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Tech firms tap into data trends: Velrada in the news

As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes an increasingly popular topic, Velrada’s executives Rob Evans and Andrew Crampton were recently interviewed for a feature in the WA Business News based around the benefits of IoT as ‘Tech firms tap into data trends’.

When the phrase ‘internet of things’ entered the business lexicon just a few years ago, it seemed a relatively arcane concept in a rapidly developing market sector. But a couple of numbers illustrate what this concept means in practice.

There are an estimated 8.5 billion connected devices across the world, and it is widely expected that number will jump to more than 20 billion by 2020.

These devices are deployed in virtually every industry, from sensors on conveyor belts and railway lines to rubbish bins and food warmers in commercial kitchens. For ICT firms such as Velrada and Cirrus Networks, that creates a big opportunity.

“You think about what that means for data collection and the analytics you can pull from that,” Cirrus managing director Matthew Sullivan told Business News.

“That’s going to be a key focus for how we drive our business.”

Mr Sullivan has seen rapid changes over the past couple of years, making concepts like the internet of things, big data and analytics very real for many businesses.

“The technology to drive business wasn’t quite there two years ago,” he said.

“There are innovations that are driving those forward at a really aggressive pace.”

Velrada founder and chief executive Rob Evans said lower costs and improved technology made it increasingly easy to deploy intelligent sensors: “It’s very cheap and easy to do, you can put widgets on anything and everything,” he said.

That has been combined with the ability to gather vast quantities of data, and manipulate it and interrogate it. Mr Evans emphasises that these trends are being driven by business imperatives, not simply the technical opportunity.

“The engineers and managers driving those programs are much more technically savvy,” he said.

“They are a different breed of younger, more technically literate characters.”

Mr Evans is positive about the likely benefits of these trends.

“I can see this is going to have a transformational impact,” he said.

“There is a lot of hype, but there is also a lot of real opportunity.”

Mr Evans observed that operational technologies had utilised sensing for years, for instance condition monitoring of conveyors and process plants.
“They’ve often struggled to do anything with it, and there has usually been a lack of confidence in the data,” he said.

“We’re talking about something similar but applying that technology to devices that have never been monitored like this.”

Another driver was the increased use of ‘field service’ systems – home-visit nurses or maintenance technicians who use mobile devices to schedule and manage their services.
“We can then harvest the data and build a better understanding of those processes and service delivery and service metrics,” Mr Evans said.

“But without the field system in place, the rest of it isn’t possible.”

He said these examples illustrated the breaking down of barriers between operational and IT staff in many organisations, with most clients developing their analytics capacity as they deployed sensors: “There is a shift to doing it incrementally with more agility and more immediate results.” This was changing Velrada’s business, with less traditional consulting and more joint development in tandem with the client.

“The era of the big IT project is over, though there are still a few people perpetuating the myth,” Mr Evans said.

“Our approach is driven by the consumer experience that a lot of executives have; they get an upgrade now and they expect it will work.”

He said one of the keys was the speed of reporting, to get insights into production efficiency and intercept issues before they had systemic effects; “The speed at which the data is made available and visualised is key to the ability to make proactive changes.”

Velrada executive director Andrew Crampton said a key factor was the responsiveness of organisations gathering more data. “These devices just give you more information,” he said.

“If the organisation isn’t mature enough or doesn’t have the right competence or decision points, it’s a wasted effort.

“You need to combine it with the ability of the organisation to use what you learn from the field, or using analytics to give someone a prompt to take action.”

Mr Evans said the increased use of networked devices raised serious security issues.

“These things are essentially miniaturised PCs, sitting on a network that’s connected with a bunch of other things and presents a very easy means to get into the corporate systems, which are all connected,” he said.

You can read the full article here.

© WA Business News 2017

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