IIC Aims to Boost IoT Adoption by Empowering End Users

IoT as a tech concept has likely passed the point of peak hype. IoT adoption, however, remains at an early phase. Here’s how the IIC aims to remedy that.

Brian Buntz

October 1, 2019

4 Min Read
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Earlier this year, Gartner released its latest hype cycle for the Internet of Things. IoT itself was on the descent toward the so-called “trough of disillusionment,” bookended to the left by IoT platforms and to the right by autonomous vehicles, which is nearing the bottom of the trough.

“For those of you who are following television: ‘Winter is coming,’” joked Richard Soley, executive director of the Industrial Internet Consortium. 

While there is value in such models in helping business professionals gauge the risk of adopting emerging technologies and IoT adoption in particular, as the Polish–American scholar Alfred Korzybski summarized: “The map is not the territory.” Similarly, Soley and the IIC generally prefer to rely on pragmatic experimentation to test concepts related to emerging technologies. 

One of IIC’s mechanisms for such experimentation is its test bed program. Another is its collaboration with the IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona to help create predominately end-user and vertical-focused programming focused on industrial IoT. 

[Industrial IoT World is the event where companies learn how to scale IIoT for integration, innovation and profit. Save $200 on your conference pass with VIP code “IOTWORLDTODAY.”]

Also related to driving IoT adoption, IIC recently released an accelerator program designed to support end-users of enterprise and industrial IoT technology.

IIC also uses the IoT Solutions World Congress event as a springboard to educate the public about broad technological concepts such as artificial intelligence. Last year, the organization announced it was broadening the focus of its industrial analytics working group, branding it as the Industrial Artificial Intelligence Task Group. At the IoT Solutions World Congress last year, senior leaders from IIC lead a forum on AI and cognitive systems. 

In addition to the vertical-industry-based tracks covering themes such as connected transport, manufacturing and healthcare is a track dedicated to artificial intelligence. 

When asked about the varied definitions of the term “artificial intelligence,” Soley said: “Everybody defines it in a way that’s more convenient to them.” 

Five years ago, the IIC began working on a core vocabulary, which it published four years ago. “And we’ve stuck to it. All of our documents use the same vocabulary,” Soley said. 

More recently, IIC continued to expand AI-related activities with a test bed in August and a document titled “AI Trustworthiness Challenges and Opportunities.” The test bed involves using AI infrastructure technologies to automate negotiation to reach mutually agreeable contract terms. 

Another IIC test bed, this one run by Dell and Toshiba, involves a sensorized building outside of Tokyo. “It’s generating 300 terabytes a data per day,” Soley said. “That’s a couple of petabytes a week.”

“AI is a series of technologies that is valuable to IoT systems, but it’s not the same thing as IoT,” Soley said. “Anything that’s generating large amounts of data is going to use AI because that’s the only way that you can possibly do it.”

Gartner posits that the majority of technologies in its IoT hype cycle are between two and 10 years of “reasonable maturity,” as Nick Jones, vice president and Gartner distinguished analyst explained in a webinar earlier this year. 

But for IoT-related technologies to reach maturity will take time, Soley said. A number of companies active in the space initially “had inflated expectations about what IoT was going to do to their bottom lines. “They are having to readjust,” Soley said. “But this is a great example of a technology that has promise, it has proven value.” 

While disillusionment with emerging technologies is a natural phenomenon, it would be a shame to give the potential of IoT to drive innovation short shrift. 

“In some of our test beds that I can talk about, we’ve saved lives,” Soley said. In one test bed, for instance, IoT-connected ambulances can connect to a hospital’s IT system and provide information to hospital workers so they can anticipate the needs of patients before they arrive. 

Examples like this point to the potential of IoT technologies to drive innovations across various industries in the long-run. The Gartner Hype Cycle “leads to the right end of the curve, which shows that people eventually have a much more reasonable expectation of how technology can affect things,” Soley said. “And our job as the consortium, and to some extent the job of the show, is to make sure the trough is as shallow as possible.”

About the Author(s)

Brian Buntz

Brian is a veteran journalist with more than ten years’ experience covering an array of technologies including the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, and cybersecurity. Before coming to Penton and later Informa, he served as the editor-in-chief of UBM’s Qmed where he overhauled the brand’s news coverage and helped to grow the site’s traffic volume dramatically. He had previously held managing editor roles on the company’s medical device technology publications including European Medical Device Technology (EMDT) and Medical Device & Diagnostics Industry (MD+DI), and had served as editor-in-chief of Medical Product Manufacturing News (MPMN).

At UBM, Brian also worked closely with the company’s events group on speaker selection and direction and played an important role in cementing famed futurist Ray Kurzweil as a keynote speaker at the 2016 Medical Design & Manufacturing West event in Anaheim. An article of his was also prominently on kurzweilai.net, a website dedicated to Kurzweil’s ideas.

Multilingual, Brian has an M.A. degree in German from the University of Oklahoma.

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