In April 2015, InsightaaS teamed with stakeholders from across the cloud community – enterprise and SMB IT management, global IT leaders and Canadian cloud service providers, integrators and consultants, academics, associations, training firms and other experts – to launch the Toronto Cloud Business Coalition. Dedicated to accelerating adoption and use of cloud in Canada, TCBC members formed working groups to identify key business issues and best practices addressing the ten most important cloud challenges.
After six months of discussion and review, TCBC’s working groups have begun publishing unique documents that provide essential guidance for senior C-suite executives, IT leaders, cloud practitioners and supply-side management. At the same time, TCBC is accelerating its ‘education and networking’ agenda by convening a series of events designed to stimulate discussion of best practices positions and requirements. The signature event on TCBC’s 2015 calendar was the inaugural Cloud Symposium, a ‘show within a show’ as part of Datacenter Dynamics Converged Canada 2015 presentation. The event was a tremendous success, with more than 500 attendees and over 40 exhibitors. InsightaaS principals Mary Allen and Michael O’Neil moderated nine sessions at the event: the opening and closing plenaries, and an entire track dedicated to working group topics.
DCD Converged also provided InsightaaS with a forum for launch of two new initiatives for 2016. In sessions on IoT and analytics animated by new research from InsightaaS and Techaisle Research and commentary from expert panelists, InsightaaS announced its intent to extend the TCBC approach to formation of the IoT Coalition Canada and the Canadian Analytics Business Coalition.
KeY issue and observations:
The keY issue: InsightaaS research has captured an explosion of interest and activity in the Internet of Things. While an InsightaaS survey of over 600 Canadian businesses conducted two years ago uncovered very low levels of interest (only 13% of respondents said they were “aware” of IoT), two years later, this grasp of the market has turned on its head. In InsightaaS survey research for October 2015, approximately 31 percent of 402 Canadian businesses claimed to be currently using IoT, while a further 31 percent said they were planning to do so. But even more critical than generalized adoption rates to an understanding of IoT opportunity are questions around intended outcomes, identification of primary market drivers, adoption maturity and implementation barriers. At the DCD session, InsightaaS offered a sampling of research findings aimed at tackling and tracking many of these indicators to help Canadian businesses achieve IoT potential. InsightaaS also invited key market participants to offer their perspectives on what can be achieved with IoT, who is driving adoption, and what hurdles need to be overcome to transform IoT from pilot to production platform with demonstrable ROI.
Faud Khan, founder and CEO, TwelveDot Inc.: Ottawa-based security specialist TwelveDot has developed IoT as a new practice area. In addition to participation in several IoT standards based organizations, including ISO and the ITU, CEO Faud Khan also offered input to InsightaaS investigation of IoT security issues. As a result, Khan was able to speak at the DCD session to the survey’s top level security findings, including user unease over the ability to develop a threat model that encompasses the physical and virtual worlds of IoT, the inability to perform an organizational risk assessment that covers both privacy and security, and the inability of internal staff or external providers to deliver secure code. Despite the new risks that IoT presents – a vastly increased attack surface associated with the connection of devices, and the growing danger of breach outcome as attacks focus on large, critical systems – Khan argued that a systematic approach to risk management can help address user concerns. In his view, the key elements of this approach are an Information Security Management System, a System Development Lifecycle that includes security and privacy, and threat modelling that addresses the specific cyber risks associated with both the device and solution components of IoT.
Neil Bhattacharya, mobile delivery lead, Accenture Digital: In his presentation at DCD, Neil Bhattacharya offered the strategic perspective developed through Accenture’s investigation into digital enterprise transformation and though the firm’s extensive work with large organizations in the IoT space in Canada. Bhattacharya pointed to a primary Accenture research theme as an adoption impediment – lack of strategic vision around advanced digital adoption – an issue which has also emerged in InsightaaS research, but as an indicator of IoT maturity in the more advanced IT research cohorts identified through Techaisle Research’s behavioural analysis. At a top level in IoT, Bhattacharya focused on the importance of building a business model, on the need for ecosystem development that will support the partnerships required in the creation of IoT solutions, and on customer experience as key strategic imperatives. As guidance, he advised IoT adopters to first ask, what is the product offering, who do I talk to (which partners), and who will own the customer relationship?
Scott Everett, CTO, Eigen Innovations Inc.: A startup that has been building market momentum with its infrared monitoring solution for manufacturing, Eigen Innovations represents a good example of the smaller agile, advanced IT IoT market player identified in InsightaaS research, which is poised to drive IoT transformation through new product and service innovation. CTO Scott Everett explained to session attendees how advanced analytics and the integration of IT and OT platforms can provide real time, actionable insight and deliver it to the plant floor to provide the tangible savings needed to support IoT investments. A key capability in the Eigen solution is ‘Deep Learning’ analytics that occur in the cloud, which can offer a level insight based on machine algorithms that is Eigen claims not available through other systems in the marketplace. Nevertheless, Everett pointed at a significant deployment issue in Industrial Internet applications – connectivity challenges in harsh or remote environments that may make cloud-based analysis impractical. For these situations, he advised further advance in “The Internet of Smarter Things” – or the development of local device processing capability and peer-to-peer connectivity standards that will enable the creation of smarter onsite solutions.
The bottom line:
The IoT panel discussions, Cloud Symposium panels and their accompanying best practices guidance represent a new standard in IT research delivery. Based on a community approach to content co-creation and an emphasis on networking and outreach, TCBC and InsightaaS have created a model that delivers real value to stakeholders from all industries, and which is designed to provide real support to end user adopters. Aristotle’s dictum, the “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” has proved its value in cloud best practice research and discussion: going forward, InsightaaS is looking to apply this approach to the overall objective of accelerating Canadian adoption and use of IoT, a technology area that by its very definition calls for collaborative design and development.