Mar 17th 2017

London gets Smart to the IoT

How can businesses harness the internet of things to generate revenue? That’s the question this week’s Smart IoT London show promised to explore. You may not have been able to attend the show itself, but there’s no way of avoiding the internet of things, which is gradually becoming an ingrained and inescapable part of life. For enterprises looking to grow and prosper (and which aren’t?), the IoT should also form an integral part of business.

We are hurtling toward an ever-more connected future, in which communication is not only person to person, but person to machine, and increasingly between machines ‘themselves’. The development of the IoT has been a subject of our recent musings and while the fully-fledged robot-ruling internet of things may not quite be upon us, there are many elements of the ecosystem which have established a firm – and now largely invisible – role in our lives.

One highlight at Smart IoT London this year was its Urban IoT Showcase. This focussed on four major areas of urban IoT: smart mobility, connected homes and buildings, smart utilities, and health, wellbeing and social care. The event also featured an entire conference stream dedicated to IoT in industry, enterprise and cities, hosting speakers from the likes of Gartner, Siemens and Telefonica UK, as well as reps from local authorities. Sessions addressed the ways in which businesses can take raw data gathered from the IoT and turn this into insights to create new services and marketplaces. Topics of discussion ranged from a connected taxi solution which has seen great success in Malaysia, to how smart IoT and ‘the internet of trees’ can help Melbourne retain its title as the ‘world’s most liveable city’.

Also attracting a lot of attention at the event was the InnOvaTe Launchpad, which showcased and supported the rising stars of the IoT space. A theatre staged session on issues and opportunities for start-ups, whilst floor space was dedicated to new businesses exhibiting their service offerings. These are exciting times for new entrants to the scene and we look forward to hearing details of the winner of this year’s InnOvaTe Launchpad award.

This is all very positive, but while the growth of the IoT has been met with excitement in recent times, an interesting theme of some of the conversations we had at the event was the need to take a step back and think about the impact of this rapid growth. There has been so much focus on the innovation itself and what is possible, but now is the time to think about some of the potential societal impacts of IoT and best practice guidelines and governance that may be required.

For consumers and businesses alike, the IoT future is not without risk. This week the national press latched onto a concern long acknowledged by those in the tech world; the ease with which hackers can access and exploit smart devices. Despite all the positive future-gazing at Smart IoT London, cyber security was still firmly on the radar. The show was a great showcase of our current position in the IoT and potential routes to the future. Yet the most pressing message from the two-day event was that success in the IoT will only be achieved through innovation firmly grounded in security and best practice.