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Want to change the world? ‘Secure’ the Next Killer App in IoT

October 17, 2014
Luke Burns

B2B IT Forum 10.14.14

“What’s the next killer app in the Internet of Things?”

It was the first of many topics of discussion at the Ascent B2B IT Forum in Cambridge on Tuesday night. In front of a packed house of nearly 200 attendees, panelists at “From Industry 4.0 to iWatch: The Internet of Things” suggested several groundbreaking ideas that might be in the running.

Mike Helfrich of Blue Force Development, a company that does a lot of work with the Department of Defense, has been deploying data-collecting and data-sharing devices on the battlefield. Helfrich believes there is enormous opportunity for biotelemetry through smart devices in the health care space. For example, a body-worn sensor for a child with diabetes would enable his or her caretakers to monitor for blood sugar, location, or other issues.

Stephen Pavlosky of GE’s Intelligent Platforms said the ability to collect data off a fleet of distributed assets, and provide analytics on the performance and/or potential failure of a given asset is where his company is focused. For example, data off airline engines is collected to predict – and prevent – anomalies in the engine throughout the flight.

Meanwhile, new waves of IoT devices allow for previously uncollected and unstructured data to drive productivity, improve workflows across industries and displace guesswork with facts. Doug Merritt, SVP of Field Operations at SPLUNK, an operational intelligence platform that analyzes and visualizes machine data, mentioned that while there are infinite opportunities for ‘killer apps’ in IoT, what’s been missing is the contextual awareness piece. The ability to flexibly collect, harness and reuse data will lead to even greater insights and unleash power like we’ve never seen before.

Forum photo 2

But with opportunity comes pitfalls (which could lead to more opportunities). Security remains a major concern.

Given the massive amount of data that is being collected today (Merritt says this has grown from terabytes to petabytes daily) how do we keep information secure and who owns it is once it is collected? And more importantly, how do companies and individuals defend against data and sensors falling into the wrong hands?

Carl Levine, community manager at Dyn, noted that despite two-factor authentication across servers for their clients, this topic is still one of the most discussed issues. “We’ll continue to rise to the [security] challenges presented,” said Levine.

Senaya’s COO Jamshed Dubash said they adhere to strict standards when it comes to how data is secured across devices, networks and backend servers, including the process for what is reported to clients. Even transactional data is delivered across a secure line. “We don’t want ownership,” says Dubash, “but we do want access and control.”

To wrap up the panel, moderator Christopher Rezendes of INEX Advisors presented a final question to the panelists. “Pick one: this is a requirement. The greatest secret or greatest lie concerning the Internet of Things or the process of closing deals.”

Dubash sums up the IoT startup process with three words – never give up. As a four-year-old company that “should have died 10 times,” Senaya is rounding the corner and knows the value of sticking with it.

“Listen to your customers,” said Pavlosky and Levine. Innovate around those areas. Prepare for rapid adaptation of your core platform, because sometimes these ‘off-shoot’ solutions will turn into a key revenue generator, noted Helfrich.

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