kaeser is another example. With the help of our IoT platform, it developed a new business model and now offers its products as a service. Customers no longer have to buy a compressor: They simply pay for its usage. The cubic meters that run through the compressor—meaning output and duration of use—determine the amount invoiced.
Q. That sounds exciting. What trends do you see for the future?
A. Artificial intelligence is one major topic. Sensor networks will have increasingly smart control logic. Because they connect many different data points with each other, they will be able to recognize far more things than we currently can with data analysis. Moreover, the trend is going toward connecting different data sources with each other. For example, Deutsche Telekom offers the product Motionlogic. It enables people to measure anonymized motion and traffic flows outside. And many store owners use beacon technology in their shops to collect anonymized data about their customers. If we were to connect these two data sources, a shop owner would know how many people in his target group walk by his shop. Then he would know without a doubt where the best place would be to open a new branch.
Dr. Ingo Hofacker will be a keynote speaker at Software AG’s Innovation Tour 2017 in Bonn, Germany and will speak about more digital success models. To find more information about the event, visit the home page offor the Innovation Tour 2017.