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IBM's Gurvinder Ahluwalia Talks Overcoming IoT Challenges at ITEXPO Keynote

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IBM's Gurvinder Ahluwalia Talks Overcoming IoT Challenges at ITEXPO Keynote

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January 28, 2015
By Carrie Majewski (née Schmelkin)
Director of Content Marketing, Content Boost

When Gurvinder Ahluwalia, CTO of cloud computing for the U.S. market of IBM (News - Alert), took the stage to kick off the keynote presentations at ITEXPO 2015 this morning, he appeared to be right at home. A previous ITEXPO speaker, Ahluwalia had a central message to convey to ITEXPO (News - Alert) participants: We still have work to do surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) despite the fact that Cisco IBSG predicts there will be 25 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2015 and 50 billion by 2020.


“Every year we hear this will be the year of IoT, but there are barriers,” Ahluwalia said to a packed keynote room.

To overcome such barriers, Ahluwalia suggested that we have to embrace device democracy, what he refers to as the next generation of IoT. He discussed some of the innovative work IBM has been conducting around open source technologies and IBM capabilities to make the IoT more sustainable and profitable. But first, he discussed the key impediments standing in the way of the IoT success:

  1.  Lack of Functional Value: When it comes to the IoT, the most important considerations are usability, user interface and experience of the technology. In other words, consumers don’t want separate solutions for their home thermostats and security surveillance solutions. Rather, they want a seamless solution from which they can manage a connected home or car.  “The functional value is what is most important, not device centric behavior,” Ahluwalia argued.
  2. Lack of Ecosystem Value: The great debate surrounding the IoT is whether the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The industry is grappling with how to define this in the IoT when they are dealing with scores of devices. A question the industry has to ask moving forward is, ‘What is the domain space which would define the whole and the part?’ according to Ahluwalia.
  3. Invalid Business Model Assumptions: When we look at the IoT business model, it’s currently about selling and monetizing data. However, some of those goals are very aggressive, like making a toaster intelligent or finding a way to identify parking spot availability in a parking structure. Currently, there are multiple sources of data, but when the supply of anything reaches infinity the market price heads toward zero. So, Ahluwalia asked, “How do you sustain a business model around these economics?”
  4. Long-Term Operation Costs: As consumers, we are used to devices that sit in our pockets that reach end of life every year or two. But when you talk about billions of devices, there will be an infinite number of devices on the spectrum of longevity. Finding a way to maintain these long-term operations costs will remain a challenge.

So if we were to look at approaching the IoT barriers from scratch, what would we do? According to Ahluwalia, we should focus on making innovative devices that are durable, resilient and interoperable. Or, as Ahluwalia put it, devices that can, “stand up to the bullies.”

IBM is currently working on a solution to these impediments, referred to as the ADEPT IoT platform, or autonomous decentralized peer to peer telemetry platform. The company is currently implementing ADEPT based on open source technologies at all levels for dev community participation. This device democracy model is made up of three building blocks: Blockchain, BitTorrent (News - Alert) and TeleHash.

“We take the physical world and lift it into a software stack and now you have made those physical assets liquid, and once you make them liquid you can do all sorts of things with it,” Ahluwalia said.

As Ahluwalia stated, there is “freshness” to the work IBM is doing. The company is focusing on creating a highly-centralized environment that is highly distributed and highly autonomous. For more on IBM’s work in the IoT space, and on ADEPT in particular, click here.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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