The era of “Internet aware systems and services” – the multiple-data, multi-platform and multi-device and sensors world

By Mark Skilton, Global Director at Capgemini

Communications + Data protocols and the Next Internet of Things Multi-Platform solutions

Much of the discussion on the “internet of things” have been around industry sector examples use of device and sensor services.  Examples of these I have listed at the end of this paper.  What are central to this emerging trend are not just sector point solutions but three key technical issues driving a new Industry Sector Digital Services strategy to bring these together into a coherent whole.

  1. How combinations of system technologies platforms are converging enabling composite business processes that are mobile , content and transactional rich  and with near real time persistence and interactivity
  2. The development of “non-web browser” protocols in new sensor driven machine data that are emerging that extend  new types of data into internet connected business and social integration
  3. The development of “connected systems” that move solutions in a new digital services of multiple services across platforms creating new business and technology services

I want to illustrate this by focusing on three topics:  multi-platforming strategies, communication protocols and examples of connected systems.

I want to show that this is not a simple “three or four step model” that I often see where mobile + applications and Cloud equal a solution but result in silos of data and platform integration challenges. New processing methods for big data platforms, distributed stream computing and in memory data base services for example are changing the nature of business analytics and in particular marketing and sales strategic planning and insight.  New feedback systems collecting social and machine learning data are  creating new types of business growth opportunities in context aware services that work and augment skills and services.

The major solutions in the digital ecosystem today incorporate an ever growing mix of devices and platforms that offer new user experiences and  organization. This can be seen across most all industry sectors and horizontally between industry sectors. This diagram is a simplistic view I want to use to illustrate the fundamental structures that are forming.


Multiple devices that offer simple to complex visualization, on-board application services

Multiple Sensors that can economically detect measure and monitor most physical phenomena: light, heat, energy, chemical, radiological in both non-biological and biological systems.

Physical and virtual communities of formal and informal relationships. These human and/ or machine based  associations in the sense that search and discover of data and resources that can now work autonomously across an internet of many different types of data.

Physical and virtual Infrastructure that represent servers, storage, databases, networks and other resources that can constitute one or more platforms and environments. This infrastructure now is more complex in that it is both distributed and federated across multiple domains: mobile platforms, cloud computing platforms, social network platforms, big data platforms and embedded sensor platforms. The sense of a single infrastructure is both correct and incorrect in that is a combined state and set of resources that may or may not be within a span of control of an individual or organization.

Single and multi-tenanted Application services that operate in transactional, semi or non-deterministic ways that drive logical processing, formatting, interpretation, computation and other processing of data and results from one-to-many, many-to-one or many-to-many platforms and endpoints.

The key to thinking in multiple platforms is to establish the context of how these fundamental forces of platform services are driving interactions for many Industries and business and social networks and services. This is changing because they are interconnected altering the very basis of what defines a single platform to a multiple platform concept.

MS2This diagram illustrates some of these relationships and arrangements.   It is just one example of a digital ecosystem pattern, there can be other arrangements of these system use cases to meet different needs and outcomes.

I use this model to illustrate some of the key digital strategies to consider in empowering communities; driving value for money strategies or establishing a joined up device and sensor strategy for new mobile knowledge workers.   This is particularly relevant for key business stakeholders decision making processes today in Sales, Marketing, Procurement, Design, Sourcing, Supply and Operations to board level as well as IT related Strategy and service integration and engineering.

Taking one key stakeholder example, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is interested and central to strategic channel and product development and brand management. The CMO typically seeks to develop Customer Zones, Supplier zones, marketplace trading communities, social networking communities and behavior insight leadership. These are critical drivers for successful company presence, product and service brand and market grow development as well as managing and aligning IT Cost and spend to what is needed for the business performance.  This creates a new kind of Digital Marketing Infrastructure to drive new customer and marketing value.  The following diagram illustrates types of  marketing services that raise questions over the types of platforms needed for single and multiple data sources, data quality and fidelity.

ms3These interconnected issues effect the efficacy and relevancy of marketing services to work at the speed, timeliness and point of contact necessary to add and create customer and stakeholder value.

What all these new converged technologies have in common are communications.  But  communications that are not just HTTP protocols but wider bandwidth of frequencies that are blurring together what is now possible to be connected.

These protocols include Wi-Fi and other wireless systems and standards that are not just in the voice speech band but also in the collection and use of other types of telemetry relating to other senses and detectors.

All these have common issues of Device and sensor compatibility, discovery and paring and security compatibility and controls.

ms4Communication standards examples for multiple services.

  • Wireless: WLAN, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Wireless USB,
  •  Proximity Smartcard, Passive , Active, Vicinity Card
  • IrDA, Infrared
  • GPS Satellite
  • Mobile 3G, 4GLTE, Cell, Femtocell, GSM, CDMA, WIMAX
  • RFID RF, LF, HFbands
  • Encryption: WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPS, other

These communication protocols impact on the design and connectivity of system- to-system services. These standards relate to the operability of the services that can be used in the context of a platform and how they are delivered and used by consumers and providers..  How does the data and service connect with the platform? How does the service content get collected, formatted, processed and transmitted between the source and target platform?  How do these devices and sensors work to support extended and remote mobile and platform service?  What distributed workloads work best in a mobile platform, sensor platform or distributed to a dedicated or shared platform that may be cloud computing or appliance based for example?

Answering these questions are key to providing a consistent and powerful digital service strategy that is both flexible and capable of exploiting, scaling and operating with these new system and intersystem capabilities.

This becomes central to a new generation of Internet aware data and services that represent the digital ecosystem that deliver new business and consumer experience on and across platforms.ms5

This results in a new kind of User Experience and Presence strategy that moves the “single voice of the Customer” and “Customer Single voice” to a new level that works across mobile, tablets and other devices and sensors that translate and create new forms of information and experience for consumers and providers. Combining this with new sensors that can include for example; positional, physical and biomedical data content become a reality in this new generation of digital services.  Smart phones today have a price-point that includes many built in sensors that are precision technologies measuring physical and biological data sources. When these are built into new feedback and decision analytics creates a whole new set of possibilities in real time and near real time augmented services as well as new levels of resource use and behavior insight.

The scale and range of data types (text, voice, video, image, semi structured, unstructured, knowledge, metadata , contracts, IP ) about social, business and physical environments have moved beyond the early days of RFID tags to encompass new internet aware sensors, systems, devices and services.  ms6This is not just “Tabs and Pads” of mobiles and tablets but a growing presence into “Boards, Places and Spaces” that make up physical environments turning them in part of the interactive experience and sensory input of service interaction. This now extends to the massive scale of terrestrial communications that connect across the planet and beyond in the case of NASA for example; but also right down to the Micro, Nano, Pico and quantum levels in the case of Molecular and Nano tech engineering .   All these are now part of the modern technological landscape that is pushing the barriers of what is possible in today’s digital ecosystem.

The conclusion is that strategic planning needs to have insight into the nature of new infrastructures and applications that will support these new multisystem workloads and digital infrastructures.
I illustrate this in the following diagram in what I call the “multi-platforming” framework that represents this emerging new ecosystem of services.ms7

Digital Service = k ∑ Platforms + ∑ Connections

K= a coefficient measuring how open, closed and potential value of service

Digital Ecosystem = e ∑ Digital Services

e = a coefficient of how diverse and dynamic the ecosystem and its service participants.

I will explore the impact on enterprise architecture and digital strategy in future blogs and how the emergence of a new kind of architecture called Ecosystem Arch.

Examples of new general Industry sector services Internet of Things

 Mark Skilton is Global Director for Capgemini, Strategy CTO Group, Global Infrastructure Services. His role includes strategy development, competitive technology planning including Cloud Computing and on-demand services, global delivery readiness and creation of Centers of Excellence. He is currently author of the Capgemini University Cloud Computing Course and is responsible for Group Interoperability strategy.


  1. Great to see illumination of communication protocols’ role, an often overlooked aspect in the Mobile/Cloud/Sensors discussion.

    1. Many thanks, yes this one is key. I recently saw a analyst talk on (451 group, London) the internet of things and while she provided the usual smorgasboard of use cases galore on IoT every industry she totally missed the commiunications prtocols issue become a cursory glance. This kind of communication focus is critical to enable internetworking acorss multiple device domains. We are seeing some of this in niche technologies in medical science but today these are “walled gardens” i.e. they are inside a car or inside a iphone or inside a online apps store and you get locked in to their data sets analysis and services. Im not suggesting open data for free but the reverse is true in being able to work with data across multiple devoces amd platforms to get better value. The connnected system diagram has a format granularity model on the left which is very interesting I think in that data visualizatiin needs to work not just in smart phones or set top boxes but in the physical and virual spaces we live in to improve energy resoures, augmented value intelligence, predictuve and proactive safety systems to protect people and better quality of life. These I see as higher forms of expectation that Platform 3.0 and the ecosystem achitecture thinking brings to move away from the day to day world. Maybe this is a vision for 2030 to 2050 but its a great one and a necessary one if the climate and world resources, population growth statitsics are to be believed. Comuication and connections will become vital in managing the limited resources we have

      best wishes

  2. Great blog Mark. It’s very important that we approach this territory from a holistic perspective – at all possible levels. That for me is the biggest takeaway from what you’ve written. And it’s important that it gets written.

    I have a couple of things I wanted to add, which I’ll keep short for now.

    First, I think it’s important that we keep in mind that an important part of the interaction (and therefore interoperability) in the world you describe will be human (people and organizations). That’s true for social but also in the use and extension of sensor data (people are sensors too). Only people put purpose into the system. So the people/organization role is important not just as consumers of the results but as part of the process. The boundary between the human (business) and the technological is being broken down from both directions.

    Second, if I were you, I’d not invent a new category of architecture and certainly not call it Ecosystem Architecture. The word ecosystem is in and of itself too overloaded and may lead sooner to confusion than clarification. I’d rather put the emphasis on the need for Enterprise Architecture to take into account the wider ecosystem. That doesn’t stop us concentrating on how that might best be achieved. And there are of course enterprise architects, who’ve been arguing for this for a long time now. Let’s make use of their contributions.

  3. Many thanks, yes the two points are ok, the Human to system link is an anthropic one and the purpose of the internet is to enable human societies and enterprise to thrive Im sure. That said the internet statistics evidence are aiming towards machine to machine growth with multiple sensors and devices , not just human generated data. A recent Cisco study forecast 2.55 billion people ( 1 in 3 people on the planet) by 2016 will be using a socila network, but by 2020 50 billion devices will acces the interent so the growth is astonishing of course.
    I can’t agree on not having a new catagory of architecture, I strongly believe we are in a new ecosystem system to system era and that enterprise architecture does not cover this adequately. Yes SOA and EA frameworks can express large scale multiple systems but I see many examples of this being the source of the current confusion on adoption of multiple systems using old style language and methods. For example seeking to rationalize interfaces and domains when its the homogeous and heteroogenous desing issues that need to be looked at thsat are higher level concerns. The Cloud catalog is a start in this direction on templates. But we need to think of multiple templated when looking across multiple systems. We have some building blocks in the open group Interoperability guide and metrics work for example which is ecosystem level and the CIEL methid originates in ecosystems born from the view that current UML, BPM and other styles are inadequte but a necessary lower level construction. Ive extensively iused UML, xUML, MVC, BPM and know they are limited in design styles deyond declarative syastems design work. New age methods like agile UX design uses more fluid prototyping but its still not main stream in use yet. The Growth of API libraries and artifacts will keep growing but we have not reached a new stage yet due to semantics to enalbe autonomic use just yet but I sense this is just a matter of time. I personally no problem with the term ecosystem architecture and its a good place to start with an unbias view.

    My current academic work has lots of examples where ecosystes are already under evaluation and growing. The EU digital initiatives are good local example of research applied to real world problems in this space and the Frauhoffer institute for example have done some great work on this. Also scaling systems in the new Platfirm 3.0 contect does not work with old style EA and SOA thinking, my latest blog (the third one shortly to come out) explains these scalar trends and the importance of internetworking and other macro scale issues. The point here is that EA solutions don’t work at this level in my expertience and I dont believe it went told otherwise. Another is regenerative self reinforcing cycles in cloud enabled social networks are ecosystem level features (they exist because they are interconnected) not system level features and again are in need of a new language and ecosystem architecture notation.

    In my view the word “ecosystem architecture” is an oxymoron in that ecosystems are not necessarily constructed manifests. Many features are emergent and derived from the whole and the parts interacting in unplanned or semi planned ways. “Ecosystem morphology” in my view is technically more correct in term as autopoietic systems (self-evolving, self-organizing systems) are more realistic of the real world systems than stoicastic systems (non-deterministic) or classical deterministic systems. My expectations for the open group are to help socialize and define the concepts and when its through leading into a new architecture is something that will emerge as necessary. I dare say this will roll and roll 🙂

    Best wishes

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