Why we Gave Up on the Traditional Firmware Update Process by@victor-kmita

Why we Gave Up on the Traditional Firmware Update Process

On average, companies spend days on on-site firmware updates. Meanwhile, over-the-air ones take minutes. Real estate representatives often сhoose the second option, meeting customer needs, increasing revenues, and increasing revenues. You cannot do without the IoT firmware management platform. In this article, I describe why making a traditional firmware update slows down business and what steps one should take to design the Internet of Things platform. The business can control the timeliness of utility provision, utility provision and settlement transactions.
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Victor Kmita

CEO at XME.digital | 15+ years of expertise in digital transformation

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On average, companies spend days on on-site firmware updates. Meanwhile, over-the-air ones take minutes. Real estate representatives often сhoose the second option, meeting customer needs and increasing revenue.


In this article, I share my experience with making a traditional firmware update and how it slowed down business and describe how to design the Internet of Things (IoT) platform.

Why We Gave Up Traditional Firmware Update Processes

How is the firmware of devices usually carried out in smart buildings? The company appoints an employee who periodically conducts on-site customization. If you are a developer with several properties in one city, it is suitable. But whether it will allow your business to expand - remains a mystery. When a company enters a regional or international market, inconveniences arise. For example:


  • Difficulties in tracking devices worldwide. To flash the software on time, developers need to monitor its work.
  • Lack of a single control center for sensors from different manufacturers. That's why companies cannot serve smart buildings efficiently.
  • High traveling costs. Every time an employee has a business trip, the company loses resources.
  • Work to the detriment. Usually, developers provide on-site firmware for free. They lose the opportunity to generate additional revenue and improve the customer experience.


That is why we considered implementing an IoT platform for device management for our client. Why not? Thus the client can control buildings' functioning, timeliness of utility provision, settlement transactions, and many other lovely options.


Developers understand the value of this approach and benefit from it and create paid platforms as an additional service to their buildings. Here're a few companies that offer to implement monetization options:


  • TBI Home Builder provides two IoT platforms for smart house control: Alarm.com and Control4. The company offers keyless entry door lock, garage, utility sensors management. It provides clients with the freedom of action, regulating the situation from its side. It affects the customer's convenience and provides a single point of control.
  • Loxone promises that your entire home will work as one harmonious system meaning the lighting, heating, blinds and more will all work in tandem together to create a truly intelligent home.
  • Vivint gives you complete control from anywhere. A Vivint smart home system lets you control your lights, check on your porch, or adjust the temperature from anywhere—all from the Vivint app. All Vivint products work together seamlessly giving you the peace of mind that comes with a secure, comfortable home.
  • XFINITY Home helps keep the people and places you care about safe. And works on subscription starting from just $10 per month.
  • Even well-known tech giants don't stand aside. For example, BOSH states they can help you to be relaxed and feel safe in your home by simplifying your routine and having all essential systems like fire, security, water leaks and others at your sight (or screen). **Philips Hue **brings smart lighting to everyday homes, allowing anyone to create memorable moments and automate with light. Samsung promises a totally Connected Life with SmartThings (and they do connect almost everything).


In turn, by creating a single IoT ecosystem, the developer gets the opportunity to:


  • analyze up-to-date data on device operation in real-time
  • form predictions concerning further devices operation and eliminate all potential risks
  • promptly respond to any issues with connected devices and make over-the-air firmware updates
  • implement a variety of action plans depending on the situation
  • try new business models, expanding revenue streams
  • cut hidden costs
  • improve employee efficiency


Win-win.

Benefits of creating a single IoT ecosystem

Benefits of creating a single IoT ecosystem

How To Start Designing Digital Service Platform For IoT Devices Management: tips from the practice

  1. Define business goals and learn business processes.

You should decide with your client, what issues this IoT platform will fix and what goals to achieve. For example, one of our clients, a global developer with 1 million smart buildings around the world, tried to solve the following issues using software:

  • create firmware management platform and launch it as a paid service
  • gain control over all devices at the facilities
  • create a new business model that allows for reselling firmware


All of these goals are directly related to current business processes. Therefore, their analysis is vital. You may need to upgrade some of them before building the platform. Otherwise, the last one will not live up to expectations.


  1. Decide on a way of platform creation.

You can always initiate development from scratch and build your unique product, as the Belgian MCS Solutions did. Management engaged Intellias to design a facility IoT platform that fully enables smart buildings within their lifecycle. Thus, the company has provided customers with additional value and boosted their experience.


You can and should choose a route if your business requires it. But get ready to invest more time and resources. An alternative is to use a sort of an open-source low code platform like IBM Watson Studio, XME platform or Bosch IoT Suite. Consequently, you'll also get a custom flexible product, but 2x faster and cheaper.


  1. Find a suitable vendor.

Sure, the client can deal with it by engaging in-house engineers. But one of the key challenges in building IoT platforms is a lack of expertise in this field. Sometimes you should tell the client that the time needed to train their technicals is much more than designing a digital service platform.


On the other hand, vendor-side engineers have experience and probably specialize in creating IoT software. Therefore, everyone benefits more from working with a remote team.


  1. Write down requirements for software and estimate the future project from your side.

Please pay special attention to requirements, as clarity depends on the entire future development process. You should simulate a vision for the product and convey it to anyone creating it. Besides, if you have a resource, try to estimate the project yourself. You can find an independent expert, use the analogy method, etc. It will help determine the approximate budget for the IoT platform development.


  1. Take care of product architecture.

A firmware update architecture for the Internet of Things devices is a crucial stage. An involved architect will simulate interactions between the platform, connected devices, and web app.


Consider microservice architecture first. It will allow your product to be scalable and handle countless requests simultaneously. Notice the way the architect tries to connect all sensors and the platform. You should know in advance what types of devices you are using in your smart buildings, as the quality of the connection depends on them.


  1. Use middleware.

Point-to-point integration leads to several risks. For example, one service failure can provoke downtime in a core ​process. By implementing middleware, you reduce the load on the underlying systems and ensure a quality connection.


  1. Deal with challenges.

Building a platform that allows you to manage devices remotely and make over-the-air firmware updates is not an easy process. You will have to unify lots of devices from different manufacturers using a variety of communication protocols. An indicator of the quality platform here is the secure firmware update. So take care of it, especially if you want to receive additional commercial benefits (for example, the above firmware resale).


The Bottom Line

Following predictions, there will be about 75 bln of connected devices by 2025. Considering that we're using 175 mln smart buildings now, the lion's share of devices will fall on them. It means the sooner we all think about developing an IoT platform for over-the-air firmware, the more benefits we’ll get.

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