Last week at ITEXPO Austin 2012 we spent some quality time with ThingWorx, a cool startup company that has developed an M2M app development and data intelligence platform that we believe may be second to none in the industry.
ThingWorx started life back in 2009, when its three founders brought together a set of experiences in building manufacturing focused software products and began looking for the right way to apply these experiences to a broader set of businesses that have operational processes that include people, systems and devices (in 2012 jargon "devices" become the "Things" in the M2M phrase "The Internet of Things") critical to product or service delivery. The end result, three years later, is the company ThingWorx, and the ThingWorx development platform, which was delivered in late 2011 when the company emerged from stealth mode. In spring 2012 ThingWorx began to generate serious traction in the M2M space and the company has been solidifying its M2M presence ever since.
The platform aims to accomplish the following:
- Make "Things" searchable, social, mobile, and mashable.
- Deliver the ability to significantly increase the speed of M2M application development to get ahead of the rate of industry change.
- Apply the concepts of "Connected Intelligence" to operational processes involving people, systems and devices.
The resulting ThingWorx platform combines the functionality of Web 2.0, search, and social collaboration, and applies it to the world of "things," including connected products, machines, sensors, and industrial equipment. Businesses can use the ThingWorx platform to rapidly model and deliver applications and connected solutions across markets ranging from manufacturing, energy, and food, to M2M remote monitoring and service. Ultimately ThingWorx is directly applicable to the emerging "Internet of Things," with the goal of taking a nice catchphrase and theory and turning them into real applications that include smart cities, smart grids, agriculture, and transportation -- to name some of the more obvious M2M environments.
The ThingWorx platform treats all Things in a given ecosystem (people, systems and the physical world) with "radical" equality. This enables processes connecting Things in any combination to be rapidly modeled, built and deployed. ThingWorx collects, tags, and relates different data types from these Things, and creates an operational data store that becomes more valuable as the quantity of data -- but most importantly, the density of relationships - increase. This data store in turn becomes the basis of context aware collaboration and interaction among all the elements within a given ecosystem of Things.
ThingWorx collects, tags, and relates the unstructured, transactional, and time-based data that connected devices create. The traditional approaches to developing usable business intelligence from M2M data have two failings: they can't provide the holistic view of these three data types and, intelligence tools (except search) are typically limited to a small group of users within an organization.
Data itself is now becoming so enormous that it has spawned more tech industry jargon -- Big Data. We've provided a very interesting perspective on big data in another article we've written, based on an ITExpo Austin 2012 session that was held last week, that goes a long way towards helping to explain some of the challenges that ThingWorx provides a solution for.
SQUEAL is a term ThingWorx has trademarked that refers to a key tool the company has built that provides the framework for search, query and analysis. SQUEAL acts on unstructured, transactional and time-based data and simultaneously provides three-dimensional insights into the operational data store. SQUEAL provides the fundamental means to finding the valuable business information embedded in big data, and for discovering the critical patterns that exist within that data for any given ecosystem on their own, without requiring time consuming, expensive and oftentimes impossible to execute data curation/analysis and/or other expensive IT support.
Next, the outcome of SQUEAL activities can and most likely will result in the need for deeper analytics and/or the creation of ad hoc business processes. To serve this specific need ThingWorx created what it calls "Mashups." The ThingWorx mashup builder morphs to the capabilities of numerous different types of users and their needs. For example, developers, business analysts and even casual business users each require different types of views into the data and resulting business intelligence that ThingWorx generates. Mashups allow different types of dashboards, ad hoc workspaces and full-featured business scenarios to be developed for every possible type of user. These mashups are easy to build using an intuitive drag and drop development paradigm. The image below shows how ThingWorx brings these elements together.
All of this ThingWorx processing and development capability ultimately allows businesses to create highly usable "connected intelligence" from otherwise seemingly disparate connected Things and potentially vast amounts of generated Big Data. The platform turns potentially year-long M2M development projects into projects that take a fraction of the time to develop and to rapidly deploy in the real world.
ThingWorx and Digi International Hook Up
We're quite impressed with what ThingWorx has developed. We're also impressed with the traction the company has been able to develop.
As an example, last week ThingWorx announced that Digi International -- an established M2M solutions vendor that provides a range of wireless products and a cloud computing platform tailored for devices and development services that help its customers get to market quickly with wireless devices and applications - selected ThingWorx as its technology provider for dashboarding within iDigi. The ThingWorx platform allows iDigi Device Cloud users to quickly visualize key network metrics and
information within iDigi Manager Pro, a major device cloud management application. Digi’s entire solution set is tailored to allow any device to communicate with any application, anywhere in the world, and ThingWorx will enable Digi's customers to create far more detailed "business intelligence" -- through SQUEAL and mashups -- than was previously possible.
Any M2M vendor and any enterprise or business that is involved in the M2M space needs to scope out the ThingWorx platform. It is clearly breakthrough technology and it is the smart way to deal not only with M2M "Things" but with all that Big Data the world hates to otherwise have to think about. It's an M2M win-win that no business can afford to ignore.
Edited by Rich Steeves