A few short weeks ago, thousands of IoT industry professionals descended upon the Santa Clara Convention Centre to discuss the state of the Internet of Things. With focused streams on the Connected Car, Wearables, Industrial Internet, Connected Home, and more, IoT World was certainly *the* place to be for anyone trying to build a business on the growing universe of connected devices. For those that were unable to attend, here’s what you missed:
- Partner, partner, partner: The most common theme at the conference was the cooperative mentality. Everything from industry giants like GE hooking up with small developers to competitors working side-by-side is all on the table in IoT. Beyond just the relative infancy of IoT, rampant fragmentation in technology, business models, and use cases is opening the doors to the necessary partnerships to fulfill the needs of enterprises and consumers across the globe. Because no single organization has all the pieces, building a strong ecosystem of partners is a fundamental part of deploying solutions. IoT World exemplified that going it alone is simply not an option.
- Flexibility wins: As the pace of innovation accelerates, the desire remains strong to avoid vendor lock-ins or proprietary protocols. Following on from the focus on partnering, IoT companies must be open to change. Open APIs, built-in configurability, and business model flexibility allow organizations to rapidly build the right solutions for their niches without long, costly development cycles.
- Platform is a loaded word: More than any other word, even IoT itself, “platform” gave way to the most confusion. It seemed like every company at IoT World had an IoT Platform. The problem is that the word “platform” doesn’t give enough context into capabilities and it is certainly the case that not all platforms are created equal. In a panel discussing the transition from hardware to software business models, panelists agreed: platforms are solutions that allow third parties to build on top of or plug into it, and must have the ability to scale with their own visions. Not every piece of technology needs to be a platform.
- Cloud + IoT = Win: Cloud computing is crucial for the success of IoT. With massive amount of data being collected and analyzed by the billions of new sensors coming online, the cloud is the only viable solution for the storage and processing of that data. But it doesn’t stop at data. Services and applications for IoT are being orchestrated in the cloud across every large vertical. Cloud ecosystems for connected vehicles, homes, and wearables are forming to meet the specific needs of users in those industries. Each will have their own marketplaces for vendors, services, apps, and data – all with the built-in flexibility of the cloud.
- Don’t forget the edge: While the cloud is king, not everything will make it to the cloud. Lower level networks, storage, and compute will coalesce in the “fog” where mission critical operations take place. Not every sensor or actuator will be connected to high speed LTE networks, although further upstream a gateway may be. Those designing solutions for IoT will need to understand the real world conditions that their products will face, including intermittent connectivity and limited power options.
IoT World was an incredible show that really focused in on the solutions, trends, and issues facing the burgeoning market. From the partnership mentality, to the abundance of platforms and standards, 2016 looks to be another year for companies in IoT to reinterpret their approach and solution offering.