A look at UX, personas, and intent-based networking for the IoT edge

It’s easy getting entranced by Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Don’t get me wrong, I love the technology as much as any other technophile, but at the end of the day, enterprise IoT solutions only have value if they empower people — all sorts of people — to make meaningful and valuable changes to business processes or drive product and services innovation.

MachNation, an IoT platform test lab, spends a lot of time evaluating best-in-class IoT solutions. And one of the criteria that we use to evaluate IoT solutions is usability – the technology, tooling, and support provided by a vendor to ease deployment complexity and reduce total cost of ownership. But excellent usability is complex in an IoT world, because there are myriad types of IoT users. We call these IoT users, personas.

That’s why MachNation is excited to find great examples of IoT solutions designed to meet the needs of multiple personas.

For example, in January, 2019, Cisco announced intent-based networking for the IoT edge with a new Catalyst IE3x00 Rugged Series of switches and the IR1101 Integrated Services Routers. This announcement extended Cisco’s intent-based network hardware and software from carpeted areas of an enterprise onto the shop floor, outside, underground, and many other places. With this announcement Cisco also provided a set of IoT certifications, tools, validated designs, and an enhanced IoT application developer experience through DevNet. Cisco’s strategy is a great example of a large technology vendor recognizing that the success of an IoT solution depends on empowering multiple IoT solution personas.

Based on new MachNation research into designing best-in-class IoT user experience for multiple personas, let’s take a look at 4 typical IoT solution personas and how they are supported by Cisco’s new intent-based networking for the IoT edge.

  • IoT administrator – An administrator’s primary role is to configure, monitor, and maintain the functionality of an IoT platform. This person oversees the overall functioning of the technology and ensures the security of the solution. While an IoT administrator can be in IT, oftentimes an IoT administrator is a technologist in an OT role. To empower an IoT administrator, Cisco provides tools including Industrial Network Director that gives an IoT operator or floor engineer better device visibility and troubleshooting, IoT Field Network Director to manage and monitor the field network, and Cisco DNA Center, a tool to provide overall administration, access control, and management of this newly announced Cisco technology. An IoT administrator is focused on discrete day-to-day tasks with the IoT platform, and tools like these provide the management required to be successful.
  • IoT operator – A platform operator’s primary role is to use an IoT platform or application to execute common day-to-day business-centric operations and services. An operator is often an OT person responsible for machinery on the shop floor, logistics in a warehouse, or remote assets in a mining operation. This type of IoT user also benefits from Cisco DNA Center’s dashboarding and visualization tools. The announcement by Cisco of its intent-based networking for IoT edge moves classic Cisco networking tools from the IT environment into the OT environment.
  • Hardware and systems developer – A hardware and systems developer’s primary role is the design, integration, and configuration of IoT hardware and assets. These developers are essential during the initial planning and build phases of the network, but they may have ongoing systems responsibilities. Cisco launched a set of IoT validated designs — blueprints for success — with tested and deployed IoT architectures to reduce IoT deployment time-to-market, ensure enterprise-grade security and usability, and reduce the friction of taking a proof of concept to full deployment. Using these design, developers can rely on proven architectures for their IoT solutions, rather than having to create customized approaches.
  • Platform and backend developer – A platform and backend developer’s primary role is to develop customer-specific application logic and integrations within an IoT deployment. A developer often codes a series of applications that are used for analytics, data aggregation and normalization, or any type of event processing. In addition, a platform and backend developer is responsible for integrating the IoT platform with other business systems such as MES, ERP, or CRM software. To make sure these developers are supported, Cisco DevNet has launched a new IoT Developer Center. The IoT Developer Center has a bunch of training materials, developer tools, and resources so users can start building IoT applications today.

And wrapped around the new Cisco IoT offerings is Cisco’s IoT Specialization, a program designed to train its partners — administrators, operators, hardware developers, and platform developers — for success in enabling an IoT solution.

As a company that spends most of its time testing IoT platforms and providing countless recommendations to drive a best-in-class experience for all IoT personas, MachNation is delighted to find new offerings in the market that consider the diverse needs of IoT solution users.

Additional resources

For more information about Cisco IoT, visit www.cisco.com/go/IoT

For more information about MachNation IoT platform testing, visit our MIT-E Complete blog

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