Top 15 IoT Takeaways From South By Southwest

South by Southwest is best known in the tech community for the new social media technologies, products and services. Twitter received its first big dose of notoriety as attendees posted which sessions they were attending and which parties they were at. Over the past few years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has made its way into the content stream as IoT will move the culture in the future as much as social media does today. We had the distinct pleasure of hosting three South by Southwest panels on IoT covering the IoT maker movementIoT infrastructure, and IoT data. The panels included participants from National Instruments Corp., TechShop, LEGO, Airbus, Intel, Ayla Networks, Xicato, and Echelon. After hosting these panels and attending the show, I asked Moor Insights & Strategy analysts to provide me their top five IoT takeaways from the show. Here’s what they said.

(Credit: Ron Sege)(Credit: Ron Sege)

  1. We are just scratching the surface of the IoT opportunity. According to Intel, 85% of industrial end points are not yet connected.
  2. IoT standards are in their infancy but necessary for data collection and analytics, security, and other key areas where endpoints interact. Too many competing “standards” are currently being developed; they must converge to be useful and scalable.
  3. Although data is being collected at exponentially higher rates than ever before, most organizations do not yet have the appropriate skill sets or systems to take full advantage of the data collected.
  4. There is significant opportunity to blend the industrial IoT and consumer IoT worlds. Two interesting examples include smart cities that provide insights to consumers about traffic patterns and pollution via wearable devices and smart factories that leverage wearable devices on the factory floor to provide real time manufacturing-related insights.
  5. There is a need for smarter and more robust compute capability at the “edge” to allow for analytics at the endpoint for real-time decisions. It is not realistic or cost-effective to rely on data analytics strategies that are solely dependent on the datacenter.

Mike Krell, Analyst

  1. IoT  is:
    • Hot! SXSW is an interactive festival — not necessarily the target audience for what we think of as IoT, yet every session I attended was standing room only and had people who couldn’t get in.
    • Another unfortunate technology label. Every presenter started their session with “I hate the term IoT, but the industry seems to have adopted it, so let’s talk about what it really is….”
    • Not well defined. Some people say it’s just a re-purposing of Machine-to-Machine, some say it is just “the internet”. What we do know is almost anything can now be called IoT.
  2. Security is the biggest concern with IoT. Though most consumers fear losing their credit card numbers, the real fear should be on the industrial rather than the human side of IoT. Stealing credit card numbers is one thing, getting control and doing malicious damage to a gas production facility is what should really scare people.
  3. Bluetooth beacons are cool. Though some feel it’s a lot like “big brother” following you,  beacons give no more data about you than GPS which we use with abandon. Not something to be afraid of.
  4. Applications for Bluetooth beacons are really interesting and plentiful. We hear a lot about retail applications, but one of the coolest that caught my attention was in sports stadiums. Take your seat, and get an immediate offer to upgrade (for a reasonable charge) to a better one. They know where you are, and what  better seats are available. I know a lot of people sitting in the nosebleed sections that would be glad to pay $50 onsite for a better seat. Bottom line is stores, stadiums, manufacturing plants, homes, autos, there are a ton of very cool and interesting applications for beacons.

As you might expect, while the Moor Insights & Strategy analysts hosted three very different kinds of panels, there were similarities around their top fives. Security is top of mind as you have sensors collecting very personal and valuable data that could drive chaos if they were breached. Data was top of mind, too, as the lack of enterprise capabilities or education to take full advantage. Finally, the end points matter, a lot, and its important to not lose focus on that. I expect many more IoT years of IoT growth at South by Southwest as every one of our panels was full as was every other IoT panel. You can find Patrick Moorhead, President & Principal Analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy on the webTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.