Although the Internet of Things (IoT) is proving to be a product design megatrend, still, very few manufacturers have invested in the technology necessary to leverage these designs. This is perhaps not surprising when you consider that the speed of disruption is bewildering, even back-breaking. Back in 2014, Gartner claimed that well over 50% of new IoT product launches ended in failure, making any new IoT project difficult and a risky proposition, not just for investors but also for electronics manufacturers whom must justify any investment in IoT technology. The case for adopting IoT tech is more easily made for manufacturers with a successful portfolio of products, especially in competitive market environments and in industries with big-ticket items such as cars and medical devices (IoT-MD). This is especially true now that the cost of IoT hardware components has fallen dramatically over the last few years.
Market Forces Are Defining Growth in IoT
High competition breeds innovation and the logical path to provide better value for the customer is via better features that engage the consumer. Increasingly new features means embedding electronics, and IoT connectivity with features supplied by software that can be updated wirelessly with OTA updates. This poses many problems for those manufacturers that tend to rely on Product Lifecycle Management platforms (PLM Software) for product development, regardless of whether it is based internally or remotely in the cloud. These problems can be most simply explained by saying that PLM software is not designed for software development.
Applying IoT Technologies Requires ALM + PLM Integration
Software development complexity far surpasses that which PLM software can handle alone, in part because it not designed for more than infrequent changes to product design nor the potentially millions of artifacts associated with the constant change of software development. This is a key reason why ALM software arose, to meet the requirements of the application lifecycle management and the constantly changing product requirements associated with it. As electronics manufacturers become increasingly reliant upon software for adding new features it stands to reason that ALM software takes over the management of complexity in terms of not only the software side of things but also the hardware development that typically falls under the PLM environment. This can be achieved by integrating PLM with ALM with advanced integration features found in advanced ALM software such as our own codeBeamer ALM. The Application Programming Interface (API) within codeBeamer ALM provides extensive integration opportunities and where none exist, Business Process Management (BPM or BPMS) provides the ability to add triggers based on automated notifications from PLM software. Any event triggering a notification in PLM would be picked up by codeBeamer ALM, triggering an event for developers to take action upon. However its not just about complexity.
Integrating Operations with Development (DevOps)
The concept of DevOps arose out of the Agile Development movement; its purpose is to break down silos of data between the two sides improving communication and in order to stream important information directly back to the development teams. In the past, the first point of contact would be the operations teams where information such as customer feedback or bug reports would be addressed and eventually it would filter through to the development team. With DevOps, utilizing the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), codeBeamer ALM and its service desk functionality this data can be filtered and submitted more efficiently with live progress updates, allowing bugs to be fixed quickly even before most customers realize there is even a problem.
Of course, the greatest value of all is provided by the integrated, holistic nature of codeBeamer ALM, utilizing a single repository it can provide complete traceability and transparency throughout the product development (vital for the development of products where safety is critical). Its value is difficult to quantify, – the prevention of problems before they occur. The only way to compare is an independent before and after use comparison. Simplicity is the secret to the success of codeBeamer ALM where most ALM Software solutions are based on a many vendor approach relying on a mixture of externally maintained plugins to provide full functionality that codeBeamer ALM provides alone (with several key partners). Note that every additional external plugin is another point cost, a point of potential failure and an additional point of contact for support.
The Business Benefit of IoT
One of the greatest benefits of IoT for business is real-time data collected from IoT sensors over time, accumulated to the point of what is now often referred to as Big Data. Its value is unlocked by Data Scientists and Data Analysts who are fundamentally computer scientists and programmers. Their requirements include access to all repositories of data across the organization so that they may compare one data set to others where they may feel value might exist. Therefore the very point of innovation is where the data scientists collaborate with in-house development teams on all projects enterprise-wide as they take insights gained through the work of the Data Scientist, building internal applications to leverage insights gained and building the next generation of product. ALM software is primarily a software development collaboration tool, and a value generator and as such is the heart of any organization — the backbone of any business private or hybrid cloud. codeBeamer ALM is browser based and can be installed internally behind company firewalls.