VendorSphere: The ServiceChannel Facilities Management Platform – A Real IoT Data Analytics Curator?

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One of the most important industry verticals that the Internet Of Things (IoT) is quickly enabling is buildings. To date most of the analyst coverage has been focused on smart building and building management systems collecting sensor data on lighting, temperature monitoring, and occupancy. While IoT device, connectivity, platform, management and integration vendors have marketed their hardware and software differences, the unsung heroes of ‘Smart Buildings’ should be the Facilities Management (FM) assets that have the most influence in the true IoT ecosystem.  FM covers a lot of segments in commercial buildings – retail, restaurants, grocery/supermarkets, spas and gymnasiums, retail healthcare and many more and as such these segments create large quantities of business related data from sensors within them. Today’s FM has successfully moved from simply managing ‘boxes’ to managing smart connected facilities.

This week I attended ServiceChannel’s ServiceX19 customer event in Scottsdale, Arizona where 300 ServiceChannel customers were treated to an update on the current and future state of FM. Annually, ServiceChannel’s customers raise over 100 million work orders, across 330,000 locations, fulfilled by 50,000 contractors in 75 countries. Equally impressive is that these customers are responsible for over $37 Billion spend on keeping building clean, bathrooms working, air conditioners heating and chilling, refrigerators cooling, lights switch on and so on.

Through their Facility Management Platform, which behaves like an online market place for their customers, ServiceChannel is rapidly becoming a valuable analytics and data management software company. Work orders are an incredible source of information for every asset connected into a building that requires any level of service. Just like State Farm Insurance who ‘know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two’, ServiceChannel have seen ‘a thing or two’ such as work orders to deal with alligators and of course cars crashed into shop fronts! However, some examples of more traditional analytics use cases include the following:

  1. Predictive repairs on capital intensive equipment is being decided by the facilities manager before the original equipment manufacturer.
  2. By using ServiceChannel’s comprehensive data visualisation capability, facilities managers have the ability to identify measure the difference between spending on preventative maintenance versus post failure repair.
  3. Individual service fulfillment analysis can often show that engaging with the least expensive hourly rated contractor may not always provide the best outcomes.

Over time ServiceChannel’s data collection and analytics is enabling their customers to have visibility into their businesses that go beyond FM. ServiceChannel is enabling their customers to become more digital and creating higher value business outcomes. While IT and equipment manufacturers have tried to create digital ecosystems and attract participants into their network, they are still one step removed from the customer. This gap means that they are not truly able to help manage the customer experience within smart buildings. Rather, companies like Service Channel have access to the heterogeneous asset environments by working directly with facility managers. During the conference, I saw service records comparing the major HVAC vendors within a large retailer and immediately thought that individual HVAC vendors would be very interested to see how they stacked up against each other. The ServiceChannel connected asset analysis gives their customers the information that enables discussions based on transparency, trust and truth – which is a powerful negotiating tool.


The event showed a reality state of the IoT associated with analytics in an industry that is reinventing itself through enabled assets connected to their work flow systems. It clearly showed that the Smart Buildings industry is probably about 2 years behind the roadmap set out by the major IT research firms. Businesses are now beginning to understand what IoT is even if they do not call it by that name. Connected assets are becoming more familiar and the value from analytics is being realised to run businesses. Customer experience is now a tangible metric!

Separately, as ServiceChannel’s analytics engine matures and external data sources such a weather and environmental conditions are curated with asset management, then facility managers become more valuable to the CFO, the CIO and the customers they serve. To date equipment vendors’ attempts to build ecosystems of IoT-based partners has been met with limited success because they are still not close enough to the end customer. Original equipment vendors should make their products connected to an IoT infrastructure network as easily and as quickly as possible and then partner with companies like ServiceChannel who can curate and promote their asset data.

5 IoT Solutions Industries are Adopting

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Internet of Things (IoT) is changing how companies do business, across industries. Using connected sensors, better data processing capabilities and automation, industries are looking  to achieve workforce optimisation, improved customer experience, and cost savings in the short term. In the long-term organisations are looking for service and product innovation, as well as a competitive edge from their IoT investments.

In the global Ecosystm IoT study, participants revealed the IoT solutions that are part of their larger IoT deployment projects. Here are the top 5 solutions that industries are implementing, and how they are benefitting from them.

Top IoT Solutions Implemented


Smart Security

Smart Security is being adopted in several enterprises, especially in the Financial and Hospitality industries. Aside from improved safety, Smart Security solutions have the potential to deliver more personalised service and better customer experience (CX).

Maintaining security for the guests is one of the top concerns for hotels and smart video surveillance systems, motion detection, audio detection, and alert systems are helping hotels to identify possible threats and get early alerts on potential events.

Hotel chains Hilton and Marriott are leveraging Smart Security IoT solutions to create better travel and stay experiences for guests. They are working on creating enhanced security for their visitors by replacing card-based door keys. Simultaneously, smartphone applications connected with hotel sensors and devices are offering a seamless experience to guests with automated room settings such as  HVAC, lighting, and blinds.

The Banking industry is incorporating Smart Security as well. Banking and financial institutions attract criminals for obvious reasons and to improve security, smart CCTV surveillance, wedge barriers, laser scanner detectors, light barriers, and quick folding gates are embedded with sensors and connected to safeguard against potential attacks. IoT-enabled network security measures to provide intelligent Perimeter Security is also seeing an uptake in the industry.

However, the proliferation of ubiquitous devices also leaves organisations vulnerable to data breaches. Digital and electronic devices incorporated into a hotel’s infrastructure can be exploited by hackers or may jeopardise the security of guests. The now-famous incident of the casino in the US that was hacked into through the IoT-enabled temperature control system in the fish tank is a case in point.


Fingerprint Biometrics

While Fingerprint Biometrics is often a part of a Smart Security solution, it is being used more often for asset management, as well as access control. This is fairly common in industries where multiple people fill a particular role, such as Manufacturing, Retail, and Healthcare. In hospitals, for example, multiple clinicians work on the same patient order entry system. Using fingerprint biometrics ensures that there is full accountability for care delivery at any given point, irrespective of the clinician.

Biometrics and its application are redefining the banking experience for rural and the unbanked population – in emerging countries especially – as one of the key authentication methods. Biometrics is helping in e-KYC, often used to open a bank account, on-site cash delivery by scanning fingerprints, opening a bank’s wallet with fingerprint authentication, fingerprint-based ATM kiosks and fingerprint mobile ID all connected through the IoT Solutions.

Governments use fingerprint biometrics to accurately authenticate the identity of travelers, implement biometric voting systems for fair and credible elections, develop fingerprint-based national identification cards and create a composite individual identity. But with this advantage, there could be associated challenges of managing personal databases in a safe and secure environment.


Inventory Management

Better supply chain visibility and management is considered one of the most common benefits of IoT deployments, and has use cases in several industries, including Transport & Logistics, and Primary industries. Inventory management became a lot easier and reliable, when IoT sensors and devices can do remote stock taking and track inventory movement.

IoT will enable more holistic inventory management, as asset tracking, asset management and eventually predictive maintenance, are incorporated within the IoT system. Supply chain requirements of Manufacturing organisations can vary vastly – a discrete manufacturing supply chain will vary from a FMCG supply chain. IoT sensors have made ‘track and trace’ more reliable, and easy to customise.  eCommerce giant Amazon’s inventory management and warehousing system is a good example. To manage the large stock,  the storage facilities employ pickers (robots) to pick items from and replenish stock on shelves which in turn improves receiving, pick-up, and shipping times. The inventory is scanned through barcodes which also helps in aggregating information from other warehouses for stock maintenance.

Several Retail organisations make full use of IoT for inventory management. G-Star Raw, for example, uses garment RFID tags to track inventory movements across the supply chain and store shelves. Being able to locate clothes on the basis of style, colour and size in the stores makes the order fulfillment reliable and more real-time.


Payment Systems

Several industries other than Financial Services, such as Hospitality, Services, Healthcare and Government are evaluating IoT-enabled payment systems such as mobile points of sale and NFC payments.

On most occasions, these are being promoted by financial institutions.  As an example, MasterCard has created a Mastercard Engage platform with technology partners resulting in innovations which include contactless payments (with Coin), smart refrigerators that can re-order groceries (with Samsung) and IoT-connected key fobs (with General Motors). Capital One has made it possible for its customers to pay bills via Alexa, whereas Starling is experimenting with integration with Google Home to enable queries on payments and balances on the Google Home platform.

There are also several use cases that are not so obvious –Amazon Go offers a shopping experience where no check-out is required. Your Amazon account, wallet and phone are all inter-connected.  When a consumer arrives at a store the application allows store entry, tracks the consumer through the shopping journey and requires no formal check-out at the end of the shopping trip.

However, IoT-enabled payment systems will have to evolve as industries become increasingly services based. There needs to be a focus on the business and not just technology – defining workflows with the right alerts that will automate bill generation and the payment process, irrespective of how complicated the service delivered is.


Energy Management

Resource shortage and the ever-increasing price of energy has forced organisations to identify innovative ways of conserving energy. A Smart energy management system can help to reduce the costs and energy consumption while still meeting energy needs. IoT is helping companies to achieve their energy goals, predict maintenance needs, and increase the reliability of energy assets. Smart energy solutions continuously analyse energy data to ensure dynamic performance which in turn manages energy requirements.

Take an example of a smart building management system where date from various sensors is collected and analysed, such as from HVAC, air-quality monitors, and other equipments, and lighting, heating, air ventilation, elevators, room equipment are remotely operated according to the building energy requirements at the moment. This technology helps make smart decisions and provides energy efficiency.

Capital Tower in Singapore, a 52-storey high building, is not alone in being energy efficient. It has a number of in-built smart energy solutions for energy and water efficiency. The building has motion detectors in elevators, smart car parking system, exterior structure glasses which help reduce energy consumption, and water conservation through condensation of air conditioning units. The building has devices to monitor oxygen and carbon dioxide levels ensuring optimal air quality which results in significant energy savings while delivering comfort for tenants.


As is clear from the solutions that are being currently deployed, IoT adoption is at its nascency. As IoT deployments mature, there will be more industry-specific uses of IoT, and a shift of focus from asset management to people management (including customers).

What IoT solutions do you use/ intend to use in your organisation? Let us know in your comments section below.

VendorSphere: HPE’s Internet Of Things Strategy At The Edge Becomes Clearer

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HPE’s announcement in Madrid regarding its build out of Edge Computing services and solutions is to be expected as more of its customers and prospects look to establish comprehensive data and systems management functions at the edge of the IT network. As more data is created outside of the traditional data centre walls, IT needs to be able to provide the same level of integrity for the remote locations. HPE’s announcement of the Edgeline systems management fills that gap. However, this does signal to CIOs and lines of businesses that they will now have to continue this build out of full remote distributed IT services to include data backup, recovery, application device management, etc :- expect HPE to continue to make future announcements to meet those needs. Industrial partners such as industrial players like PTC will benefit from this announcement as it will enable their products to run in a more enterprise-class environment.

HPE’s announcement to provide an open link platform between industrial and IT connectivity protocols is again a reflection of a maturing IoT market. As businesses move from proof of concept into production, more varied input sources from differing factory floor devices could or should be connected. The open link platform is a way to encourage and speed up that connectivity.

However, our IoT study data indicates that enterprises who are adopting large scale IOT projects prefer to work with software and analytics vendors, rather than pure-play hardware vendors. Today’s announcement is a way for HPE to demonstrate to its customers and prospects that it is more than an ‘edge server’ hardware company, but that it can provide full systems management services. Its biggest competitor in this field, DELL EMC will argue that it too can provide these services across its company portfolio.

Figure: Primary Partners for Current IoT Projects

Finally: our advice to tech buyers is that those who want to build out an edge infrastructure will need to plan to support a fully integrated data and systems management environment and therefore look to a vendor who can replicate their enterprise solutions and support capabilities. This may be in contrast to their distributed cloud computing strategy which HPE have not articulated but will need to over time.