IoT Spotlight Conversation

by J. Matthew Craig, Co-Chair — Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) “IoT Symposium 2016: Industry 4.0 and The Internet of Things”


Alain Louchez — Managing Director, Center for the Development and Application of Internet Things Technologies (CDAIT) at Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI); shown here delivering keynote address at Internet of Things conference during Bakutel 2014 in Baku, Azerbaijan


Sitting in Alain Louchez’s office at Georgia Tech’s Technology Square (“Tech Square”), one gets the impression that they are located at the epicenter of Georgia’s burgeoning technology community; and perhaps that actually is the case. Looking out the window, one sees Coca-Cola’s World Headquarters and Delta Air Lines planes flying high above. Downstairs, UPS trucks are delivering packages outside AT&T Foundry(TM), just down the street from the AT&T Drive Studio(TM). According to a recent Georgia Tech announcement, Tech Square has attracted a host of industry innovation centers that include AT&T Mobility, Panasonic Automotive, Southern Company, Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot, Coca-Cola Enterprises, NCR, and ThyssenKrupp Elevator Americas. Along with the new NCR world headquarters under development and Tech Square Labs, the eight-block Tech Square campus, including the recently-announced “Coda”, an unprecedented collaborative building to house Georgia Tech’s high performance computing center, will soon total 3 million square feet of commercial space and more than $1 billion invested. From this seat, one truly feels the vibrant pulse of convergence between Georgia’s world class education, research, and business communities.

It was here that Alain and I sat together, on a mid-week morning in June, to discuss why Georgia is uniquely poised to become a global leader in The Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. On July 19, we will both attend the most comprehensive event ever assembled in the Southeast, covering this topic, “TAG IoT Symposium 2016: Industry 4.0 and The Internet of Things” (www.iotga.org). In anticipation of this landmark event, Alain and I shared the following conversation:


Q: How would you define, “The Internet of Things” (IoT)?

A: To begin with, I am uncomfortable providing a precise definition of IoT. In my view, it is simply a metaphor. The intellectual crucible for IoT, i.e., ubiquitous computing, was first fathered by Mark Weiser, who died of cancer in 1999 at the age of 46. In his widely quoted and celebrated article (“The Computer for the 21st Century”) that he published for Scientific American in 1991 he was already highlighting the very nature of current IoT technologies (without referring to the yet nameless IoT): “they weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” A few years before his death, Weiser and John Seely Brown, another intellectual pioneer of the IoT domain, explored in a 1996 paper what they called “The Coming of Age of Calm Technology”, in essence, according to their vision, tiny networked computers will be buried into the background to allow us to go after the business of being human: “When our world is filled with interconnected, embedded computers, calm technology will play a central role in a more humanly empowered twenty-first century.”

This is what IoT is about and was expressed long before the expression, “IoT,” came to life. It’s a term that captures the arrival in the communications space of almost anything and everything that was until now “out of scope”; in short what is presently inert will become live; passive, active; or static, dynamic. This will give rise to what we could call a “pulsating world”, i.e., a world that is sending and receiving data constantly. Of course, this is not a homogeneous single space since consumers have needs and behaviors that markedly differ from businesses’. Therefore, while technologies used by both are certainly related, we see two sub-segments identified throughout the industry: consumer IoT and industrial IoT.

Q: What first got you interested in IoT? In other words, did your path start in mobile, cloud, big data, etc. and how did it lead you to IoT?

A: Well, let’s say I’ve been around: I’ve worked in Europe, Canada, and the United States (several states including Hawaii), and done business in Latin America and Africa. Much of that time was spent in telecommunications. Among various things, I had the privilege of being in charge of French operations and business development with BellSouth (now AT&T) as an American expat in France. This led me to landing on the board of directors of several companies, one of them being France Telecom Mobile Data (FTMD). The mobile data technology used at the time at FTMD was called “Mobitex”. It was first designed by Ericsson and was the operating system (OS) that Research in Motion introduced at their very beginning for their Blackberry messaging service. Many of the issues on the radar back then are the same today, such as providing a secure service with a mobile data network. It was through that opportunity that I first got involved in machine-to-machine communications (M2M). Interestingly enough, the French BellSouth subsidiary was headquartered in the city of Metz in the region of Lorraine with which the State of Georgia signed a sistership agreement and where Georgia Tech first broke ground for their European campus (*). My daughter was born in Metz and, adding to these coincidences, her grandfather, a Georgia Tech graduate and a member of the U.S. 95th Infantry division, actually liberated this area during World War II after a three-month-long fiery battle (the division received afterward the nickname [special designation] of “The Iron Men of Metz”).

Q: Why is IoT an innovative concept?

A: IoT is a novel framework not because of the automation it implies. As far as this is concerned, there is nothing new. Automated and integrated processes and services have been explored and researched for quite a long time. The newness of IoT resides in radically transforming the nature of the manufactured products. In an IoT-supported society, “things” will be born “smart”, i.e., with addressable intelligence capabilities. Embedding a wide variety of sensors, processors and other intelligence attributes will be done as a matter of course, leading to the production of what some have called “smart goods”. Pervasive availability of and access to embedded intelligence will give birth to new ecosystems and services to maintain, upgrade and leverage these new capabilities.

Q: Is there any model rooted in history that could shed light on where IoT is going?

A: If you forgive the pun, the history of residential electricity may provide interesting guideposts. While the electric light bulb Edison invented in 1879 was a truly disruptive breakthrough and sparked off residential electrification, it did not spread rapidly. Fifty years later, barely 50% of the United States had access to electricity (the Rural Electrification Act was enacted in 1936). It is after World War II that air conditioning, the highest share of U.S. residential electricity consumption (as of 2014), really took off. Therefore as a point of comparison, I would submit that universal availability of data (re. “pulsating world”) will also take time and, likewise, we’ll see the same kind of bi-directional relationship between availability of data (viz. power source) and applications (viz. household electric appliances): availability generating possible uses and desired uses demanding access to energy (in the case of IoT, data/information).

Q: How do you recommend that businesses view IoT?

A: Within this industry, here and around the world, things are moving rapidly. My advice is simple: if you want to remain relevant, get on the bandwagon now. However, companies need to be aware that the implementation of the Internet of Things is a long-term process. Many hurdles, some technological (security & privacy, interoperability, standards, energy, architecture, etc.), others non-technological (social acceptability, education, policy, laws, regulation, etc.) will have to be overcome before IoT becomes “par for the course”.

Q: How is Georgia uniquely poised to become a global leader in IoT?

A: GA is in a unique position because we can address all of the links of the value chain from the interface with physical world (sensors and/or actuators) up to and including the extraction of info and knowledge from captured data at the edge. Critical to IoT success, please note that Georgia is home to many companies centered on security. As a matter of fact, the May 2016 issue of Hub Magazine (a TAG publication), which focused on the State’s information security sector, underscores that “security technology is a big deal in the Peach state. There are more than 115 information security companies in Georgia and the sector generates more than $4 billion annually.”

Q: What is The Center for Development and Application of the Internet of Things (CDAIT)?

A: We have three main objectives. The first of which is to expand knowledge along the three axes of science, technology, and business. Secondly, we seek to educate on IoT the future workforce as well as the current workforce through reskilling and helping prepare companies for the challenges and opportunities of IoT. Lastly, we want to energize the marketplace about the potential of IoT. We currently have four Working Groups focusing on IoT Education, IoT Start-up Ecosystem, IoT Thought Leadership and IoT Research.

Q: What is Georgia Tech’s unique competitive advantage as an IoT catalyst?

A: I believe that our competitive advantage is twofold. First of all, Georgia Tech is one of the oldest and most respected technological universities in the United States. Continually ranked among the very best, it is eagerly encouraging and developing the revolutionary technologies of the 21st century. Secondly, the Atlanta ecosystem that surrounds our main campus is immersed within a very tight eco-fabric that allows us to have productive dialogues with industry within our very own neighborhood. Working with these companies, we are able to both give and receive immediate feedback and contribute directly to the growth of these companies. In addition, while we love to develop “cool” things, we do not overlook the business side, which remains the final arbiter. Here at CDAIT, we are fortunate to have partners that are deeply engaged in the IoT space and can make original and relevant related contributions. Current CDAIT members are (parent company’s HQ in parentheses): AirWatch by VMware (U.S.), AT&T (U.S.), Brambles (Australia), Cisco (U.S.), Corning (U.S.), Flex (formerly Flextronics) (Singapore), IBM (U.S.), Infor (U.S.), Merial [Sanofi] (France), Samsung (Korea), Stanley Black and Decker (U.S.), USAA (U.S.), and Wipro (India).

Q: How can the State of Georgia, and Atlanta in particular, become a growth pole** ignited by the Internet of Things?

A: Here are some suggestions:

1. Support from local leaders about the vision (this is actually the case; see for instance Smart City: http://www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?page=672&recordid=3868 and Logistics [Governor’s address]: http://www.georgia.org/2016/04/22/2016-georgia-logistics-summit-a-hit-with-logistics-community/.)

2. Encourage education and training at all levels

3. Because of the complexity of the IoT value chain, foster cooperation among companies that would not necessarily work together

4. Develop partnerships between industry and academia (the State of Georgia can lean on an outstanding network of private and public universities)

5. Showcase Georgia achievements (use cases from GA-based companies) in the space in various media and international conferences organized in Georgia

6. Encourage/facilitate the investment community to look into that space

7. Demonstrate Georgia leadership in cybersecurity, key to IoT success. As mentioned above, there is an impressive number of security-centered companies based in GA. Furthermore, Georgia Tech has recently launched the Institute for Information Security and Privacy (IIS), which focuses on researching, developing, and disseminating technical solutions and policy about cybersecurity and privacy; it comprises several security-related labs such as the Cyber Technology and Information Security Laboratory (CTISL), which now has more than 250 people.

8. Ongoing: explain (what IoT is about, long term vs. short term, etc.) and inform (progress, plans, etc.)

Q: Finally, what special significance do you attach to the forthcoming, “TAG IoT Symposium 2016: Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things,” in terms of accelerating Georgia’s path to becoming a global hub for innovation?

A: The timing cannot be better. The IoT space is getting increased attention in the United States and abroad. A Bill (S. 2607) was introduced in March 2016 in the U.S. Senate, the so-called “Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things Act or the DIGIT Act, which, in and of itself, underlines the critical importance of IoT. Several Hearings are being conducted in Congress to better understand all the IoT dimensions (an IoT Working Group was created in May 2016 in the House of Representatives). In parallel, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce launched in May-June 2016 a wide consultation on the “benefits, challenges, and potential roles for the government in fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things”. Clearly, the State of Georgia wants to have its voice heard in the debate, and the July 19th event is a great opportunity to crystallize various perspectives and collaborative energies. In addition, I particularly like that the organizers have inserted the event within the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (“Industry 4.0”) context, which is a global phenomenon. In the last few years, many governments around the world have put (and keep putting) into orbit IoT/Industry 4.0 initiatives*** aiming at promoting their national industries and special know-how, adding in the process new competitive challenges, which Georgian companies must not ignore.


* The sistership agreement was signed on October 31, 1988 by then Georgia Governor Joe Frank Harris and then president of the Lorraine Region Jean-Marie Rausch. From 1982 until January 2016, Lorraine was an administrative Region of France. In 2016, it became part of the new Region Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine (“Grand Est”). On the origins of GT Lorraine, see Sallylyn Hill, “GT Lorraine Advances Tech’s Economic Goals in European Community,” The Whistle, Volume 18, Number 6, March 15, 1993, p. 3.

** About Growth Pole theory see these few slides: http://www.slideshare.net/parthsadaria/growth-pole-theory-41037392

*** In addition to regional initiatives such as EU’s many IoT/Industry 4.0-related projects and future role of Asian infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) see a few notable examples: China’s “Made in China 2025” &“Digital Silk Road”; France’s “La Nouvelle France Industrielle” (NFI); Germany’s “industry 4.0” and “Digital Strategy 2025”; India’s “Make in India” & “Zero Defect, Zero Effect”; Italy’s “La Fabbrica del Futuro”; Japan’s “Robot Revolution Initiative Council” & “Industrial Value Chain Initiative”; Korea’s “Manufacturing Innovation 3.0”; and the United Kingdom’s “High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult” & “Innovate UK”.


Event Information & Bios:

Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) “IoT Symposium 2016: Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things”

This signature event, hosted by The Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) on July 19th, 2016 will bring together distinguished speakers, sponsors (including Google, Cisco, Intel, AT&T, and SAP), attendees, and exhibitors from across the ecosystem of IoT innovation, providing the most comprehensive IoT agenda ever assembled in the Southeast. For more information, please visit: www.iotga.org

J. Matthew Craig

Matthew is an avid mobile technology and IoT enthusiast who enjoys writing about his passion for technology and sharing it via social media (@mattcraigslist on Twitter). He currently works for Delta Air Lines, where he is responsible for driving strategy to build brand loyalty with eHVCs (emerging high value customers) and strengthening the financial performance of Delta’s global account portfolio. Before coming aboard at Delta, Matthew worked in Brazil while completing his M.B.A thesis on market expansion strategy. He holds two masters degrees in International Business from The Sorbonne Graduate School of Business in Paris and Georgia State University. Matthew also earned a Global Business Management Certificate from The University of Rio de Janeiro and a B.A. in Psychology from Emory University.

His professional background includes several years in technical sales and account management with AT&T’s Leadership Development Program. In addition, Matthew served as Global Business Development Lead at AirWatch, aiding in the company’s international expansion and multi-billion dollar acquisition by VMWare. Currently, Matthew sits on the Executive Committee for the Technology Association of Georgia’s “Internet of Things” symposium, aimed at making Georgia a global hub for technological innovation.

Outside of the office, he can often be found practicing his Portuguese, taking walks on the Atlanta’s “Beltline” with his wife Patricia, or playing one of several musical instruments, including the air drums whenever he’s stuck in traffic.

Alain Louchez

Alain Louchez is the Managing Director of the Center for the Development and Application of Internet of Things Technologies (CDAIT pronounced sedate), at the Georgia Institute of Technology. CDAIT’s purpose is to expand and promote the Internet of Things (IoT)’s huge potential and transformational capabilities through research, education and industry outreach. The Center is sponsored by global companies headquartered in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In December 2015, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized agency of the United Nations, and Georgia Tech announced an agreement (MoU) to be implemented by ITU’s SG 20 and CDAIT whose goal is to monitor global Internet of Things activities. Alain was selected by Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Guadalajara) as an international advisor to “Centro de Innovación, Desarrollo Tecnológico y Aplicaciones de Internet de las Cosas” (a.k.a. “Center of Innovación in Internet of Things or CIIoT”) after bid approval by the government of Mexico in June 2016. Prior to joining Georgia Tech, Alain held various executive positions including member of the board of directors of leading companies in the high tech industry, in Europe and the United States.

Comment

ShareShare IoT Spotlight Conversation