The power of an IoT platform

Companies are developing more products and services that are ready to connect to the internet as data has become a valuable resource for creating business value. An Internet of Things (IoT) platform enables you to collect, analyze, and monitor data in real-time. However, business leaders often want to understand better how to connect their product or service to the internet, retrieve the data, and use it to create business value.

Thomas Dalberto, Account Manager Benelux at Altair, supports companies to innovate better through engineering simulation: “We develop engineer software to do digital prototyping, manufacturing process simulation as well as IoT platform and Data intelligence solution. Our approach is called ‘simulation-driven design,’ which means that we digitally simulate how your product or service reacts based on its design. Through mathematical- and physical equations, we test how it will thrive in the real world. In short, Altair provides the knowledge and technology needed to implement your digital twin strategy.

Data and IoT: wind turbines and beer breweries

How can you leverage your data with an IoT platform? Thomas demonstrates this via two business examples: wind turbines and beer breweries.

Wind turbines 
If you want to develop wind turbines, you create a prototype and test the structural components, electric motor, aerodynamics, and so on. The next step is to start using the prototype and collect, through sensors, relevant data such as wind speeds, rotating speeds, and maximum vibration. Thomas: “The IoT platform not only collects data via sensors but can also analyze and monitor it. Besides, it is an opportunity to innovate faster and reduce the cost of prototyping. For example, your IoT data shows that your wind turbine blades are turning too fast, which increases the maintenance cost of the motor. Due to this data insight, you can adjust the design of your wind turbine to avoid high maintenance costs and even failure of the engine. Last but not least, the data also makes it possible to create a model that predicts the maintenance of your wind turbine to avoid downtime.”

Beer breweries
Do beer breweries need data? Thomas explained during the DataBeers Brussels Meetup why beer breweries need data and how an IoT platform helps you to leverage data by:

  1. Creating new products
  2. Improving marketing efforts
  3. Protecting assets and fraud detection

Thomas Dalberto presenting the beer breweries case at the DataBeers Brussels Meetup


1. Creating new products

A Spanish brewery wants to extend its beer offerings. They decide to take a data-driven approach. Thomas explains: “First, they collect and analyze data about the ingredients of their popular beers with the support of our IoT platform. Based on the results, they create four new beers out of barley, yeast, hop, and water. Then, they test the new beers at their customers and monitor in real-time the consumption. How does this work? They use a flowmeter, an IoT device placed between the beer keg and the tap. Each time the tap opens, the beer passes through the internal blades of the flowmeter and sends electronic pulses to the connected wire. The data goes to the IoT platform, and after analysis, a dashboard visualizes it. It allows the brewery to identify the most successful beer and to start commercializing it. The good news is that the new beer is already available at the supermarkets in Spain.”

2. Improving marketing efforts
Before using the IoT platform, it took the marketing department of the Spanish brewery two to three months to collect enough data to create a meaningful sales report. “By implementing the flowmeter and the IoT platform, they now monitor in real-time the beer consumption. It also enables them to get information about, for instance, the average amount of beer served per day, the most popular beer, and the best period for a marketing campaign. These data analytics help to monitor and improve the beer marketing efforts, Thomas says.” It is even possible to use the data for creating a predictive marketing model to determine which strategies and actions have the highest probability of succeeding.

3. Protecting assets
5 and 1 million! Already in 2014, Baker reported this is, respectively, the amount stolen by thieves, not in euros cash but stolen kegs. Therefore, asset protection is a necessary legal action for breweries. The IoT technology assists them in tracking the position of each beer barrel via sensors connected to the internet: from brewery to customers, and vice versa. Though the IoT data supports breweries to manage their assets, it is also possible to create a data model for predictive logistics to lower the cost per order. A good example is to predict when to organize the delivery of full kegs and pick-up of empty kegs.

In summary, an IoT platform enables you to collect, analyze, monitor, and visualize data. It is an opportunity to efficiently and effectively create business value with data. Besides, it is easy to change your strategy based on the data you receive from the IoT platform and to develop models for predictive purposes.

Do you want to leverage your data and create business value with the power of IoT and data intelligence? Contact: Thomas Dalberto, Account Manager Benelux at Altair

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AWS Dev Day Belgium 2019

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AWS Dev Day Belgium – November 13 in Mechelen

Enterprises are looking for efficiency and the desire to gain and keep a competitive advantage through faster innovation using Artificial Intelligence technology. Yet, there aren’t enough IT professionals with the necessary expertise in the cloud. 

One of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) mission is to make machine learning accessible to all developers by removing the barriers to build these systems. It is now possible to integrate machine learning services directly into your mobile- and web-application by calling application programming interfaces (APIs) for AI services like Amazon Rekognition, Amazon Lex, and Amazon Polly. All are intended to put the power of computer vision, conversational agents, and text to speech into the hands of all developers. That increases the accessibility: now, how can you ensure that machine learning accelerates your time to market?

Patrick Sard, Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services (AWS), has many years of experience with cloud and cloud services. “The cloud makes it easier to quickly build, deploy, and scale your machine learning (ML) models. Additionally, our AI services help you incorporate image recognition, video recognition, natural language processing, and speech to text in your app without requiring deep knowledge of AI or ML. AWS has the broadest range of AI services and has released more than 200 machine learning features and capabilities in 2018 alone. In fact, 85% of TensorFlow projects in the cloud run on AWS,” he says.

Building your Machine Learning capability

The AWS machine learning stack consists of three layers: top, middle, and bottom.

• The top layer has ready-to-use AI-services based on pre-built data models. Ideal if you miss deep ML expertise. There are six categories of services: vision, speech, language, chatbots, forecasting, and recommendations. Each of these categories has one or more services (see figure 1). You bring along your data and effortlessly fuse these services into your application. In other words, you consume the AI services immediately without having to think: how do I build a model first?

 The middle layer of services, Amazon SageMaker, focuses on data scientists and developers with prior knowledge in ML. You conveniently build, train, and deploy better machine learning models at scale. How? By using pre-installed optimized algorithms (or bringing your algorithm if you prefer), one-click training, and automatic model tuning to achieve the most accurate predictions. Last but not least, one-click deployment ensures that deploying your model becomes a straightforward task.

 The bottom layer of the stack handles the complete infrastructure such as servers, compute power, and storage. It is also the layer where you manage the installation and deployment of machine learning frameworks. Patrick: “This is for engineers who want to set up the infrastructure and machine learning framework themselves.” 

Figure 1: The three layers of the AWS machine learning stack

Customer Cases

To better understand the advantages of machine learning for your business, Patrick shares three examples of customers who are already using it in their applications.

1. Healthcare
SkinVision, a Dutch company, built a mobile app to self-assess your skin health. One out of five Belgians is having skin cancer at some point in their life. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor your skin. However, that is easier said than done. The SkinVision self-assess app allows you to take pictures of your skin, and the AWS machine learning-based algorithms assess those in thirty seconds. After that, staff dermatologists examine the image to control accuracy.

Patrick explains: “Although the app does not make an immediate diagnostic, it indicates if your skin cancer probability is high, medium, or low. That helps you to determine if you have to schedule an appointment with the dermatologist. Besides, the data collected by the app provides dermatologists better insights into skin cancer. The app even has the option that a dermatologist contacts you if your skin cancer probability is high or medium. SkinVision has already analyzed more than a million different images and uses this to improve the accuracy of its data model. The Department of Health and Social Care in the United Kingdom recognizes the SkinVision app as a means to self-assess the probability of skin cancer.”

2. Transport
Convoy, a company in the United States, realized that 40% of the trucks on the road are empty (by the way, the same proportion also applies to Europe). “To improve the truck’s efficiency, they came up with the idea to create a platform that better matches shippers and drivers. So, they created a mobile app, a digital online marketplace that uses AWS AI services to analyze shipping jobs along with trucker availability. That gives them the information to recommend matches that are timely and cost-efficient. As Convoy works with many shippers and drivers, its AI can take advantage of more data from the entire freight network for demand forecasting,” says Patrick.

3. Finance
Davinci, a financial organization, based in the Netherlands, has a software as a service for loan and mortgages. They provide this software to financial institutions in the Netherlands. The customers of these institutions use it for the online processing of their loans and mortgages requests. Patrick: “If you apply for a mortgage, you have to upload official documents like your identity card and salary fiche to support your application. Davinci infers the data on these documents with the AWS machine learning services. The algorithm learns how to spot the right information in the right place and optimizes the data model accuracy. That helps to reduce the repetitive manual tasks performed by the financial professionals, although they are still in charge of the final decision to approve a loan or mortgage”.

Do you want to accelerate your time to market by putting machine learning in the hands of every developer? Register for the AWS Dev Day Belgium on November 13 in Mechelen.

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Business Essentials – Learn to Speak Business

Business Essentials: Learn to Speak Business Program

Are you looking for an excellent opportunity to increase your business footprint and to help build the confidence and insight we all need to achieve business results and to communicate effectively with, for example, colleagues, customers, and business partners? Join and benefit as a sponsor of the ‘Learn to speak business’ program organized by Vlerick Business School, Trends, and Trends-Tendances. 

Learn to speak business

The ‘Learn to speak business’ program aims to facilitate everyone in an organization to become familiar with all business essentials, and to gain the knowledge and self-confidence to speak out and realize projects. How do you learn the essentials of business language? By developing knowledge and skills in the following five management modules: strategy, finance, marketing, operations, and people skills.

The first edition of the ten-week online ‘Learn to speak business’ program starts on November 21, 2019, with a kick-off event and ends on March 3, 2020, with a graduation event. During these two networking events, students, professors, and sponsors connect to build lasting professional relationships. Furthermore, every two weeks, a new module becomes available online. The use of different learning formats helps students to get the most from the program – including readings, short videos, quizzes, a business simulation, and opportunities to get feedback from peers.

Building blocks of the ten-week online ‘Learn to speak business’ programThe ten-week 'Business essentials' online program is made up of different building blocks.

Five management modules

The ‘Learn to speak business’ program consists of five management modules:

1. Strategy
2. Finance
3. Marketing
4. Operations
5. People skills

Module 1: Strategy 
Carine Peeters, Professor of Strategy, explains that a strategy is not so much a plan but rather a continuous conversation about choices, focus and differentiation. What is a good strategy? It starts with the realization that strategy is not only a topic for top management. The ability to think and act strategically is a crucial skill at all levels of the organization.

The aim of the strategy module is to teach you the language of strategy. You develop an understanding of the basic concepts, learn to ask the right strategic questions, and become comfortable discussing strategy. That results in a better insight into the own organizational strategy and a clear view of what constitutes a winning strategy. Finally, you will learn how to contribute to a successful strategy and identify actions for improvement.

Module 2: Finance
Wouter De Maeseneire, Professor of Corporate Finance, emphasizes that it is necessary to develop a helicopter view of finance. Why? Because every employee contributes to an organization’s financial results. What is the cash flow? What is a profit and loss statement? Insight into your contribution to the financial results enables you to determine what you can change and what you cannot influence.

The aim of the finance module is to make you comfortable with the basic financial concepts and to give you economic insight into the results of an organization. It helps you to take responsibility for your contribution, and to define actions for improvements of the financial results.

Module 3: Marketing
Fred Lemke, Professor of Marketing and Sustainability, illustrates that strategic marketing knowledge and skills are a must in a strong, dynamic, and competitive market. That means it is essential to define your marketing strategy and activities from a customer’s point of view.

The aim of the marketing module is to provide you with the tools you need to identify relevant strategic market players and their interests.

Presenting the ‘Learn to speak business’ program

Module 4: Operations
Ann Vereecke, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management, demonstrates that operations management is of strategic importance to an organization. As a general principle, it is critical that the operations unit actively cooperates with the other organizational units and vice versa.

The aim of the operations module is to gain insight into the operations terminology and to understand the importance of cooperation between operations and other internal and external organization areas.

Module 5: People skills
Katleen De Stobbeleir, Professor of Leadership, advocates that the traditional leadership style based on command and control has to shift to a connected style of leadership that focuses on coaching. The three fundamental elements of coaching are goals, feedback, and support.

The aim of the people skills module is to gain a better insight into your coaching and communication style.

Sponsorship options

The ‘Learn to speak business’ program offers companies a gold and silver sponsorship. Besides, it is also possible to create a customized sponsorship package.

Feel free to request more info about this great opportunity to boost your business footprint: Contact Desiree

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