Into the future: Insights from Smart IoT event at Excel London

BY Clare Bennett

A two-day event running at Excel venue in London, Smart IoT brings together five events in one, including Cloud Expo Europe, Cloud Security Expo, Big Data World, Smart IoT and Data Centre World.

For those unsure what IoT stands for – it’s the Internet of Things – put plainly, it’s the emerging technology that connects different systems together to enable smarter running of businesses, homes and cities. Things such as your Hive energy smart meter, Fitbit wearable device or CitySense smart parking app are all part of the Internet of Things technology.

I attended 11 sessions over the two days and have gathered here the highlights from the best sessions. This isn’t intended to be a direct replication of what I heard, rather the things that stood out for me.

Fintech Global overview by Susanne Chishti, CEO and Founder of Fintech Circle

  • Fintech only started 15 years ago in 2000 and back then required $5m to create a start-up – that has decreased to $5k in 2016; leaving the door wide open for small businesses to invest
  • The barriers to entry have been slowly removed from establishment of digital payment systems, reduced regulation, increase of wearables and development of integrated solutions
  • The industry is now seeing the tech giants moving in, but innovation is ripe for the taking, as even those companies don’t know yet know how to harness the power of all the data they are collecting and innovate accordingly eg Facebook now has a credit card and Starbucks has a payment app but have they thought about how they’re connecting these customers peer to peer?
  • Open API’s are the key to successful innovation in Fintech – anyone remember MySpace? Up until 2006 it had a very strong following and year on year growth as a social media tool for connecting friends together to chat. In 2006 Facebook came onto the market and by 2007 MySpace had rapidly declined. Why? Facebook made the bold decision to open up its API to developers to create new functionality

Women Leaders in Technology panel discussion with Alejandra Leon Moreno, Director and Lead Architect Digital, Architecture & Emerging Technology at Philips IT; Sue Daley, Head of Big Data, Cloud and Mobile Services, techUK; Susanne Chishti, CEO & Founder, FINTECHCircle

  • Education for girls is key to helping women into digital and tech – teaching them early at school and then University about problem solving, encouraging them to play with lego at an early age, or engage in computer games such as Minecraft – giving them the same toys as boys – will help equip and encourage women considering tech as a career
  • Raising awareness of industry and roles for women in digital and tech is required – conferences help do this
  • Marketing teams are now moving much further toward digital and this is an opportunity to be leveraged – many women are in marketing teams and there is potential to make the shift into tech
  • Diversity in the workplace helps both men and women thrive and grow – women generally lack confidence to showcase their skills and share knowledge so male counterparts can help by encouraging female co-workers to speak up
  • Many international companies do not recognise that there is a gender gap – targets need to be put in place for recruiting women into tech industries – Bloomberg have issued a diversity index to encourage this
  • Companies need to stop hiring in their own male mould – they need to look beyond existing skills and recruit skills that don’t exist across genders – collaboration between genders is key to effecting culture change
  • If companies continue to ignore the gender imbalance, we will see more technology projects falter at the start, as programmes coded by male only teams will not always achieve success e.g. AI Robots that don’t recognise a female voice

There’s no such thing as #BigData: Jeremy Waite, IBM Watson

  • 4/5 executives today feel overwhelmed and under prepared for the changes happening to business in digital over the next 5 years – they don’t know how to predict for this
  • There is no such thing as Big Data – only small spoonfuls of data [@scobleizer]
  • The digital universe will be 40x bigger in 2020 than it is today – that’s equivalent to a company the size of Google being created every 24 hours
  • Only half of the data being created daily as being analysed, yet still we are capturing more every second
  • 80% of enterprise companies don’t even share data between sales and marketing teams so useful insights are not being acted on within individual businesses
  • 88% of consumer chat is in private message chat e.g. Facebook messenger, Snapchat – so no business really knows what their customers are thinking or saying to each other as we can’t see the clicks any more
  • 75% of companies still make decisions based on emotion – this is down to the CEO using his/her gut feeling rather than using the data to inform decision making
  • IBM Watson is trying to understand peoples’ emotions – it is tracking sentiment data from Amazon, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to get a deeper insight by crunching 10million data points per second
  • The aim of building Watson was to do something fun with data but now it is being used to save people’s lives in a project collaboration with the NHS
  • But the problem that still exists, is how do you extract meaning out of the noise – what is the future for business?
  • Steven B Johnson, an influential TED speaker, says that the future is wherever people are having the most fun

Financial data visualisation, Oliver T Woolf, Bloomberg

  • Visual tools are to language what data itself is to thoughts
  • Thoughts however, are limited by the capacity to express them but the capacity to express them is futile, if the thoughts are not there in the first place
  • Hence innovation in visual tools and improvements in the collection of data must go hand in hand
  • But value is only created by good interpretation of the results and validation of the ideas that ensue
  • Like a football team – the players are the data; the management/infrastructure are the visuals:
    • England = great data but unsound infrastructure;
    • Leicester = decent data but great infrastructure;
    • Barcelona = great data and infrastructure
  • Candle graphs are probably the most useful type of chart used to analyse and understand financial data on which time slots can be overlaid to provide a deeper picture of any given financial data
  • Relative rotational graphs can then take this information further by showing financial data across four areas of strength
  • Data visualisation, interpretation and validation are the steps you should follow for successful financial data insights

So what does this all mean for future business? My four key take-outs are:

  • Don’t be an elephant – businesses need to be agile to stay ahead of the crowd and use technology such as open APIs and ecosystems to support business success
  • Be flexible to change – keep an eye on the future; encourage group problem solving and include your female colleagues – multiple brains are better than one
  • Invest in your data – big data is everywhere; what is crucial to identify, is the data that is critical to organisational success; along with a meaningful, yet simple way of presenting this data visually
  • Have fun – get the maximum enjoyment from work and collaborations – you will achieve personal success, that will in turn benefit your business