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Rainer Kallenbach, Bosch Software Innovations CEO, explains why enterprises shouldn’t wait for the Internet of Things (IoT) to happen—hint, it’s happening now

In this article...

  • Learn more about how Bosch was making IoT technology before it was even a “thing”

Back in the 1980s, the Bosch Group was working hard on engineering and manufacturing semiconductors and sensors. Around 2005, from its own research and talking with customers, the company began to see that the future of technology would soon revolve around all devices being connected and communicating with each other. Bosch quickly got to work on making their products fit this soon-to-be reality, and to show their commitment to the new direction, they founded Bosch Software Innovations in 2008 to focus primarily on this new direction.

Bosch’s strategic aim is to offer solutions for connected mobility, connected industry, as well as for connected energy systems and buildings. The company is tapping into new, promising markets such as smart homes. At the same time, Bosch is also preparing for expected technology and business model changes in established markets such as connected mobility. In the connectivity business, the company focuses on the “3S’s”: sensors, software and services. When it comes to developing and introducing services and solutions for the connected world, Bosch’s broad business portfolio offers a particular advantage, as does its competence in software and sensors. Thanks to the Bosch IoT Cloud, the company also has the connected world’s “brain” at its disposal.

Connection and communication are top priorities

Rainer Kallenbach, CEO of Bosch Software Innovations, says that Bosch’s goal is to have each and every electronic component connectable to the internet. “HPE is an important ecosystem partner of the Bosch Group, supplying hardware and software for our solutions. In today’s environment, the companies that will succeed in IoT will be those that are able to collaborate in ecosystems as they provide the basis for open platforms and interoperability.”

But it isn’t enough that the devices can just connect to each other—they have to be able to actually talk to each other. Bosch Software Innovations has been hard at work making this happen by creating software components and modules for connecting and managing devices, such as the cloud-based Bosch IoT Suite. This is a collection of software services that allows the easy implementation of complex, large-scale IoT applications with the capacity to cover as many domains as possible.

With approximately 250 plants worldwide, the company is successfully implementing more than 100 projects for Industry 4.0. Bosch Software Innovations is using the Bosch Group’s substantial engagement in industrial production goods along with their software in the connected manufacturing area, thereby enhancing transparency and efficiency in manufacturing.

“Bosch’s goal is to have each and every electronic component connectable to the internet.”

“Many of our machines already have connectivity and digitization, but are not linked together or across plants,” says Kallenbach. “We are working to connect everything with everything. And most importantly, to make this the basis for a better understanding and better management of your manufacturing.”

Interoperability is the key

If all devices are going to talk to each other, which is Bosch Software Innovation’s hope, then interoperability becomes a top priority. “Even more than devices, it will be openness and the cloud. Everything will be networked with everything. This means we need a shared basis that is more than just standards for communication, but a common understanding, language and syntax,” says Kallenbach.

This is by no means an overnight process. Kallenbach describes it as an evolution in which the use of open standards and open source communities play a large role. Bosch Software Innovations walks the walk and is very active in several communities, especially the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC). The company joined in 2014 as one of the first German members of the IIC. Bosch Software Innovations also works closely with the Eclipse IoT community as a strategic member to create IoT open technology standards.

The future: connecting domains and industries

Kallenbach points to electronics in cars as the next big frontier for IoT and says a common platform should be a top priority. Bosch Group has a strong history in automotive innovation—they partnered with Intel in 1996 to develop the CAN bus, which has become the de facto standard for electronic communications in cars. Kallenbach says that Bosch Group created the CAN bus because, at the time, each car manufacturer had their own protocol and it was a nightmare for suppliers like Bosch.

“To make the future of IoT in cars happen, we need common ground, partnerships and ecosystems.”

Today, we have the same situation in IoT. There are probably, depending on how you count it, between 150 and 300 different IoT platforms and they aren’t really compatible,” says Kallenbach. “The future of IoT—not just in cars—really depends on developing this common ground. No company can create it on its own. We need partnerships and ecosystems to make it happen.”

The next step, which is happening now to some degree, is connectivity between domains and industries, such as automotive, energy, manufacturing, cities, homes and buildings. Kallenbach predicts that in the near future, cars will talk with homes, homes will talk with the energy industry, trucks will talk to factories, manufacturing companies will talk to their supply chains and so on and so forth. Countless sectors could be influenced in ways we can’t even imagine today.

While the technology is still developing, Kallenbach says IoT is no longer a long-term vision. “We see more and more platforms converging, and a universal language of IoT is currently developing. A vivid ecosystem of players across all industries, not just the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), is producing IoT technology every day,” says Kallenbach. “Everyone is getting involved—hardware manufacturers, large software companies, large cloud players, the telecommunications industry and specialists for other industries.”

Kallenbach’s advice for enterprises? “Do not wait for the Internet of Things to happen. It’s happening right now. Become a part of it.”


 
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