Winning Manufacturing Strategies

October 14, 2015

Future of eCommerce in India and its significance to a Common Indian Customer

Having noticed a tremendous innovation and growth in the Digital Transformation space, I wonder what it would mean to be a normal Indian consumer, who is now experiencing these changes. In this blog, I attempt to understand and bring forth the perspective of their experience on these wonderful E-commerce sites.

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September 15, 2015

The + Service opportunity for Industrial Manufacturing

Industrial manufacturing is typically a low-volume high-value long-term play. The potential high value of each sales transaction is counterbalanced by a generally protracted sales gestation period. And post commissioning, most of these capital intensive solutions have impressively enduring lifecycles

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May 6, 2015

A subdued future for IOT


In case you haven't heard, the world is going to collapse soon! Well, not really but scientists and experts from UK have predicted that, at the current rate of data consumption, the internet will collapse in about 8 years. Wow! That's as good as the end of the world for the digital dreams we all had.

Which brings me to my favorite subject - Internet of Things (IOT). This premonition about the 'capacity crunch' of the internet will spell doomsday for companies betting on IOT enabled products and services since they will rely heavily on the internet. Real-time sensor-data transfer over the internet is the backbone of the connected world and one that will bring immense transformation to the way we use products and services. Gartner predicts 20 billion devices to be connected to the internet by 2020. This figure will only increase exponentially beyond 2020. All this internet activity due to IOT will only accelerate the downhill spiral towards the internet capacity crunch. If there is a capacity crunch in the offing, what happens to all the IOT use cases? With no regulations or regulatory bodies, how does one optimize usage of available internet capacity? With much to lose, I think it is time to introspect and determine what could possibly be a more practical choice for customers to get the benefits of IOT while still doing their bit to delay the doomsday.

I foresee a subdued future for IOT rather than the enthusiastic hurrah we hear from most analysts. Let me explain what I mean by 'subdued'. I believe that the theory of a connected world will remain just that - a theory. (Well, at least in the short term until we are able to figure out what and how to handle the entire IOT ecosystem and that too in an unregulated arena.) Gartner may be right about the number of devices being connected by 2020 but when it comes to transmission of data (and here's where the bandwidth crunch comes into play), it may not be practical to have all the connected devices to send data at all times. In fact, the rate and type of data to be transmitted will be controlled by the biggest equalizer in business - the humble customer or end user.

I think it will be futile and in fact amateurish for companies to just put up a few sensors on their products and start relaying the data over the internet. Not every customer would be ready to pay for this service especially if you are unable to show her the value of doing this activity in real time 24x7. I predict a bouquet of services to be offered by corporations to its customers to choose and determine which option best suits their (customer's) needs. Let's take an example of a smart refrigerator. Not all customers would be able to afford their refrigerator monitored for its health 24x7 since that would entail paying for a higher internet plan. Some may opt for an option wherein once the refrigerator starts giving trouble, the customer will be alerted on their smartphone and they will then have the ability to trigger a health check from their phone app. This app will finally push the logs (findings in software code) from the smart refrigerator to the service company over the internet for the technicians to analyze and revert with the best solution. The solution could either be an over-the-air software update or a field technician visit to check and rectify the problem at site. In any case, it will mean that the service company will have data upfront to analyze and decide before any visit.

The higher end customers may go in for predictive maintenance type of service packages which will help prevent failures but for those who cannot afford such premium services, they could at least go for these intermediate solutions. So how does this help in capacity crunch? Voila! - Optimized transfer of data over the internet from these connected devices. These assets will be part of IOT and hence connected; they will support customers to control when to send data and hence control costs and lastly, customers will be in better control of their data - thus addressing the data privacy concerns of many.

Internet doomsday or not, customers will challenge the IOT companies to come out with innovative options that will make the technology economically feasible to all. And it's upon us to make that happen. It will be disastrous for all players to thrust connected devices without providing options on how to optimize internet bandwidth. What do you think is going to happen in the future of IOT?

April 6, 2015

Records Management: Disaster Recovery Plan for Offsite records storage

In my previous blog "Significance of Records Management and Types of Retention Policies", we talked about a well-designed Retention Management solution. We saw how it provides a cost effective method to manage large volume of records and help to adhere to compliance standards.

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April 2, 2015

Comparing the Big 4s of Social Media

Social Media revolution has enhanced the way we communicate with our acquaintances and also helped improve the efficiency of conducting business. There is not a single day when we don't hear news about Social Media or use them. Overall it enables individuals to receive update from friends, share videos and Photos. For business, it helps them to build and maintain new relationships.

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March 31, 2015

The Digital Transformational Journey for the Manufacturing Industry


Manufacturing Industry had to go through a lot of challenges to cater the digital disruption is addition to the tradition challenges listed below.

·         Reaching out to the new market segments

·         Reducing the Operational cost and increasing efficiency 

·         Reducing the Time to Market                            

·         Ensuring that the logistical operations run smoothly

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February 13, 2015

POV on Architecture for Internet of Things

1.0 Introduction:

This article embodies the architectural thoughts on Internet of Things for Architects and developers. The aim of this paper is to provide a base architecture that covers challenges and main requirements of IOT projects and systems - devices, server side, cloud based services, third party integration that interact with and manage the devices.

1.1  What is Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and the Internet.


A thing, in the Internet of Things, can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder, an automobile that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low -- or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network. So far, the Internet of Things has been most closely associated with machine-to-machine (M2M) communication in manufacturing and power, oil and gas utilities. Products built with M2M communication capabilities are often referred to as being smart. ( smart label, smart meter, smart grid sensor)


1.2  Devices

The simplest devices have embedded controllers - they have no operating system
Devices with 32-bit system that can support OS - such as Linux
Devices with 32 bit/64 bit computer platforms such as a wearable watch that can connect to internet and support 2 way communication
Devices that communicates to gateways; these gateways perform filtering, aggregation, event processing

The way devices communicate with gateways/internet could be based on:

Ethernet, WiFi using TCP/IP or UDP, MQTT, http, CoAP


Near Field Communication(NFC)

Zigbee and mesh networks in RF, blue tooth


Low Power Bluetooth technology


2.0 Challenges

We have to address the obstacles to the connection to the devices - Firewalls, Network Address Translation (NAT) and other obstacles on the way.

There could be issues in connectivity of devices due to internet connectivity, battery life, RF interferences, simply being switched off, physical security/damage etc.,

There is plethora of protocols, vendors in this space. Inter-operability among these and derive the required data from these could be a challenge.

3.0 Key Requirements:

·        Device management - remote provisioning and upgrade of firmware/software.

·        Device security is mandatory - only the authorized personnel should have access to the information from the devices. Also, lock and isolation of impaired/hijacked devices should be supported.

·        Ability to process live stream of data and apply configurable complex event processing/rules on the incoming data to respond real time/near real time.

·        Support for time series data and transformation of data to the granularity required for reporting.

·        Leverage existing open/marketplace API's, technologies - should have a loosely coupled architecture, where we can plug/play/replace these components.

·        Multi modal communication API's - support for tablets, mobiles, web applications and other third party integration.

·        We need an architecture that scales well (horizontal) with addition of devices; should have high availability and fault tolerance features. Should support cloud hosting.


4.0 Architecture:

View image

4.1 Device Layer:

Sensors, Actuators, Bar code reader, RFID readers, wearable, smart meters, GPS locators, mobile phones, google glass, biometric sensors, drones are examples of devices in this layer. They communicate in various protocols covered in Section 1.2. Gateways can act as protocol translators, data aggregators, data cache (where connectivity is intermittent).


4.2 Data Ingest/Processing Layer:

The data from the devices is accessed over various protocols as mentioned above and protocols with lowest overhead over payload - MQTT and CoAP are clear winners on this account.

We can have an implementation of Agent Hub running in the device/gateway layer, which would collect the data from devices and send it over to a Central Registry (which is the case with Bosch M2M platform) in the ingest layer. 

We need a filter, adapter, transformation are part of data ingestion; Complex event processing (CEP), Business process Modeling (BPM), Business Rules Modeling (BRM) are in the Processing layer. A pub/sub model is best for handling data at this layer. Choices could be ActiveMQ, RabbitMQ or cloud bases offerings such as SQS. CEP is available in many flavors - open source tools such as WS02, ESPER; enterprise tools from Oracle etc; also, Storm/Spark from Hadoop world. Data in flight Analytics using R or any other similar tool can be done in this layer. Volume/Variety will decide the selection of tools in this layer.

4.3 Data Storage and Access Layer

SQL and NoSQL data bases are candidates for storing data. Depending on the volume HDFS can be used as well.

Recommended data access to the consuming applications is over REST API. This layer of abstraction enables access across different data sources.

4.4 Applications

Employee health and Safety, Remote Monitoring, Track and Trace, Traceability, Predictive Maintenance, Risk/Fraud Analytics, Digital Farming, Industry 4.0, Connected Vehicle Technology, Smart Home/Factory/Warehouse/City are some of the applications in this space.

4.5 QoS/Monitoring

he Quality of Service is across all the layers - it should support non-real time, soft real time, hard real time depending on the application requirement. Architecture should support measuring the latency, data loss, ability to handle duplicate data, late arriving data, identify error in data. Instrumentation should be provided in all the services in the system that is capable of reporting the health, resource utilization, efficiency etc.,

 4.6 Security

Security risks associated with using inherent internet and risks that are associated with IoT devices should be addressed. Best practices such as encryption, Identity and access management with OAuth/OAuth2 (tokens rather than username/password) are suggested. XACML based Attribute/Policy based Access control are appropriate.   

5.0 Conclusion:

This article covers the overview architecture of internet of things. We will elaborate on the individual layers of the architecture in the coming articles.

January 8, 2015

The Re-dawning of Business Intelligence

That the Business Intelligence world is being disrupted with new technologies is now common knowledge. However, very few businesses & their BI groups have a holistic view and roadmap to embrace this change. All have few specific new capabilities in mind and here is an opportunity to apply the Infosys 'New and Renew' Strategy to enable BI in your organizations take the next leap.


So, firstly let's assess what are we hearing from various stakeholders and the wider BI market:


Our Customers:  We need BI to be agile, responsive, trustworthy, cost efficient, easy to adopt and make the right strategic business impact quickly


Infosys Experience from Engagements:  Need to Reduce time to insights, bring in some unique assets to accelerate programs, Align customers to industry best practices and need for clear engagement charter in terms of business value and capabilities within an agile delivery model.


Industry Analysts:  Analysts like Gartner, Forrester emphasize need for different pricing models, expand BI usage thru' the enterprise, leverage cloud/big data/mobility/advanced visualization etc. They expect avg. BI market growth to be 10% ; 70% of which will still be IT controlled;  Analytics to command 20% of those budgets and rest on Query/integration and reporting.


Given these key learning's, the new vision at Manufacturing BI is 'To transform our customers from today's data driven to Analytics driven Enterprises enabled by Rapid, Deep and Actionable Insights'.


In order to enable 'Rapid, Deep and Actionable Insights', the following offerings are being planned:


Analytics Driven Enterprises: The goal is to help enterprises transform from traditional data driven to analytics driven organizations. This is to be enabled by an Analytics adoption framework that helps make the right analytics investments that matter, 'Leverage-your-data' initiatives to take a deep look at available data & innovate to make strategic use of it and Predictive & Descriptive modeling services driven actionable insights for Manufacturing & Hi-Tech relevant areas like Supply chain optimizations, Personalized customer service, sales, marketing and finance analytics functions.

Responsive Business Intelligence:  This includes unique data exploration Services, Self-service BI capabilities, Persona based KPI solutions, Adv. Visualization tools driven data analysis, Reporting Factories, Data Virtualization and agile delivery models.


Big Data Enabled Insights: The above vision of transforming organizations into Analytics Driven Organization will be deepened by leveraging Infosys Information Platform (IIP)  for Predictive maintenance, Manufacturing Quality Analytics, Strategic sales opportunity management, IoT driven usage & health analytics, Agro research, Intelligent Asset mgmt., Customer insights etc.


For any of the above to be impactful, Our goal is to help customers have a solid backbone in terms of 'Amplified & Efficient Data Operations'. Some of the offerings towards these are:


Landscape Modernization:  Help our customers renew/modernize their existing landscapes with  BI tools consolidation and re-platforming, upgrades, big data migrations, clean & conformed Master data mgmt. strategies, Data quality improvements and implementation accelerators for productive COE's.


High Performance Computing: Leverage high performance tools based on in-memory , columnar stores, other No-SQL stores to renew existing systems needing such high performance e.g supply chain visibility, Financial consolidations, Just-in-time offers, Asset management and real-time enterprise data warehouses.


Amplified Data Warehousing: Existing data warehouses augmented with Hadoop based platforms to reduce turnaround time for multi-structured, high velocity datasets needed for insights. This can also be leveraged to reduce the fast escalating cost of data warehousing.


Manufacturing BI believes this dual strategy of transforming organizations from data driven to Analytics driven enterprises and creating an amplified & efficient data backbone will help next gen enterprises stay ahead in the marketplace & outperform today's run-of-the-mill BI Maturity curves. 

January 1, 2015

Predictive service maintenance - A step ahead

 Author: Alpesh Chauhan, CRM Lead Consultant, Manufacturing, Infosys Ltd.


Proactive service maintenance is not just limited to preventive maintenance but it is also includes predictive maintenance. Service management is usually associated with negative experience as customer contacts service provider when product has some issues. But it can be turned in to positive experience if services are handled carefully and promptly, which can result in lesser asset down time and faster service resolution. That's why, it can be an opportunity for service provider to convert bad customer experience into a good experience. Of course, it is not easy task and risk is always high as if service provider is not able to provide better service, customer is gone forever and he may provide negative feedback for your products/services.


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Increasing safety in cars to deter carjacking


Every one of us has had that tingling feeling at the back of our necks while trying to reach to our car in an isolated area or in the basement of a shopping mall or in an expansive parking lot. The fear of someone lurking in the shadows or an anticipation of a person springing on to you from the dark makes one either hasten their pace or to reach out for the pepper spray can in their purses. We all suffer from this fear of the unknown and one can only be prepared and alert to prevent one from happening.

Wikipedia defines carjacking as an 'armed assault when the vehicle is occupied'. And this is more dangerous than a vehicle theft purely because the occupants are in danger of limb and life in carjacking cases whereas plain theft may only be a material loss. There is no knowing what may happen to a victim of a carjacking and hence one should take precautions at all times.

Hopefully, cars of the future will be more than helpful to deter such situations but technology is at hand already through connected cars. A connected car is one that is always connected to the internet and allows data transfer between the car's sensors and the cloud. While there are a number of use cases for connected car, I think we can add one more to that list by using it as a deterrent to carjacking. Simply put, a car can be triggered to take pictures of its immediate surroundings and relay it to a database in the cloud in real time.

Let me explain more on this. Say, you get into your car and as you are about to start the engine, you see someone approach your car door in a threatening way. You press the panic button on the steering wheel or on the door panel. This will trigger the cameras on the door sill to immediately start taking pictures with LED flash. Once taken, the pictures get automatically uploaded into a secure website for future reference, if required. An alarm will also get triggered about the incident (activation of panic button) which will result in a call back given to the car to check if everything is okay and if the incident was true or accidental.

Car OEMs can provide this as additional features for safety or it could be also provided as after-market options. The cloud storage would definitely be provided as a subscription based service as an additional revenue model within connected car program. Customers could also operate their account to view or delete old history and other details. It would also be a cool way to take Selfies using your car!

One would need the following (at the least) to make this happen:

·         Cameras with LED flash to be installed on the door sills. With smartphone technology development, the camera sizes have gone smaller and with High Definition features, the picture quality has become sharper. The LED 'flash-in-your-face' may also deter the weak hearted crooks from carrying out their planned assault and has its own benefits.

·         A panic button feature would be required on the steering wheel or on the door panel. This can be designed based on research for most accessible position in such situations. It could be in one or multiple locations.

·         Internet connectivity within the car. Car companies are already working on getting a lot of connected car features into modern cars today.

·         A secure database on the cloud to upload the pictures taken along with geo location and time. The upload should happen in real time so that there is no chance for anyone to prevent it from being stored. The pictures should also not be stored locally within the car as it would lead to damage of the car and harm to the victim. The event could also trigger storage of additional important data after the panic button is triggered viz.  engine condition (on/off) for next 30 min, driving pattern, driving speed post event, etc. Algorithms can be run in real time to check if car is moving in a direction other than usual routes or if the driving pattern is different from the car owner's for gaining additional insights into whether the car is driven by the owner or the carjacker.

·         A call back to the car can also be done to check on the condition of the owner. A pre-programmed code word could be defined to inform the police or security that the response is under duress. This will be helpful under certain situations as well.

I agree that this will not be able to prevent carjacking but if this facility was available, then it would only make carjacking a difficult career option for crooks. With more such anti-carjacking features, I hope one day it will be lot safer to drive a car. Obviously, autonomous or self-driving cars will definitely bring in more safety options but until then we will need interim solutions to deter carjackers of this world. Drive safe, be safe!