Artificial intelligence adds smarts to IoT platforms
The Internet of Things’ killer app might be artificial intelligence.
While it may be a stretch to classify artificial intelligence (AI) and its multifaceted offshoot machine learning (ML) as true applications, these techs can profoundly change IoT operations. AI makes IoT networks smarter and able to scale as needed without the risk of uncontrollable growth.
IoT operations is an ongoing struggle to try to ensure that the thousands or more devices run properly and safely on an enterprise network and that the data that’s being collected is both accurate and timely. While the sophisticated back-end analytics engines do the heavy lifting of processing the steady stream of data, ensuring the quality of the data itself is often left to somewhat archaic methodologies.
To help rein in sprawling IoT infrastructures, some IoT platform vendors are baking in AI/ML technology to boost their operations management capabilities. Some notable platform vendors, such as IBM and Schneider Electric, have already logged years of experience integrating AI/ML into their products, but the use of AI/ML is far from universal among all IoT platform purveyors.
“I would say across the hundreds of IoT platform vendors out there, it’s still a fairly rare phenomenon,” noted Sam Lucero, chief analyst, IoT services and technologies, at analyst firm Omdia. “It’s still a developing feature in the solution sets.”
Why IoT Platforms Need AI/ML
Despite the limited product rollouts to date, there’s ample evidence that AI/ML will be a necessary ingredient in most IoT platforms. Traditional management tools cannot meet the demands of larger IoT environments, as they are unable to keep up with the sheer size of the networks and the growing number of devices they link.
Current tools like SCADA systems may be able to provide basic monitoring of sensors, actuators and other connected devices, but the information they receive is basic at best. Typically the data is based on predetermined thresholds, with little or no qualitative distinctions.
Joe Berti, vice president for AI applications at IBM, sees aging SCADA environments as a key motivation for upgrading to AI-infused IoT management.
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