Future of IoT development
The IoT Tech Expo only opened an hour before I arrived and already it was buzzing. Hundreds of people filled Olympia Conference Centre, and I grabbed the last seat for ‘The Future of IoT Development’ panel.
Sitting in on the panel was Ultan Mulligan, Vice Chairman Marketing and Communications at oneM2M, Jens Mueller Vice President Sales & BizDev at Relayer, Ed Kay, Developer Relations Manager, at MediaTek Labs, and Catherine Mulligan, PhD Head of Digital Strategy and Economic at Future Cities Catapult.
Each speaker offered a unique perspective on IoT and while all agreed on the challenges it presents, it was how IoT can be applied in the future that divided opinions.
Current IoT challenges
Ultan Mulligan: “IoT is developing so rapidly that the solutions being deployed today might not be applicable in one to two years, let alone five. So you must ask, can my IoT application scale and address even 1% of that market? What is currently missing is an economy of scale that brings the price points down. I believe standardisation and inoperability will help address this issue.”
Jens Mueller: “I believe many people are afraid of IoT because they need to reinvent business models, for example, the insurance industry, which will now need to focus on risk prevention rather than risk management. It’s a disruptive approach.”
Ed Kay: “I agree that the big challenge is the fast pace of technology. The trick with IoT development is to not be bound by things with limited time, for example, connectivity. Standards are changing all the time.
To allow for flexibility is crucial. Three areas we believe are of concern with IoT development:
- Standards and leveraging the large developer community
- How we monetise everything that offers an ROI.
There is also the challenge of security and connectivity.”
Mulligan: “I think security has to be managed at every level; it’s not just a connectivity issue. We also have to consider rights of access, privacy, access to data on the cloud, reuse of data and the data generated, because the data generated must have more than one application, otherwise it gets siloed. Security will make or break IoT business and those who do not address it seriously will fail.”
Data and protection
Catherine Mulligan: “How do you ensure data protection, not just of the citizen, but of the corporation? That’s a key challenge.”
Kay added: “In terms of security and data protection rules, if I’m a developer, the question I’m wondering is, ‘Is that UK solution viable in the US?’ On the flip side, that issue presents a massive opportunity. We will generate a lot of data in the future, a lot of it won’t be used but it could be useful for other people. There’s an ability to generate trusted data that will be in the cloud and available for others to use.”
How do you make sure identity is tracked?
Mulligan: “As we share more data, we must also understand the data being shared. Data level interoperability, origins of the data, the context in which it was generated and if it could be reused in another context. Once that has been established you could apply analytics onto it.”
Mueller: “We are trying to put analytics into the prototyping stage. Examples of how power predictions and predictive maintenance could be used is with an international elevator company.
Once they calculate one-man hour, they could, using predictive maintenance and analytics, use processes that would save man-hours and calculate the savings on operation costs.
Another example is with primary safety risks where we can detect suspicious patterns in the data with regards to how people move and how people behave. There might be many similar use cases where we could improve the world and make it more efficient.”
Kay: “For now we have algorithms for translating data, but if we cannot trust the data coming in, how can we trust the data coming out?”
Mulligan added: “There is no predictive analytics without IoT. There are a number of algorithms that aren’t finalised yet, but I do get nervous around the concept of mass surveillance using predictive analytics because our model isn’t polished yet.”
Bringing IoT to Market
Mueller: “There is a skills gap with regards to IoT. It’s a big responsibility for the consultancy industry to help companies overcome that and speed the process up. The cycles of innovation go so fast; we need to overcome these gaps. This is also a challenge for educators too.”
Mulligan: “IoT developers need to pick a winning solution so as not to be obsolete in a few years. When we are looking at where IoT will be deployed in the near term, you have to look at the areas where there are no regulatory barriers.
Where business models don’t have to change radically or the people within the business. We hope the industry will move towards a more platform approach that will provide the functionality they need, so they can get on with their application.”