I don't know what it is about the Windy City, but I've found myself in Chicago several times already this Fall (though I think this is the last for 2016). The third quarter meeting of the Object Management Group® (OMG®) was here near O'Hare International back in September. Then I was back two weeks ago for a pair of excellent shows, SmartIndustry 2016 and Bosch ConnectedWorld USA 2016 both held downtown in Chicago (though the former was really downtown-downtown, at the historic Drake Hotel, the latter chose to use a renovated industrial space west of the Loop, called Morgan Manufacturing). I've of course have spoken at Bosch events before, but this one was special given it was the company’s first event in the United States. Plenty of old friends were in the crowd of nearly 600 people, with an excellent program focused on the vertical markets in which Bosch is focusing its Industrial Internet of Things activities. There was intense interest in both Industrial Internet Testbeds (IIC) testbeds and OMG standards for the Internet of Things.
Then, I was back in Chicago to participate in SAE's Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress, with a superb panel highlighting all sorts of work in the connected vehicle space. But in-between I made a quick trip to Tokyo. Tokyo?
Yes, Tokyo, it's only one flight from Chicago of course, and on the same planet. My primary plan had been to participate in the annual STSforum event in Kyoto, but while there I had the opportunity to strengthen OMG and IIC relationships in Tokyo too.
STSforum is an annual gathering of executives, politicians, diplomats, researchers and the like, focusing on improving life for the world through science and technology (thus the title Science, Technology and Society). Launched in 2004 by Koji Omi, previously a Minister of Finance in Japanese Prime Minister Abe's cabinet during his first term, this superb event brought together an amazing number of world leaders (including quite a number of Nobel Prize laureates). I have been invited for over a decade, but have only been able to attend the last three years—and they have been worth it. Prime Minister Abe himself opened the proceedings this year, outdone only in 2014 when the closing speech was by Japan's Prince Naruhito, who may become the Emperor of Japan when and if his father abdicates. The attendance is really international, not solely Japanese.
My participation this year was in the session about the Internet of Things, focused on standards and market disruption, though of course I took the opportunity to talk about testbeds too as a way to collect best practices and inform standards development. My "headline" was that our session had been incorrectly categorized as an "Information Technology" session, since the truly interesting thing about IoT is that it disrupts a multitude of markets. Interest in the topic was very high as you might expect.
STSforum continued for another day and a half, but unfortunately I had to choose between that and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry's Internet of Things Acceleration Consortium (ITAC) in Tokyo. I chose the latter, participating in the CEATAC tradeshow on Monday. The signing was quite routine (ITAC was represented by the eminent, "Father of the Japanese Internet”, Prof. Jun Murai—the reception was anything but. Perhaps 2000 or 3000 people crammed in a room to hear from Prime Minister Abe; Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko; Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Sanae Takaichi; corporate honchos from Hitachi and Fujitsu, and so forth. I was on stage with all of the above—quite an evening.
Before flying back to Chicago, I had an important meeting with members of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry again. They wanted to discuss the numerous IoT activities going on in Japan—IIC has just signed the agreement with ITAC of course, but there's still RRI (the Robot Revolution Initiative) and IV-I (Industry Value-chain Initiative). And then back to Chicago, this time courtesy of Japan Air Lines. Not a bad flight, and a good way to transition back to the United States!
I came back to Chicago to participate in SAE's Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress as mentioned above -- this event had 800 or so participants, as far as I can tell everyone was an engineer. IoT and standards topics were only a small part of the event—lots of discussion of big construction and mining equipment, on- and off-road trucks, etc. However, the hot topics were clearly telematics, connected vehicles, autonomy and IoT—though the latter comes across as something mystical in this crowd. I moderated a keynote panel with five heavy hitters: Johannes-Jörg Rüger, SVP, Engineering, Diesel Systems of Bosch; Niels Haverkorn, Vice President, Vision 2020 of Volvo; Philip Bierschneider, Principal Consultant Digital Business of Siemens; Todd Ashley, General Manager, Digital Solutions Technology, Transportation of General Electric; and Julian Sanchez, Director, Technology Innovation Center of John Deere. The panel was extremely well received—lots of kudos for all of us for the rest of the day—and we had a spirited conversation about real IIoT adoption.
Next week, I'll be visiting Stockholm and will report back soon.