IoT World Conference

Recently I had the opportunity to participate at IoT World 2016 in Santa Clara, May 10-12. There were thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors all highly engaged in 3 days of Internet of Things (IoT) discussions, pitches, and knowledge sharing. Bruce Sinclair, the President of IoT-Inc., opened up the first day by setting structure around the IoT discussion and urging the audience to think beyond just the device and towards software, services, and outcome-focused business results.

There was great presentation from Miguel Gamino and executive keynotes professing the value of IoT in everything from the Smart Home to Smart Cities. Panel discussions from Zipcar, Lyft, and Uber looked at the future of access over purchase, opportunities for ecosystem collaboration, and how their services were recasting city landscapes while lessening environmental impacts. Senior representatives from Microsoft, Hitachi, Schneider Electric, and Johnson Controls all provided solid IoT presentations from their perspectives. Most contained the common virtues repeated in our industry but a few offered unique perspectives.

The exhibit hall was packed with a buzz of excitement featuring some of the most innovative technology in the IoT space: Demos, product launches, flashy displays and a concurrent 200+ person hackathon. I took the opportunity to walk the exhibit hall and connected with existing and prospective partners. This took about 3 hours – walking every corridor and taking some very interesting conversations.

Outcome Based Solutions

One common theme throughout the conference was “outcome based solutions”, a new buzzphrase for some but to others it was a well-understood and necessary approach to IoT. Hopefully, most companies have moved past simply integrating RF technology into a device, calling it innovative, and then hoping for market traction. Due to a lack of creativity this approach is embarrassingly limited with market results. An outcome based, focused approach shows a level of maturity, as the “shiny penny” of IoT fades and business outcomes become the center of discussion. This is the lens we would use with any important organizational initiative. Why not IoT?

Organizational discussion should be focused around the outcomes one desires an answering some fundamental questions:

  • What if my assets could tell me when they go someplace they shouldn’t?
  • What if I could use device telemetry to improve next generation assets?
  • What if I knew when my assets were going to break before they did?
  • What insights could I glean by listening to all devices?
  • What if I simply knew where my assets were located, at all times?
  • What device data is of value to me and valuable to others?
  • How might my connected devices change/improve customer service, partners and markets?

Answering these questions, and others, specific to your business’ ecosystems, may in-fact change the very fiber of your business and industry. Purposefully combining device derived insights and data within defined trust boundaries may help organizations achieve unique business outcomes, better customer experiences, business processes, supply changes, and partner ecosystems.

Yes, the conference was filled with buzz, buzzwords, and more technology than any one person could consume. There is no shortage of technology and all vendors were striving to be heard. However, there is a shortage of well-thought-out ideas and plans for delivering business outcomes.

“However, there is a shortage of well-thought-out ideas and plans for delivering business outcomes.

It gave me pause to think about the challenges the enterprise buyer must face in weeding through technology choices and, more importantly, trying to peel back the technical and business value of each provider. The flip side of this? Whatever one is trying to accomplish in the IoT space, there are multitudes of technical choices and approaches available to solve you problem – you just have to find proven companies who can assist.

While self-education and the study of industry materials is critically important, I don’t think one can stay current through this method. I have long thought that IoT is a team sport and you need the right thought leaders and technicians on your team to be successful. It was through meetings and one-on-one conversations at IoT World that I was able to learn the most, capture the most value, and test my hypotheses of IoT.

The Internet of Things has countless nuances, depending on the outcomes you are trying to achieve or the person/vendor you happen to be speaking with. There is no question that for many organizations, IoT and connected devices is an organizational imperative. IoT involves organizational transformation and an amalgamation of devices, software, data, and business systems. There are few organizations that pursue their IoT journey independently and from my perspective, they do so at there own peril. An alternative and less risky approach is to perhaps involve an experienced team of proven solution providers to guide you along your IoT journey. Using an experienced consulting company that knows technology and business process integrations, tight delivery time frames, and has a proven track record of successful IoT rollouts may offer the needed perspectives to ensure your IoT program is a success.

Overall I found IoT World 2016 a worthwhile event and one I hope to attend again. Although I certainly experience this in the normal course of my work,  I want to see more customers and presentations with lessons learned and business results achieved, because in the end, that’s what IoT is all about.

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Steven Loving

ThingLogix VP of Sales specializing in Internet connected products and systems (IoT), enterprise software, cloud computing, and data analytics.

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