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Show 71 – Internet of Things 2018

Produced in partnership with the European PR agency Tyto, in this episode, we Tyto’s Hype Report on the Internet of Things (IoT), hearing from a number of experts who contributed to it.

For the main part of the show, Russell Goldsmith spoke to Practical Futurist, Andrew Grill and Abraham Joseph, Founder of IOT insights, plus Stephanie Atkinson, CEO of Compass Intelligence also joined the discussion in the studio via Skype from her offices in San Antonio in Texas.

We also hear from two more IoT experts from the US, Dan Yarmoluk, Director of Business Development for IoT and Data Science at ATEK Access Technologies and Rich Rogers, who at the time of recording, was Senior Vice President for IoT Product & Engineering at Hitachi Vantara.  Finally, Tyto’s Managing Partner Brendon Craigie explains why he put this report together.

To download the full report, go to www.tytopr.com/iot

To begin with, Brendon explained that this was the first in a series of reports that Tyto intend to publish, looking at the hottest technology, science and innovation trends. He said that they picked IoT first because it’s one of the top five technology discussions that’s been going on over the past five years. It’s at the top of the Gartner Hype Cycle, with around a quarter of a million articles in 2017 focused on IoT, which is more than double the 100,000 there were in 2015.

Brendon added that IoT is very much a rising trend and the objective of Tyto’s reports is to cut beneath the hype to understand what’s really going on to understand the positive success stories as well as some of the barriers and challenges.

Data Collection

Given that making sense of data is a key part of Stephanie’s business, we went to her with the first question on whether we are set up to cope with all of the data that’s about to be thrown at us?

Stephanie had written in the report that “connected devices and assets alone are not what is revolutionary but what we can do with the information data and analysis of things that are connected is where we expect progress” and in fact, a lot of the comments made in the report naturally talked about the amount of data that’s being generated, which course is the bedrock of which IoT is built.  Also, according to IHS Markit, a global business research analytics provider, there will be more than 31 billion IoT connected devices in 2018 and just looking at the Automotive Industry as one example, Intel had previously put out a stat that said just one autonomous car will create 4000 gigabytes of data a day.

Stephanie said that one of the big things that we have to think about is that we can’t be in a position just to collect all of this data and it really not do anything, so that definitely is an issue from a carrier perspective as we have too much data being collected. She added that we have to really think about this systematically – we have to look through each and every component. First of all, how often are we collecting the data, is it monthly, is it weekly, is it hourly, is it ongoing? We also have to think about the priority, is this something that could take down our network? Is this something that could take down our supply chain, our business operations? Will this affect our customers? So those are other things that Stephanie said you have to think about.  And the last piece, she said, is, as we start to look through the data, some data might need to be combined with other pieces of information to really bring that level of intelligence to the business and really make it actionable. So, all these things are what’s really driving the data collection piece. But right now there’s a concern in the industry because we can’t be in a position where we’re collecting everything, we have to think about this in a systematic approach.

Security

Within the report, James Smythe, the editor of Mighty Gadget, wrote “We have already seen millions of baby cams use for botnets. AI assistants are designed to listen constantly. So for one of these systems to be compromised would be catastrophic as it is so easy to set up.”.

We therefore asked our panel if people are right to be concerned?

Andrew said that security now is the top of everyone’s list and that in the last couple of years we’ve seen all sorts of things hacked including the NHS going off line and political campaigns destabilised. Andrew thinks the average person on the street is now saying “we didn’t realise that things are so vulnerable” and when you connect things together that can be controlled and are sending data around the world, he thinks everyone should say “is this secure?”.

Abraham added that part of the challenge of security is in many cases it is a bit of an after-thought, so people are building devices and rolling them out with default passwords, and in some cases, people are not even aware that they have installed these ‘back doors’ into their operations. He said that standards are somewhat lagging. However, in the UK, there is now the IoT Security Foundation.

Stephanie said that it also goes back to who is responsible – the connected device manufacturer, the connectivity provider, the integrator, the company itself?

Dan Yarmoluk Interview

Dan explained that ATEK’s IoT solutions started with a product called TankScan, that measures above ground fuel storage tanks, but the product he is responsible for is AssetScan, which is a reliability solution or predictive analytics of industrial equipment with regards to specifically vibration in equipment like pumps, fans and motors.

He thinks that the industry is developing and that it’s classic Gartner Hype Curve – that we’re wanting to discover real use cases and ways to apply it.

Within the report, Dan said that “ROI is elusive and not measurable as a direct payback in some cases”.

He said that there might be innovative ways to do capital expenditures and ROI with this expensive equipment but he didn’t think that communication, agility and efficiency that spreads over multiple different areas of the company is necessarily directly related to ‘we’re getting this throughput from this machine that equals x amount of savings per hour’. He said that we have a world where we say predictive analytics … “make sure this is up and running and reliable”. But if you’re up and running and reliable and you avoid those catastrophic down times,  for production value, he would find it hard to be able to mathematically quantify it.  He added that it’s just not as easy as buying a faster machine and more parts per minute, and we’d have to think of it as an innovative way of looking at it, and that ROI or payback is in very, sometimes indirect formats.

Dan also talked about the divide between OT and IT teams in the report.  He explained that in the manufacturer or the industrial side, manufacturing has traditionally been very conservative in nature, where you never deviate to make sure these things are made or produced in the exact fashion and the exact time, and that culture is resistant to change. However, he thinks that the operational technology team are in the field with their hands dirty, and the IT guys don’t have an understanding how these things get done in the field and there is a fissure there between these two constituencies.  In the sense that the IT guys don’t know the reality to be able to craft the information technology solution or the connected solution to an operational technology world and this is really evident with regards to any kind of Data science solution that’s out there. Dan said that the problem is Machine Learning predictions are based on variables and those variables are weighted by what is in the domain or the manufacturing environment and if you don’t know what those variables are, then there is a gap and he thinks there has to be a dialogue and a respect for the OT to make the IT win. He therefore believes we need to make these constituents come together.

Stephanie agreed that there has to be integration support and a team environment in order for these solutions to really come to fruition. So it’s really important that we do when we think about the digital transformation journey for the business and how we work better and make decisions across the value chain and so we have to look at both IT and OT integrating and working together on these projects.

Andrew added that just because the data is there, and you can measure it, doesn’t mean that you should.

Abraham believes that some of the IoT opportunities in the long tail may be bigger than we think and sooner than we think. For example, he said within healthcare, everybody knows that most economies have a large population of elderly people getting larger and a shrinking workforce. Therefore, this technology can help a lot in keeping people at home, meaning more efficient use of resources in hospitals etc.

In another quote in the report Mike Dimelow, co-founder and chief investment officer at ADV, asked “What about cars talking to insurance machines to price each journey?”, which Andrew said is happening already. He explained that there are a number of companies in the UK that have telematics that do that, but what you’re talking about is the change to the business model. There’s a fixed provider called TROV, and they provide real time insurance, so if you’re going to leave the house you can insure your laptop or your bike just for that period of time and when you’re home again it’s not insured.

However, Abraham was concerned about this as there is a societal impact.  He said that some people benefit more than others and that there are some dangers. First of all, the privacy, but also that it’s not just about you and your car and your journey but also the environment. Is it raining, is it snowing, what are other people on the road doing?  All of those obviously contribute to your propensity to have an accident or not. He also said that even if you resolve all of that, there may be an argument to suggest that maybe a youngster has a higher propensity to have an accident but maybe so is an elderly person and so should we start necessarily charging the elderly people or the people who have only one arm or one leg because one may argue that they may be less safe. He therefore thinks we are probably not ready for some of these things and that although we can do it, there are lots of issues to resolve.

Blockchain

Andrew explained that Blockchain is a distributed ledger – an irrefutable version of the truth. Each time a transaction is registered it’s recorded onto a block that gets longer and longer and longer.  He said that a lot of people would have come in to blockchain by reading about cryptocurrency around Bitcoin as Bitcoin transactions are put on a blockchain. So, if you add IoT and you want to have proof that this data actually happened and it’s irrefutable, where in an event, something went wrong, the moments before it went wrong you would want to have an irrefutable version of the truth. He therefore sees there are some use cases where IoT could feed into a blockchain.

Rich Rogers Interview – Digital Twins

Rich believes IoT is going to change the way the products are designed, manufactured, deployed and consumed. It’s going to change the way that products are serviced and monitored.

In the report Rich talked about the need to create digital twins that can model the physical assets and help operators make intelligent decisions around managing those assets. He explained that in the last century we had a bunch of dumb machines scattered around the world and the only way to assess them was to visit them. Sometimes you would show up and the machine was in perfect working order and you had wasted your time going there. Other times you show up and you realise if you had been there a week earlier or a day earlier, you could have headed off a major maintenance challenge. Rich said that IoT is therefore about getting everything connected, but that is just half the battle. You also need to start to model that physical machine within the computer, which is the whole concept of the digital twin, where this raw cryptic machine data is streaming in to a platform and the digital twin is able to take that raw cryptic machine data and start to translate it into human readable information, where it can now be blended with data that’s in your Oracle databases or your SAP systems or even your unstructured data like e-mail or PDFs or work orders. The digital twin is key to getting that data into the platform, translating it and enabling the blending of it.  He said that Hitachi are building digital twins for every single one of their machines and that’s enabling a movement to a ‘just in time’ maintenance model where they can really maximize the utilization of their maintenance people.

The next 12-18 months

Rich thinks that the biggest challenge for IoT as it is evolving from very customized and specialized solutions to more turnkey or productised offerings, that can be very easily deployed and consumed in some enterprises and so, going forward, he feels we almost need the equivalent of fitbits for machines. He believes that we can very easily attach them to the machines and get data streaming in quickly, rather than having to build custom componentry for every single machine.

Stephanie expects to see consolidation in the market as she believes there are too many so-called platform companies.  She also said that we will see some technology vendors win – those that are doing really well in this space who are focusing in on three to five core vertical application areas or have really interesting use cases. She also thinks that to see success in IoT, from a business perspective, we need a real live deployed use case that is saving money or improving productivity or improving operations, as that is what gets the C-level excited about IoT.

Stephanie also expects to see more newsworthy happenings from an IoT perspective – as we see the vulnerabilities of the connected devices, we will see more news around something that’s being compromised, that’s really impacting an industry or a very large corporation, which will continue to push security at the top.

Abraham expects the connectivity battle to continue but he sees a lot more happening in the Drone space.

Andrew echoed all the previous comments and added that he didn’t think the sim will exist in a few years’ time in any device.

Brendon said that in the tech world, momentum is everything, but it can be very easily lost if people don’t see substance to back up the hype. He therefore thinks that the onus is really on the industry to bring as many transformational applications of the technology to the real world over the next 18 months and that way the IT industry will continue to get the investment and backing it needs. He believes that having spoken to the 50 influencers in the Tyto report, it’s very clear that people feel that pressure to deliver, but he believes that the industry is in great shape to make that happen.

<END>

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