Connecting Industrial IoT in Montreal - Part 1
Every year in June a gaggle of Industrial IoT cognoscenti converge on Montreal for a couple of days of presentations, networking and insights. On June 11th Mnubo hosted its AIoT Summit, a private event focusing on the combines applications of AI and IoT. We moderated three panels that featured users and practitioners from a range of industries
Beyond POC to Production – What are the Obstacles?
The first panel focused on going beyond the proof of concept – why so many projects get stuck in POC phase. Eugene Kawamoto, CEO Americas at Soracom, Pete Horton, VP of Market Development at Legrand and Christopher Care, VP of IT Digital, Analytics and Data Services at SNC Lavalin provided their perspectives. Some of the key challenges cited included defining a Proof of Concept in specific scope, then articulating the vision to both the business and to IT. Elements for success include cross-functional teams with defined goals, specific executive sponsorship and defining the data elements necessary for the project as far in advance as possible. There was some debate on the where to start with a complete vision or start small, but it’s clear that there is no one approach that works for every situation.
Data Science – Not an End in Itself, A Key Partner in Collaboration
The second panel focused on bridging data science with domain experts featuring Robin Luo, VP of Risk Consulting from Hartford Steam Boiler, Hector Lopez, Technology Leader at NextEra Energy and Dr. Bob Turney, Engineering Fellow at Johnson Controls. The panel explored how to get foundations right, pushing as much processing to the edge as possible. There was a lot of discussion around collaboration between data scientists and line of business, and a recommendation that engineers try to learn some data science as data scientists learn as much as they can about the business. There are always challenges around keeping up with new technologies, and a preference for commercially supported solutions over open source projects because of the need for support. Setting expectations for collaborative success is critical to engage effective participation on cross functional teams.
Best Practices for Successful IoT Transformation
The third panel focused on successful implementation of IoT strategies, with Marie-Pierre Boulanger, VP of Digital Solutions at Bluecrest, Martin Fassier, Founder and CEO of CASA Energy and Pierre Carpentier, Director of Business Development and Operations at Cyient. The panel explored what it takes to get roadmaps to success, drawing parallels between the transition that industrial companies are undergoing and the move to cloud and SaaS among enterprises over the past decade and a half. One of the big challenges is finding and matching the right skills to the job – and despite the relative scarcity of data scientists the biggest most relevant capabilities lie in understanding the bigger picture. Gamification is one way to surface unique capabilities, such as programming, from a large organization.
Ed Maguire with Marie-Pierre Boulanger, VP of Digital Solutions at Bluecrest
The overall message that came through at the AIOT Summit is that the biggest challenges for companies looking to implement digital transformation are not technological, rather the ability to collaborate across cross functional teams, align different cultures and work styles, and start small with measurable goals while advancing to a bigger picture vision. The industry is still in early days, but the technology is maturing, and executive teams are increasingly savvy about the need to work collaboratively and in integrated fashion to help transform their business and organizations.
An Annual IIoT Conclave
The McRock IIoT Symposium offered a range of interesting views about the markets and highlighted a number of interesting stories and companies. Common themes addressed included the growing transition as projects move from POC to production, how to advance successes within large organizations, bridging the IT/OT divide across cultures and work styles and the how the utilization of IoT is maturing much like the internet did. We heard an IT security panel highlighted the gulf between IT and operational technology security. Notably, Telus is seeing attacks against physical infrastructure such as cell towers. There are new types of sensors that will be needed to gather vibration, audio and other data for monitoring and protection. Security remains an essential competency for all companies looking to deploy connected solutions.
The AccuWeather Story – Big Data to save lives, reduce risk and improve business
Weather data plays an increasingly relevant role in helping business forecast sales demand, manage risks to the supply chain and personal safety. Dr. Joel Myers Founder and CEO of AccuWeather provided an overview of the company’s story and articulated the financial ramifications of severe weather. Severe weather causes tens of billions of damage and approximately 100,000 deaths worldwide, there are over 250,000 fatalities due to weather caused auto accidents, along with 7 million deaths linked to air pollution. Myers founded AccuWeather 57 years ago as a budding teenage meteorologist in Philadelphia. He found that by averaging together multiple forecasts, this resulted in far more accurate forecasts than any single meteorologist. The forecasts are more localized, more detailed and extend farther into the future.
Dr. Joel Myers, CEO and Founder of AccuWeather (Center)
The weather forecasting service provides a classic decision support system for clients like ski resorts, cities and towns. Myers called 25,000 potential prospects before getting 100 paid customers. Today the business has supported employment for meteorologists, sometimes for entire working careers. The team-based forecasting method – collaborative forecasting – helped provide superior forecasts and saved many lives and preventing property damage around events like hurricanes and severe weather. The company has grown 56 out of 58 years, with only two down revenue years with no outside capital.
In the case of Hurricane Katrina, AccuWeather knew that Katrina would be a disaster and forecast that 50-70% of the city of New Orleans would be underwater for days or weeks, and its warnings saved 12,000 lives. Many companies are using weather forecasts to improve sales forecasts to predict demand (for instance a large coffee chain uses weather to improve forecast by 25%). Today AccuWeather generated 25 million forecasts per day reaching 1.5 billion people, with 60 billion+ data requests every day. Its forecasts are used by 200 TV stations, 800 radio stations, and over 700 newspapers.
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