Engineering: leader della Digital Transformation

IoT - Internet of Things

Five questions to...
Vittorio Aronica

Our Technical Alliances & Partnership Director illustrates the infinite potential of IoT, to understand how people and things can be connected to generate new ecosystems of knowledge and new services.

1.

IN AN INCREASINGLY DATA-DRIVEN ECONOMY, WHAT’S THE VALUE OF IOT?

The value of the IoT has and increasingly continues to reside in acting as a privileged and qualified source of data. It’s no coincidence that IoT is now constantly associated with Big Data. Environmental "sensorisation", the centralised control of remote ecosystems and the possibility of analysing a continuous flow of non-sampled data is providing new databases and a foundation for extremely accurate decision-making.

IoT opens up endless opportunities. I would say that in addition to industrial and process automation, which has now reached at an extremely mature level, what's ahead ranges from territorial and infrastructure monitoring integrating safety and risk prevention to managing vulnerable populations via new health care options. Home automation and interaction with commonly used objects will change our lifestyles while promoting intelligent energy use. The latter will increasingly centre on interacting resources controlled by a network of sensors and capillary actuators.
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2.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ASPECTS A COMPANY NEEDS TO CONSIDER IF THEY WANT TO DEVELOP AN IOT APPROACH?

In fact, there are three key factors that merit particular attention. The first is structuring a flexible infrastructure capable of effectively supporting data flow. This means seeing scalability and the transmission latency challenge as two guiding parameters in designing a system architecture.

The second relates to operational context and the type of data managed. This determines some architectural choices with respect to distributing computational and data analysis capabilities near the information generation point. It also means considering centrally consolidating and processing data in a cloud environment. For this reason, I would single out Edge Computing which pivots around balancing resources with regard to two specific objectives: (1) guaranteeing extremely low latency times when the sensor-actuator relationship has to be effectively instantaneous, for example in surgical or industrial robotics or when Internet connectivity is a main risk factor and (2) considering the structure of collected data, especially in terms of data size. For example, we might think of gathering image sequences collected at regular intervals to avoid overloading centralised systems with useless data. In this case, it may also be an advantage to balance local computational capabilities with centralised information processing.

The third and most challenging aspect to consider is process review. This is also the step which yields the greatest benefits because it may generate a total break with existing models and taking a creative 'what-if' approach instead.

3.

WHAT’S THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN IOT AND CYBERSECURITY?

It’s a very close relationship that only increases based on the sensitivity of the data being managed. I am not referring to issues such as personal data processing, but rather the assured identification of source data or situations in which the sensor-actuator relationship may strongly influence individuals or entire social ecosystems. An example would be a motorway viaduct with LIDAR sensors generating data for an analysis algorithm that determines high-risk conditions for pylon slippage. In this case, one must be sure of the data source and information content. This is because, as you might imagine, any resulting decision could block traffic and have obvious social and economic consequences.

IoT and Cybersecurity are two technologies that must go hand-in-hand in order to guarantee sensor "digital identity", "life sensitive" characteristics and the stability of collected data.
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4.

HOW DOES ENGINEERING SUPPORT COMPANIES THAT WANT TO USE THIS ENABLING TECHNOLOGY? HOW DOES IT SUPPORT COMPANIES ALREADY USING IT?

At Engineering, we have specific expertise in this area, making us stand out from other technology producers. However, we also have consolidated partnerships with other producers and many active in-course projects.

Still, our role at the moment additionally targets processes linked to adopting technologies that use the specific tools we’ve created, for example the Engineering Innovation Framework. This is a model combining technological skills and creative innovation management. It does this to help organizations re-imagine and offer next-generation services based on enabling technology. A concrete example is rethinking the industrial machinery market, in which Italy is a leader with a large market share dedicated to exports. This means coming up with new types of "IoT native" products and their underlying processes and making these components available via remote integration.

In this context, our "Product as a Service" programme foresees transitioning to a completely "pay-per-use" mode. This means offering collected information to generate new user portals that can control object geolocation, consumption patterns, trends or anomalous asset use. It may also afford integrating corporate CRMs with flows used in final accounting, service billing and, obviously, comprehensive predictive maintenance to avoid potential downtime.

5.

WE ARE WITNESSING THE FREEING UP OF SILOS AND BREAKING DOWN OF BARRIERS BETWEEN MARKETS. SO, WHAT ROLE CAN IOT PLAY IN BUILDING DIGITAL ECOSYSTEMS?

IoT will act like tree roots that are invisible but solidly embedded in the ground. Data generated by an infinite and diversified number of sensors will be a primary resource in terms of the quantity as well as variety of data derived from specialised processing.

This data will be ecosystemic in nature and an integral part of interdependent interlinked systems and processes.
Vittorio Aronica

Vittorio Aronica

Vittorio has held managerial positions for important ICT companies for 30 years and has decades of experience as a Regional CIO for Southern Europe first and then for the American Region for a leading company in the logistics sector.

He has been in Engineering D.HUB since 2018 with the aim of aligning the entire organization with the new value proposition based on cloud ecosystems and Digital Transformation processes. Since 2020 he has been appointed as Technical Alliances & Partnership Director.

Vittorio is also one of the authors of the "Digital Transformation" and "IoT - Internet of Things" White Papers.

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