More than 8000 visitors from over 70 countries gathered last week in Barcelona, for the IoT Solutions World Congress. I was one of them and had the chance to meet and talk with very interesting people, that play several roles in the tech industry. After an exciting exchange of ideas about this brave new world of the Internet of Things, here are my 4 key takeaways from attending the congress:
1. Proof-of-Concept is (still) the ruling king
Going to an event like this, I was expecting that the most common keywords (or buzzwords) were to be ‘Big Data’, ‘Predictive Analytics’ or ‘Edge Computing’, but what you would hear everywhere was ‘Proof-of-Concept’. If I had to bet, I would say that the words “Proof-of-Concept” were spoken at least once by each of the +8000 visitors.
We can understand why Proof-of-Concepts (POC) are really important at this time. Every established company fears being disrupted by IoT and is testing the waters, trying to understand where will all this eventually lead. At the same time and from a more practical view, they are trying to see what current solutions already make business sense and add value to the bottom line.
There are more advanced solutions that are slowly leaving the Proof-of-Concept stage, being Predictive Maintenance the most advanced at this stage, benefiting from the already installed systems (sensors, telemetry, M2M) that are common in manufacturing, transportation, and utilities.
If I had to guess, I would say that solutions for Agriculture are next in line to be launched at a production level.
2. IoT disruption is industrial, not consumer
Sam George, Director for Microsoft Azure IoT, showed that according to McKinsey & Company, “70% of value enabled by IoT will come from B2B scenarios”. While consumer IoT space, like connected homes, connected cars, and connected appliances make the headlines in mainstream media, the first disruption is already happening in business-to-business scenarios.
My perception is that, ultimately, these B2B scenarios empowered by IoT will lead to improved and even completely new consumer experiences. IoT is no more than technology aggregation, and this aggregation is coincident, in time and interest, with a focus on Customer-Centric organizations.
We can imagine how connected manufacturing will impact connected logistics, that will impact connected supply chain and, at the end of this connection (yes, think of it, one single connection!), is the, also connected, customer.
3. IoT is a team game
The single connection that I mentioned in the previous point, that links the entire value creation chain, isn’t going to be built by a single company, no matter how large and powerful it is. New collaboration scenarios are emerging, and companies that are looking into adopting IoT will have to consider this. Large companies and small niche players will have their space, and, as always, industry-specific domain knowledge is going to make the difference.
4. We are ready to close the circle
What makes IoT unique is that it marks the point where for the first time all the technology pieces are available to build such a large puzzle. For the first time in history, we have 3G/4G global coverage with reasonable prices and with global SIM cards. Electronic boards like the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Intel Edison and similar, make it as fast to prototype a hardware idea as it used to be to prototype a software idea. Finally, the cloud gives access to unprecedented computing power, needed to handle the vast amount of data.
However, being ready and having all the pieces doesn’t mean that we can build the puzzle. A lot of things will change, and new approaches and ideas will arise. Even the term IoT may be replaced by something different in a near time. All these pieces need to be assembled to provide real value in ways that make sense to business and society.