The event was graciously hosted by Foley Hoag’s Boston Seaport Office.
Peter Coffee from Salesforce.com shared an engaging overview of the leading SaaS vendor’s view on IoT, and an interesting survey of technical requirements and opportunities related to IoT.
We had the honor of moderating an energetic Q&A session with the audience and Mr. Coffee.
Based on the quality of people, and the diversity of businesses they were representing, we have little doubt that the Eastern MA IoT Alley – stretching from the NH border across Eastern MA to the RI border – will be busy in 2014.
And along with busy, leading the way in a few key dimensions of IoT rollout as evidenced by the topics elevated by the crowd, spurred by Mr. Coffee:
1. The weaknesses in the current internet infrastructure. Coffee did a great job of highlighting a number of the key technical/ architectural norms extant today in network infrastructure that represent barriers to realizing the fullest potential of IoT. Included in his list, were three key requirements for IoT that will challenge current infrastructure that we helped identify in our work with 100 early leaders in IoT core technology, solution development and implementation work at Cisco’s IoT World Forum Steering Committee meetings last year:
a. Self-identifying, describing, negotiating devices – context awareness
b. Event-based network architectures – including support for broader distributions of autonomy beyond the network edge/ gateway to remote devices themselves
c. Secure bi-directional communications – support for the future network architecture that will be more distributed, and resilient
INEX takeaway: These challenges are enormous opportunities for new technical approaches to become significant businesses. They are also the ‘re-set’ that should create opportunities to explore future business models.
2. IoT is not a solution, or a market. We have often written or spoken that IoT is a collection of markets. Coffee went a little further, and we liked it. His position, and one that we support and promote: IoT is a tool. A tool that can help people, and businesses and governments achieve more of their aims – truer aims – faster, with greater impact, at lower cost and or higher margin, depending on the mission of the deployer.INEX takeaway: In other words, IoT is about MUCH more than an ad platform. We have been saying this for two years, and getting into a little trouble for it. While Coffee did not go this far, we did hear his clarion call for authentic value creation. It was brilliant.
3. The primacy of subject matter expertise. Lest we forget, IoT is largely about the instrumentation of the physical world. Within that framework, IoT will aim to instrument, connect and better manage collections of physical objects – assets, inventories, areas of operation – that might have zero, or near-zero instrumentation and/ or automation to-date. Perhaps for good reason. The point: The people that are legitimate experts in those physical operations need to be recruited, respected, rewarded in IoT.INEX takeaway: Yes! Thankfully, a trusted voice from Big IT is changing the conversation about value – shifting it from myopic focus on data science and business analysis to accounting for subject matter expertise in physical operations. We have experienced the value of this community in mission critical, real time, line of business applications and operations in every single project we support.
It was a great event, and Sara Fraim and the team from MassTLC should be lauded for getting nearly 250 people to register for the event, and nearly 200 to show up for it. And they stayed for the networking! Could have been the sushi, or the bar, but we think it was an opportunity to trade ideas with a wide range of peers on the next frontier in tech – and a hell of a lot else IoT will enable.
The tech community in Boston has been maligned for being less than collaborative. Not last Thursday night.