Cross-Fire Panel Discussion at Data Summit 2016 Debates the Implications of IoT

What’s ahead for the Internet of Things as far as data privacy, standards for interoperability, and meaningful use cases? John O’Brien, principal advisor of Radiant Advisors;Joe Caserta, president and CEO of Caserta Concepts; and George Corugedo, CTO of RedPoint Global, addressed those questions in a crossfire panel discussion at Data Summit 2016.

One of the most significant areas where IoT can make a difference, Caserta said is in the medical field. Medical providers, Caserta said, are already routinely tracking data from patients. In addition to Fitbit-type devices, for example, he said, data transmitted from smart scales is being used to monitor patients’ weight changes that may signal health problems.

Corugedo agreed that the medical field is perhaps one of the most important frontiers for IoT. Noting that a relatively small percentage of people with chronic healthcare issues are responsible for more than half of the healthcare costs overall, Corugedo said that increasingly pharmaceutical companies and payers are leveraging FDA approved campaigns to generate reminders for people to refill prescriptions and take other steps to avoid expensive and potentially life-threatening medical emergencies.

IoT is already driving greater personalization of services by customer-centric services, said O’Brien. A major shift will be needed in terms of approaches to not just create this data but to effectively ingest and store it.

Big Brother is Watching

The balance between the loss of individuals’ privacy and the desire for personalized interactions and incentives was also considered. O’Brien noted that many people seem to have already adjusted to some level of tradeoff as evidenced for example by their use of loyalty cards that track their purchases in exchange for lower prices and coupons when they are grocery shopping.

Caserta observed that the first time he swiped a credit card and a discount immediately was sent to him, he was alarmed by the intrusion, but now wonders why when he swipes and doesn’t get a discount offer. There are many other things that people may be concerned with at first, but then become inured to over time, he observed.

Apart from data about customers and their activities and preferences, data streaming from devices also represents a new opportunity for better outcomes, said Caserta, who cited scenarios such as data streaming from parts in commuter trains to prevent breakdowns so that people can travel more safely and are able to arrive on time.

Each time that someone uses Google for search, we all know that Google is collecting the data and using it to create products, pointed out Corugedo. The bottom line for companies, Corugedo said, will be making sure that IoT-based offers and interactions with customers are in keeping with their brands.

Privacy and Governance

How much people understand about how their personal data is being used was also discussed. O’Brien noted that people often download new updates on their mobile phones routinely without reading the disclosures.

Data is data, said Caserta, and said that existing data laws should govern data no matter where it is from, and if not, new laws may be needed to address the use of device data.

IoT Data Standards for Interoperability

The question of how standardization will come about was addressed. There may be no standard because there may not be enough incentives for them. Efforts have been ongoing to standardize metadata in the relational world for 30 years, it was suggested. O’Brien speculated that certain verticals may develop their own standards, while Caserta said he thinks the future will be 100% API-based to facilitate interoperability in IoT.

With all this data streaming from devices, new storage approaches will be needed, the panelists said. “That is why companies are building data lakes,” said Caserta.

Who Will Lead the Charge?

Whether U.S. tech companies will lead the way on IoT innovation was also debated. The U.S. has always focused on driving efficiency through technology for lower cost, while manufacturing powerhouse China has leveraged its labor force to solve problems while maintaining high employment, it was suggested. But, Caserta said, he has traveled extensively internationally for business, and has seen many technology innovations take hold in Asia before they spread to the U.S.

As more connected devices come online and generate more and more data, the hurdle will not simply be getting the data from the devices, the panelists agreed. The big challenge will be integrating it and using it for meaningful advancements. 

Data Summit is an annual 2-day conference, preceded by a day of workshops. Data Summit offers a comprehensive educational experience designed to guide you through all of the key issues in data management and analysis today. The event brings together IT managers, data architects, application developers, data analysts, project managers, and business managers for an intense immersion into the key technologies and strategies for becoming a data-informed business.

Many presentations from Data Summit 2016 have been made available for review at