bpmNEXT 2015 Day 1 Demos: SAP, W4 and Whitestein

The demo program kicked off in the afternoon, with time for three of them sandwiched between two afternoon keynotes. Demos are strictly limited to 30 minutes, with a 5-minute, 20-slide, auto-advancing Ignite-style presentation (which I am credited with suggesting after some of last year’s slideware dragged on), followed by a 15-minute demo and 10 minutes for Q&A and changeover to the next speaker.

SAP: BPM and the Internet of Everything

Harsh Jegadeesan and Benjamin Notheis were in the unenviable first position, given the new presentation format; they gave an introduction to the internet of everything, referring to things, people, places and content. Events are at the core of many BPM systems that sense and respond to events; patterns of events are detected, and managed with rules and workflow. They introduced Smart Process Services on HANA Cloud Platform, including an app marketplace, and looked at a case study of pipeline incident management, where equipment sensor events will trigger maintenance processes: a machine-to-process scenario. The demo showed a dashboard for pipeline management, with a geographic view of a pipeline overlaid with pump locations and details, and highlighting abnormal readings and predicted failures. This is combined with cost data, including the cost of various risk scenarios such as a pipeline break or pump failure. The operator can drill down into abnormal readings for a pump, see predicted failure and maintenance records, then trigger an equipment repair or replacement. The incident case can be tracked, and tasks assigned and escalated. Aggregates for incident cases shows the number of critical cases or those approaching deadlines, and can be used to cluster the incidents to detect contributing factors. Nice demo; an expansion of the operational intelligence dashboards that I’ve seen from SAP previously, with good integration of predictions. Definitely a two-person demo with the inclusion of a tablet, a laptop and a wearable device. They finished with a developer view of the process-related services available on the HANA cloud portal plus the standard Eclipse environment for assembling services using BPMN. This does not have their BPM engine (the former Netweaver engine) behind it: the workflow microservices compile to Javascript and run in an in-memory cloud workflow engine. However, they see that some of the concepts from the more agile development that they are doing on the cloud platform could make their way back to the enterprise BPM product.

W4: Events, IOT, and Intelligent Business Operations

Continuing on the IoT theme, Francois Bonnet talked about making business operations more intelligent by binding physical device events together with people and business events in a BPMS. His example was for fall management — usually for the elderly — where a device event triggers a business process in a call center; the device events can be integrated into BPMN models using standard event constructs. He demonstrated with a sensor made from a Raspberry Pi tied to positional sensors that detect orientation; by tipping over the sensor, a process instance was created that triggered a call to the subscriber, using GPS data to indicate the location on a map. If the call operator indicated that the subscriber did not answer, they would be prompted to call a neighbour, and then emergency services. KPIs such as falls within a specified period are tracked, and a history of the events for the subscriber’s device. The sensor being out of range or having no movement over a period of time can also trigger a new task instance, while reorienting the sensor to the upright orientation within a few seconds after a fall was detected can cancel the process. Looking at the BPMN for managing events from the sensor, they are using the event objects in standard BPMN to their fullest extent, including both in-line and boundary events, with the device events translating to BPMN signal events. Great example of responsive event handling using BPMN.

Whitestein: Demonstrating Measurable Intelligence in an Enterprise Process Platform

The last demo of the day was Dan Neason of Whitestein also was in the theme of events, but more focused on intelligent agents and measurable intelligence in processes. Their LSPS solution models and executes goal-driven processes, where the system uses previous events to evolve its methods for reaching the goals, predicting outcomes, and recommending alternatives. The scenario used was a mortgage application campaign, where information about applicants is gathered and the success of the campaign determined by the number of completed mortgages; potential fraud cases are detected and recommended actions presented to a user to handle the case. Feedback from the user, in the form of accepting or rejecting recommendations, is used to tune the predictions. In addition to showing standard dashboards of events that have occurred, it can also give a dashboard view of predictions such as how many mortgage applications are expected to fail, including those that may be able to be resolved favorably through some recommended actions. The system is self-learning based on statistical models and domain knowledge, so can detect predefined patterns or completely emergent patterns; it can be applied to provide predictive analytics and goal-seeking behavior across multiple systems, including other BPMS.

Wrapping up this set of demos on intelligent, event-driven processes, we had a keynote from Jim Sinur (formerly of Gartner, now an independent consultant) on goal-directed processes. He covered concepts of hybrid processes, made up of multiple heterogeneous systems and processes that may exhibit both orchestration and collaboration to solve business problems.

Great first set of demos, definitely setting the bar high for tomorrow’s full day of 11 demos, and a good first day. We’re all off to the roof deck for a reception, wine tasting and dinner, so that’s it for blogging for today.

Canary roof deck

By the way, I realize that we completely forgot to create bpmNEXT bingo cards, although it did take until after 4pm for “ontology” to come up.

Software AG Analyst Day: The Enterprise Gets Digital

After the DST Advance conference in Phoenix two weeks ago, I headed north for a few days vacation at the Grand Canyon. Yes, there was snow, but it was lovely:

Grand Canyon

Back at work, I spent a day last week in Boston for the first-ever North American Software AG analyst event, attended by a collection of industry and financial analysts. It was a long-ish half day followed by lunch and opportunities for one-on-one meetings with executives: worth the short trip, especially considering that I managed to fly in and out between the snow storms that have been plaguing Boston this year. I didn’t live-blog this since there was a lot of material spread over the day, so had a chance to see some of the other analysts’ coverage published after the event, such as this summary from Peter Krensky of Aberdeen Group.

The focus of the event was squarely on the digital enterprise, a trend that I’m seeing at many other vendors but not so many customers yet. Software AG’s CEO, Karl-Heinz Streibich kicked off the day talking about how everywhere you turn, you hear about the digital enterprise: not just using digital technology, but having enough real-time data and devices integrated into our work and lives that they can be said to be truly digital. Streibich feels that companies with a basis in integration middleware – like Software AG with webMethods and other products – are in a good position to enable digital enterprises by integrating data, devices and systems of all types.

Although Software AG is not a household consumer name, its software is in 70% of the Fortune 1000, with a community of over 2M developers; it’s fair to say that you will likely interact with a company that uses Software AG products at least once per day: banks, airports and airlines, manufacturing, telecommunications, energy and more. Their revenues are split fairly evenly between Europe and the Americas, with a small amount in Asia Pacific. License revenues are 32% of the total, with maintenance and consulting splitting the remainder; this relatively low proportion of license revenue is an indicator of a mature software company, and not unexpected from a company more than 40 years old. I found a different representation of their revenues more interesting: they had 66% of their business in the “digital business” segment in 2014, expected to climb to 75% this year, which includes their portfolio minus the legacy ADABAS/NATURAL mainframe development tools. Impressive, considering that it was about a 50:50 split in 2010. 2015-03-04 Boston Analyst Day WJ-WEB.pdf - Adobe Reader 07032015 103114 PM.bmpPart of this increase is likely due to their several acquisitions over that period, but also because they are repositioning their portfolio as the Digital Business Platform, a necessary shift towards the systems of engagement where more of the customer spend is happening. Based on the marketecture diagram, this platform forms a cut-out layer between back office core operational systems and front office customer engagement systems. Middleware, by any other name; but according to Streibich, more business logic is moving to the middleware layer, although this is what middleware vendors have been telling us for decades.

There’s definitely a lot of capable products in the portfolio that form this “development platform for digital business” – webMethods (integration and BPM), ARIS (BPA), Terracotta (in memory big data), Longjump (application PaaS), Metaquark (mobility), Alfabet, Apama, JackBe and more – but the key will be to see how well they can make them all work together to be a true platform rather than just a collection of Software AG-branded tools.

We had an in-depth presentation on their Digital Business Platform from Wolfram Jost, Software AG’s CTO; you can read the long version on their site, so I’ll just hit the high points. He started with some industry quotes, such as “every company will become a software company”, and one analyst firm’s laughable brainstorm for 2014, “Big Change”, but moved on to define digital business as having the following characteristics:

  • Blurring the digital and physical world
  • More influence of customers (on business direction as well as external perceptions)
  • Combining people, business and physical things
  • Agility, speed, scale, responsiveness
  • “Supermaneuverable” business processes
  • Disrupting existing business models

The problem with this shift in business models is that conventional business applications don’t support the way that the new breed of business applications are designed, developed, used and operated. Current applications and development techniques are still valuable, but are being pushed behind the scenes as core operational systems and packaged applications.

Software AG’s Digital Business Platform, then, is based on the premise that few packaged applications are useful in the face of business transformation and the required agility. We need tools to create adaptive applications – built to change, not to last – especially in front office customer engagement applications, replacing or augmenting packaged CRM and other applications. This is not fundamentally different from the message about any agile/adaptive/mashup/model-driven application development environment over the past few years, including BPMS; it’s interesting to see how a large vendor such as Software AG positions their entire portfolio around that message. In fact, one of their slides refers to the adaptive application platform as iBPMS, since the definition of iBPMS has expanded to include everything related to model-driven application development.

2015-03-04 Boston Analyst Day WJ-WEB.pdf - Adobe Reader 07032015 103731 PM.bmpThe core capabilities of their platform include intelligent business operations (webMethods Operational Intelligence, Apama Streaming Analytics); agile processes (webMethods BPM and AgileApps); integration (webMethods Integration and API Management); in-memory data fabric (Terracotta); and business and IT transformation (ARIS BPA and GRC, Alfabet IT Portfolio Management and EA Management). In a detailed slide overlaying their products, they also added a transaction processing capability to allow the inclusion of ADABAS-NATURAL, as well as the cloud offerings that they’ve released over the past year.

Jost dug further in to definitions of business application layers and architectural requirements. They provide the structure and linkages for event routing and event persistence frameworks, using relatively loose event-based coupling between their own products to allow them to be deployed selectively, but also (I imagine) to reduce the amount of refactoring of the products that would be required for tighter coupling. Their cloud IoT offering plays an interesting role by ingesting events from smart devices – developed via co-innovation with device companies such as Bosch and Siemens – for integration with on-premise business applications.

We then heard two shorter presentations, each followed by a panel. First was Eric Duffaut, the Chief Customer Officer, presenting their go-to-market strategy then moderating a panel with two partners, Audi Lucas of Wipro and Chris Brinton of Mosaic Data Science. Their GTM plan was fairly standard for a large enterprise software vendor, although they are improving effectiveness by having a single marketing team across all products as well as improving the sales productivity processes. Their partners are critical for scalability in this plan, and provide the necessary industry experience and solutions; both of the partner panelists talked about co-innovation with Software AG, rather than just providing resources trained on the products.

The second presentation and panel was led by John Bates, CMO and head of industry solutions; he was joined by a customer panel including Bryan Zigler of Boeing, Mark DuBrock of Standard&Poor, and Greg James of Outerwall. Bates discussed the role of industry solutions and solution accelerators, built by Software AG and/or partners, that provide a pre-built, customizable and adaptive application for fast deployment. They’re not using the Smart Process Application terminology that other vendors adopted from the Forrester trend from a couple of years ago, but it’s a very similar concept, and Bates announced the solution marketplace that they are launching to allow these to be easily discovered and purchased by customers.

My issue with solution accelerators and industry solutions in general is that many of these solutions are tied to a specific version of the underlying technology, and are templates rather than frameworks in that you change the solution itself during implementation: upgrades to platform may not be easily performed, and upgrades to the actual solution likely requires re-customizing for each deployed instance. I didn’t get a chance to ask Bates how SAG helps partners and customers to create and deploy more upgradable solutions, e.g., recommended technology guardrails; this is a sticky problem that every technology vendor needs to deal with.

AVPageView 07032015 111148 PM.bmpBates also discussed the patterns of digital disruption that can be seen in the marketplace, and how these are manifesting in three specific areas that they can help to address with their Digital Business Platform:

  • Connected customers, providing opportunities for location-based marketing and offers, automated concierge service, customer location tracking, demographic marketing
  • Internet of Things/Machine-to-Machine (IoT/M2M), with real-time monitoring and diagnostics, and predictive maintenance
  • Proactive risk and compliance, including proactive financial trade surveillance for unusual/rogue behavior

After a wrapup by Streibich, we received copies of his latest book, The Digital Enterprise, plus Thingalytics by Bates; ironically, these were paper rather than digital copies. Winking smile

Disclosure: Software AG paid my airfare and hotel to attend this event, plus gave me a nice lunch and two books, but did not otherwise compensate me for my time nor for anything that I have written here.

This week, I’m in Las Vegas for Kofax Transform, although just as an attendee this year rather than a speaker; expect to see a few notes from here over the two days of the conference.

PegaWORLD Breakout: The Process Of Everything

Setrag Khoshafian and Bruce Williams of Pega led a breakout session discussing the crossover between the internet of things (IoT) — also known as the internet of everything (IoE) or the industrial internet — and BPM as we know it. The “things” in IoT can be any physical device, from the FitBit on my wrist to my RFID-enabled conference badge to the plane that flew me here, none of which you would think of primarily as a computing device. If you check out my coverage of the Bosch Connected World conference from earlier this year, there’s a lot being done in this area, and these devices are becoming full participants in our business processes. Connected devices are now pervasive in several sectors, from consumer to manufacturing to logistics, with many of the interactions being between machines, not between people and machines, enabled by automation of processes and decisions over standard communication networks. There’s an explosion of products and players, and also an explosion of interest, putting us in the middle of the tipping point for IoT. There are still a number of challenges here, such as standardization of platforms and protocols: I expect to see massive adoption of dead-end technologies, but hopefully they’re so inexpensive that changing out to standardized platforms won’t be too painful in a couple of years.

Getting everything instrumented is the first step, but devices on their own don’t have a lot of value; as Khoshafian pointed out, we need to turn the internet of things into the process of everything. A sea of events needs to feed into a sense/respond engine that drives towards outcomes, whether a simple status outcome, a repair request, or automation and control. BPM, or at least the broad definition of intelligent BPM that includes decisions and analytics, is the perfect match for that sense and respond capability. There are widespread IoT applications for energy saving through smart homes and offices regulating and adjusting their energy consumption based on demand and environmental conditions; in my house, we have a Nest smoke/CO detector and some WeMo smart metered electrical outlets, both of which can be monitored and controlled remotely (which is what happens when a systems engineer and a controls engineer get together). I’ve seen a number of interesting applications in healthcare recently as well; Williams described nanobots being used in surgery and Google Glass used by healthcare workers, as well as many personal health sensors available for everyday home use. Cool stuff, although many people will be freaked out by the level of monitoring and surveillance that is now possible from many devices in your home, office and public environments.

This was more of a visionary session than any practicalities of using Pega products for addressing IoT applications, although we did hear a bit about the technological ramifications in terms of authentication, integration, open standards, and managing and detecting patterns in the sheer volume of device data. Definitely some technical challenges ahead.

We’re headed off to lunch and the technology pavilion, but first I’m going to use the WeMo app on my phone to turn on the desk lamp in my home office so that my cat can snooze under it for the afternoon: the small scale practical application of IoT.

PegaWORLD Gets Big

My attendance at PegaWORLD has been spotty the past few years because of conflicts with other conferences during June, so it was a bit of a surprise to show up in DC this week to a crowd of more than 3,000 attendees — definitely now the biggest BPM conference around. The opening keynote started with Alan Trefler (Pega’s founder and CEO) talking about change, and how organizations need to become digital enterprises with the power to engage, the power to simplify and the power to change. Interestingly, SAP used the same “simplicity” message at SAPPHIRE last week: typically, this translates to a combination of hiding complexity from the business (which is not really simplification, just better window dressing) and platform rationalization (which is actually technological simplification).

As Trefler described it, Pega sees three major contributors to becoming digital enterprises: case lifecycle management as an alternative to a pure process view for the complexity of real-world business operations; next best action to predict what a customer might do based on their engagement history; and omni channel to provide a consistent customer experience on multiple channels simultaneously in an integrated fashion. These three capabilities provide a digital context based on a unified architecture, bridging (internal) work and (external) customer.

Pega has reached a size now — 3,000 employees and over a half billion in revenue — where they are fueling some of their growth through acquisitions; this is likely to challenge their ability to avoid a “Frankenstack” of technologies weirdly bolted together. They’re hitting all the buzzwords: social, mobile, analytics, cloud and internet of things, with a story of how they’re addressing each. Incidentally, I found it interesting that they still have less than 100 cloud-based production customers, although many times more are using it for development and test systems; that’s going to have to step up if they’re going to really engage with increasingly diverse organizations.

Anette Bronder from Vodaphone’s enterprise delivery group took the stage to talk about their ongoing business transformation program: working to achieve simplification, standardization, digitization and globalization. They are improving their enterprise operations and infrastructure, with the goal of a set of standard products that can be delivered across all segments. Enterprise customers, making up almost 30% of their business, include big names including Amazon and Bosch; these include the communications required for logistics, manufacturing, fulfillment, the internet of things and much more, with the ultimate goal of putting a SIM card in pretty much everything. Transformation of their enterprise delivery processes is based on several factors: sourcing the right people both internally and externally; standardized processes with a common methodology leveraging best practices; governance with a single operating and delivery model across all markets with a consistent set of metrics; and common technology for order management, project management and product catalog. They are moving from manual to automated operations, and from local siloed approaches to globally standardized products and processes. They want to improve customer engagement through a case management approach, where all customer information is available for decision-making and pro-active problem resolution, while improving operational efficiency and business agility. Pega is one of their technology partners, but obviously there’s a lot more involved here, including significant change management. They’re two years into their journey; it will be interesting to see this again in a year or two when they’re starting to see some real results.

Bosch ConnectedWorld: Smart Cities, Smart Homes

We’re on to the afternoon breakout sessions at the second (last) day of Bosch ConnectedWorld, starting with the smart city initiatives in Monaco. Their goal is to improve the quality of life for citizens and visitors in this city-state that has both the highest population density and the highest per capita income; this is being addressed through capturing and combining data from a number of different connected components, and integrating with higher-level rules and processes. This manifests in a number of different areas, from energy to transportation to waste management. There were not a lot of specifics, but they appear to be fairly early in the process so haven’t designed, much less deployed, much yet; they are starting with an initiative to add smart sensors wherever possible to enable future smart city capabilities.

We moved from smart cities to smart homes with Bernhard Dörstel from Busch-Jaeger Elektro (a division of ABB), discussing trends in smart homes and shift from home automation as an oddity to mass market. For non-residential buildings, the KNX standard provides guidelines for automated devices, but that standard hasn’t been fully adopted for home automation, which has different concerns and functions than non-residential. That inhibits broad acceptance of these systems, so that they remain “toys” for the financially well-off rather than a part of every home. One trend that is likely to change this adoption is the demographic shift to an older population: selling the (now) middle-aged consumer on the security and control benefits of home automation while they are in their prime earning years and living in a home that they own. Although not explicitly stated, those consumers are also positioned to take greater advantage of smart home technology as they grow older, since it can be used to help them to live independently in their own homes for a longer period of time.

We have a break now, then a short panel discussion and closing remarks, so this is likely the last post from Bosch ConnectedWorld. It was great to have the chance to attend and see how BPM and rules are being used within the context of the internet of things.

Smart Energy At Bosch ConnectedWorld

I was a bit late to the start of the breakout track focused on smart energy solutions, and missed some of the presentation by Cordelia Thielitz of Bosch Energy Storage Solutions group, but I was able to see some of the her case studies for renewable energy usage, such as the use of PV (photovoltaic) combined with scheduling to allow the PV to be used during times of peak prices, reverting to the grid when the cost is lower. Although I think that it is less common in Europe, time-of-use pricing is very common in North America; in Toronto, where I live, the off-peak electricity price for households is only 55% of the peak price, so timing the use of locally-generated energy to avoid the peak can result in a significant cost savings.

The second speaker in this track was Thomas Schäfer of Stromnetz Berlin, which operates the power grid and electricity delivery networks for the city. They are adding technology to improve the performance of the energy grid, starting with adding online measurement of network stations and allowing remote control of these stations, which enables faster switchover in times of power outages so that customers spend less time in the dark. The new technologies also can reduce latency of new connections and service changes, as well as reduce costs, allowing them to remain competitive in a deregulated energy market.

The final speaker in the energy track was Roberto Greening of Bosch SI, showcasing their Virtual Power Plant (VPP) vision that will allow for the monitoring and control of distributed energy providers. Traditionally, the energy grid was made up of a small number of large power plants (fossil fuel/nuclear) that generate an expected amount of electricity onto a common transport and delivery infrastructure. As new plants come online — including sources such as wind power that can be highly variable — the grid needs to get smarter in order to completely understand generation, traffic and consumption. In fact, in Germany, wind and PV sources don’t feed into the high tension transport grid, they feed directly into the distribution network, so the location of the monitoring and measurement needs to change as well. In the last couple of years, things have changed even more: wind and solar increased significantly, nuclear power stations were taking offline, consumers produced their own energy back to the grid, and electricity needed to flow from the distribution network back up to the high tension network for long-range transport. What’s needed is intelligent energy management across this complex, heterogenous network of plants, networks and consumers

Bosch SI ConnectedWorld Day 2 Keynotes

Day 2 of Bosch SI’s ConnectedWorld conference in Berlin started with a keynote by Dr. Volkmar Denner, Chairman of Robert Bosch (the parent company of Bosch SI and many other subsidiaries).  He had a strong message about Bosch’s commitment to continue expanding their repertoire of IP-connected devices. As a major manufacturer of sensors and other enablers for smart technology in automotive, industrial and home applications, they have had to build a lot of the infrastructure required for created smart devices and systems, including the software stack of BPM and BRM, interfaced with device management. As with most new technologies, however, it’s more than just the technology: it’s about new business models that take advantage of that technology, and solutions created to serve those business models. Consider car-sharing, a business model enabled by on-vehicle connectivity technology: although the technology is relatively straightforward, the business model is completely disruptive to the rental car market as well as car sales and leasing. Denner spoke about a number of other emerging technologies and how they are enabling further disruption in the transportation/mobility market by considering multi-modal solutions, including electric bikes and cars that require models for shared charging stations.

Bosch is doing some impressive things on their own in the IoT area, and is pushing it forward even further by partnering with ABB, Cisco and LG to develop open standards for smart home solutions. This will eventually need to address issues of data privacy and security; this has been a hot topic of discussion here since the BMW speaker yesterday stated that they own the data generated by the BMW that you bought.

We also heard from Michael Ganser of Cisco in the morning keynote; his talk was a fascinating look at some of the trends in the “internet of everything” in a hyperconnected world, and drivers for embracing that. There’s a lot of paranoia around having everything in your environment connected and monitoring, but a lot of potential benefits as well: he mentioned that 30% (or more) of traffic in some urban centers is just people looking for parking; smart parking solutions could radically reduce that by matching people with parking spots.

Looking forward to today’s sessions on smart energy grids and smart homes.

Bosch SI ConnectedWorld: Software for IoT

Following the Bosch ConnectedWorld Day 1 keynotes, we broke out to two streams of sessions: business and technology. I’m at the technology track, where we heard from Jim Morrish of Machina Research on the market evolution from M2M to IoT. He had some great examples of how the early telematics/SCADA market evolved to M2M, and is now becoming the more complex and connected IoT market that includes far more than just industrial machines and applications: corporate IT systems, published data feeds, crowdsourced and social media data, and more. Instead of end-to-end connections between hundreds or thousands of like devices, solutions now need to include millions of heterogenous devices and data sources. These changing requirements ripple through the entire software stack: from communications infrastructure and device management to the applications development and operational environments. Being able to communicate, support devices and manage the data flow are the base functionality required, whereas the application development tools are where we’re seeing the competitive differentiators between solutions. In M2M, it was all about the devices and connectivity; in IoT, those are assumed to be offered as a standard platform, and the application developer is key to to creating flexible device-agnostic applications and providing deep integration to business processes.

The remainder of the track was led by the Bosch methodology and solution architecture team — Dr. Frank Puhlmann, Veronika Brandt and Steffen Gürtler — showing us the Bosch software suite for IoT and how the components within it are assembled into a solution. Puhlmann started out by defining the platform, which includes M2M, BPM and BRM; he stressed that a key differentiator for them is being able to have a tight integration between devices and business processes. He used the example of ACME Cleaners (cue Coyote and Roadrunner), an office cleaning company that has a fleet of robot cleaners. And yes, we had a robot cleaner in the presentation room. It’s a commodity cleaner (iRobot), but integrated with a variety of other devices and processes: motion detectors and scheduling software to determine when to run, but also linked to the customer service information such as contracts. He highlighted some of their partners’ hardware involved in the test solution, including a Cisco router and Vodafone SIM M2M, plus their own motion sensors. He also showed a smartphone app that can turn the cleaner on and off, return it to its dock, and even play sounds. He demonstrated a portal that they created, allowing ACME to monitor status and to control devices remotely, but also to process related contracts and invoices. We also saw the Vodaphone portal that can be used to monitor and control the SIM card connections for each device at a more technical level. The entire stack supporting this includes a UI integrator and forms engine connecting to BPM, BRM and M2M management, and including identity management for security. The development environment is model-based, including BPMN for process models, and tightly integrated with the device management.

Brandt and Gürtler then gave a deeper technical look at the ACME Cleaners scenario implementation. In general, the M2M layer interacts with the device events, capturing information that will be used by the higher-level layers, such as area covered by any individual robot cleaner, which may impact billing amounts. The BPM and BRM layers handle customer and device registration, and invoicing according to the billing rules.

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The M2M architecture has a central registry of devices that includes information such as the properties of each device, a standardized container for accessing devices, event subscription and processing, and REST APIs. Pretty much any device with an IP address can be integrated into their architecture fairly easily, even more so it if has a REST API already; the ability to control any device will be specific to what functionality that the device exposes. The BPM suite provides a model-driven environment for creating process models, while Visual Rules provides decision tables and trees for modeling rules and decisions. Bringing these together allows for both process-to-device flows — controlling the device schedule, for example — and device-to-process such as sending maintenance requests, with a common identity management layer to control security and access.

Apologies for the graphics quality: the presentation slides aren’t available yet so I’m making do with some bad shots of the projected screen using my phone, and inserting using WordPress for Android which I apparently haven’t completely figured out.

Getting Connected With Bosch

I’m at Bosch Software Innovations (Bosch SI) first ConnectedWorld conference on a bit of a whim: their analyst relations included me on the standard mailer, and I responded that I could attend if they covered my travel expenses. They agreed, and here I am in Berlin — consider that also my disclaimer that Bosch has paid for my travel expenses but not for my time, so anything that I blog here is my own opinion.

The conference opened with a keynote from Dr. Rainer Kallenbach, CEO of Bosch SI. Bosch SI is the software division of Bosch that includes their internet of things (IoT) initiatives, and there’s a lot of IoT on the menu at the keynote as well as the sessions to follow. I’m a big proponent of smart devices of all sorts: beyond my smartphone, we’re playing around at home with a smart electrical switch (I confess, it currently controls the light over the cat’s daytime napping spot, but we’re considering other uses) and a smart smoke/CO alarm; I frequently use car-sharing services that have sufficient in-car connectivity to consider them as smart devices, since they track location, rental status and fuel levels. Kallenbach discussed many other home applications, including smart medication trackers to tell if someone has taken their meds and provide a reminder otherwise, smart vehicles, running shoes that monitor your runs, home security systems and more; plus smart city initiatives to improve traffic, energy, and quality of life. There are also a host of industrial and enterprise applications, such as smart machinery that sends messages to maintenance when it requires service, and smart fleet vehicles that optimize delivery routes.

Bosch SI is a fairly young division of Bosch, and created through the acquisition of a few technology players for BPM and BRM, such as the inubit acquisition just over a year ago and Visual Rules in 2008, and the development of M2M (machine-to-machine) and other related products. Questions for Kallenbach included security of internet-connected devices: there have been a few stories recently about the poor security in home-based connected devices (including in a report, however apocryphal, about a refrigerator sending spam email); the answer was pretty high level but this is obviously an area that will require close scrutiny as more devices become connected.

The second keynote was from Elmer Frickenstein, head of development of electronics at BMW, discussing IoT in the automotive industry. He started by discussing the general trend of IoT, which is to connect everything, and how Google’s recent acquisition of Nest indicates their plans to incorporate smart devices in ways that we probably can’t yet imagine. The data volume projections behind the explosion in IoT over the next five years are shockingly large, with the need for related infrastructure such as additional satellites to transmit the data. His main focus, however, was on BMW’s ConnectedDrive as the natural progression from early functionality such as in-car emergency call systems, to full communications and control systems in a vehicle. One key point is that the new BMWs now have their own SIM card to connect to the internet, hence their own IP address, providing a transport structure for them to connect for remote monitoring, but also to provide functionality such as mobile wifi hotspots for vehicle occupants. This also means that updates can be pushed to the vehicle directly, and there is an application marketplace for apps for your car: that is, the app runs on your car directly, not on your smartphone connected to your car. Think about apps that find and book parking spots for rent, or enable car-sharing, plus navigation systems with real-time traffic and weather monitoring. In the future, fully automated driving so that your car can drop you off at a meeting, then park itself? Since these apps are so closely connected with the car’s operation, the app marketplace is completely controlled and populated by BMW.

There’s a double-edged sword in all of this in-car technology: it can provide a much better driving experience as well as remote maintenance-related monitoring, but adds complexity and potential for complex system failures and security breaches. In fact, Frickenstein stated that BMW considers the data that they collect from vehicles belongs to BMW — presumably to use for vehicle health monitoring — and they consider that they have the right to sell that data to third parties. That’s going to be an extremely controversial point moving forward, especially in other countries; it’s only a short distance down that slippery slope for BMW to allow law enforcement agencies to remotely control your car, and not obvious that you have a way to opt out of this. As much as your insurance company and local police (not to mention the NSA) will love this sort of direct access to your every movement, I can imagine that a lot of people will be reluctant to risk exposing that much information and control of their vehicle to outside parties. I don’t own a car so don’t have to make that decision, but you can be sure that I will have fun with one of these new BMWs and their apps if I have the chance to drive one on loan.