Highlights of IoT World, 10-12 May 2016, Santa Clara, CA + IEEE Member Comments


For many years, we’ve heard tremendous hype about the Internet of Things (IoT) with its immense promise and potential, influence and impact, and how it will radically change our world.  Consulting companies like McKinsey, research firms like Gartner Group, and large multinational equipment companies like Cisco, Ericsson and GE, have all predicted from 20 to 50 billion connected devices by 2020 and more beyond.  

According to Gartner, the “endpoints of IoT will grow at a 31.7% CAGR from 2013 through 2020, reaching an installed base of 20.8 billion units.” 

That tremendous “off the charts” hype continued at the largest IoT conference in North America last week (Tuesday, May 10-through-Thursday May 12, 2016) at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  I was told by the registration desk that there were over 10,000 attendees, while observing every square inch of exhibit space was taken.  Also, every nearby parking lot was full during show hours Wednesday and Thursday.  Please see IEEE Member comments below.

IoT Industry verticals like smart home, connected cars, wearables (fitness trackers, medical monitors, etc), industrial IoT, manufacturing/factory floor, smart building/smart cities were all represented on the show floor, conference sessions, and vision theater.  There were also sessions and exhibits on IoT security, IoT cloud, big data/analytics, etc.

Overview of Executive Keynotes on Tuesday, 10 May 2016:

The main theme of Tuesday’s executive keynotes – “Disrupt, Innovate, Monetize” – with new business models, improved productivity and other benefits- greatly added to the hype, while providing little or no substance to resolve the critical issues that have plaqued IoT since the name was coined (replacing M2M Communications).  

Tuesday’s executive keynotes (many were sponsored talks) were from Hitachi, SAP, ADT, Microsoft, Silver Springs Networks, HP Enterprise, Schneider Electric, and JCI.   Several key themes emerged as per Bitnavi’s blog:

Ubiquitous technology: Various software packages, smaller & more power efficient ARM processors, sensors,cameras, wireless LAN & WANs are coming together to enable the IoT to be a reality, if not a fractured market (even within the same industry vertical) due to lack of universally accepted standards.  

More about that in a follow up article where we will convincingly prove that connectivity will NOT be ubiquitous!

New business models: Companies such as Kaiser Permanente (healthcare), Bosch (automotive components), PepsiCo (consumer) and Harley Davidson (motorcycles), among many others, were mentioned as end users of IoT technologies to bring faster, better, more reliable products and services to market. Many of these companies are using technologies such as SAP’s HANA platform to improve manufacturing, lower maintenance costs and improve the overall customer experience.

Smart cities are becoming a reality: Many municipalities from Boston to Chicago and Los Angeles are levering IoT technology to improve the quality of life. For example, the City of San Francisco is using IoT in its quest to become the first U.S. city to have a fully connected “ecosystem of transportation,” where driverless cars and transit, ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, and even bike-sharing apps will be connected through one platform where residents can easily plan their transportation from Point A to Point B, according to Timothy Papandreou, chief innovation officer for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Collaboration is critical:  While in the world of technology, being first to market seems to be the norm, almost all presenters discussed collaboration as being critical to the success of IoT. Clearly this makes sense as no particular company can possibly provide an end-to-end solution, given the vast array of technologies available within the ecosystem.

SAP Keynote at 2pm May 10, 2016:

Tanja Rueckert, Executive Vice President, Digital Assets and Internet of Things at SAP, discussed 2 main drivers within all industries as being critical to the adoption of IoT.

1.  IoT is enabling disruptive business models. And second,

2.  Companies are now using IoT-enabled technologies to optimize their business processes.

Ms. Rueckert gave examples of non-tech companies such as Under Armour, several shoe manufacturers, and others of using SAP’s software along with thousands of connected devices to collect and analyze millions of data points related to improving operations. Whether its using predictive maintenance to improve maintenance and service costs, or asset intelligence networks to lower their inventory expenses, companies in all industries are now involved in this movement.

You can see a video of her presentation here. 

All of the executive keynote videos are at https://iotworldevent.com/iot-channel/ and https://iotworldevent.com/keynote-presentations/

HP Enterprise announces Universal IoT Platform at 4pm 10 May 2016:

There is no doubt in anybody’s minds, IoT will be a seismic shift in how we interact with technology. Massive change will sweep through all industries, again, and just as mobile communications and the Internet did before, business models will evolve rapidly, with new services and offerings already rapidly becoming available,” according to Nigel Upton, General Manager of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) IoT platform and Global Connectivity Platform.

The new functionality in HP Enterprise Universal IoT Platform was said to be a driving force in building the infrastructure that will enable and sustain the growth of IoT.

“The value of the IoT lies in enriching data collected from devices with analytics and exposing it to applications that enable organisations to derive business value,” said Nigel Upton, director and general manager of IoT at Hewlett Packard Enterprise who spoke at 4pm Tuesday.

“The HPE Universal IoT Platform dramatically simplifies integrating diverse devices with different communications protocols, enabling customers to realise tremendous benefits from their IoT data, and is designed to scale to billions of transactions tried and tested in rigorous large scale global telco and enterprise environments in a variety of smart ecosystems.”

The HPE universal IoT platform is aligned with the oneM2M industry standard and is designed to be industry and vendor-agnostic, enabling IoT operators to simultaneously manage heterogeneous sets of sensors, operate vertical applications on machine-to-machine (M2M) devices, as well as process, analyse and monetise collected data in a single secure cloud platform.

The HPE Universal IoT Platform provides increased support for long range, low power connectivity, ensuring that LoRa® and SIGFOX deployments can be supported alongside other connectivity protocols, including cellular, radio, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. 

“From multiple back office IT systems and diverse connectivity technologies to business processes, the biggest barrier encountered by enterprises deploying IoT across multiple countries is complexity,” said Jim Morrish, chief research officer, Machina Research. “The most important thing a supplier can provide enterprises is simplicity – HPE certainly helps with reducing the complexity, pulling together components of an end-to-end enterprise IoT offering.”

The HPE Universal IoT Platform is available worldwide and can be deployed on premises or in a private cloud environment for a comprehensive as-a-service model. Read more about this HPE product in the company’s press release.  

Note that a similar IoT Management platform was announced by Hitachi.  The Lumada platform of the new Hitachi Insight Group aggregates data from nodes and edge devices and performs analytics. 

Schneider Electric & Silver Spring Networks Keynotes & Panel Session:

1.  Schneider Electric announced ecoStruxure.io, an IoT cloud service linking offerings across its portfolio of switches, breakers and electricity distribution products for buildings, factories and cities. Duke Energy is already showing cost savings by using Schneider’s IoT platform, which includes technology from ARM, Cisco and Intel as well as Microsoft’s Azure for IoT cloud service.

“We’ve identified IoT as the biggest opportunity for us,” said Prith Banerjee, Schneider’s CTO in a Tuesday afternoon keynote speech where he traced the hsitory of Scheider Electric. 

“We have been connecting things for a long time in industrial automation, but the difference now is the speed and scale of rolling out multi-site and multi-tenet apps, the speed of message processing and the different business models,” said Michael MacKenzie, vice president of IoT platform delivery at Schneider, speaking in a panel session on Wednesday. “This space is huge and there are a lot of problems left to solve,” he added.

2.  In a keynote speech on Tuesday,  Mike Bell chief executive of Silver Spring Networks said that the near term ROI for IoT will be in industrial and smart cities deployments. Silver Spring is trying to turn its 23.6 million private smart meter installations into a public IoT net it calls Starfish.  The company added London to a handful of cities already supporting the concept, but it’s still a few weeks before developer’s kits will be available and prices and first users announced.

“I’m a huge believer IoT is here and getting bigger, but we have to start reinforcing and making this real, so please get out there and start building and shipping things,” Bell said.  “We’re at the beginning stages of IoT,” he added. (NOTE THAT WAS EXACTLY WHAT IoT CONFERENCE SPEAKERS WERE SAYING IN 2009 AND 2010 WHEN IT WAS CALLED “M2M COMMUNICATIONS” OR “SMART GRID.”)

Comment & Analysis:

  • The same problems that plagued IoT six years ago are still front and center:  security, privacy (of personal info, medical measurements/records, etc), wireless LAN connectivity and – BELIEVE IT OR NOT – wireless WAN connectivity (at least 6 specs besides the current version of LTE are proposed for IoT WAN access!
  • BT, HP and a few start ups announced various access networks between IoT and the core network. BT has gotten into the IoT data base business by designing a common API to access data stored in many different formats within its network.  Thought that was impressive and gutsy for a network provider!  John Davies  gave an excellent, but somewhat rushed presentation of BT’s place in IoT ecosystem.
  • Also, there was no consensus or even DISCUSSION on how much of the “thing” data, control, and status signals should be sent to (or from) the Internet vs being handled by an access controller.   Of course, there will likely NOT be any controller for heavy industrial equipment in the field or a cargo container moving through the ocean…But what about a home or factory floor?
  • Connectivity is just the 1st step and may NOT be IP based (different packet format and addressing).  Many other protocol related issues are still unresolved: message format above the Transport layer, Authentication, Secure messaging, Failover/protection/restoration, OAM&P? etc.   They all seem to be different for the IoT vendors I talked to at the show!
  • Finally, what ever happened to Smart Grid?  Has it been folded into “Smart Electricity IoT” for electric power companies?  Or is it part of “Industrial IoT?” Or something else?


IEEE Member Discussion List Comments (any IEEE member can join for free at comsocscv.org):

  • In my opinion, one of the major elements of its size is that, to a large extent, nobody knows what IoT is, or other what IoT isn’t yet.  Thus any vendor who feels like they may  have a piece of “this next big market” feel like they can’t afford to not participate.   About the only thing that seemed to be agreed was that IoT networks didn’t have humans at the end of the network.  Beyond that, any vendor that had anything at all to do gathering, processing, transmitting or storing digital data or any service business that supported any of those items was there claiming they were into IoT.

  • Thank you so much for sending this to us.  Represents a lot of hard work, and good judgement on your part to distill all this stuff. In this regard, it seems to me that “Everything” and “Nothing” have a lot in common, in the sense that they are both quite different from “Something.”

  • It was so packed, that a guy I was set to interview was 20 minutes late as he couldn’t find parking. He had to drive back to his office and take Uber to the conference.  He is with ABB and they see being able to improve efficiency and operations of “things” they built and installed years ago – like transformers, motors or street lights. Their motto is something like  “Internet of Things, Services and People” – I suppose the humans become one of the “things” with the various wearables that are increasingly being embraced.  I will publish that interview in a few weeks.
  • The only other interview I was able to do in my hour or so at the conference was this one with Jennifer Kent of Parks Associates who talked about the propensity of people with smart home gizmos to more readily embraced connected car features. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………
  • Alan, I find this type of note from you (and with your expertise) exceptionally useful. It’s great bottom up “G2”! Keep it coming!………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….