Mid September was very busy – even more than usual. Requests from both General Electric and IoT Japan to keynote were nearly impossible because of the position of the International Date Line and the overlap of the two events. But I said "nearly" didn't I?
So, I headed west for General Electric's annual Mind + Machines event. Focused right in the Industrial Internet Consortium’s wheelhouse, the conference emphasized industrial applications of IoT. The Consortium and the Object Management Group® (OMG®) received plenty of mentions throughout the first day, including from Jeff Immelt, GE CEO, and even more from Bill Ruh, GE’s SVP/Chief Digital Officer. Near the end of first day, I was on the main stage with Jayraj Nair of Infosys, talking about the importance of collaboration, the value of testbeds, and then of course the GE/Infosys collaboration. The only downside was that the event was in the Herbst Pavilion of Fort Mason, a lovely location right by the water but too small for this rapidly-growing show, which sold out with about 1,500 attendees. Many attendees were very interested in the Industrial Internet Consortium testbeds (http://www.iiconsortium.org/test-beds.htm) and OMG IIoT standards (http://www.omg.org/hot-topics/iot-standards.htm).
I left late night Tuesday (well, actually, 2:00am on Wednesday) to go to Tokyo, arriving at 5:00am on Thursday (Oh joy). Yoshino san, the OMG/Industrial Internet Consortium Japanese sales representative, picked me up at 8:30am to participate in IoT Japan 2015.
I first heard about IoT Japan when I was at IoT Asia back in April. Run by Nikkei Business Publications, the event promised 60,000 attendees. Nikkei put together eight different shows under the title of ITforum, with a single integrated (and quite confusing) exhibit floor (which indeed sported 60,000 attendees over five days). There was very little IoT on the exhibit floor. It mostly focused on hardware devices, 5G interfaces, routers, etc. My keynote focused on the IoT part of the event at Tokyo Big Sight (yes, that's the name of the conference center) and drew more than 500 attendees.
On Friday, I began a very busy day meeting with a senior representative from Fujitsu and his team. They are of course very aware of the OMG and the Industrial Internet Consortium (Fujitsu joined OMG decades ago, and the Consortium very soon after its creation), and is committed to working with the Consortium on a variety of initiatives. I then followed up that meeting with a very senior staffer at Fujifilm. Already an Industrial Internet Consortium member, he expressed interest in OMG as well, testifying to the importance of OMG's Industrial IoT standards efforts (semantics are important!). The company is also very excited about a number of initiatives with the Consortium which I hope to share with you in the future.
After a lunch break, I then had two high-level meetings with government ministries. The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) is developing a government-wide IoT study group (which OMG and Industrial Internet Consortium will support) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is interested in talking with us about future testbed projects. The next morning, I, along with Yoshino san and Stephen Mellor, the Consortium's CTO, met with Japanese contacts of non-Japanese companies interested in what the Consortium is doing in Japan.
The next three days were spent at STS forum in Kyoto. This amazing event, very much like the World Economic Forum's annual event in Switzerland, is an invitation-only, 1,000-person meeting focused on science & technology for the betterment of society. There were several relevant sessions, especially the IoT panel session, but also on smart cities and others. Last year, I made great high-level contacts that resulted in (for example) Honeywell joining the Industrial Internet Consorium. Many audience members were very interested in IIoT standards and Industrial Internet Consortium testbeds.
I rounded out the week at SmartIndustry 2015 in Chicago, run by Putman Media. While there, I met up with many OMG and Industrial Internet Consortium members and spoke with our new OPC Foundation liaison and his staff.
Later in the month, I returned to one of my favorite cities, Berlin, but unfortunately I found it cold, wet and rainy (oh well). It was exciting enough with about 500 attendees at the 8. Deutscher Machinenbau Gipfel (8th German Machine-Construction Summit). Interestingly enough, when the attendees were split into two tracks, more than 400 attended the Industrial IoT track. Can you say "hot topic?" I was hosted by VDMA whose Geschäftsführer (Rainer Glatz) has become a good friend; the other show producers were Produktion magazine and Veranstaltungen.
I also had private meetings with organizers and project managers for Industrie 4.0 / Industrial Internet Consortium joint activities at Hannover Messe in 2016. It's going to be a great show! I also spoke with the Minister-Counselor for Commercial Affairs, Embassy of the United States in Germany, who is involved in the US partner country activities at Hannover Messe 2016, and is very interested in working with us on IoT-related US company activities in Europe.
In the evening, I also was one of the first hosts of an IBM "Jam" on the Business of Things. This active discussion forum apparently included over a thousand participants over three days; I hosted right at the beginning and again near the end of the second day. It's an interesting way to discuss complicated topics.
The day ended with a glass of wine with Bosch employee, Dirk Slama, discussing IIRA/RAMI convergence, and how to ensure that the Consortium is working well with the German Industrie 4.0 Plattform.
The next day, I gave an extended interview with Dr. Sebastian Hallensleben, Partner, Deutsches Dialog Institut GmbH. He is compiling a study of global opinions on the future of industry. I will receive some results back in a couple of months which I will share, and the Institut is very interested in input from others (let me know if you'd like to participate in the study).
I then spent most of the rest of the day helping CISCO celebrate the opening of CISCO openBerlin IoE Innovation center, a new research center focusing on IoT (or in CISCO parlance, IoE).
Then off to Dubai for the GITEX 2015 conference, the largest IT show in the Middle East. The focus of the GITEX was "the INTERNET future of EVERYTHING." Most of the speakers talked about IoT, except for the opening presentation by a UC Irvine professor who gave a fascinating overview of the current theory of visual perception. It may not have been the most relevant talk, but it is intriguing. You can watch one of his presentations at https://www.ted.com/talks/donald_hoffman_do_we_see_reality_as_it_is?language=en if you're interested.
The exhibition preceded the conference. The floor was immense, and extremely varied -- printer cartridges, huge smart city displays from across the Middle East, enterprise software, cheap ink, you name it (quite reminiscent of the ITforum in Tokyo mentioned above!). More than 130,000 people attended the exhibition, with a smaller number attending the conference. The IoT focus was on: 5G cell phones; low-power radios; big data; cloud computing; a million other things. It was a good opportunity to make sure the Industrial Internet Consortium and OMG IoT definitions were heard.
I also made time to meet with Steve MacLaird, our brand-new OMG staffer who happens to live in Dubai now but is moving back to the States in time for Thanksgiving. Welcome aboard Steve!
Since I was already in town, I also took the opportunity to present my IoT message at the GSMA Mobile 360 conference in Dubai. Though smaller than the GITEX 2015 conference with which it was co-located, it was interesting to give a more telecommunications perspective in the presentation.
From Dubai, I flew to Frankfurt to speak at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) Forum, a very prestigious, high-level event. The focus was on the future of manufacturing systems. There were some questions about the intent behind the Industrial Internet Consortium, but I took it as an encouraging sign when Staatssekretär Machnig quite forcefully said, "We don't want American standards. We don't want German standards. We want GLOBAL standards!" I, of course, couldn't agree more. I then gave a brief keynote and was interviewed on stage by a FAZ reporter about the goals of the Consortium and the state of Industrial Internet standards, especially at OMG. Interestingly, more of the discussion was about the social disruption that results from major technology changes like IoT.
The next day, I had a series of interesting meetings, including a startup that does automated development of business rules based on real-time predictive analysis of data -- what we used to call AI and now call machine learning. I also was interviewed by two reporters, Vogel Business Media's Robert Weber and Karin Pfeiffer from Redaktion & Kommunikation. The day ended with a long dinner with Eric Clauer of SAP and Dr. Peter Adolphs, the CTO of Geschäftsführer, where we discussed potential convergence between IIC and the German Industrie 4.0 Plattform.
The next day after meeting some companies interested in OMG and the Consortium, I hosted a webinar on Industrial Internet in Insurance for SMA (Strategy Meets Action).
As 2015 winds down, I’m reminded that IoT is still gaining traction. So many companies – large and small – see the value of standards and testbeds as the way to bring about the benefits of IoT to fruition, whether that’s innovative revenue streams, new ways of looking at security and privacy and/or new analytics and new services that will offer better predictive maintenance, forecasting, customer service experiences and better asset efficiency.