Earlier this week we had an interview with Emre Toparlar, the Product Manager behind BACE (Build a Connection Everywhere). BACE is the product line created by EVALAN to help clients build state-of-the-art IoT (Internet of Things) implementations quickly.
From your experience, what are the usual problems when wanting to implement an IoT project?
Our customers usually come to us wanting to get a connected product or digitalize a part of their business, which they want to bring to life fast so that they can get ahead of the competition. In some cases, the first aim is not to present a full fledge solution but to test an innovative idea or connected product to gauge the market potential for it.
In that sense, the challenges they usually face are three:
- Time and resources.
- Device diversity.
- Building custom IoT applications.
What do you mean by time and resources?
When wanting to create connected products, most customers prioritize cost-efficiency and fast time to market. In that sense, if you consider that creating your own IoT data pipeline will take 6-12 months, and that you will need a team with people that understand at least a little bit of electronics, a little bit of communication protocols, a little bit of cloud applications & services —all of which may not be the core competency of the company— it just becomes a bit much. I mean, this would be a significant initial investment and may cause companies to miss the window of opportunity to launch a new service, solution or product to the market.
What do you mean by device diversity?
It is rare when customers encounter a situation where they only need to connect one type of device from which they want to retrieve information. Most of the time, there are diverse and different generation devices that need to be connected. Let’s say that you want to monitor a bunch of motor drivers. Although they are doing the same thing (controlling the motor) engaging with those controllers could require different IoT communication protocols such as Modbus, RS232 and UART. What’s more is that devices and communication protocols are constantly evolving and changing. In that sense, our customers could be looking toward the facing out or termination of cellular networks like 3G, or faced with standards developing from Zigbee to Matter, for example. It is quite a big task to keep up with all these changing technologies.
What do you mean by building custom IoT applications?
After creating a connected product, solution or service, our customers realize that the different stakeholders in their organization would like to use the retrieved data in different ways. For example, the Marketing and Sales Department would be more interested in information that helps them sell and promote a product better. They would not care about malfunctions, underperformance or if a device is online or offline, but the operations team would be extremely interested in knowing about all the events to ensure the continuity of the service. All in all, you need a flexible IoT platform so that you can meet the needs of all the stakeholders.
So, it makes sense to want to buy instead of making the IoT solution yourself. Are there also things to consider?
Due to its complexity, the IoT market developed to have different companies specialize in distinct parts of the IoT chain. Some vendors focus on developing the IoT gateways that extract data from the assets, some focus on providing connectivity services like LoRa or cellular, and some focus on cloud applications for data aggregation. The result: the customer must deal with a lot of vendors to implement the IoT project, which might lead to lacking a single point of ownership when things go wrong.
What was EVALAN’s solution?
Focusing on the most crucial link of the IoT chain, EVALAN created BACE.
Let me explain the part I refer to as the most crucial link of the IoT chain. When you start building an IoT solution, most people go through a series of steps.
- The need to collect data from assets, devices or sensors.
- The need to extract that information from all of them and publish it to a server.
- The need to organize the incoming information in a platform or service so that it can be integrated into other applications or databases.
- The need to visualize the information.
- The need to create different end-user experiences (e.g., apply data analytics models to give each stakeholder only relevant information).
With BACE, we are essentially building a data pipeline to streamline the complexity between step 2 and 3. Because BACE supports multiple protocols, we extract all the information you need from every single one of your assets, and then provide you with the information as an API (Application Programming Interface) endpoint or Webhooks to whatever application or database you need. Since we provide your assets’ information in a consistent and neat way, you get the benefit of simplicity and flexibility to consume your critical data in whichever way you want. All from a single IoT platform provider so that you know who to call if you need support.
What are the benefits?
Well, the benefits are many. First, with this data pipeline, you will go to the market faster because you don’t need to develop it yourself. You also don’t need to spend your time and money to form a team that needs to build up an entire range of expertise. In that sense, you can bring your product to your customers much quicker. We also understand that you need to start small to evaluate the business ideas and justify them to your board of stakeholders as quickly as possible. With BACE, you will have a working proof-of-concept within days.
Second, BACE is remarkably simple to use out-of-the-box. Since it already supports 10+ IoT communication protocols, it will support millions of sensors, equipment and machines right away. Nonetheless, if for some reason you need another protocol, we will create a piece of code in our device so that it starts communicating as needed. In short, we do application specific enhancements when necessary.
Third, BACE was created for you to always experience the product in the same way. This means that you will always use a similar API endpoint and get the information in a consistent way no matter the diversity or heterogeneity of your devices. This makes working with the information and integrating it into your application easy.
Fourth, BACE’s architecture was created to automatically scale as your company grows without affecting the end user experience. This means that your IoT data pipeline service will be automatically provisioned as you add new devices, our databases will scale based on the traffic generated, and you won’t need to worry about hot or cold storages, security certificates or global roaming agreements. We take care of all of it for you.
Fifth, as part of BACE, you will have access to the BACE Panel which allows you to see your data pipeline 24/7. If something is wrong, you’ll get a notification, and you will be able to find out where the problem is in the data pipeline. It could be at sensor, gateway, cellular connection or at cloud level. Besides, we keep the system up to date with security and performance improvements over the air.
And last but not least, since this IoT solution will essentially be the core of your business, you want to work with a reliable partner that has been in the IoT market for a long time and continues to successfully ship more than 100k of connected devices. That reliable partner is EVALAN.
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