featured | iot

A Conversation with IoT Pioneer, Ian Skerrett

writer img alt

SmartThings Developers

It was 1999 when the term 'Internet of Things' was coined. That was the year that Ian Skerrett went to work for Entrust as the Director of Product Management. Software development was still in it’s infancy. And it took another decade for the Internet of Things to become a reality.

Ian Skerrett has 25+ years’ experience across the technology industry. He spent 13 of those years as the VP of Marketing for the Eclipse Foundation. Eclipse was one of the earliest organizations that connected developers with companies. In that role, he was instrumental in growing open source communities for new technologies. Ian was also deeply involved in the rise of M2M. He is an expert on Blockchain and has a high-profile track record as an analyst and an open source strategist.

Since 2014, Ian has been consulting and writing on the amazing potential of IoT. He was there before the technology evolved into its current form. As an IoT thought leader, Ian has had a lot of success explaining where IoT is headed.

The SmartThings team caught up with Ian at the 2018 IoT World event.

Today developers have a better idea on the positioning and possibilities of technologies like Cloud and M2M. Analytics plays an important role, but they are not infallible. Skerrett remains a skeptic of some of the more grandiose visions of the future of IoT. He thinks that these predictions are overrated and often inflated.

He once wrote that, “IoT solutions that should never have been built. For IoT to be successful we need more examples of how IoT can make substantial and meaningful change in our lives.” He’s quick to explain that projections about the exponential rise of connected devices and the market penetration of the universal usage of IoT are based on “numbers people are making up”. He is more interested in trends than projections and has been successful in spotting upcoming trends

In his January blog, he outlined the “IoT Trends for 2018”. Ian wrote about the five areas that are trending up. The list includes:

  1. Edge/Fog/IoT Gateway computing
  2. Digital Twin technology
  3. Eclipse IoT Integration
  4. More Open IoT Testbeds
  5. Next Generation Blockchain (Iota)

Skerrett has an interesting perspective regarding consumer applications and devices. “Turning on the lights from your own phone isn’t interesting when you can just reach for the switch.” He believes that, “What is missing is the compelling use case that is applicable to lots of people. The current use cases seem to be centered around security and/or remote management of HVAC. It doesn't seem like this is really needed by lots of people.”

What is quite fascinating to Ian is the practical benefit of IoT, particularly for enterprise customers. Industrial Enterprise IoT, however, has immense potential to save costs and increase efficiencies for companies. This is where quite a bit of innovation can be found.

For Skerrett, efficiencies in the industry will drive IoT growth, more than other factors. He explained that, “Industrial IoT is impacting many industries. For instance, in manufacturing the ability for predictive maintenance is driving adoption. Asset optimization and improved efficiencies for infrastructure operators is also compelling.”

He believes that developers should be focusing on finding this value at both the enterprise and consumer level, rather than on building the next end-to-end system. Skerrett has confidence that the IoT cloud approach is the way of the future. It’s all about building on the foundation, with more in-depth sophisticated tutorials and tools for developers.
He emphasized the trends to “watch”. Because where they go, the future of IoT will be. “There are a couple of things that will be interesting to watch in IoT:

  • How edge computing matures and integrates with the different IoT platforms.
  • How the concept of digital twins will mature and potentially simplify the development and deployment of IoT solutions.”

It was exciting to have a conversation with Ian. His insights were invaluable and his pioneer spirit was contagious.

Thank you, Ian.