Wednesday, 26 November 2014

IoT World Forum Review: Interop, Data & Security

This week saw the 2 day Internet of Things World Forum conference take place in London. There is clearly a general consensus, that the IoT market is a multi-trillion dollar opportunity, through the implementation of items such as consumer wearables, embedded predictive failure components and data collecting sensors.


The rapid rise in connected devices and IoT ecosystems, is seemingly being driven by several key factors, including falling cost of both connectivity and data storage. These lowering barriers to entry, coupled with more developer friendly ecosystems and open platforms, is helping to fulfil new revenue generating business opportunities in multiple verticals including manufacturing and healthcare.

Matt Hatton from Machina Research started off discussing the progression from local standalone projects (Intranets of Things), through to more internal or enterprise focused deployments (Subnets of Things).  David Keene from Google, extended this further, to say the progression will reach the concept of Web of Things, where accessibility and 'findability' will be key to managing and accessing data.

It was clear that data aggregation and analytics will be a major component in any successful IoT infrastructure, whether that is focusing on consumer enhancements, such as the Jaguar connected car project as described by Leon Hurst, through to smart health care, either in the form of Fitbits, or more advanced medical instrumentation.

API's and machine processing were certainly referenced more than once.  The new more connected web, will provide interaction touch points that only machines can understand, coupled with better data aggregation, distributed data storage and centralised querying. API's of course need protection too, either via gateways or via token management integration for standards such as OAuth2.

One aspect that was conspicuous in it's absence, was that of data privacy, and identity and access management.  The IoT landscape is creating vast amounts of data at stream like speeds.  The concept of little data (small devices in isolation) to big data (aggregated in cloud services) requires strong levels of authentication and authorization, at both the device, service and end user level.  The ability to share and transparently know where data is being accessed will be a key concern in the consumer and health care spaces.

Dave Wagstaff from BSquare, brought up the interesting concept, that many organisations are now subtly moving away from a product based business model, to a software and services based approach. With the the increased capability of devices, organisations now can perform much more in the way of remote monitoring, predictive failure and so on, where the end user really is just paying an insurance or subscription for their physical thing.

Bernd Heinrichs from Cisco followed a similar pattern, where he described the German view of Industry v4.0 (or 4.1...) where innovative production concepts are helping to reduce energy, increase uptime and generate better component output.

From a new market opportunity perspective, Francois Menuier from Morgan Stanley, observed that 6% of all consumers now own a wearable, with 59% of them using that wearable daily. In addition many wearable owners, argued that this was an additional purchase and not one to replace existing technology, solidifying the view that new market initiatives are available in the IoT world. However many consumer wearables generate huge amounts of deeply personal data that needs to be protected and shared securely.

Jon Carter from Deutsch Telekom went through the 7 steps for a successful IoT implementation, which ended with the two main points of applying a minimum viable product concept to design and also leverage secure and open platform.

Dr Shane Rooney from the GSMA focused his thoughts on security within the mobile network operator network, including the concept of device to device and device to service authentication, as well the the need for greater focus on data privacy.

Overall an interesting couple of days. Whilst most manufacturers and platforms are focused on interoperability and data management, identity and access management has a strong and critical role in allowing 3rd party data sharing and interactions to take place. It will be interesting to see if the 2015 and 2016 start to introduce these concepts by default.