Internet of Awesome Things

Ep. 2: Talking to Business

July 18, 2019 Season 1 Episode 2
Internet of Awesome Things
Ep. 2: Talking to Business
Chapters
Internet of Awesome Things
Ep. 2: Talking to Business
Jul 18, 2019 Season 1 Episode 2
Russell Brown
Listen in as a panel discusses the business risks of not implementing IoT. This podcast was recorded at a live IoT event for business leaders in Auckland on 17 July 2019.
Show Notes Transcript

Listen in as a panel discusses the business risks of not implementing IoT.  This podcast was recorded at a live IoT event for business leaders in Auckland on 17 July 2019. Panel guests were Tessa Tierney, Product Director for Spark NZ; Stephen Brown, Director of Directed NZ; and Kriv Naicker, Managing Director of Synaptec.



Russell Brown:
0:01
Kia ora koutou. I'm Russell Brown and this is the "Internet of Awesome Things", brought to you by Spark. This episode isn't the one we trailered at the end of episode 1. Things are moving pretty quickly in IoT and we're right in the thick of it. So when Spark held an internet of things event for business leaders in Auckland recently, the keynote came from chief executive Jolie Hodson. Just before that speech I conducted the live panel discussion with key players and that's what we're bringing you in this episode. We weren't the only show on the day: Gartner's Neil Osmond laid out the big picture, Mainfreight CEO Kevin Drinkwater went through the company's asset tracking success story. Nathalie Morris of Qrious emphasised the data dimension and Pete Loveridge of St John brought it back home to people. I spoke to Kriv Naiker, executive director of the IoT Alliance and founder of Synaptic, a strategic firm focussed on disruptive technologies. Stephen Brown, a telematics specialist, Directed Electronics and Spark Product Director Tessa Tierney, a member of the company's senior leadership team. The theme of the discussion was the risk of not moving on IoT, but we covered a lot more ground than that. Let me take you there now. And bear in mind it was a breakfast event so BYO or just imagine the aroma of tasty, tasty bacon.
Russell Brown:
35:16
I commend to you the first episode of the "Internet of Awesome Things" podcast in which we tell you some interesting things, including the history of all this and there is probably a deeper history than you realise. We've been doing telematics since the 19th century. In 1874 the French had sensors on the top of Mont Blanc that sent back information about snow depth and the weather to Paris. So it goes back a long way. But things have changed and they've changed recently to the extent that in this panel we're contemplating the risks of not implementing. I trust by the time we're done you might at least be doing those sums in your head. Now you can actually be part of our next podcast. If you have any questions please use the Mobi site to ask them and I'll incorporate them. Don't feel you have to wait till the end; I'll weave them in as they arrive. And I'm interested to see what you think. But let's see where our panellists think. Kriv, as I pointed out there, there are ways in which this is not new. And there are also ways in which it's very new. Can you talk about what's changed? What's what's happened in the space that's made it compelling?
Kriv Naicker:
35:16
So IoT certainly isn't new in terms of what it means from a customer demand perspective. M2M, machine-to-machine type communications, telemetry, telematics type solutions have been around for decades. But I guess the evolution of the reimagination of how we use these technologies is something that has changed. And I think one of the really fundamental platforms for IoT is horizontal leverage. A lot of the M2M, the telemetry/telematics solutions were bespoke or vertically integrated, and a lot of them from a supply-chain perspective were hard-wired into industries. And what that didn't enable us to do was to be able to share data or experiences, value from those deployments across industries, across experiences, across sectors. And IoT again at its fundamental core is about leveraging the value of that data from a data collection point that's introduced via sensors. It's about saying across the supply chain and as we map IoT elements from a supply chain into our industries: "How do we drive the value chain in terms of making sure that it intersects across everything we do?" So if we are deploying IoT into agritech it doesn't matter whether it's dairy or horticulture, viticulture or arable farming. Any solution should be able to be replicated from a technology perspective and applied to the context. But it should never be that if we go into the arable farming sector – and the IoT Alliance is running a programme with the government at the moment – are that somebody says we're building a specific IoT solution just for arable farming and it can't be used anywhere else. And that's where we were a long time ago and that's where the change and the promise of IoT is taking us, shareable, reusable value.
Russell Brown:
35:16
One thing that strikes me is if you go and look at the IoT Alliance website and look at the list of members, it covers a lot of sectors. This is relevant across the spectrum, isn't it?
Kriv Naicker:
35:16
Yeah, absolutely. So we're seeing the first sort of tranche of IoT Alliance members were the supply chain organisations everything from chipset and sensor and platform and connectivity and data analytics. But it is a data-driven ecosystem and IoT has always had that at the base as well. And so we are driving the understanding, the demand. And so as we move into that, the alliance itself now is changing. We're getting a lot more user organisations involved, the likes of often Air New Zealand or Fonterra. Starting to understand where the application of that data is coming from, the collection mechanism of that that's at the base of IoT as well. So our member mix is starting to change as well as we start driving those use cases.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Stephen, what are you seeing? Because I get the impression that again telematics features in vehicles aren't necessarily new but they generally only appeared in specialised, very valuable vehicles. Are we seeing that come down the chain now?
Stephen Brown:
35:16
Yeah, correct and I think I have to agree with Kriv, you know, the challenge and the people now wanting to consume IoT data or information is not just the company moving that freight from point A to point B. It's the end customer, whether that be Air New Zealand, the consumer, Countdown, whoever it may be wanting to gather that information. But heavy vehicles have always had some sort of capturing device of data and they've always been the leading force in that technology sector. But as the cost of the technology has come down through hardware or the cost of communication through Spark and the like. That's becoming more acceptable to the consumer, to the logistics provider and the heavy transport company.
Russell Brown:
35:16
And you've been a member of the Road Carriers Forum, haven't you? Is it ... That sector must be really paying attention now.
Stephen Brown:
35:16
Look, the heavy transport sector has used telematics, GPS tracking for a very, very long time, but now they're wanting to take it to the next level and the next echelon. It's the old technology 80/20 rule. Most of the freight companies up to a certain point have only really known, 'Where is my vehicle and how is it being driven?' But now due to customer demand whether it be from the food producer or for the consumer they are now asking for a much more sort of holistic view of where that freight is and Kevin sort of alluded to their earlier. They don't just want to know where it is, the want to know the temperature of the product, or the time it's arrived and the time it's left, because there's this whole visibility that's now available to the end consumer which obviously drives the whole sector.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Tessa, why has Spark decided to commit to the extent that it has? 'Cause you could have been more passive about this. You're always going to be the network provider, but you've made a decision to productise and make it the priority. Why?
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
I think it goes to the core of who we are as a business. If you think about New Zealand and our ability to bring the future faster to our customers and to the people of New Zealand, for us it's as much about the story that Pete talked around reducing vulnerability and people and the outcomes for New Zealand as it is about the technology itself. I think one of the most common challenges we hear from our customers in this space is, similarly we've seen it, we know it's been around, but the complexity involved and how many partners, devices, best practices in the ecosystem is just confusing. And Spark has played an integral role for many, many years in New Zealand as an aggregator and an integrator. So we see it as, yes, we can be the connectivity partner. I think that's core to us. But on top of that, we can actually start to bring together the story for you, so you can be agnostic to your devices and sensors, you can actually talk about your business outcomes that you need to provide, and we can try and understand that alongside you and we can stitch that together. And the last thing is around security. I think this opens up New Zealanders and our businesses, our people to an ... to a potential new level of threats and threat signals across our industries and our role as a secure digital services provider in this business and that promise and commitment we make to our customers is very much alive and well in an IoT context.
Russell Brown:
35:16
And there's a sense in which this is in Spark's DNA, isn't it? I mean, if you actually look at the IoT space, there are a lot of people who've been through the old Telecom.
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
Yes, absolutely. And I think .... you know, we've seen, we've got the scars on our back from many of these implementations. You know, Kevin talked about working with Telecom in the old days and very ... you know, 10+ years ago trying to bring this to market. So we alongside our customers have seen this technology come. We've seen value that it delivered in those days but we've seen the cost of it come down. We've understood more about your problems in the way that actually collaboration and partnering which is really at the foundation of all of this starts to come together as the costs come down ...
Russell Brown:
35:16
Because that's been part of what you've done, hasn't it? You've actually gone out and identified the best partners for your purposes.
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
Yes.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Is that ... Kriv, I wonder whether that's actually a really key part of this, is that you can't necessarily do this solo, particularly with the data element it's become about partnership and collaboration.
Kriv Naicker:
35:16
Yeah and I think partnership in a few different dimensions: partnership obviously from a people perspective in terms of the mix that you bring in to collaborate and and work together. But I think also in terms of the fact that IoT cannot be viewed in its independence, it has to be viewed as part of this overdriving change in terms of exponential technologies. So IoT is a part of the 5G landscape. It's a part of the AI/machine learning landscape. It's a part of mobile edge computing and phone computing and AR/VR. And so are vice versa, 5G is a part of IoT and AR and VR as a part of IoT. And so, as part of that overall mix with people and these technologies, we need to have a look at what the permutation ... what's the intersection of all those mix. And so when we're bringing vendors in as well to collaborate, it's not just IoT vendors, it's vendors and partners and collaborators that also have 5G experience. So I think that's what Spark's doing in its 5G Lab. It's not just in a smart city context, it's not just an IoT implementation – it's an IoT intersected with AI/machine learning, intersected with phone computing, intersects with AR/VR. That's going to give you the ultimate customer outcome.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Stephen, I wonder if we're also seeing partnerships of a kind that haven't been relevant or haven't happened before. Are you seeing that in the vehicle space?
Stephen Brown:
35:16
Yeah, very much so. I'm working with a number of providers at the moment looking at come out with the standard dataset that the heavy manufacturers can provide to the consumer and to the businesses to be able to consume data and all be onboard and understand that that data is gonna be accurate and relevant and gives them a good basis to then build on top of and look at how we can monetise that dataset or that standard set of information to do commercial activities. I think also Pete in the St John's presentation said it very well, he doesn't care about what device it is, how it gets there. He just wants a "thingy" that basically shows data and gives value to his customers and makes people's lives better.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Tessa, I guess that's also part of Spark's job, is to make Pete's toothbrush data useful to someone.
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
Yeah.
Russell Brown:
35:16
What's your approach to that?
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
I think what we see in this ... if you think about where we play with our customers and IoT, I like to think it's less about the industries, because people often obsess about the industries that IoT might turn up for. And actually underneath that we see four key needs or problems that our customers ask us to help them solve. The first one is, 'How do I digitise my processes? I've got a waste bin that needs to be emptied. Do I see my workforce out to check how full it is or actually could something do that for me to make my workforce more efficient?' And to your point around the interoperability, that's as relevant for a pallet and whether the pallet's empty as it is [for] a waste machine. The second one is, 'I have a costly problem I'm trying to solve, often related to waste loss compliance or health and safety. Where are my workers? Are they safe? Can they contact me if they're in trouble?' So I think that's really important. The data is critical. We heard Nathalie talk about this: 'Is there data and insights I'm leaving on the table today that would help me make better business decisions? You know, if I could see this item that I couldn't see yesterday, what can that tell me about my ecosystem, what other datasets can I bring in to augment that to actually make this predictive analysis real in my business?' And the cherry on the top was customer experience, and that is, 'If I'm looking at my business where will customer experience be improved by the use of this? Whether that's my customers finding a car park faster than they used to before or something else within the business?' How do we start to bring to life this this pane of glass to see where your items are as you track them for customers and then aggregate it for them? I think that's really important.
Russell Brown:
35:16
And actually Tessa, this might be one for you as the Spark person, interesting question about the fact that these devices all around the edge, they might be useful, but they're not that smart in terms of what we want them to do. And there is some processing to be done somewhere. How is this fit in to the role of the cloud – does it make it more important?
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
Yes, it does. Here's the short answer: I think if you think about the processing capacity that we start to look at in the public cloud I think you probably have a good answer to this question too. The volume of data that you're going to get and the level of compute required to make sense of that data and the speed at which you can do that. And I think you've got a couple of things in there, you've got latency around whether or not it's coming back to your own data centre versus into the cloud and what is the difference between those two things? And then you've got the compute power that might be available to you inside of the public cloud and then you've got embedded analytics ability that may or may not be available to you too. So I think ... the things that for consideration are in there is this the industry you're in and the security protocols you require and the type of data that's going in there and some of it comes back to the ethics question around what is your policy around how long you keep data, how you scrub it. Because IoT will create a lot of data waste as well. And what are your policies around actually getting rid of some of that data in the cloud, which I think is important but you may have some thoughts on that too.
Kriv Naicker:
35:16
Yeah, again IoT is a distributed intelligence system. It's very much a distributed platform. And one of the things that's really emerging through that is the whole concept of neural networks, and how things are connected at the edge and how they interact at the edge ... and so would, with 5G, mobile edge computing for computing consistently starting to evolve. How do we get more intelligent at the edge? But I think really fundamentally, the change that introduces is real-time sensing and a subset of the internet of things, which is the internet of vehicles really starts to to see benefits from that. We need edge compute, real-time compute at the edge for vehicles to make decisions from a safety perspective as well as an interaction perspective. So we want vehicles on a road travelling in a convoy to interact with each other. And that could only be if we have pure edge compute in an internet of things environment.
Russell Brown:
35:16
And I guess that might be one of the things that commends a prompt adoption of this technology is that in the New Zealand context you want to be in there influencing the way that plays out. Is that the case?
Kriv Naicker:
35:16
And very much so from a safety perspective. We want to start having a look at the validity, the regulatory impacts, the policy impacts of that data coming through, if it's all available at the edge. One of the things that I've mapped is having a look at the interactions at the edge between various actors and devices. So if you're having a look at the car, the internet of vehicles environment, we're seeing the interactions between the tyre and the road, the driver and the car, the driver to the cloud, the passenger to the car. So how do we have a look at all of these edge interactions. How do we map it? How do we make sure that the data transacted and interactive at the edge has value and pertinence in terms of where it goes and what it brings back?
Russell Brown:
35:16
Stephen, how's that playing out in the transport industry? Because you mentioned the fact the data generated is not just a business use. It's of use to the people who have to keep the roads safe as well, isn't it?
Stephen Brown:
35:16
Correct, I totally agree with what Kriv's talking about there, and there's ... from a heavy transport perspective, there are three primary areas that are looking at using all this data. Obviously the governance and the government side of things. You've got vehicle manufacturers being able to provide service, preventative servicing back to their customer base but then obviously the likes of Mainfreight using that data to be able to provide commercial services to their customers and their end consumers.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Is transit a good example of a sector where it is going to be risky to stand off? Because it does look like adoption is happening there.
Stephen Brown:
35:16
Yeah, look, adoption and vehicle telematics is, from a New Zealand perspective, is very high. That's been driven by the likes of EROAD and Cortex coming up with this sort of electronic road use charging which has been world-leading. Now we've got global companies and international markets looking at how we do distance-based licencing. So they've been doing that as well as standard GPS tracking for a very, very long time. Now it's just that as the technologies become more affordable, it's become more available and the smaller vehicles, whether it be a van or your home vehicle. It's becoming more acceptable and more open and again, interoperability.
Russell Brown:
35:16
There's again the interesting thing of who captures the value. Are you selling devices to OEMs, who are basically the people who made Pete's toothbrush? What are the issues around who captures the value there? Because if you look at what Mainfreight did, they put Oysters on all their bins, on things they already owned. What do we need to understand about that? Who capture the value – is it who captures the data?
Stephen Brown:
35:16
Yeah, there's an ongoing debate around that and I think there always will be, whether it be security, ownership, and privacy. I had a meeting last weekend and that was basically an hour and a half meeting and you know, 40 minutes of that was all around that topic. So it's gonna be an evolving discussion. There does need to be some lead from the vehicle sector themselves locally and also from the government to decide what is available and what should be made available. In the U.S. for example some of the engine diagnostics is mandated, that that data has to be made available to certain institutions and government sections. And I think that needs to happen here or at least have the discussion. The heavy transport specifically is quite a traditional business. They've been doing it for a long time so there is some nervousness around access to the data again that security and privacy always rears its ugly head.
Russell Brown:
35:16
And Tessa, I guess whatever decisions people make on that score, Spark's there. I mean, at the very bottom line at least you're going to be the network provider, aren't you? So you can kind of support whatever choice people make.
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
Yes, we can. And I think picking up on your point, you know, this data economy that's fast approaching us around shareable, trade-able data between businesses and then how you bring that back to the individual, and we have work happening now in one of our subsidiaries around what is our role in that self-sovereign identity and your control of your data online. Because actually if you think in the beginning, a time when the internet was created, it was a computer-to-computer kind of transaction that happened. It was never built for this proliferation of devices and people in this internet ecosystem. So we have lost control of our identity, if you like, online and that's whether that's a thing or a person. So I think you'll see us become more and more active around, actually, 'What is sovereign to me, my business? My things? What do I give permission to be shared and what don't I?' And that can change application by application, business by business, thing by thing, that I'm willing to share. And what you'll see is a transaction or an economy, I think, starting to happen and new value pools will open up and some will probably shut down in and around that. And that's an opportunity for all of us.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Do you think that we'd use new kinds of business models? We've already talked about vehicle subscriptions. Suddenly they're much easier to do.
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
We've seen new business models appear in the last 15 years we couldn't have imagined 20 years ago. So I think we'd be remiss not to think that there'd be new business models emerge out of this.
Kriv Naicker:
35:16
One of the things ... the first sort of tranche of the internet took us to the world, it took New Zealand from an e-commerce net and a global perspective. I think one of the things the internet of things has done is bring us back. And from two perspectives – from a localisation and personalisation perspective – it gives us access to data on our bodies, right around us in our cities and our towns, in our homes and our cars. So we'd localise and personalise the data all around us. We're not now interacting just on a global scale as the original promise of the internet. But it brings it down to everything around us. And new business models from interacting with the internet of things on our bodies, in our homes, in our cities, in our vehicles. It's time to drive more contextual business models as to the decision-making, the forecasting, the planning that we derive from the data.
Stephen Brown:
35:16
I think you see that well in vehicles now. So there's a couple of vehicle manufacturers in New Zealand already exploring car sharing, right? So they they've got a site where they sell vehicles and they're saying, 'Hey, I've 20 percent of that fleet. Can I use that for car sharing, pool cars, et cetera?' And that's the same from some of the heavy vehicle OEMs saying,. 'I sell all these vehicles, I have vehicles on my lot. Can I utilise those sitting assets to move freight around until I sell that vehicle?' So they're all looking at ways to do that. And obviously data unlocks that opportunity.
Russell Brown:
35:16
And that's interesting because it's something in which government and local government have a compelling interest. We've got to actually make the roads work a bit better. I guess that's something, Tessa, that Spark can do. It's difficult for any individual business to talk to the government but you pretty much do that all the time, don't you?
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
Yes, we do. Yeah and I think my my biggest call-out to our customers in the room today is, I think you can get lost in the technology and get lost in the opportunity of it. One of the roles we can play is how do we have these conversations. And I think the first question we ask of our customers is just look at the business problems that you have and then ask us, 'Is IoT an answer for this?' As we will openly say yes or no. And then we can explore with you actually what is the business benefit you're trying to create. Is this a new business model? Is it a new value pool? Or is it simply trying to make you more efficient in the way you do things today. So just starting to raise top of mind because I think for many of you in the room this is not a new story that you're hearing. It's more where do I start and what is that one thing that we can do in our business. You know, we're working with a partner at the moment which is an infrastructure company but where they've started is, 'We have a fleet of vehicles on the road. I just want to know whether or not my people are where they should be, if they're safe or if they're having a really long lunch break.' So I think it's, if you bring us the problem, ask the question, 'Is IoT is something that could help with this?' And I think the way that we operate now as a business in terms of agility means that it's easy for us to work with you around a proof of concept or a pilot to try at least get something stood up to see early return on value. 'Cause I think to Kevin's point you want the cost of this to be less than the cost of the value of the asset in the first place that you're trying to make more efficient, right. So that's really key.
Russell Brown:
35:16
That's kind of an interesting point, isn't it, as an agile organisation you are much better placed to help businesses get a toe in the water to actually try something.
Russell Brown:
35:16
I hope so.
Russell Brown:
35:16
You picked Asset Tracking as first cab off the rank.
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
We did.
Russell Brown:
35:16
And Mainfreight's experience suggests that that has actually been a good choice. Where do you think the next implementation waves are going to be?
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
It's a good question. I think across industries you'll see many ... I actually think Asset Tracking will live for quite some time. Mostly because in people's minds, often they picture a car or a vehicle when in reality there are pets, kids, workers, vehicles, chairs ... there's a lot of things that actually people want to know, 'Are they were they supposed to be and what condition are they in?' So I actually think that for us, to be honest, is how do we make that ubiquitous and the internet as reusable as possible across industries. I think there's a huge amount of value in there for us to learn before we rush in to what's what's the next thing. It doesn't stop us from working in industries like utilities where we often play today like St John around closing the gap for vulnerable communities and people. But I do think Asset Tracking is something that's quite important to actually helping people get a toe in the water in the first instance.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Kriv, Tessa mentioned utilities. You ... Synaptec has an energy project at the moment, don't you?
Kriv Naicker:
35:16
Yeah, I guess when I have a look at mapping IoT, I see it in a three-dimensional space. And utilities has a huge relevance there because I see underground IoT, on the ground IoT, and aerial IoT. And I see the data being collected on a single point along that position, being then correlated from all the utilities – water pipes, electricity conduits, communication conduits – under the ground getting data from that and exposing it to different communications networks and platforms, correlating them to data being collected on the ground and that's fixed IoT, portable IoT, and mobile IoT on the ground, and then correlating that again to aerial IoT data we're collecting from UAVs and drones and low-earth orbit [LEO] and space data. And as we start to create this three-dimensional view, we start to get a much clearer picture of how we're interacting with our environment: What's happening below our feet? What's happening as we move about? And what's happening above us? And if we start thinking about IoT in that three-dimensional space, we're getting a dataset that's now really rich, both from our environmental and sustainability goals in New Zealand. Are we understanding what's happening in the earth and and below us? We understand how things are moving around us, but we're also now having a look at pollutants and environmental conditions above us that we've now have access to data from. So it's that entire three-dimensional view of IoT that I think businesses need to go through and augment all those datasets together to drive better outcomes.
Russell Brown:
35:16
How important is scale in all this? Because I get the impression that there are there are IoT implementations that they've got to several hundred devices. Do we need to start looking at going past that, into the thousands, even if that means partnerships, maybe don't have to do it all yourself. Is that important?
Kriv Naicker:
35:16
Absolutely. So as I said before, IoT is very much a horizontal leverage platform that needs to deliver scale. We're in that momentum drive right now where we do have a lot of vertically bespoke or hardwired solutions that are struggling to derive scale or deliver scale from various sectors. But the evolution of IoT is around that reusability and shareability and that will get us to that scale point. The more we share, the more we learn, the more we take solutions from logistics, supply chain and intersect that with an agriculture solution, the more we'll drive scale and an appreciation of what that intersection of data means as well.
Russell Brown:
35:16
I guess we should actually get to the key topic. Stephen, what do you think are the risks of not at least doing the thinking around IoT? What are the perils of just pretending it's not happening?
Stephen Brown:
35:16
Oh look, there's the whole 'bury your head in the sand, it'll just go away', which is just not going to happen. It's all driven by the outcome and the user and the consumer. They all have this appetite for information and data. Pete identified that with someone sitting on the toilet with all this device and all this information, so it's driven by that. And as long as the consumers and the customers continue to ask for more information, more real-time information and more basically data, that's going to speed it up. So you either adopt or I don't think you'll be around.
Russell Brown:
35:16
You think we're entering a phase where consumers are going to start actually demanding a bit more and actually understanding the space because these devices are turning up in their cars?
Stephen Brown:
35:16
Correct. From the moment you get into especially the newer vehicles, you get in, you plug in your phone or it connects via WiFi or Bluetooth, they basically automatically are connected and they're looking at the internet, they're getting shown where they're driving, where their favourite service station is, how far they are from home, without even touching it. So as that technology evolves, the age of the consumer continues to decrease because younger people are now getting connected to technology. It's just it's an evolution that we just can't stop.
Russell Brown:
35:16
And Kriv, I know you think it's time to move because you're passionate about this stuff. But do you have any thoughts on that, on the risks of doing nothing?
Kriv Naicker:
35:16
Yeah, there's a huge risk because we have data at our fingertips now. We need to put the control mechanisms in place from cyber security in a data and privacy and we are addressing that be front footing those issues. But the risk of not doing anything is the risk of saying, 'I can access data all around me. How do I best make use of it and how do I gain value?' And I think coming back to the Mainfreight and Kevin's discussion is, how do we make that discussion as simple as possible? If we're talking to a farmer, if we're talking to somebody in our agritech community, they've been collecting data for a number of years. They wake up in the morning they open their front door and they send stuff, they look up at the sky, they look up at the ground, they look up at their herds, and make decisions. They come in and that leads to business planning. We're not changing the way they're doing that. We're saying, 'What's the value to you if I give you more granular, more pertinent, more accessible data that helps you with that business planning and that's all it is. It's just about augmenting and complementing data that they already have that helps them with better planning and decision making. If we get to that point then the value won't be questioned. And we have to do something. And I'm hoping that that's the direction we're moving in.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Tessa, what's the conversation you ... Spark has with customers in that sense? You said before you're prepared to tell people, 'No, maybe this isn't the right solution for you.' But what do you ask them to consider?
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
Yeah, it's a good question. I think it comes back to productivity, from businesses and from consumers. So mobility over the last 25, 30 years has been a story of productivity gains and then we got into smart mobility where you actually could take applications on the move. And I think this is the next iteration of that, where actually within your business where are the productivity gains that you're looking at, both at the end for your users, your employees, but also for your customer. And your customers are grappling with an increasingly complex digital world. They're asking for that front-end simplicity. The front-end simplicity is inherently back-end complexity. So a lot of that for us is, 'Describe for us the experience you'd like your customers to have with you. What has your aspiration been and how might IoT actually start to bring that to life for you?' So I think that's really important. And then the productivity gains for the business itself, so, 'Where do you feel over the last 10 years you've most realised productivity from technology? Where's the next step for that and how might this help you?'.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Right, we're almost out of time. So how I'm going to finish is to ask for a prediction from each of you, starting with you on the end, Stephen. Give us a prediction.
Stephen Brown:
35:16
There's so many we could look at but I think the prediction will be along the lines of Gartner's, the number of devices that will be connecting by 2025. I think, whether it be the hairbrush example, the toothbrush right from the consumer in right through to the business, I think you're only going to see an upswing of adoption. But I also think it's conscious that we need to make sure that people have training and the skills and the technology to better utilise all that data. That's one thing I haven't really touched on today was making sure that, 'Yes, I've got all this information, but have my people or my systems got the skills and the learnings to actually compute and do something with that information?'
Russell Brown:
35:16
That's a good point. Kriv.
Kriv Naicker:
35:16
Here's my prediction is, is the gap between the physical and the digital world won't be bridged. We're seeing right now investment in the physical world with rotting infrastructure and in cars and are we seeing a whole lot of developments in a digital context, in a digital world happen in independence of what's happening in our physical world. And IoT is one of the technologies that bridges both those worlds really, really well. And if we don't adopt, we don't do something, those two worlds will continue to diverge and we need to use technologies like IoT to continue to bridge and bring the physical world of the digital world closer together.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Tessa.
Tessa Tierney:
35:16
My prediction is more of a hope, if I if I'm honest. My prediction is more around, when we talk about the intersection of digital/physical world and actually of AI and its integration into daily life. What can we imagine for the world and for our customers and for people that are close to us? And my father is 73 years old and he's blind, he's got macular degeneration. So where I see a lot of this is, technology for him is largely inaccessible and where we're going with voice activation technology, with facial recognition, the leapfrog for him where he can't see a device and he's of an age he doesn't like applications and downloads, for him to voice-activate something in his home which lights up most of his life and to the point where AI's got to a place where it is predictive or it can tell him where a risk in his home is and he can avoid it, or can interact with him and in a conversational way. I think that's my prediction is where we start to see that augmentation of human intelligence where actually when I'm not around there is something there taking care of the people that we love. That's really important.
Russell Brown:
35:16
Tessa Tierney there, concluding the panel discussion at Spark's internet of things event at Generator in Auckland. Well, that's a wrap for the second episode of the "Internet of Awesome Things", brought to you by Spark. Thank you to our panellists, Tessa Tierney, Stephen Brown, and Kriv Naiker, to Gareth Thomas for our lovely theme music, and to you for joining us. You can subscribe for more at spark.co.nz/iotpodcast or wherever you get your podcasts if you like what you've heard. Please write and subscribe to us. We're also keen to hear your thoughts and questions about what we're doing and you can get hold of us. We are iot@spark.co.nz. In the next episode, we'll be looking at an area where the internet of things is making a striking difference: medicine and health care. You might be surprised to know what's already happening in the back of an ambulance. I'm Russell Brown and I'm looking forward to catching up then, because you and I, we have 20 billion things to talk about.
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