Recap from the Internet of Things Expo

I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of Things Expo at the Santa Clara convention center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.

Cloud Expo

Is my IoT broken?

In one of the keynotes, the point was made that no one wakes up asking if their IoT is broken. But people within the Enterprise do wake up worried about how they can increase their revenue, how they can reduce their costs and how they can increase their customer satisfaction. This is the biggest change I observed from last year to this year.

A year ago, more of the sessions were technology focused, whereas this year more of the sessions prefaced their conversation with the need to really focus on business problems and business outcomes.

This is something we have directly observed, ourselves, at Citrix. When we started our IoT research at Citrix, we started with a broad look at how we could fit IoT into an Enterprise setting. We realized early on that many Enterprise customers have not really thought out what IoT means for them.

However, when we started focusing in on specific workflow problems, we found it much easier to have a conversation on how IoT might help address a problem they face today. This evolved into our current efforts to help colleges and universities use IoT to reach more students. In that example we looked at a specific problem (reaching more students) and then asked if IoT could be used to help do just this (via automating the classroom).

IoT in the Enterprise means the Integration of Everything.

While I did not hear everyone refer to the term “Integration of Everything” like we have been using here at Citrix, I did definitely hear this concept over and over again. IoT in the Enterprise will mean tying together a heterogeneous environment, helping the Enterprise bridge the gap between what happens in the back office and what happens in the field. This will lead to new ecosystems of technologies, platforms, things and organizations supporting a new IoT Stack, and real opportunities for differentiation will exist within that stack.

“More sensors and more data create more possibilities for machines to develop improved algorithms and automations. Real-time business intelligence and system awareness will drive operational costs and pricing down which will simultaneously improve customer satisfaction and increase sales. Leading edge companies implementing these IoT technologies will have an unfair advantage over their competitors.”  Chris Matthieu on the opportunity for IoT in the Enterprise.

Picture3But this won’t come easy. While Enterprise IT has experience in integrating complexity in their network, historically it was with a fairly homogenous set of devices and vendors. With the Integration of Everything we will be dealing with an explosion of new devices, things, vendors and applications. Pretty much every session I attended started with the obligatory market forecast slide showing a similar forecast of 25 to 35 billion devices in play within 4 years. I reinforced that point in my session when I referenced how the explosion of cheaper devices driven by Moore’s law will lead to disruption we can’t even predict right now.

The rise of the IoT platform.

So what was the key takeaway for the Enterprise on how they can get a handle on the Integration of Everything? Pretty much every session focused on IoT in the Enterprise referenced the need for an IoT platform to help in dealing with such a heterogeneous environment. This is an area we can expect to see a lot of innovation and consolidation as there are quite a few different IoT platforms out there. In some ways that is OK, as what was pointed out throughout all of the sessions, the IoT opportunity in the Enterprise is quite large and will cover many different areas.

IMG_1853But what to look for in an IoT platform? How do you find one that matches your need? Chris Matthieu, who co-founded Octoblu (which was acquired by Citrix) had a good keynote on the last day of the show where he talked about how hard it is to build a platform, and that selling a platform is even harder! To be successful with an IoT platform you need good partners and a good developer ecosystem, because IoT is too big of an idea to solve on your own.

The super short summary of this year’s Internet of Things Expo

To summarize then my observations from this year’s Internet of Things Expo- When looking at how the Internet of Things will impact your business: Start with your business problem, assess what integration points you will have to address when you look to solve this problem, and then determine which platforms best address those integration points throughout the ecosystem and partnership that platform maintains.

Citrix Labs is an applied research organization within Citrix. To get updates on what the Citrix Labs team is following as well as projects the Labs team is working on, you can subscribe to the Citrix Trends and Innovation LinkedIn page.