“From whiteboard to dashboard in four weeks”

Jan 12, 2017

T-Systems has partnered with Roambee Corporation to provide an innovative shipment monitoring service and leverage the Internet of Things in the field of logistics. An interview with Roambee CEO Sanjay Sharma on the partnership.
Roambee CEO Sanjay Sharma on the partnership with T-Systems
Roambee CEO Sanjay Sharma on the partnership with T-Systems.

Mr. Sharma, your company Roambee lets Bees fly for the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 as it were. What does this involve?

That’s what we call our devices because they behave like bees; they swarm out, dock onto containers or elsewhere, they industriously collect hard data and bring it back to our cloud platform, where the customer, the "Beekeeper" so to speak, can intelligently evaluate them.
Essentially, our solution consists of three components: firstly, a GSM/GPS (Global System for Mobile Communications/Global Positioning System) module that sends data to the cloud. Secondly, a hardware platform that can be equipped with a variety of sensors. And thirdly, a battery boasting outstanding energy management, with a life of between 90 days and up to six years.

So, these Bees then swarm out with the goods and products they are attached to, allowing them to be tracked & traced. Many companies are currently pursuing such an approach.

True enough, but Roambee goes two steps further. Firstly, our sensor platform is open and can thus integrate a larger range of environmental condition monitoring sensors – air humidity, temperature, pressures or moisture of the transported goods. Or maybe the customer would like to measure the carbon dioxide content permanently – no problem, we manage it. However, the second step is even more important than this versatility: not only do we collect the sensor data in real time, we mash it up with other data streams to predict the risk in each step of the journey. We can tell our customers the probability of theft, or spoilage or ETA (estimated time of arrival) and more. The solution also plugs into existing business applications, especially ERP (enterprise resource planning).

Can you give us an example?

We cooperate with major manufacturers of branded products. Companies that handle huge quantities of goods, for whom it is not only important to know where their goods are at any given moment, but also when they were delivered. This is where we come into play and, following correct delivery, can immediately trigger invoicing in the SAP system. Although such companies operate with a large number of goods, their margins are low. We enable them to significantly streamline the invoicing process and thus optimize their cash flow. We are talking about reducing the time required from 21 days to between nine to eleven days.
the Bee device by Roambee
The dimensions of the Bee device – not quite the size of a bee, but still surprisingly small: 130 x 80 x 25 mm. The weight is approximately 170 grams.

And you are pursuing this approach for the Internet of Things and the Industry 4.0 as well.

Exactly, which is why I also like to refer to the IoT as the “Integration of Things” and not the “Internet of Things”. Collecting the vast quantities of data of the future is one thing. However, it will be crucial to link the information especially with the ERP system and other enterprise applications and on this basis to derive the correct conclusions. This is primarily about risk management and predictive analytics.

And this is where T-Systems also comes into play?

Absolutely. Our customers are all over the world. T-Systems can offer them better M2M connectivity at a low cost in 200 countries. The second and particularly important contribution to added value is that the Bees must also transmit the data to a cloud somehow. Here, our customers are increasingly seeking secure, hybrid cloud infrastructures, which are also available globally, due to the possibly low latency. This is another value T-Systems provides. And last but not least, the data from the sensors mostly flows into an SAP system. Here you don’t have to search for long for a provider who is among the world’s most powerful SAP partners, because one soon arrives at T-Systems.

What other effects will T-Systems’ investment have?

At the moment, we are very strong in area of system security and goods monitoring. With the aid of T-Systems’ IoT platform, however, we will also be able to establish our services in vertical sectors. For example, the monitoring of elevators or other types of predictive maintenance spring to mind.

Is this also the reason why you switched from AWS (Amazon Web Services) to the Open Telekom Cloud as part of the partnership?

That’s right. Our customers are looking for a cloud that is both open and interoperable. An agnostic cloud that can augment with additional services, for instance from EMC or Cisco. And this is where Telekom’s Open Telekom Cloud approach is much more promising.

And how does Roambee factor in this equation?

Our motto is: from the whiteboard to the dashboard in four weeks. Our platform does not require any up-front investment, is easy to understand and can quickly be implemented as a service that scales with a company’s business demands. We help T-Systems’ customers to access the IoT quickly. Especially industrial enterprises that sometimes have a hard time embracing or integrating with new technologies can benefit from this. These companies can bundle and deploy big data and other technologies cost-effectively with our help. And as a small, nimble Silicon Valley company, T-Systems will no doubt benefit from our speed and flexibility, meaning that we will already be able to tap into further international markets next year.