23 September 2015

2 key elements for the productivity of cross-company collaboration



As more and more companies collaborate with the businesses in their value chain, often using data from the internet of things (IoT) in their exchanges, they must find ways to safeguard the intellectual property and sensitive data that figure in their exchanges. They also need to be able to select and share data sets flexibly with the right people. To-Increase is already preparing a collaboration workspace that provides optimal security and flexibility, extending into the mobile arena.

The idea of installing sensors on devices and equipment, connecting them to the internet, and harvesting data regarding their performance, utilization, and wear and tear is so practically feasible and promising that many manufacturers and service companies have quickly adopted the internet of things (IoT). The potential of IoT risks to compromise individual privacy and security is likely higher in the consumer realm. IoT challenges to the integrity of sensitive business data and intellectual property play a greater role in the B2B world. Since we discussed IoT security in an earlier blog post, these concerns have spilled over from more technical forums into the wider public and mainstream media.

Complex, IoT-driven collaboration scenarios are becoming more common

To visualize the risk associated with IoT data gathering and exchanges, imagine, for instance, the following: A company manufactures a piece of equipment, installs it at a customer site, and monitors it through the IoT. It then becomes possible to see how the machinery runs in the customer’s application, and schedule maintenance or parts replacements before breakdowns and downtime occur. When IoT data let vendors understand how and why machinery performs as it does in customer operations, they can connect with their customers to design product changes that achieve better or more consistent performance, lower power consumption, greater durability of parts and components, and other improvements across the lifecycle of machinery. Equipment users, reviewing IoT data in the cloud, may think about adjusting processes to realize more value from their machines.

Collaboration will not remain confined to one-to-one exchanges. Opportunities for innovation and product improvements will often involve several other companies. For example, the manufacturer may want to share some of the customer’s IoT machine data with a vendor who provides a critical component which behaves erratically under certain workloads. For the vendor team to understand this and redesign that component, they not only need to see the customer data, but maybe they will want to share part of it with a company that sells them raw materials or sub-components. The conversation could also involve a service provider responsible for performing certain installation or maintenance assignments. We’re still only imagining a small supply-chain network of four or five companies in a highly probable scenario. Yet, the risk exposure for the customer’s sensitive data is very high.

Creating a secure collaboration platform

IoT security needs to catch up to multi-company scenarios quickly, or businesses will not be able to benefit fully from digital collaborations. Companies have to find a way to share real-time information securely without imposing restrictions that make collaboration slow and ineffective. They need to have the ability to manage digital access rights flexibly. In terms of our equipment scenario, they need to identify, filter, select, and share certain sets of machine-cloud data or records with just the right parties.

At To-Increase, our solution architects are working on a cloud-based utility that will enable that configurable data protection in the framework of a scalable, robust, cross-organizational collaboration workspace. Delivering an effective solution with these capabilities will accomplish more than resolve security concerns. We believe that the future of industry innovation depends on companies’ ability to share and protect information within their collaborations.

The secure collaboration platform currently under construction will have the extensibility and versatility to support a wide range of application scenarios. While we expect that IoT data sharing by manufacturers with their customers and supply chains will be common, companies will be able to make any type of records and data from their CRM, ERP, or other business systems available for secure collaboration with other organizations.

Native mobility to extend collaborative capabilities

Mobility will be integral to this secure, digital collaboration workspace. In our machinery example, stakeholders will at any given time be where the equipment is installed, travel between manufacturing locations, visit customers onsite, meet with vendors, and so on. Restricting collaborative innovation to people at their desks would be absurd and counterproductive. The design of our mobile collaboration apps enable users to have the most productive engagement experience and take advantage of all the capabilities of their mobile devices.

Watch this blog and our news for updates on our development in the area of IoT risks and IoT-driven collaboration. If you have questions or want to connect, please get in touch with me or contact To-Increase.


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Luciano Cunha
Luciano Cunha,
Luciano Cunha,
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

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