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Connected stuff is catching on -- just don't call it IoT

Stephen Lawson | April 16, 2014
Enterprises are finding real-world uses for Internet-connected devices but aren't interested in the buzzwords.

Those two types of data have different requirements in terms of urgency and security, so utilities have to decide where to draw the line between them and what infrastructure is best for each, Siegrist said.

IoT also brings new ways of processing data in order to run more efficiently or even generate more revenue. For example, Ford Motor plans to collect data about how consumers use new technologies, including electric cars and new dashboard designs, in order to fine-tune future vehicles, said Jim Buczkowski, a Henry Ford Technical Fellow and director at Ford.

The services business of Xerox, which has helped enterprises plan and set up IoT systems, is trying to help them boost revenue and improve products. For example, the company is helping transit providers redefine routes based on fare data, said Rebecca Scholl, a senior vice president at Xerox.

"Our customers are no longer content with just a cost savings," Scholl said.

The city of Chicago uses GPS (Global Positioning System) to track the location of its more than 400 snowplows and put that data in a real-time smartphone app. The app has helped to dispel a myth that the mayor and other high-ranking officials get their streets plowed first, said Deputy Mayor Steve Koch.

"It's weirdly popular. People are sort of obsessed with this kind of stuff," Koch said.

However, most enterprises aren't yet organized to take advantage of all the information they may have, she said.

"Especially in large corporations, getting to the right person who's going to have the full visibility over the impact of IoT across multiple business processes ... you don't have that person," Scholl said. "Right now, everybody has a clear mandate, and it's not yet that one."

She proposed companies establish a new role of chief digital officer, who would sit between the CIO, CFO and operations chief to coordinate efforts around IoT and data analysis.

Several speakers and participants also cited the overarching challenges of security and standardization.

The lack of standards can make IoT deployments far more expensive and time-consuming, according to Lenz from AGT. There are open standards for many types of IoT networks, but there seems to be resistance to using them, he said. For example, one city where AGT set up road sensors wanted to feed the sensor data wirelessly through Wi-Fi access points on light poles. But the sensors used a legacy protocol instead of Wi-Fi, so the access points had to be equipped with extra radios, Lenz said.



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