Had an interesting client conversation the other day about device managed inventory (DMI), an IoT-enabled variation of widely-adopted vendor managed inventory (VMI). Where VMI uses inventory status levels from traditional sources (e.g., retail store shelves and manufacturing inventory bins) DMI uses inventory status levels from IoT-enhanced things (e.g., vending machines or manufacturing equipment). Both are forms of auto replenishment.
VMI is great example of pervasive integration (see Massimo Pezzini’s new research on that) which combines shared VMI functionality (e.g., from E2open, Exostar or Datalliance), internal trading partner applications (e.g., order management), mobile applications (e.g., for order tracking, exception management) and cloud computing (e.g., SaaS). In Gartner parlance we’d say that pervasive integration is a a mix of internal, trading partner, cloud service and mobile App integration – or A2A, B2B, CSI and MAI integration for short (because TLA’s are so much fun). IoT expands IT complexity into a mix of A2A, B2B, CSI, MAI and IoT.
There’s a big potential for IoT to impact auto-replenishment — and product maker business models. For example, I have two Wirlpool air filters at home (no endorsement, per se, but they do provide some allergy relief to my family). I manually operate the filters (e.g., adjusting air flow based on need) and re-order the HEPA and charcoal filters. Smarter filters (e.g., Coway) operate themselves based on air quality, and even smarter ones (e.g., Xiaomi) link to mobile Apps for monitoring, control and convenient filter re-ordering. Likely future IoT-enhanced filters will auto-replenish filters (think: directly integrated Amazon Dash). Perhaps soon air filter makers will partner with home builders to offer free (or highly subsidized) air filtration as an integrated add-on for home air conditioning, and we will pay them a monthly fee for auto replenishment of filters and periodic maintenance to support guaranteed levels of air quality.
All this illustrates the potential impact of IoT on IT complexity in general and integration in particular. Air filter IoT endpoints generate IoT time-series data that that are integrated with an IoT platform to produce air filter “device management indicators” which are used to trigger traditional back-end systems and mobile Apps to keep me notified and to auto-replenish air filters and maintenance services, perhaps fulfilled by external business partners. Imagine all that extraordinary IT complexity – a seamless choreography of A2A, B2B, CSI, MAI and IoT integration – just to clear my family’s sinus passages. I mean, who knew?
We’ve initiated a new line of research on IoT Integration to explore the impact of IoT on integration strategy, trends and technologies. Initial deliverables include a new Best Practices in IoT presentation for Symposium and the Gartner AADI Summit in London and my recently published research on the same topic — you can find highlights of this in our Smarter with Gartner post on IoT Integration. Despite the power of API’s (see RESTful API’s – Alone – Often Aren’t Sufficient for Successful IoT Integration), IoT Integration challenges have been cited as the #2 top technology challenge for implementing IoT projects in a recent survey.
Stay tuned for more as my colleagues and I continue to better understand the impact of IoT on pervasive integration. In particular, we’re just now ramping up our primary research on the upcoming Market Guide for IoT Integration.
Cheers – BJL