The future of IoT, as told by those driving the revolution

Call it what you will – the Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything, or simply the Connected World - the reality of it is that we are on the verge of the next industrial revolution, powered by IT. With Accenture predicting that industrial IoT alone could add $14.2 trillion to the world economy over the next 15 years by improving productivity, reducing operating costs and enhancing worker safety, excitement levels are high. However, despite this enthusiasm, there are a number of key issues that must be addressed for the revolution to fully take hold.

As businesses start to wake up to the benefits of a connected world, thousands of decision makers around the world will need to acquire the technical and business know-how to develop and deploy IoT strategies across their technology stack. It’s for this reason that CloserStill Media has created Smart IoT London, the world’s largest IoT event, which will bring together some of the biggest forces within IoT to discuss and debate how businesses can truly unlock IoT’s potential. As we look forward to the remainder of 2016, some of the event’s world -renowned keynote speakers share their thoughts on what the coming year has in store...

The year of IoT

According to Michael Westcott, Co-founder of CloserStill Media, the company behind Smart IoT London, history will show that 2016 “Is the BIG one; the point at which the digital revolution becomes truly pervasive and ubiquitous. It’s a year when we have to turn promise into reality and to allow the transformative power of the digital revolution to reach into every corner of every business and offer consumers, businesses, communities, cities and even nations, a range of benefits which even now we can’t fully measure.”

This enthusiasm is echoed by Anne Lange, CEO of MENTIS, who believes that the IoT and Big Data will become a focus for both the public and private sectors this year, with the benefits of citywide IoT initiatives becoming increasingly apparent:

“For the first time in history, companies, cities and industries are discovering very specific context-rich information and insights they’ve never had access to, gaining unprecedented possibilities to interact, deal and generate value. Smart cities’ urban space management offers one of the most interesting playgrounds to test the potential of the IoT.

“New technology such as integrated IoT platforms allows city stakeholders to connect with a huge amount of real-time information by correlating different sources of data to build smart services, despite multiple standards and communication protocols. It essentially helps city managers cope with the many challenges that come from growing populations and difficulties in creating new infrastructure, and can help ease congestion, inform city dwellers and visitors, change traffic behaviour, and provide insights for better decision-making by combining together the entire spectrum of mobility data (traffic, parking, public transports). That will completely change the face of modern cities in the next 10 years.

“In an IoT world, a city will save energy by combining traffic and lighting information: huge car traffic over night will automatically commend the reduction of lamp-post luminosity, saving up to 20 per cent energy, without any change in perception from the public.”

IoT creating new business models

As well as these social and environmental benefits, IoT has the potential to drive huge economic gains and create new and innovative business models, which several of Smart IoT London’s speakers commented on.

Dr. Richard Soley, Executive Director of the Industrial Internet Consortium believes that in 2016 we’ll see “Innovative revenue streams; fresh ways of looking at security and privacy; new analytics and new services that will offer better predictive maintenance, forecasting, customer service experiences, better asset efficiency; and most important - completely new business models that disrupt many current businesses.”

Ian Moyse, Rackspace, a Eurocloud UK Board Member and Cloud Industry Forum Governance Board Member, added that “Disruption has already changed the world, with six companies now accounting for 53 per cent of the NASDAQ’s $664 billion market value (Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Netflix and Gilead). In 2016 we can expect to see increased innovation and disruption throughout the year and beyond, as we are entering a time when legacy approaches, size and brand, will be viewed as totally impertinent.

“Organisations will be challenged by the necessity to survive and by millennials entering businesses with no emotive ties to the past; therefore they need to rapidly become agile and become more receptive to enable business at the speed of technology. First mover advantage and today’s incredible speed of market grab enables unknown brands to rapidly become global leaders, like we have never seen before.”

Show me the money

With so much talk about IoT, the use cases, the benefits and the devices, how do you actually make money from an IoT device? Moyse advises that “Businesses needs to uncouple themselves from old processes, mind sets and technologies, and embrace what is now possible to better serve external and internal customers. As we have seen with disrupters such as Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, Just Eat and Bitcoin, customers are increasingly open to new, more efficient approaches, and providers are finding new ways of monetisation. From subscription-based models through to freemium services, being monetised from the suppliers on the system or the value of the data mining capability the service provision gains for them (take Shazam as a case in point).”

According to Anthony Fulgoni, Business Development at Kii, “Monetisation will be a major discussion point for 2016 – the need to create a regular monthly recurring revenue, which will fundamentally change the business model for device manufacturers. Before, the worry was the cost of the device, the cost of distribution, warranties and so on. In order to ensure the end user pays for the service, you first need to connect the device manufacturer to a mobile carrier, for example, which already has a billing relationship and can charge as part of their existing service.”

As noted by Fulgoni, a natural progression of monetisation will be partnerships. “We‘ve already seen this trend take off in 2015 with the likes of EMC teaming up with Vodafone to develop a platform for industrial IoT service development, Huawei partnering with German software giant SAP and testing and platform provider Jasper announcing a strategic partnership with Microsoft and hooking up with IBM. As IoT development accelerates, we will see more of this and in particular major mobile network operators who will be looking to others to provide additional ’smart' services to end users, such as device management, analytics and platform services.”

Technological developments

2016 will also see significant technological advances, as several speakers discussed.

“The IoT market today is like Lego blocks 20 years ago. Back then, diverse building blocks of various sizes and colours were available; with imagination, patience and skills one was able to build everything and anything,” commented Srdjan Krco, PhD E.E., CEO and co-founder, DunavNET.

“Similarly, with IoT platforms, radio technologies, sensors, data processing, visualisation and other software components, one can build any IoT system, given adequate expertise, skills and imagination. What is missing are pre-packaged IoT solutions that combine all necessary components, from sensors, to radio technology to cloud platform and web and mobile applications, optimised for particular application, but built using generic, reusable components to ensure interoperability and rapid expansion - similar to the way Lego packages selected components required to build fire stations, cities, Star Wars or robots, together with detailed assembly instructions.

“In 2016, IoT market needs productification, i.e. ready to use ("plug and play") solutions, optimised for vertical use cases, but built using horizontal platforms and components. Furthermore, these plug and play solutions need to be widely available on different marketplaces, providing global reach and seamless end-user experience during deployment and usage, hiding away all the complexity behind.”

Ian Moyse, Rackspace, added “Customer service and delivery are now king, and with the Internet of Things we will see creative leverages being applied. For example, imagine a fridge that can automatically order food for you, being provided free by a retailer on the basis that it is tuned to only order replenishment products from them, or a device that monitors your driving route, and time of day, and rewards you with discounts on your car tax for avoiding peak roads at peak times. The possibilities are endless now that the barriers of technology and affordability have been removed.”

The ‘uncomfortable middle ground’

However, despite the huge benefits IoT will bring, there are vital issues that must be addressed to unlock its full potential. According to Dean Johnson FCSD, Head of Innovation at Brandwidth, “We’re living in the ‘Uncomfortable Middle Ground’, that awkward grey area between the creation of platforms and devices and realising their potential. Therefore, in order to be ground-breaking, plenty of good (and bad) ideas will fall by the wayside in the rush to offer a seamless experience. That top layer is by far the toughest to crack but the rewards for perseverance are definitely high. With great arm-waving comes great responsibility and the need to deliver on a promise. In order to achieve this, our connected world needs to be truly connected.”

The responsibility mentioned by Johnson is also echoed by Mike Weston, CEO at data science consultancy Profusion:

“If the IoT does gain widespread adoption, there comes a host of issues with securing consumers’ data, which is both a blessing and a curse. At the moment, it is generally considered that innovation is outstripping the security of IoT devices. These could become rich pickings for any hackers, should one of these devices become commonplace in every home.

The data produced through IoT devices will allow business to create better targeted ads, more informed products and be better at resourcing. What each business will need to understand when using data produced by the IoT, is that each individual has a certain tolerance for ‘creepiness’ and businesses must not exceed that, to avoid a potential public backlash.”

This way up

There is no doubt that 2016 we will see huge strides forward in the Industrial Internet of Things, which is radically redefining just what it means to be connected, especially for businesses.

That’s where Smart IoT London 2016 comes in, bringing together the entire IoT ecosystem in a way that hasn’t ever been done before. The global technology and business event, set to be the largest gathering of Internet of Things (IoT) expertise in the world, will provide a vital platform for nurturing IoT evolution, and adds to the vast number of reasons why 2016 will be the year of IoT.

Smart IoT London 2016 will take place on 12-13 April, ExCeL, London