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June 2016

Interview WidasConcepts: User-oriented and secure cloud operation


Customized customer experience begins with login.
Wimsheim, 22. June 2016              The IT-Consulting firm WidasConcepts, with Customer Identity Management as a Service (cidaas) offers an intelligent connect between user convenience and IT-Security. When it comes to complex management of customer identities across all digital channels, the SaaS solution provides adequate support from which not just cidaas providers but their customers profit as well. Thomas Widmann, Founder and CEO WidasConcepts, talks about the potential of the software solution and the opportunity for customer oriented companies to establish a real win-win situation.

  1. The customers across numerous industries come into contact with companies these days not only in person, by phone or computer – Mobile Devices and Apps have long been among the most common tools. How to companies confront this development?

Many companies provide custom apps and portals with various tasks and priorities for their customers. These often use custom and proprietary user account management methods. The possibility of a Single Sign On (SSO, one account for all channels) or even a much more comfortable social media login option is not usually given.
In a digitized world companies make available to their customers various interfaces (web services), which must be protected. Also customized permissions must be supported and managed. Whether Customer Identity Management is seen in conjunction with SSO and Security API in businesses, is questionable.

  1. What are the needs of customers, when they come into contact with a company over the internet?

Customers want to be known and personally attended to – and that too, by latest from the date on which they sign in with their user account. Individuality in addressing them thus plays a fundamental role: Businesses should not approach their customers consistently with the same schemes, but give customized offers.
With so many companies and deals, the fact that customers today – depending on how often they use a system or access the respective provider – no longer are able remember each individual user ID and associated passwords. This is especially the case if they want to access individually created accounts that they rarely use. In addition, those who use apps are also accustomed to not having to login repeatedly – because there, users are usually instantly online. i.e. they sign up once, when they access the app. Even days later, a new registration is not necessary, unless a Customer identity management system sporadically considers this necessary.

  1. The service aspect is itself a requirement that customers have formulated long before the wide use of the Internet. Has the demand for individuality in the customer approach with the advent of the network got a new dynamic?

We can see clearly that social media login is now already become a standard, particularly in the e-commerce sector. Many companies in this area already offer such login options. Many other industries have not yet realized the potential behind it. In general, one must also realize that we are not the fastest in Germany, when it comes to such adaptations.

  1. How can the customer experience designed to be as smooth as possible across all channels?

Basically, the customer experience can be steered decisively in a positive direction already, when the users login with a single account and use a variety of services – thus eliminating the cumbersome logging in into different accounts, which also often differ in the login procedure. The ability to be instantly online, enhances the positive experience further. In addition, if it is also possible to be simultaneously logged in to various endpoints, the whole range of comfortable use-options manifests itself: customers contact their providers in this way not only through websites or portals, they can be simultaneously logged in on the smartphone or tablet and nevertheless be recognized as the same person. This is a clear added gain in the user-oriented interaction.

  1. What is the added value that cidaas has to offer in this context?

cidaas does everything what customer experience entails, like I just said: This begins with the ability to choose from various social media providers, so that a customer can login with his habitual account. cidaas offers SSO, so that the account can be used across all channels. The customer additionally has the option to be instantly online. Even more important for providers however is, that they can integrate their Web services to other systems. Very often companies that use apps and mobile devices, clearly offer more services than other companies. These interfaces must of course be protected reliably. To ensure this requirement, cidaas offers out-of-the-box API Security, so that a company can make secured services available for third parties, i.e: partner companies and customers.

  1. Keyword Security: A customer login via social media profile is comfortable but also carries risks. How safe is the solution in the event of unauthorized access attempts?

We ensure a strong authentication that the person who signs up, is clearly identified and also permanently represents that person. This is guaranteed using Big Data technologies. Where there is uncertainty regarding the user identity, more information about the user are queried. We then send an SMS, for example with an additional code to the registered mobile phone number, with which the customer additionally confirms his identity. This is something that many proprietary solutions that companies have today, cannot yet vouch for.

  1. How do companies benefit from the use of cidaas?

The topics customer safety and customer identity management are among the core focus aspects of WidasConcepts. Therefore we dedicate ourselves exclusively and constantly take care about the security aspect. A company usually cannot guarantee this in such a defined manner. Safety of course is a clearly defined need for them as well. However, the actual capital and investment should flow into the core business of the company to be able to provide the best possible service for their customers.
WidasConcepts provides Customer Identity Management as a Service from the secure, cloud system hosted in Germany. Integration from a company’s view point is thus very simple – because no personal resources, such as that for the operation, for software updates and maintenance of the system need to be delegated. Customers of WidasConcepts benefit across the board from our constant commitment to keep the software safe.

  1. Can the solution be integrated into existing systems? What expenses does such an implementation entail?

The technical effort for implementing the first solution is approximately five to fifteen days. The successive cidaas steps can be subsequently completed. Ultimately, we follow a standard, by which many systems can be easily integrated.

  1. Is the solution also scalable?

cidaas itself is not visible to the user: The system always corresponds to 100 percent of the corporate identity of our clients. It is ultimately all about the customer registration and the login functionality of the client’s company. On the other hand there is the possibility, during registration to query upon extended customer information. For this, custom fields are offered which the client can use to perform a meaningful registration. Finally, additional adjustments are of course also feasible keeping in mind the extended integration in the company. Again this is possible following the registration, in accordance with the cost.

  1. Keyword customized usage: What options do Providers with cidaas have, in order to further optimize the customer experience for registered customers?

Through social login, a company that uses cidaas can access information of its customers. The basis being, that the customer who performs registration on the system, is ready to pass on information from his social network – about contacts, hobbies or interests. The customer decides exclusively himself as to what he wants to share. This information can be used in sales and service, in order to offer personalized experience. This corresponds to the requirement of the customer too: Because if he shares information, he also expects that the company uses this to offer him personalized services.
These are the two sides of the coin: The company gets more avenues for the interaction with the customer, but must in return redirect the added value for the benefit of customers. This will be gladly accepted.

  1. What scenarios can be realized in the future with solutions such as cidaas? Where are we heading in the areas of customer comfort and customer experience?

Basically it applies well to all such areas, where accounts are used, in order to protect the user’s identity. In this regard, there are constantly new technological possibilities – think of Mobile Phones with fingerprint or screen unlock-patterns being built instead of a password for authentication. Such concepts will be obtained out-of-the-box with cidaas. And one remains always up to date. Furthermore, companies are increasingly making Web services available to third parties in order to be a part in the digital world.
In future it will also be necessary accordingly, to offer users enhanced services based on the local intelligence. That is, depending on location, time or emotional state of the person, these services will be selected.

  1. To what extent are social media logins gaining more significance?

Today one can clearly see that the number of customers who use the social media login, is rapidly increasing. And the willingness of new customers to register in this way, is now more accepted than the conventional registration form, where everything has to be entered again and again manually. This plays a fundamental role, especially in cases where such a service will be used only once. Here the customer’s trust in the provider is of great importance, which completes the circle: The safety aspect comes to the fore here as well.

  1. So is the conclusion, that companies using cidaas, in future have significant advantages as far as customer loyalty is concerned?

Exactly. Companies receive an out-of-the-box well thought-through solution that provides their customers a very safe and comfortable access to their portals, apps and services. This improves the utilization and strengthens customer loyalty.
For businesses, there is almost no added value, which justifies the in-house development of such a solution. When thinking about the ever-changing security threats alone, or new authentication methods, one can easily estimate, what additional expenses may result therefrom. cidaas in contrast, with a charge starting from € 900 / month onwards is very lucrative for businesses.

About WidasConcepts GmbH
The innovative IT consulting company WidasConcepts supports its customers since 1997 in successfully shaping their business processes. WidasConcepts develops modern and future-oriented concepts in the areas of Big Data, Internet of Things, as well as mobile and web-solutions. It aims to create intelligent business solutions that bring more success to the customers in the competitive market. The company serves its customers strategically from the business analysis up to the implementation of the overall solution for a wide variety of platforms and end-devices. WidasConcepts transports the bigger picture of IT. The company headquartered in Wimsheim, Germany and branch office in Bengaluru, India. WidasConcepts has currently 80 employees and is a member of the high-tech Association BITKOM.

WidasConcepts Hackathon

The goal of the WidasConcepts Hackathon is to create „Smart Office“ solutions and to integrate it into existing IT infrastructure. Four teams: Blue, Red, Yellow and Green are formed each with color coordinated Tshirts. Each group gets an envelope with budget allowance. The use cases are distributed quicker than expected and the event kicks off at 10.30 am under the motto Keep Calm Hackath On.

10:55 am
While group red is in search of a moderation kit and group green is looking for a camera, group blue has already described the first whiteboard. I meet group yellow in the coffee kitchen. Here the start was set at 11:15 am. Meaning, the organizational aspects are already taken care of.

11:10 am
The first entry to the base station.
11:33 am
Group green is right in the middle of the first sprint and group red presents its strengths and interests, in order to distribute the roles in the group. The moderation kit has also been found. Lunch options are partly discussed, coding is simultaneously happening.

12:14 pm
It’s become pretty quiet in the Widas building. The groups are engaged in the conception of their solutions. While outside the sun shines, the air conditioner is running in the building, so that people can work.
13:10 hrs
The Party Pizza is delivered, the teams take a break excepting group green. Here the work is still on. Group blue is now again up and going with more strength.

13:58 hrs
Get some coffee first, and then it there is no stopping group red. The soldering iron is used and in parallel, several workflows are initiated. The group is cheerful and optimistic. Group Green has now gone for the lunch break.
14:36 hrs
Update group blue. The basic architecture is laid and the first piece of software running. The second sprint is currently on track.
15:33 hrs
Group green is researching market solutions and in parallel working on voice and face recognition. There is no notice to the base station, not yet. Group red has the first prototype that has successfully passed the test and even group yellow is doing well: The architecture is in place, the data transfer is in progress and the interfaces are designed and currently being implemented. Group blue reported initial success in implementing the interface.

16:20 hrs
Group blue makes a pause and also group yellow comes out to get some sun.
16:57 hrs
Although group blue is currently struggling with browser incompatibility problems, all are confident already to have a nice product by the evening. The painting and video-transmitting is functioning. In contrast, group green has conflicts now nearing the end of sprint with the results. Update group red: the sensor is accessible via Bluetooth and group yellow did announce a running web app and iOS app but has not yet been able to communicate with the light.
17:45 hrs
Group green draws its initial conclusion: Face Recognition runs, speech recognition seems more difficult. Unfortunately nothing can be yet demonstrated. As things stand there is still a lot to do.

18:20 hrs
Status report from group Blue: Local whiteboard works, currently working on functions: open, store and post. In parallel, the distributed application is being prepared. The group is, of their own accord, well in time. Half an hour before the official end of the first Hackathon day, the group red also conclude. The window sensors communicate with the hub, which in turn evaluates the received messages, combines them, and forwards it on to the broker. The group is sure about being able to demonstrate tomorrow an executable prototype with executable software and an appealing user interface. The last words of the group yellow for the day: It’s hard work!
08:05 am
A couple of people sitting again at their use case, others having breakfast. Not all the Hackathon participants have arrived yet.
08:38 am
Status Group green on the second day of Hackathon: Meanwhile, the app for speech recognition is now running, communication with the broker is being taken up, but this is not working as it should. Some are easily tired, the halting progress is slowing the enthusiasm but small successes continue to lead the team. Group yellow is well rested although work was getting done long after, let’s say, it was already dark. Today’s vote follows in a few minutes. With group blue, the core functionality is in place, the collaborative work is possible, smaller functions will be defined in the next sprint. Then the group decides either for a nice solution or the integration of more features. Here, work was going on until midnight, so that definitely everything would be completed. However, the budget is sufficient only for chips as lunch. The group red is, more or less rested, it did take longer than planned (originally wanted to stop at 19:00). Minor progress in the project has led to an 80% coverage of the “must haves” and yet there is also some time buffer for the “nice to haves”.
10:53 am
The trophy and prize are waiting to be awarded.

11:32 am
Group Photo group red. The sensors are completed, the hub is completed, the MQTT broker is ready, the Visualization app is implemented and the system configuration is also completed. Currently intricacies are being carried out. Just towards the end, group blue is having big problems. The solution is currently not connectable to the internal Widas T-broker because it does not allow a secure connection. The solution must however be safe. Still, the group is confident to be able to solve the problems in a timely manner. The idea is to possibly use a bridge. Group green is currently working on linking the image software. This must be trained however, and that proves a bit problematic. In parallel, the technical concept for the real world is getting drafted. Slowly, the hardware is running out, so currently the stepper motor coil cannot be controlled. With group yellow, the results are being mapped to the stories and subtleties are being worked out. Here, the different lamps can already be remotely controlled. Soon it’s going to be lunch time and today its Döner/Kebabs.
13:52 hrs
Last update before the presentations. In group blue the planned functionality scope is fully implemented, the completion of documentation going on, one can even implement an extra feature eventually. The chosen theme is considered particularly interesting, one looks forward to what can be demonstrated. Naturally, group blue wants the trophy. Group yellow is in the fifth and final sprint. What remains is the presentation, the real architecture and the cost estimate. Lunch is then skipped, not due to time constraints, but because one is looking forward to the final grilling. There is a short pause now. Group green has again optimized the prototype to show something meaningful. The integration of voice and facial recognition will be shown separately, because time is running out. The concept of cost estimation is yet to be completed. Looks like the team is going to be occupied to the very end. The group is however at 17:30 ready against all odds, to take the winning trophy that says at least milestone M4. Finally group red is ready to present. The responsive Sway presentation is finalized, communication and integration done. People are busy with fine tuning. The group believes to at least make it to the fourth place. Although the suspicion arises, that a deliberate understatement is made.

16:00 hrs
The presentation of the Hackathon results starts punctually. Blue starts with usable distributed whiteboard, followed by yellow with intelligent lighting circuit, green with access control by voice and face recognition and red with intelligent window sensors. It is already clear that all groups have worked with total commitment and that a substantial group dynamic has emerged. The models are functional, can be demonstrated and integrated into the Widas IT infrastructure.
18:00 hrs
Prize distribution. The jury has decided: Red team wins the WidasConcepts Hackathon 2016!
Now its grill time already!

Meet WidasConcepts at the Insurance Telematics 2016 conference, Olympia London

The global auto industry is undergoing rapid transformation, with the emergence of an ecosystem of connected cars, processes, people, things, cloud and GPS systems. There is collective intelligence hidden here, that can be mined to provide real-time services that can significantly enhance the driving experience.

With its product CarbookPlus, Widasconcepts aims to offer exactly this. At the upcoming conference to be held from the 28th – 30th June 2016, we look forward to showcase CarbookPlus and its many advantages – such as the easily maintainable Logbook, tracking your trips, finding the best fuel station, marking your favorites, vehicle and fleet management, community exchange and much more.

We heartily welcome you to our stall, CC9. For more information about the event, please visit: https://connectedcarsworld.com/

Keyless / RFID Smart-City-Usecase Part 1
Written by Marvin Siegert

Open the door via RFID & MQTT

Friday, 27 May 2016 00:00

The Smart City continues to grow. In our small Lego city (Smart City), we combine many smaller showcases in the field of Internet of Things (IoT). We have found a use case for many sensors. Traffic monitoring, traffic light control, fire alarms or the trash level control have been implemented and will be reported gradually in the coming blog posts.

This article deals with yet another Showcase – the contactless opening of a door via RFID or via MQTT Message. The aim of the showcase was to employ the RFID technology and to use the communication within our MQTT network.

The User-Stories

The User-Stories

As a resident of Smart City, I should not have to carry my keys with me any more, but open the doors of my house by means of an RFID tag.

Success Criteria:
  • A house was built from Lego
  • 3 LEDs (green, yellow, red) are placed.
  • An RFID reader is mounted.
  • The green LED on the door is lit, when the door is open
  • The red LED on the door is lit, when the door is locked
  • The door opens when a known RFID tag is detected by the reader
  • The door remains open for 5 seconds
  • When an unknown RFID tag is detected, the red and yellow LEDs flash alternatingly for 5 seconds
  • When an unknown RFID tag is detected, the LED light chain available in the MQTT network is triggered to blink red for 5 seconds long.

User Story 2

As a resident of Smart City, I want to open the doors of my house by entering a 4-digit code on my smartphone.

Success Criteria:
  • A mobile application was created
  • In the application, the user can enter a 4-digit numerical code
  • In the application, the user can send the code
  • The application is available both as native as well as a webapp

User Story 3

As a resident of Smart City, I want to see my scheduled appointments for the day, as I enter my house.

Success Criteria:
  • There was a connection made to the Google calendar.
  • The scheduled appointments for the day will be filtered.
  • The user will be informed about the filtered appointments.

The Planning

For an IoT project, the implementation comprises of a combination of hardware and software. On the hardware side we will be using the following equipments:

  • The Osram Lightify Led-Stripes (Zigbee-Protokoll) from the fire-station Showcase [1]
  • A Raspberry Pi
  • An RFID Reader 125 kHz [2]
  • An LCD Display [3]
  • A Loud speaker
On the Software side the following components come of use:
  • Python Script to implement the Logic [4]
  • The Debian Derivative Raspian for Raspberry [5]
  • Paho MQTT Library (JavaScript & Python) [6]
  • Ionic Framework for the Webapp / Native App [7]
The individual components are connected to each other wireless as shown:

[1] http://www.elv.de/osram-lightify-starterset-mit-gateway-und-2-m-rgb-led-streifen.html
[2] http://www.seeedstudio.com/wiki/index.php?title=125Khz_RFID_module_-_UART
[3] http://www.amazon.de/HD44780-Module-Display-Anzeigen-Zeichen/dp/B009GEPZRE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446553796&sr=8-1
[4] https://www.python.org/
[5]https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/
[6]https://eclipse.org/paho/
[7] http://ionicframework.com/

In the next part of this blog series we will be going into the technical details precisely and explain RFID and MQTT in conjunction with WebSockets.