Disruption, development explosion characterise IoT

(Image: IoT World)

22 November 2016

The Internet of Things (IoT) is disruptive by definition and currently experiencing an explosion of development which one CEO has likened to the Cambrian Explosion period of evolution, when life on earth experienced a rich diversification in a short period.

Those were two key points from the opening day of the IoT World conference 2016, at the Convention Centre Dublin.

Alexandra Rehak, practice leader, IoT, Ovum, said IoT is disruptive by definition, but can and will have broad impact organisationally, socially, culturally and environmentally. This may, she said, lead to consumers adopting IoT-led technologies faster than business.

Rehak said that when it comes to IoT, value chains are complex and fluid, as are relationships within them, with vendors entering those value chains at almost any point, and at different states of organisational maturity.

Core compentency
“Dealing with disruption and fragmentation [in the world of IoT] needs to be a core competency, not an occasional practice,” warned Rehak.

Ovum had carried out some research in IoT, and found that the top three drivers of IoT adoption were to improve customer experience and engagement, improve operational efficiency and to achieve strategic decision making based on operational insights.

As regards inhibitors of deployment, Ovum found that data security and privacy concerns were top, followed by legacy IT infrastructure and systems, lack of robust business case. Somewhat interestingly, complexity of implementation was only sixth in the list.

Evolution explosion
The current state of IoT development is part of an evolutionary explosion, much like that experienced some 540 million years ago in Cambrian Explosion that saw a massive diversity of life emerge. That is according to the CEO of Softbank, Masayoshi Son. Softbank acquired the chip maker ARM, and Paul Williamson, general manager, Wireless Business Unit and IoT Strategy, ARM, said that the new CEO’s vision was driving IoT development for the company.

ARM believes, said Williamson, that IoT combined with artificial intelligence (AI) will drive human evolution. He quoted Gartner statistics which suggested there are currently around 6.4 billion connected devices in the worlds, with a 30% YoY growth.

“The most important key to IoT is security,” said Williamson. “For IoT, trust needs to be built in, not bolted on.”

However, Williamson highlighted that the open attack surface of IoT systems means a different approach to security is needed.

Secure systems
This approach must facilitate developers in developing secure systems. Williamson said that ARM’s TrustZone allows just that and, combined with its mbed cloud services, gives organisations not just secure development, but granular device control too. He cited Ovum research which found that 86% of companies report management of devices to be a key issue.

ARM’s approach is to manage the entire chain, and device lifecycle holistically, he said, as IoT security is about devices, software and services, not any one aspect, but all in holistic fashion.

Richard Corbridge, CIO, HSE, said while it could be argued that not only did the healthcare sector invent IoT, it may well be the instigator and originator of business intelligence too. However, he said the benefits of such revolutions have yet to be truly felt in the sector and this is especially so of Ireland, where there has been a significant underinvestment for many years.

“Healthcare is the one area where IoT and connectedness can do most but it hasn’t arrived yet,” said Corbridge.

“Wearables and IoT can have a huge impact on healthcare,” he said. However, he warned against a wait and see approach, as by the time any system is implemented, it may already be obsolete.

Service appetite
Corbridge said there is already an appetite there for the kinds of changes these technologies can bring to healthcare in Ireland. He said that 80% of people want to view their healthcare records online, while 86% would book a GP appointment online. In 2013, there were 4.7 million uses of the connected health system.

Corbridge introduced a concept of healthcare that is being pioneered in Arizona, called the hospital without walls. The idea is that clinical spaces within hospitals can be multi-purpose and reconfigured to the needs of patients as they arrive, rather than circulating patients to specialist units. But it also extends to care in the community and at home, freeing up the specialist dedicated spaces where the most critical care is provided.

IoT as enabler
“IoT is an enabler of the hospital without walls concept,” said Corbridge. However, such developments require cultural and political changes too, he said.

“Healthcare is a political system, no matter where in the world it is,” he said and this is an inhibitor.

However, progress is being made, and in December, Cork University Maternity Hospital will implement the first electronic health record (EHR), he said, which is a major step and achievement. The first EHR use, connecting not just records, but medical devices connected to babies, will allow allows parents to see live vital signs of their baby from an app on a phone.

This is the beginning of what Corbridge terms the “Internet of Things and the Patient” – IotP.

“The culture of IoT in healthcare is something we need to get right,” he said.  “If we can take the patient’s view of what we do, we can alter the way we deliver.”



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