But what exactly is interoperability?

May 22, 2023

Many consultants talk about the opportunities of the IoT for manufacturers, but many manufacturers talk about its risks! Opportunities and challenges often go hand in hand, and the IoT is no exception to the rule.

Many consultants talk about the opportunities of the IoT for manufacturers, but many manufacturers also talk about its risks!

Opportunities and challenges often go hand in hand, and the IoT is no exception. While supply chain professionals are enthusiastic about the prospect of optimized operations and real-time visibility, their enthusiasm is often dampened by IT managers who fear a lack of interoperability could lead to a technological meltdown.

But interoperability, what exactly is interoperability?

There is nothing like a few examples from everyday life to better understand this notion.

Interoperability comes in handy when :
  • You are sent a Google Calendar invitation and you can open it in Outlook.
  • You take an Autolib in Paris and can leave it on a Bluely terminal in Lyon.
Conversely, the lack of interoperability is annoying when :
  • You have a Kindle and cannot buy e-books anywhere other than on Amazon.
  • You want to run a train to Spain and you have to transfer at the border because of the difference in rail gauge.
Transshipment dock at the border town of Port-Bou

Interoperability is therefore the ability of a system (computer or physical) to work with other systems - existing or future - without restrictions on access and implementation.

Technical interoperability: mastering the multiple languages of technology

At Everysens, to simplify this concept, we call our platform "polyglot". A platform is interoperable when it is able to fit into an existing ecosystem and speak its language(s).

Our platform masters different dialects: it is able to understand all types of sensors sending data to it, but also to integrate data from other operating software (TMS, WMS, CMMS, etc.).

Nesting easily in a computer system is extremely important. Why is it so important?

  • Because without interoperability, there is a risk of falling into theInternet of silos. Yet the fragmentation of data is the greatest enemy of its value. According to McKinsey, 40% of the potential value of connected objects, i.e. 4,400 billion dollars per year, will be released by the interoperability of solutions.
  • Because without interoperability, independence of choice is considerably reduced and the risk of market monopolisation is high.
  • Because without interoperability, the time to benefit is extended. With interoperability, there is no need to rethink the whole system to add a module, a "multilingual" solution will fit in with the pre-existing elements.

But then, why are only a few IoT players implementing interoperability?

Economically, creating a standard is often a way for a company to place itself in a monopoly situation. The well-known example is the videotape war in the 1970s and 1980s. Having imposed its format, VHS emerged victorious from the battle, and Betamax mortally wounded.

Acting for interoperability means working for a diversified but not fragmented IoT market, one that can address the variety of industrial needs.

Being interoperable is not so simple

There is no single technique for making an entire solution interoperable. Benoît Lheureux, analyst for Gartner, uses this enlightening metaphor:

"In the same way that you wouldn't assemble a car using a wrench alone, don't expect to build a complete IoT project simply with RESTful APIs."

But building a platform integrated into its ecosystem is not just about technology. Beyond technical interoperability, business interoperability is the operational and organizational ability of a company to cooperate with its business partners with the aim of creating value.

Creating an interoperable platform is therefore not an accident but a real choice requiring not only significant technical expertise so that the elements communicate in a fluid and standardised way, but also a real vision of the business value chain.

With this in mind, we have created a true European network of partners: we collect real-time data from your TMS and IoT sensors and centralize it in our software solution to give you predictive visibility.

Want to learn more? Schedule a meeting with our team.