IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

Separating Real Value from Hype at IoT Tech Expo Europe 2018

by Roy Murdock | 07/02/2018

IoT, Blockchain, and AI – 3 of the hottest terms in technology – drew a crowd of 8,000 in Amsterdam for the annual IoT Tech Expo Europe. Executives from the Bluetooth Group, Rolls Royce, and Shell all delivered keynotes explaining IoT’s role in the European industrial landscape. Thales, PTC, Microsoft, Ruckus, 1NCE, Device Authority, and DevicePilot were among the sponsors and exhibitors for the event.

One highlight on the IoT side was a session on predictive maintenance with representatives from tiered suppliers, fleet operators, ISVs, and facilities designers/managers – everyone except the OEMs – sharing their perspectives on how to best implement monitoring solutions.

Both of the organizations upstream from the machine OEM, KLM Airlines (airplanes) and Schiphol Airport (elevators, HVAC systems), were starting to adopt the “machine-as-a-service” business model, purchasing not only machines and service contracts, but also “quality” data streams packaged and provided by the OEMs. Operators are looking to apply predictive maintenance and monitoring techniques, and access to “good” IoT data will be a prerequisite for many OEMs when creating and selling heavy, expensive machinery.

For SMB OEMs, IaaS companies are starting to offer end-to-end IoT packages to fulfill these requirements. For example, Microsoft Azure offers its “Azure IoT Central” service that allows any OEM to connect, monitor, and manage IoT assets at scale without the need for any in-house IT/cloud expertise.

The intersection of blockchain and IoT is a bit more nebulous at the moment. IOTA showed some of the most impressive, real-world technology. Examples ranged from Fujitsu using blockchain to verify parts in a manufacturing supply, to IOTA embedding wallets into electric vehicles and allowing those vehicles to pay for charging by themselves. In a future where autonomous vehicles and other machinery self-diagnose problems and can order additional parts and/or energy, blockchain-based systems could play an important role in safe exchange.

Still, as a researcher from CERN pointed out in a panel entitled “Blockchain and Big Data,” there is often too much hype around these new concepts, and they can turn into solutions looking for a problem when they are often shoe-horned into a tangential project. In many cases the value and differentiation of the cryptocurrency and blockchain-based startups was opaque. VDC will explore this market further in an upcoming VDC Report on blockchain uses in the IoT, separating the real value from the hype.

View the 2018 IoT & Embedded Technology Research Outline to learn more.