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Cloud Expo - Was it worth it?

Time is money and money makes the world go round, so how do you justify spending time at an exhibition? With so many industry events promising enlightenment, innovation and free stuff to take home for your children, it important to focus on only one thing: What’s in it for me? It may sounds rather self-regarding but making the right choice of how to spend your of time, money and effort is really significant.

Recently I attended Cloud Expo at the Excel Centre in London. Why? Being accused of having your head in the clouds used to be a bad thing! Now we're being encouraged to become digital natives in a parallel virtual world. Most of us are already there in the cloud by osmosis through our beloved smart phones. Constant media bombardment and a more reasoned understanding of the cloud environment leads me towards recommending a hybrid IT strategy as the most sensible option for most of my clients. However the new(ish) kid on the block - IoT - is the thing on everyone’s lips and I needed to learn more about the latest and greatest innovations, services and discussions.

The show itself, proclaimed that it would be “a truly unique event where, in just two days, you can source new products and solutions, network with the leading professionals in your industry, and take advantage of hours of world-class content.”

It’s easy to be cynical about these type of events, upon entering the IoT section I almost turned on my heels and headed home to be in the beautiful spring sunshine.

There was a cacophony of noise like a nest of newly hatched chicks all calling for attention, but not yet fully recognising the reason for their call or who they were trying to attract. The sheer number of delegates milling around also looked equally unsure of where to go or what to look at. Personally, I blame the show app. Without a map or a speaker alert function detailing the 200+ sessions of the day was a missed opportunity. The day did improve though, this is what I learnt.


The cloud is just someone else’s computer

In the Data Centre World exhibition space there was a more dignified atmosphere - calm and not just because of the green carpet. Well spaced out packets of people flowing between stands, orderly selecting the right despatch point to communicate. Big displays on air con, power, diesel tankers, power units, cable protection, cabinets, switches, chillers, ducting, heating convectors, floors and ceilings. One thing that did strike me was the maturity of the cloud markets as exhibitors in this space belong to a different generation than those in the start-up IoT. I witnessed deal-makers used to getting shit done and in a big way. And it’s keeping this industry buoyant.

Big Data needs big stuff to power it

Big Data needs big stuff to power it

Security is of an increasing concern

Security is a massive concern for the industry despite the many, many warnings over the past couple of years for users and resellers of IoT products & services. It used to be so simple. Documents were written or typed and keeping information secure meant nothing more than shredding paper, making documents difficult to access with information locked away in real cupboards. There were company gatekeepers protecting both business and personnel information. Now in the digital age we freely give information away. We are assaulted by emails taking up our inbox and spend an hour a week unsubscribing in a mild anxiety, resetting passwords, deleting accounts and fending off attacks to personal and business data. There were plenty of companies trying to put a digital arm around you and your data to support the protection of data, but a lack of standardisation in IoT leaves it open to attack. The Hypercat alliance is an interesting and developing community platform with major players from multiple industry sectors all engaged in working towards open, safe and interoperable community.

"We are experiencing reality through technology but unless we make sense of the technology for everyday use then these innovations will go the way of the bathroom buddy."

Design still an issue

However smart IoT is becoming its clear that much of what is currently available has been built because it can be. It’s clever, we’ve never had such innovation and development but too much of this smart IoT is missing the human factor. Tech is not being developed for the benefit of humans. We are experiencing reality through technology but unless we make sense of the technology for everyday use then these innovations will go the way of the bathroom buddy. The changing needs of an ever demanding customer base shows that ‘users’ are only loyal to experience not, as was traditional, brands. Design is not about decoration. IoT should be about business transformation and where digital boundaries intersect is the interesting bit. 

“Give us your money for a technology you'll never understand.”

Final thoughts

There was a material benefit in attending as I managed to meet with 2 prospective clients to share experiences about the technology on offer at the event and opened opportunities that otherwise may not have materialised.

“Give us your money for a technology you'll never understand.” Was the proclamation of many so whilst delighting my tastebuds with a hummus and falafel bagel, for less than a tenner, I took the opportunity to earwig on conversations or "alternative listening" as it is now known in the alternative universe we exist in post Trump. Lots of talk about scale, solution, gentle growing, next phase, collaboration. Genuine excitement, enthusiasm and desire was on display but still too many people scratching their heads in trying to make sense of IoT technological innovation which is a good thing.

After all, this is what affords so many people a living in our industry.


Paul Richens - Tricca Consulting

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