Developing and introducing new IoT systems or technology, or updating and expanding existing ones, can come with a number of complex challenges. These often cross a number of disciplines, involving a variety of stakeholders and impact on existing processes, structures and staff roles.
There may be a level of education and partnership development required to tackle them, alongside reassurances regarding the innovation risk versus the final impact and value. Below we’ve highlighted some example needs and barriers encountered, together with an indication of what Pitch-In has done or will do to remove or alleviate these barriers.
The needs and barriers below are illustrative only and are not intended to be an exhaustive account.
< Derisking IoT adoption >
I want to make informed business decisions regarding IoT adoption.
It is recognised that new business models are needed to exploit IoT. Pitch-In developed new business models to enhance collaborative endeavours.
I need confidence that IoT can really deliver value for my organisation.
Pitch-In co-sponsored the development of several such demonstrators as part of its programme of work, which can be visited and used to test and validate potential IoT applications. These addressed real world industrial or commercial problems in collaboration with the universities and other external agencies.
I need confidence in the third party costs when adopting IoT.
Pitch-In developed various demonstrator projects. We used these to explore issues of costs of analysis and operational costs (for example, costs arising due to storage and processing in the cloud).
< Financing IoT development >
I need to finance IoT development.
Pitch-In was not intended as a direct funder for IoT implementation or for fundamental IoT related research. It was concerned with supporting investigation of barriers to successful introduction of IoT, developing solutions and sharing the results. However, engineering access to other finance as part of a sustainable ecosystem was a project goal.
Pitch-In has built relationships with financing as part of its ecosystem support. This included collaboration with other Connecting Capability Fund projects such as the Northern Triangle Initiative. Pitch-In facilitated and supported collaborative IoT related proposals as opportunities arose.
The development of low cost IoT solutions was one area of significant importance to Pitch-In. We acknowledged that the needs of an SME would be different to those where major resilient infrastructure had to be developed. We supported knowledge exchange activities to support 'IoT on a shoestring'.
I need to adapt my current system to enable and benefit from IoT capability.
Legacy systems are one of the most important issues in IoT exploitation. Although headlines may focus on developments of IoT from scratch, there is huge investment in existing systems and this cannot simply be written off. Operating and maintaining older technology alongside the new may present significant challenges, such as ensuring that the overall system is adequately protected from a security point of view.
< Trust and uncertainty >
I need confidence in the performance of available IoT components and technologies.
Deployment of technology in a complex environment brings with it a variety of risks, for example the radio frequency characteristics of components in urban environments may not be straightforward to predict. For specific cases Pitch-In developed guidance to address issues such as this.
Innovation risk – a perceived lack of maturity in technology and services associated with IoT, making adoption feel risky.
Together with the development of sector related IoT demonstrators, Pitch-In developed local IoT ecosystems, building on existing trusted networks and promoting how connecting with universities could reduce the uncertainty around IoT adoption.
< Developing IoT and ensuring fitness for purpose >
I want to trial my technology on realistic systems.
Pitch-In built collaborative environments to allow testing and evaluation of technology. For example, we co-sponsored the development of a smart care home to help progress the exploitation of IoT in health and social care. Furthermore we sponsored exploratory workshops with end users to facilitate an informed understanding of what services users wanted or needed.
I want to provide the best chances of my IoT technology and results having relevance to real world concerns.
Pitch-In’s aim was to build collaboration across its ecosystem partners. We were committed to working across the innovation pipeline. We were committed to co-creation of basic university-led research proposals, for example to UK Research and Innovation funding calls and to industry led proposals for closer to market technology and results (eg to Innovate UK).
I want to incorporate data analytics into my company's operation.
Our Pitch-In ecosystem incorporated a wide variety of skill sets and expertise. Practical data analytics was one of these.
I need to be sure that my system's data is handled securely.
Our ecosystem partners inevitably must face security concerns. Security and privacy are concerns across our target sectors. We maintained both research and operational experience of security and privacy and collaborated to address specific issues of relevance, for example the implications of GDPR for IoT systems in our target sectors.
< Building IoT capacity and collaborations >
I need to collaborate with external agencies and companies to deliver an IoT vision for my organisation.
Pitch-In built an ecosystem which brought together parties who were available for collaboration and demonstrated what their capabilities were. Specific mini-project collaborations served to build trust between organisations. Pitch-In also looked at how to speed up the contextual aspects of collaboration such as contracting and IPR agreements.
I need to build IoT capability within my organisation.
Our ecosystem integrated with a significant number of sector related expertise. We developed training materials to address key aspects of IoT in our target sectors.
< Resource access >
I need specific resources to make progress in my IoT innovation.
Pitch-In considered collaborative agreements for resource sharing. This included specialist software development staffing and equipment use.
I need access to realistic system data.
We investigated agreements for data sharing and the issues raised. This was a tricky issue since leakage might have been both direct or inferred, for example data supplied for one purpose might have allowed inference with respect to another. It was not always clear what could actually be inferred and what could not. We investigated legal and ethical aspects of data sharing.
I need to collaborate securely.
This was actually a barrier which was addressed by many of the Connecting Capability Fund projects, not just Pitch-In. It largely refers to the actual process of secure collaboration (eg communications, data exchange) between the stakeholders. This is largely separate from issues of IoT security.
< Wider commercial exploitation >
I want to exploit my IoT technology outside its current target domain.
Pitch-In facilitated cross-sector knowledge exchange both as part of its ecosystem support and as a consideration in its commissioning of mini-projects. We focussed on four sectors: cites, energy, health and wellbeing and manufacturing). The results of our mini-projects in these areas were assessed for cross-sector relevance. Some mini-projects explicitly addressed cross-sector concerns.