IoT World Forum 2017

What is The Internet of Things?

Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else.

This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.

The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices… That’s a lot of connections (some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion).

So basically, the IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people).  The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.

IoT World Forum 2017 – What it was like?

The conference title is bit of a misnomer.  IoT World Forum 2017.

With this title, there was an expectation of very high level presentations which would be informative of the trends and impact that this new technology is set to make.  Unfortunately, the overall impression fell short; whilst the session titles were indicative of the present issues, the presentations were underwhelming.

The content could have been easily gleaned from leading sites such as CrunchBase, The Register, Lifehacker, FossBytes, Ars Technica and even the BBC Technology web pages.

Speaker Presentations

Day One
 Internet of Things: Reality Check – Maciej Kranz, Vice President of Strategic Innovation, CISCO

Maciej Kranz identified that IoT has been developing in the background, quietly changing long-standing industrial processes – fundamentally reshaping the Internet.

The reason for this shift is three-fold:

These changes have profound implications on many of the core characteristics of the Internet:

  1. Market structure
  2. Connected devices
  3. Change enablement
  4. Technology concentration
  5. Cloud/analytics
  6. Security focus
  7. Standards

These elements add up to a profoundly different Internet environment, transformed by IoT. Companies and vendors are rethinking every aspect of their business strategies including development approaches, partnerships, go-to-market strategies, supply chain, security and more.

And that’s just the beginning. As the foundation for many other emerging technologies such as machine learning, fog computing (distributed cloud) and blockchain, IoT has put industry on the path to sweeping transformation.

Emerging IoT Business Opportunities -Patrice Slupowski, Vice President Digital, ORANGE

Mr Patrice Slupowski is an established speaker and aware of the emerging opportunities that IoT encompasses. He spoke mainly on Orange’s projects in IoT covering other related technologies that fundamentally are part of and enmeshed with their projects such as AI, API’s, mobile applications, Virtual Reality and personal data.  The focus was on Telco.

 IEEE Perspective on Global IoT Market – Lloyd Green, IEEE

Lloyd Green is Director of Engagement Marketing and Creative Community Services for the IEEE.  Mr Lloyd spoke about defining, delivering and evangelizing IEEE-SA digital and marketing services to drive growth, innovation, and brand recognition. His talk was focused on initiatives on a common adoption of an IoT global standard where the industry is failing due to many standards leading to issues in relation to data privacy and hacking.  His focus was on seeking to build consensus technical standards to advance adoption of the technology across multiple industry sectors.

 GE Digital: IoT and Digital Transformation – Vincent Champain, GM, GE Digital Foundry

This was an infomercial on how is helping to drive the digital transformation in all fields (not only IoT) by bringing together all the stakeholders in a collaborative effort between the private and public sectors.  They are essentially building an open platform, where 14,000 developers can collaborate with GE’s customers and partners to create new applications.

 Transforming BT with IoT – Chris Sims, MD for Marketing and IoT, BT

Start-ups and SMEs were offered a chance to submit new IoT solutions in time for BT’s launching of BT Infinity Lab Competition.  This gives the winning company to test its idea at scale and potentially bring it to market working with BT, Techhub and other partners.  The aim is to expand and develop the company’s IoT portfolio.  This was the process of how BT dealt with the competition and results were given.

The Future of Industrial IoT – Robin Hancock, Head of Mindsphere IoT Platform Ecosystem, Siemens

One of the best quotes from the conference came from Robin Hancock who stated: “90% of the projects out there are Proof of Concept (POC) and they are based on pretty narrow use cases.”  I initially thought that this was one of the most important presentations as he was focused on talking about how to work on creating an actual product.  But then he focused on Siemens’ Mindsphere offering a cost effective, scalable cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) in developing apps.

Monetising The IoT Ecosystems – Rami Avidan, CEO, TELE2 IoT

This was one of the better presentations where a very practical solution was given on how IoT as managed to be applied to an industrial “welding project”. Basically, ESAB is a global supplier of welding consumables and equipment.  They have developed a connected welding solution entitled Weldcloud, allowing enterprises and welding services companies to better monitor and optimise the performance of their welding equipment, increase quality and develop new customer services.  Tele2 IoT have created a IoT connectivity solution allowing ESAB an easy way to build connectivity

The Missing Context in IoT: Mark Osborn, Director Salesforce IoT EMEA, SALESFORCE

This presentation was focused on Salesforce along with Customer data can maximise ROI.  The talk was focused on identifying how forward thinking customers are taking advantage of real time tech to act proactively and use information about what their customers are doing right now to prevent problems before they occur.  The talk was on Salesforce’s IoT Cloud and how it can update and combine data from IoT devices with contextual Salesforce data (IoT Profiles).

With IoT Profiles, a connected sensor sends an alert to the IoT Cloud stating that it has a fault. This alert combines with the service agreement applied to the device and suggests a course of action. For example, the manufacturer could dispatch an immediate repair team or schedule maintenance.

Product Agility and Flexible Monetization for Industrial IoT Solutions – Matthew Dunkley, IoT Strategy Director Flexera

Flexera discussed the factors that lead to successful IoT monetisation.  They identified that manufacturers who know how to bring innovative products to market and monetise them effectively will be the winners of the 4th industrial revolution.

They defined the new IoT business model with its successful execution depending on whether all the prerequisites have been fulfilled.  This is where security and an effective licensing model play a critical role.

They also identified a successful software business model as being based on insights into how customers use products.

Unfortunately, this was not applicable on an industrial scale.

How to Scale an IoT Business with IoT Cloud – Bernd Gross, CEO, Cumulocity

This was a sales pitch on how great Cumulocity is.  In some ways, they deserve it as Machination as given them the status as a leading IoT Device Management Platform Vendor.  The following is a brief description of what the company does.

Cumulocity, a Düsseldorf-headquartered Nokia Siemens Networks spin-off, offers an IoT platform available for public cloud, private cloud and on-premises deployments. It provides functionality in key platform areas and integration with 3rd-party systems if built-in features do not satisfy all require­ments. It focuses its growth on indirect sales with systems integrators, car­riers and engineering software companies.

Cumulocity also focuses on OEM sales with a dedicated sales team and through partners. Cumulocity emphasizes its platform’s ease of deployment, open integration architecture and configurability.

Day 2
Enabling the path to IoT Scalability – Neal Forse, CEO, WND UK

WND UK is a SigFox Operator.  SIGFOX is the world’s leading provider of dedicated connectivity for the IoT.  This was a infomercial on how great WND is and what they can do for the customer.  One of the best factors that came out of this was that the product doesn’t not do IP and is therefore secure.  The presentation did not go into the dynamics of this but IT IS NOT SECURE.  It uses a VPN which can be hacked.

The role of Machine to Machine Sim in IoT Business – Emmanuel Routier, SVP, M2M, ORANGE GROUP

The presentation was on how Orange is tackling IoT and how it forms part of the company’s strategic plan.  Through this plan Orange is confirming its desire to become the trusted partner for companies in their digital transformation and the benchmark operator of the IoT.  He identified the company’s vision and commitment on the following basis;

  1. Facilitating open innovation.
  2. Accelerating the development of our regions.
  3. Providing operational solutions to guide businesses through their digital transformation plans.
  4. Offering anyone and everyone a constantly growing selection of connected objects to change their daily lives

Broadly speaking the presentation was focused on Orange’s goal to help companies tap into the full potential of Big Data and the Internet of Things.

IoT Ecosystems – Maria Hakansson, Vice President and Head of IoT, ERICSSON

This presentation was one of the most boring ones overall.  Maria spoke about how the agile approach puts one ahead of the competition regardless of the services launched, business models introduced or ecosystems partnered with.

Developing Successful IoT Business Models – Dr. Sebastian Wahle, BOSCHE (Bosche Software Innovations GmbH)

Bosch took the stage and spoke about real-life use of IoT from Oyster farming to scooter rental.

Tasmanian oyster farming start-up The Yield, in which Bosch is also an investor, wanted to use the IoT to monitor water quality. Because oysters are “filter animals,” they can absorb contaminants from their environment. If the water is polluted by runoff from a heavy storm, for example, the oysters can absorb germs or bacteria that will make people sick when they eat them.

Sebastian Wahle, digital strategist at Bosch Software Innovations, calls this “The Internet of Oysters.” Data is collected by sensors in the immediate vicinity of the oyster banks. Then algorithms record and analyze the data, making it available to the farmers to check on a smartphone to find out the ideal time to harvest.

Bosch is clearly steaming ahead with IoT; its AMRA (asset monitoring for railway applications) system is in use at Swiss rail freight company SBB Cargo. AMRA monitors connected rail car and freight locations to help smooth logistics issues; it also checks for vibration and temperature to see if there is any damage along the way.

Dynamic Security and Connectivity – Remy CRICCO, Chairman of the SIMalliance

Remy Cricco, Chairman of the SIMalliance Board, explained how the eSIM addresses challenges of today’s connected world – security, flexibility and programmability.

The presentation explored:

Managing he IoT Sprawl – John Candish, SAP’s IoT Connect 365 business

This presenter was reading from a document – he was so bored that his presentation was boring.  He basically spoke about SAP’s new product entitled SAP IoT Connect 365 of which the following is a summary;

SAP IoT Connect 365, enterprise service simplifies the complex connectivity, scalability, and management of the Internet of Things (IoT) through a single contract and connection to a fully managed, cloud-based solution with global reach, a secure infrastructure, and real-time control.

eSIM for IoT – Julian Hardy, CEO, ESEYE

This presentation covered the definition of an eSIM which is the following;

The term “eSIM” relates to a new standard being promoted by the GSMA – the association that represents network operators worldwide.

It will come in the form of an integrated SIM chip, one that cannot and need not be removed from a device – something that consumer electronics manufacturers are also keen to adopt for connected items around the house as part of the Internet of Things, and something that’s been used by some car manufacturers too.

The information on it will be compliant or rewritable by all operators, meaning a user can decide to change operator with a simple phone call. A new SIM will not be required, nor should there be any time delay in switching the eSIM to its new purpose. There will also be no physical swapping over required by the user.

That was the original premise of the eSIM, but one of the advantages it offers from a design point of view is that you make a smaller device because there’s no need to accommodate a SIM card or the tray that holds it, hence the use in devices like the Apple Watch 3.

The key idea that Julian covered was eUICC Compliance for this type of device.

IoT Technology and Development Support – Steve Beck, General Manager, Telecommunications R&D Group, SONY ELECTRONICS

This presentation was about Sony’s R&D Group Technology Office.  And the initiative and projects that they are working on in developing IoT products that can help enhance Sony offering both to retail customers and on an Industrial level.  The following is from their site;

In 2016, Sony launched a new research and development initiative called the “Future Lab Program.”

The Future Lab Program embraces an approach to technological research and development that emphasizes an open creative environment and direct lines of communication with society, through which it aims to co-create new lifestyles and user value in the future. As part of this approach, the program will share concept prototypes with users while still at the development stage, and look to them for inspiration, leveraging their feedback to refine and evolve its projects.

IoT Large Venue Security – Brittany Shaheen Vice President & Chief of Staff – ARMORED THINGS

This was one of the most controversial and shocking presentations in that it upset a few delegates – the latest terror attacks were mentioned without respect for the people sitting in the audience.  But it worked and was effective.  The following is from their website.

Armored Things is using Internet of Thing devices to keep large venues safe from hackers and terrorists.

Their slogan is “We help our customers save lives, time and money.”

Armored Things automates incident response by engaging devices that are already live in many venues, such as lights, cameras, locks, and sensors.  They aim to transform policy, dusty ‘3-ring binder’ emergency plans, and translate them into instant, technology-based response.

This would highlight anomalies and detect unusual behaviours before significant harm is done.

Creating New Services with IoT – Madeleine E Martinsen M.Sc, Head of R&D Service Hoist & Underground Mining, ABB

ABB’s mining division is looking at using IoT to help prevent fires in the  mines and in its control room. It is already using the IoT and virtual reality to help support its hoists remotely. Madeleine Martinsen, head of R&D Service Hoist and Underground Mining at ABB, advised the audience to “get a partner” to help speed them into the IoT.

Conclusion

I was impressed with the overall conference content as it covered what the major companies are doing in the IoT sector.  The challenges that they are facing; the collaborations that they are being built and the various business models that are being designed to tackle the uptake of this technology.

I have some reservations however as there was a lot of selling of one services and key issues were not tackled such as privacy and security.  Some of the speakers were not even “experts” in their field and only knew about IoT on a very basic level.  This came through quite strongly when there was a discussion on tackling the afore mentioned issues as well as the issue related to energy.

And some of the presentations were literally lifted from the content of the presenting company’s website.

There is a niche for this information and the delegates did get something out of it but as mentioned in my introduction 99% of the information could be researched using key words on Google.

There is not restriction in relation to how IoT is applicable to TOC – with some digging and research, an effective conference can be created focused on the Industrial Application of IoT.