Communicate, Connect and Collaborate – London Tech Week

Attending events is always an expensive pastime, so the visit to the Equinix, ‘Innovation through Interconnection’ London Tech Week event at Codenode was highly anticipated as an event where you can pick up new ideas and interesting trends. It definitely lived up to expectations and certainly didn’t disappoint.

The theme of Equinix's London Tech Week event – interconnectivity – was spot on and continued in detail right down to the Poken key fobs used to exchange digital business cards and brochures. A great idea, even if I did manage to set up my version in Russian.

The fact the digital age of consumption is accelerating and companies big or small are having to work hard to stay on the coat tails of their ever more digitally savvy consumers, was a message which came across loud and clear throughout the Equinix London Tech Week event.

Nuno Godinho didn’t disappoint either. He provided a really insightful presentation on how GE views the use of connected devices in every aspect of their business. Ranging from Aero engines that generate 10Tb of data on each 3 ½ hour flight, managing the flow of traffic in rail yards which reduces the cost of shipping large amounts of raw and finished goods,  to managing the best interventions and paths for patients using healthcare services that save lives as well as money.

What is striking about these, is the vast amounts of data each of them is constantly producing. All of  which has to be initially stored, then sifted by an array of analytics tools to extract the useful information, before presenting the results to users or transmitting it on to  other connected systems to do further analytics.  I’d heard the term “fast data “ at another event recently, http://www.vissensa.com/hybrid-cloud-meets-iot/ and it’s clear that all this useful data, once cleansed, needs to be provided in a timely manner, otherwise it becomes relatively useless quite quickly making it less valuable in real time decision making.

One of the big takeaways for me from London Tech Week was the characteristics of how  for example, an MRI scanner can be monitored to ensure its in optimum working order. To do this GE digitally copies it to make a clone which is then put under a compressed testing timescale to see where and when the machine will fail. The results are used to predict when maintenance or tuning will be needed, and stops a breakdown occurring at a time when patients are waiting to use the machine through early intervention.

The use of containers in DevOps and software development is another example where this digital cloning is being employed to save time and money in the deployment of applications.

Michael Winterson, Development Director for Equinix’s London Tech Week session added another layer to the connectivity story with an interesting case study on Caterpillar. The big mechanical machinery company realised that by using the data collected by sensors and devices on their machinery they could turn a supply and maintenance lead business into a service business by offering customers the ability to monitor their equipment and given them a value added service from the information available. The key benefit that Caterpillar bought into? -  They were able to monitor HOW equipment was being used and as a result they reduced workplace injuries using their equipment, delivered via the IOT and analysed to provide real time safety information.  Now there’s innovation!

Esben Viskum, VP Technology and Security at Lego, showed us how the company overcame a different business challenge in this digitally interconnected world. Now we all love Lego right?  And many of us have children that love it too, but how do you plan the growth of your business when your product is firmly planted in the physical toy world and your target market all know how to play games on electronic devices by the age of two?

Esben explained how Lego came up with a range of digitally accessible Lego assets, such as Lego Ideas, a forum for Lego users and also the Lego App, designed to make use of the internet and the digital wave of toys and gaming to encourage the user to want to go out and purchase the core physical products. The result is a company looking forward and planning to reach 220m children by 2022.

Security is always at the top of the agenda in this interconnected world and it was covered by a number of the speakers and also during the lively panel discussion that closed the event. Like in many of these discussions, a word of caution was given to acknowledge that in the rush to provide consumers with their every digital desire, the security of their device and of your supporting infrastructure has to be considered carefully and the design and model of how information ebbs and flows understood and managed. For further reading around security head over to the Vissensa blog,   http://www.vissensa.com/business-threat-management/

A consensus of the panel was that racing to a public only cloud deployment for cover was not a solution. Guido Conenders presentation talked about how security strategies are developed and how the rapid flow of information can lead to the rapid dissemination of incorrect information or infection. A recent example of this is the hacking of the digital road signs in Texas USA (known as DOT signs) with unsavoury messages about the US presidential candidates being displayed  by hackers who had gained access to the update process for these signs.

Many of the discussions I had during the day were varied in the challenges that users faced and the three main themes at London Tech Week that emerged were; the need to understand and develop a hybrid cloud strategy for an organisations entire workload; a desire to have an ability to securely connect to other external sources to share and collaborate, and the third, to do this as quickly as possible in terms of transaction time.

From the companies that attended and the partners that came to discuss their solutions, I think many went away with a much clearer idea of how they can make their business more interconnected.

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