Salesforce and the Internet of Things (IoT)

The Inevitable Advance of IoT

If you haven't yet heard of the Internet of Things (IoT), you will be soon! The movement in that direction is inevitable. With the propagation of wifi and cellular networks, and the fact that an internet connection point is available at almost any point on the planet, it is now possible to connect devices to the internet almost anywhere and have those devices either reporting to or being controlled by office computers in distant locations. It is expected that there will be 20 billion "things" connected to the internet by 2020.

IoT Devices Now Talking to Cloud Based Systems like Salesforce.com

Further, with the incredible momentum of cloud based software systems like Salesforce.com, we are now at the point where devices out in the field, attached to any type of equipment, can be controlled via these cloud based systems or collect data and report that data back into that cloud based system. This means that a person from a laptop or any mobile device can monitor or control devices anywhere they might be physically located.

As Salesforce.com Partners, we spend every day using the capabilities of Salesforce.com to solve the business problems of our clients. We've been watching the market carefully for the emergence of the various tools, services, devices, and methods needed to make the IoT a reality for our clients.

Measure, Record, and Report on Any Parameter

The technology has advanced to the point now where we can install inexpensive devices on nearly any kind of equipment and have that device be controlled by systems in Salesforce.com or have the device measure nearly any parameter such as temperature, motion, location, air quality, or vibration - just to name a few, and have those parameters be received by Salesforce and have action taken in Salesforce based on the data received.

Further, given the powerful reporting and analytics tools available in Salesforce.com, we can build intuitive reports and charts of nearly any type, providing insights and information from connected equipment never before possible.

Great Customer Support & Increased Sales!

One of the most likely scenarios where this might be used is to have a sensor installed on a piece of equipment that a company sold to their client. By placing various sensors on this equipment, the company can now monitor its performance and automatically create cases in Salesforce.com if certain limits are reached.

A company that sells conveyor belts might measure motor vibration, and when a vibration limit is reached, open a case in Salesforce and send a technician to the location to perform maintenance.

This can also be an important way to increase sales given the fact that when limits are reached, billable service work can be initiated or new equipment or parts can be sold, in many situations long before the customer would have had a breakdown, with the ensuing downtime and frustration, and sought out a replacement, possibly from a competitor.

Custom IoT Solutions Against Salesforce.com

The key tools are now in place and we're using them to connect devices (or "things" in the IoT vernacular) to the internet via wifi signals and routing the input or output to Salesforce.com.

The data from these devices can be recorded in Salesforce against an Asset (or any database) so that a record of its performance is kept. We can test that data against any limit established on the Asset and take any action upon the passing of that limit.

Given the extreme customizability of Salesforce.com, we have the tools to develop nearly any page, database, process, or function needed and have it operate, analyze, and respond to the data being received. We're already developing custom user interfaces in Salesforce that give users the means to control remote devices in far away locations as well as measure and respond to the data collected by sensors, all in a completely custom way, based on the needs of the business and their clients.

Even Insert Human Intelligence

Another super exciting development that we are starting to explore is the incorporation of human intelligence into IoT Solution. For example, let's say a business owner in a retail setting wants to send an SMS/text to his backup staff if the number of patrons on the retail floor exceeds 30. We deploy a wi-fi or 4g enabled camera facing a retail floor that takes snapshots at specified intervals - say every 5 min, pictures are sent to real time crowdsourcing platforms to analyze, and the crowd answers a question of Y/N - does the number of patrons exceed 30. Then these values are programmatically returned to the system in order to trigger alerts - say a text message or a Salesforce Case. These crowdsourcing platforms can actually be programatically incorporated into salesforce visualforce systems, so our code asks the crowd this question, a few people from the crowd answer the question, the answers are returned to salesforce, which then takes the appropriate action.

Get Help with Your IoT Project

Do you have a "thing" you want to control or monitor from your Salesforce.com instance? We'd love to hear about your project and discuss how we might be able to assist you with an IoT setup to communicate with Salesforce. You can reach us through our website at www.snapptraffic.com


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