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How IoT fuels digital transformation

Regardless of the industry or legacy systems in place, the internet of things (IoT) “turns all businesses into digital businesses” says entrepreneur and technology leader Evan Kaplan.

Evan is a passionate entrepreneur and technology leader with nearly twenty years of experience in the CEO role. Evan's career spans from creating startups in his garage to leading NASDAQ-listed companies generating nearly $200m in annual revenue.

Prior to InfluxData, Evan served as Executive in Residence at Trinity Ventures, and President and CEO at iPass Corporation (the leader in Global Wi-Fi connectivity) and Founder, Chairman and CEO at Aventail Corporation (the pioneer of SSLVPN's, now part of the Dell Corporation).

Data is the new oil

IoT is regarded as the most hands on technology in the spectrum of new developments. Whether it's smart offices, infrastructure or security, IoT is the powerhouse behind many digital transformations around the globe. This is because ‘relatively inexpensive sensors’ can be used to monitor everything we do in the physical world, with data analytics used to reduce inefficiencies and increase productivity into all aspect of business operations.

“The ability to make real time decisions and take immediate action is transformative,” says Evan. “Collecting data at scale and providing a means to process it efficiently is the foundation for building self-healing and learning systems. These kinds of intelligent systems act in real time to provide the foundation for dramatic improvements in personalization, customer engagement, and system availability (to name a few use cases).”

It all starts with autonomy. The beauty of IoT is the lack of human involvement to record and manage and act on all of this data. The system in place should “collect it, at speed, in real time, store it, downsample it, run machine learning and AI algorithms against it and then turn those into real time decision making and actions to create real time systems, capable of increasing autonomy.” The increasing connectedness of physical objects is often referred to the ‘age of instrumentation’.

Internet of caution

Aside from the ethical implications of having a physically connected world, IoT has drummed up security concerns from analysts and pop culture alike.

Evan warns us: “Security system vulnerability is the biggest problem I can see in linking the internet to actions in the physical world. Without strong security in place, there can be broader implications for safety.”

Botnets turn devices into ‘armies of the dead’ as they carry out DDoS attacks on servers, distribute spam and infect more devices, all without the owners' knowledge. The other very real conspiracy is the eyes and ears of these devices that can be accessed for corporate espionage.

“When designing increasingly ‘sentient’ systems we need to pay close attention to the “purpose” of the system to minimize unintended consequences,” said Evan. “Organizations need to do a careful analysis of the underlying assumptions to collect the right data and drive the right kind of system behavior.”

Things moving forward

The future of IoT essentially lies in the creativity of enterprise. Some of the most impressive use cases of IoT lie not with a shiny new piece of hardware, but instead the applications of existing tech.

Of all the data base management systems being adopted over the last 12 months, Time Series DBMS is booming ahead of the rest. It would appear businesses are finding value in time stamped metrics and events being pulled or pushed from the instrumented physical world.

Evan elaborates on this: “I think we are in the instrumentation and wiring up phase right now, where the primary purpose is monitoring and building the foundation for learning systems. Beyond this, the focus becomes the ability for systems to learn on their own become more ‘sentient.’”


Evan gives us a little sneak peek at his panel at SDxE next month: IoT: How "Things" Can Reshape Business and What You Should Do About It.

“The audience can expect to learn about the importance of the engineering of the “data plane” in building IoT systems to deliver effective results. Traditionally people focus on wiring up sensors, but the real time processing of the data coming off the sensors and the long term analytical work is where the value will be created.” he concluded.

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