During my visit to IBM’s InterConnect this week I attended many events, connected with customers and learned a lot about the present and future of the IT industry. Apart from the keynotes that I watched and blogged about earlier, I also made sure to join many of the Breakout Sessions offered. Breakout sessions were typically between 30 minutes to an hour long and fell into one of the eight categories offered:
- Application Infrastructure & Integration
- Learn how your company can build and integrate applications and information to keep your business competitive
- Asset Management & Internet of Things
- Learn how to better manage company assets through the information that can be gathered from increasingly connected devices
- Business Process & Decision Management
- Learn how to become more customer-centric and utilize new business models to respond to modern rapidly changing business requirements
- Cloud Business Applications
- Learn how to transform your business through high value cloud applications and processes
- Cloud Infrastructure & IT Optimization
- Learn how to take advantage of the latest optimization and cloud solutions to create more efficient IT for your business
- DevOps & Continuing Engineering
- Learn how to speed up product delivery and strike a balance between cost, quality, and risk.
- Mobile Enterprise
- Learn how to build better mobile applications while protecting and managing business infrastructure
- Security Intelligence
- Learn about security across new technologies and how to best protect company data through smart security policies and auditing
InterConnect had a great variety and quantity of sessions such that I wish I had more time to attend even more. In the end I had focused primarily on the Internet of things as well as Mobile and a bit on Security. Many sessions and a few days later, I have some key insights from InterConnect’s breakout sessions:
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is still a mystery to many but does not need to be. Boiling the Internet of Things down to its core elements reveals a simple story: Increasingly, aspects of devices can be monitored and that data can be collected through the internet. Knowing more about the devices around us will surely help us make more educated decisions about those devices, such as reducing unexpected failures due to knowing what causes failure and being able to monitor for signs. Or conversely, reducing the amount of preventative maintenance needed as a result of having a better understanding of exactly when a device needs maintenance and only maintaining devices as needed.
Although the Internet of Things stands to increase our understanding of the world around us and can allow businesses to decrease overhead or increase efficiency, monitoring devices is only one piece of the puzzle. In most cases, as a result of being able to gather more information about devices and the world around them, we will have such a massive amount of data to analyse that the best way to handle this data may be through Big Data Analytics in combination with the Cloud. During my time at InterConnect I saw multiple examples of Maximo in combination with BlueZone’s IoT features to easily create solutions to deal with the Internet of Things. Now that IBM has a division just for the Internet of Things it will be interesting to see how this evolves.
While the mobile space is not new, it has matured to the point in which having a mobile version of your product and having web pages that work well on mobile devices is now a necessity rather than something that is nice to have. However, the rate of change and rapid expansion of the mobile market has caught many unprepared. Mobile operating systems are updated frequently and carry with them incompatibilities. The hardware that these systems sit on top of vary wildly and have their own nuances. I’ve seen many app developers need to update their apps weekly to keep compatibility and features competitive. IBM estimates that about 85% of companies have a backlog of 20 apps, and as a result they have created the MobileFirst platform to help simplify the mobile development experience. You might want to take a look at Jeroen’s posting from the Mobile keynote to learn more about MobileFirst. In addition to IBM’s platform, I think it is important to get customer feedback about mobile products as this is still a new and evolving market segment and there is a lot of room for innovation.
The sessions that I attended made it apparent that the cost per security breach is increasing every year, and that more customers are lost per successive breach at a company. This is an area that your company should not want to ignore, but at the same time it seems that there will be an increased burden to secure your company with the quantity and variety of equipment that will result from both the Internet of Things and mobile devices. Preventing these breaches from occurring is as important as ever, and IBM has now positioned their Trusteer Apex service as one tool to analyse a program’s runtime behavior and stop any malicious actions.
One of the security sessions focused on the importance of what happens in the result of a breach. Having done many audits for companies, the speaker stressed that most companies fall into one of two categories. There are those that have powerful and expensive threat detection and mitigation tools but do not keep their employees trained in the use of them or do not have an efficient plan of action in the case of a breach. Alternatively there are others that may not have the best tools but are well trained and regularly practice for the event of a data breach and therefore have very efficient methods of dealing with a breach. IBM offers audit services to help companies understand where they stand and how they can improve, and this I think would be worth it for companies to investigate.
Overall, InterConnect’s sessions were informative and now I wish that I had time to see even more. I’m interested to see what keynotes and sessions will exist at next year’s event to see how the industry will handle these categories and what progress will be made in a year’s time.