IoT World Forum: Rewards and Roadkill

Cisco's second annual IoT conference featured some common refrains: deployments are growing fast, end users need better analytics, and security concerns keep everyone up at night.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 17, 2014

Information technology giant Cisco held its second annual Internet of Things World Forum in Chicago this week, and as the event opened on Oct. 14, Wim Elfrink, Cisco's chief globalization officer, told the roughly 1,500 attendees that the IoT has arrived. Three days and scores of presentations later, the company's leaders and the event's sponsors, including IBM, Intel and Schneider Electric, were clearly feeling optimistic about the industry—noting Cisco's own research showing IoT technology is poised to generate $19 trillion in value over the next 10 years.

But during his closing remarks on Thursday, Oct. 16, Cisco's charismatic CEO, John Chambers, tempered the enthusiasm a bit by warning attendees not to lag behind if they want to grasp those dollars. Pointing to a prediction that 40 percent of the companies on the Fortune 500 list won't exist "in a meaningful way" 10 years from now, he said, "This offers an opportunity to you. You can lead or follow, but if you follow you'll be roadkill." (Chamber's soft West Virginia drawl made those words not as foreboding as they look in print.)

At the IoT World Forum, Wim Elfrink, Cisco's chief globalization officer, discusses his firm's portfolio of IoT deployments, indicated on an interactive map in the backround.
Despite the many IoT deployments Cisco is supporting, Chambers said, his company 'cannot afford to slow down now. "We're feeling pretty comfortable, but we're not even close to moving at the speed we need to," Chambers explained, adding that despite some notable product growth, he made a painful decision to eliminate 6,500 jobs this year.

Manufacturing, Energy Leading Sectors
Polling that Cisco conducted among attendees revealed that they felt most bullish about the benefits of IoT in the manufacturing and energy sectors.

Utilities are using sensor networks and smart meters to do such things as improve communication with ratepayers and make electricity grids more resilient and responsive to threats. While speaking on a panel discussing whether utilities are poised to see a "smart grid bubble" due to the rush of interest in the industry, Scott Harden, the VP of Bit Stew Systems, a software company that serves the utility industry, said, "I think utilities are already through the hype cycle. There are challenges affecting utilities that have been building up for several years, and some utilities have been working on [smart grid] pilots for 10 years and are now starting to put [those systems] into sustainment."

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