Raúl Leal is a Cuatroochenta programmer whom I approached some time ago in search of information on IFTTT, a platform capable of communicating with services (applications) based on the following logic: “When this happens, you have to do that.” With the pragmatism of programmers, he told me:
“In the end, all IFTTT does is connect an action from one service to an action from another service. Each service action can have its configuration parameters, but in general it is very simple. The good thing is that, being so simple, it is very easy for the end user to connect action to reaction.”
Raúl Leal, programmer at Cuatroochenta
His interest in IFTTT was not accidental. He had learned about Cuatroochenta’s collaboration with the Textile Industry Research Association (AITEX) with the aim of automating actions with Internet Of Thing (IoT) sensors in home textiles. It seemed almost science fiction to me. Following some work by the consulting and programming teams, the solution proposed to AITEX had been the use of IFTTT.
IFTTT works with applets. Unlike programs, an applet cannot be executed independently, it does so in the context of another program; for example, a web browser that supports the applet programming model (the majority do, today). What it does, as we have seen in the first paragraph, is to connect two or more applications or devices to each other, to allow them to do something that those applications or devices could not do by themselves, or whose evolution to achieve this would be too expensive. It is a perfect symbiosis in the field of technology.
In the 10 years the IFTTT platform has existed, integrated applets have evolved and, from the basic scheme of “if this, then that”, they have come to be able to offer more than one answer for a situation: “if this, then that and that” and/or add conditional filters, that is, to consider two conditions before making something happen (“if this and that, then that”). Conclusion:
What makes IFTTT so fascinating?
Su capacidad de incrementar la conectividad digital.
On a small scale, the application allows the generation of a chain of automatic and relatively intelligent reactions to a given action, but the greatest potential lies in the ability to generate “connected experiences” through the integration of services. In the future, everything will be a service.
In 2019, Deloitte highlighted seven trends in technology for the next 10 years. We talked about one of them, DevSecOps and the cyber imperative, in another article, but there are two other trends fully aligned with connected experiences and in which IFTTT could help us. First, smart interfaces, which are those that combine, to a greater or lesser extent, machine learning, robotics, IoT, textual awareness, advanced augmented reality and virtual reality, which will ultimately allow the “micro-personalisation” of products and services; and second, the so-called Martech – technological marketing.
Martech applies technology in a way that makes data capture and subsequent decision-making as reliable as possible, for which real-time and automated data collection integrated into our systems is ideal. Something like what Vessyl intended – the glass that knows what you are drinking – but with better prospects, since Vessyl, despite all its future potential, not only as a container for liquids, but even in the field of health, was not commercialised.
However, the Vessyl example makes very clear the scope of the sensorisation (IoT) of any element, from the textile, as in the case of AITEX, with which a shirt can provide details of our body temperature, our perspiration, heart rate or movements and, with this information, make decisions such as turning on the air conditioning automatically.
Other applications would be, for example, to detect how, how much, or when an animal feeds and to be able to know if it is unwell, or to control the need for nutrients of certain crops based on data from the land and the behaviour of the climate.
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Towards omnipresent sensorisation
IDC estimates that by 2025 there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices, generating 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data. Not bad if we consider that the approximate volume of data from the entire internet in 2015 was 8 zettabytes. Thus, the expectation is that this will be multiplied by 10 in 10 years’ time. And although it is true that this data will mostly be in sectors such as video surveillance, industry, and the automotive industry, other sectors such as healthcare or smart homes will increasingly contribute, where the arrival of 5G will increase bandwidth to transmit information while latency will decrease, which will continue to lead to new applications emerging.
The information to be transmitted by all these devices will include audio, images and video, but also metadata generated by the IoT devices themselves. Tools such as ELK Stack will allow storing and treating this data in NoSQL databases to directly extract the maximum value by incorporating them into other cognitive systems (with artificial intelligence or machine learning) to get the most out of the company’s Big Data.
Integration cost reduction
In the future, everything will be a service. Under this premise, we must inevitably move towards systems of integration. The consumer, when buying a product or service, expects a new connected experience. To achieve this, it is necessary to be in a position to provide these clients with control, compatibility and connectivity.
For example, Philips has understood this perfectly and allows the connection to its Hue bulb through a Garmin sports watch, to change its intensity or colour. It offers a clock that can connect with Spotify, so that we can listen to music directly, from our favourite playlist, no matter where we are. All of this is mediated by systems such as IFTTT.
This invites us to consider the following for our products:
The answers to these questions help us realise that our company is not sufficiently prepared to tackle the scenario towards which we are walking and that we need to seriously consider digital transformation.
For some time now, leading consultancies, such as Gartner, have been warning about the challenges of integrating a large volume of IoT devices and how a hybrid integration approach can help us in our digital transformation process. As Capgemini explains, modernising the hybrid integration and microservices architecture by enabling APIs will be key to driving digital transformation and maximising the potential of the well-known API economy.
“By 2020, integration work will represent 50% of the time and cost of building a digital platform”
Massimo Pezzini Gartner
Beginning to use applications in a public cloud (such as IFTTT, Dropbox, or Google Drive) together with our information systems (ERP, CRM, databases), which are increasingly located in a private cloud, represent an excellent way to move forward and be part of the so-called API economy. Cities like Louis Ville or City of Edmond, for example, have already understood this and are using all the resources that technology offers to improve citizen management.
IFTTT is not the only platform that allows the creation of connectivity. Companies such as ZAPIER, or Microsoft Flow, also do provide this. However, its simplicity in offering solutions, its potential for improvement through active community listening, and its evolution towards voice integration on platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and other services, as well as the exploration of the possibilities of interaction with augmented reality, means today it is almost a basic standard to provide customers with digital connectivity solutions between products and services.
In the future, everything will be an interconnected,
service, so as a company it is time to move toward that future