Smartly connecting the dots to succeed in the data era – A look back to the International VDI Congress on IoT

CESIS_Banner_Blog With an increasingly connected world, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become more than a buzzword. High expectations have been raised, but also many questions are coming up. To respond to many of these questions and discuss the real potential of this technology, the first International VDI Congress on IoT took place in Berlin during 13-14 of December.

According to McKinsey, IoT has a potential economic impact of $2.7-6.2 trillion until 2025. Taking this into account, the general feeling that I could perceive during this 2-day congress was a mixture of excitement and scepticism.

I said excitement because the several use cases (elevators, trains, power grids, cars) presented had excellent results, the predictions are very optimistic, the benefits are enormous, the development of the technology will help to make processes, that are still complex (deep learning), simpler, and the IT solutions that are already in the market (AWS, Cisco, Telekom) enable us to see the best way forward.

Industries that are leading the IoT path

Based on the content of the speeches given during this international conference, I have to say that IoT is currently applied in two different spheres. On one hand, IoT empowers our lives by bringing smart solutions to automate our homes (by controlling the temperature or monitoring the energy consumption), to digitalise our day-to-day (by utilising wearables or smartphone) and to improve our mobility options (with connected cars or by creating more accurate maps or new means of transportation).

On the other hand, the use of industrial internet of things (IIoT) makes supply chains and logistics smarter (by tracking or blockchain), and manufacturing and operational processes more precise (by predictive maintenance, for example).

In this context, the industries that are investing more time and resources on IoT technology have something to do with mobility, farming, telco, IT, and health (although I have to say that I missed a powerful industry, the military).

The best IoT strategy to follow

One of the most inspirational keynotes was the one given by Dr. Shoumen Datta (MIT), who basically advised the audience to apply the following change of perspective: “Instead of asking what IoT can do for you, ask what you can do for IoT”. This basically means to identify a real problem or need before starting to design any IoT strategy.

The second important aspect to take into consideration when talking about IoT strategy is resolving a dilemma that was permanently on everyone’s lips and was originally taken up by Prof. Dr. Frank Piller (RWTH Aachen): To be a platform or to be an app, that’s the question.

Thirdly, it is fundamental to have high IT security standards from the beginning of every product life cycle, not only because they are the main enabler for digitalisation but also to ensure longer product lives. In this sense, the cloud is the preferred place to keep data safe.

In this new ecosystem, data becomes the new currency. The possibility of smartly analysing the relevant data generated from every touchpoint is expected to create new business models and redefine existing ones. For this reason, there are also a lot of concerns about the role data should play in this landscape. This was also one of the hot topics during this conference.

After the world café sessions (an excellent concept to discuss a certain topic in small groups) and the many chances we had to network, I have to say there was optimism but also scepticism among the participants. Why? Because IoT is still in its infancy, there are still many ways to be explored, and many applications can be implemented (and profitable) only if many technological, but especially regulatory and social constraints, that prevent IoT from progressing, are relaxed (or removed). However, that takes time.

In a nutshell, the speeches overall gave the participants a broad picture of what is going on in the IoT world. I really praise the innovative and hands-on concepts this first International VDI Congress on IoT was based on. I could perceive that IoT is said to be a game changer in many industries. That’s why Handelskraft will continue to follow its evolution! Cannot wait for next year’s edition!

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