2014 IoT World Forum: on the path to connecting the unconnected

Cisco and 29 other event sponsors made the Internet of Things (IoT) come to life in Chicago at the 2014 IoT World Forum. Attended by 1500 people – the majority of whom were large enterprise customers – IoT World Forum is the de facto industry event for enterprises interested in spurring innovation and productivity in their organizations. MachNation is proud to be one of the 104 companies on Cisco’s IoT steering committee. All 104 companies – including 3M Company, Bechtel, Chevron, Ford Motor Company, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Rockwell Automation, Starbucks, Xerox and others — have made commitments to ensure the success of the IoT World Forum events and the overall IoT ecosystem.

Inbar Lasser-Raab, Cisco’s VP, Enterprise Products & Solutions Marketing, hosted the event as its master of ceremonies. She focused the event on the impact that IoT is having today on private and public sector organizations. Deployments of IoT solutions are happening today at large and small businesses around the world. Those businesses avoiding or delaying this digitization of the electro-mechanical world will find themselves left behind and ill prepared to compete in a world where “change is the new status quo,” according to John Chambers, CEO of Cisco. According to MachNation forecasts, the IoT will connect 24 billion devices and account for USD4 trillion in revenue by 2024.

Each day of the conference Lassser-Raab used the activities of the 1500 attendees to illustrate the power of IoT – in essence turning all 1500 conference attendees into end-point sensors on a big Cisco IoT deployment. Cisco networks and analytics tools were able to create heat-density maps and other graphical depictions of conference attendees’ movements during the show. We were able to learn the most highly attended breakout sessions, see crowd flows during various periods of the day and study attendee preferences for learning about IoT solutions on digital billboards.

Some of the most exciting announcements during the inspiring event focused on people, process, data and things when discussing some of the most important changes occurring in the ecosystem.

People – Cisco announced a re-doubled effort in encouraging women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions with an IoT challenge for young women. With an overall decrease in the number of women focusing on STEM fields of study in secondary education, it becomes vitally important that the technology ecosystem channel some of the IoT excitement to encourage more women and girls to pursue education and careers in STEM fields.

Process – Much of the focus of the IoT World Forum was on the quantifiable process improvements made possible by IoT solutions. All throughout the three days, we heard about quantifiable impacts that IoT has had on businesses. For example, we heard about the incredible effects of IoT on the mining industry as shown by Rio Tinto’s Head of Innovations, John McGagh. We also heard from Rockwell Automation’s CEO and Chairman Keith Nosbusch about the impacts that IoT has on the industrial customers of Rockwell Automation in streamlining business processes, increasing quality, reducing accidents and driving innovation. Intel’s Corporate Vice President Doug Davis introduced a real estate management customer who showed the impact that an Intel-Cisco partnership is currently having on massive energy reduction in New York City skyscrapers.

Data — Cisco announced continued development of IOx, its platform for abstracting device-level data and providing a common language for higher-level platforms and applications to access data. IOx is a platform that allows software applications and third-party operating systems like Linux to run on Cisco’s IoT platform. This is important because many IoT applications are more efficient and effective if run at the edge rather than core of networks. Many IoT solutions benefit from analytics and computing power at the edge. IOx provides a way to run these types of solutions in a Cisco environment. Cisco also announced an applications manager to make it easier to manage the software applications running in the Cisco IOx environment.

Things – IoT devices of all types were on display on the show floor at IoT World Forum. There were all sorts of connected factory equipment, robotics, vending machines, connected toys, energy management solutions and industrial equipment. Interestingly there was less focus on devices this year than last year. MachNation believes there is a tremendous need to create tools across the ecosystem to make it easier to manage, secure, monitor and interconnect devices. This accounts for the relatively heavy emphasis on platforms, management tools, partnerships and joint development and less focus on devices.

IoT World Forum was a resounding success. In 2015 we anticipate more innovations in platforms and applications; continued focus on end-to-end security; more discussions of standards for communications and data formats; and more M&A activities.

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