Experts Discuss IoT Potential at Connected Things Conference

During February’s Connected Things conference—presented by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge—experts attempted to bring some clarity to the much-hyped yet sometimes nebulous concept of the IoT.

The event opened with key speaker Alan Messer of Samsung, who argued that while the IoT may be taking off, applications are still in their infancy, with “piecemeal integration not scalable for a future mass market.”

The market, Messer said, is experiencing an “app for that” environment, creating branches of enabled devices that function independently but are not compatible with one another.

Messer noted a need for a heterogeneous IoT world, cross-layer collaboration between manufacturers, and an easy set up for consumers in order to overcome the fragmented market and build a strong foundation.

IoT delivers better customer service

During his keynote, Philip Gerskovich, senior vice president at Illinois-based Zebra Technologies, a marking, tracking and printing technology company, used car share company Uber as an example of how the IoT can offer a better customer experience.

Uber seamlessly connects users and vehicles through phone apps. Geo-location makes it possible for users to enter a destination location, receive a quote for the ride, submit their request, and pay via credit card all from their mobile device.

IoT functionality, Gerskovich said, is a “framework” that will allow us to leverage innumerable devices to deliver “better customer experiences.”

Jim Heppelmann, president and CEO of Boston-based software company PTC, also spoke at the event.

Citing a ground-breaking article he co-wrote with professor Michael Porter, which appeared in the November issue of Harvard Business Review, Heppelmann said companies of all sizes must examine how the IoT and smart, connected products are shifting competition, transforming industry structure, redefining supply chains, and requiring an analysis of basic business tenets and core mission statements.

The IoT is seemingly boundless with unlimited potential and use cases, Heppelmann noted, but there is still much more work to be done.

“If you think about it as a baseball game, I would characterize it as the second inning, Heppelmann said. “You’ve seen a little bit of the game, you sort of understand how it’s played, but there’s still surprises—and you have no clue how it’ll end.”

Standards, security, and platforms

Breakout sessions at the event focused primarily on standards, security, and platforms.

The IoT has an unlimited and untapped potential, it does not discriminate, and the marketplace is open to everyone and everything. An “app for that” climate has created a scattered and fragmented marketplace, and a user un-friendly experience. Session participants called for a solid IoT platform to enable inter-connectivity and better functionality for the end user.



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