IOT West Conference Takeways

IoT – Are we in an early market or have we already been there for a long time?

Emanuel Bertolin Blog

Last week I attended the IoT West Conference where I presented a paper around the app management work we are doing with Jaguar Land Rover. As with any conference I attend, I always find myself walking away with some insights, IoT West was no exception. The conference hosted a wide cross section of industry verticals – from connected car which I was there to discuss, to industrial automation, enterprise, and health care. It became obvious quite quickly that the IoT space is still trying to define itself, as evidenced by one of the talks that focused purely on developing industry definition for IoT, what it is and what it isn’t. Consensus was not met, but great discussions. The other indicator of an early market is the absence of many customers and end-users. There were many vendors and industry players and some case studies, but most talks were around the technologies from the embedded devices, connectivity, fog and cloud architectures and of course big data analytics. I found it interesting how IoT was viewed by most as an island, much like mobile was in its early days of data connectivity. Over time, mobile wasn’t any longer mobile advertising or mobile commerce – it was just advertising and commerce and mobile was a channel. Today, IoT is a specific market, but over time it will be an extension of a product or service because of connected devices. I walked away from the conference with a lingering dichotomy, on the one hand seeing a new market trying to define itself with all the excitement and visionary thinking that surrounds it. On the other hand, the thought that IoT is still really new. From my early career in controls systems and SCADA, I was involved in connected sensors and controllers decades ago. IoT is ironically the mass adoption of so many technologies and concepts that have been around for decades but were commercial restrained due to expensive and proprietary solutions. Will the IoT space flourish? absolutely, but why now? The maturity of connectivity technology including hardware, software and networks are at a price point that connected devices can happen with little commercial friction. However, the difference is that now, all the connected device will be able to securely share information with other subsystems and create magic that was never possible in the early private and proprietary world of connected devices. IoT is not so much about individual communication with end devices, although that is fundamentally the enabling part of IoT, it is really more about the intersection of so many systems in the cloud. I get excited about the idea of so many life improving solutions for consumers or business optimization solution for enterprises that will occur when IoT goes full throttle.