Experts at the IoTBuild conference explored how enterprises can create value through IoT interoperability and interchangeability.
Before the advent of IoT, leading companies could create value with a proprietary technology stack that locked in customers. However, as connected technologies have taken off, experts at the IoTBuild USA conference echoed, IoT interoperability and interchangeability have quickly become requirements that companies are scrambling to accommodate.
Finding value in IoT interoperability
It’s important for enterprises to focus on where they can add the most value. Companies might be tempted to innovate at every level of the IoT stack, but it’s not practical for even the largest companies to build everything from scratch. “No one builds everything, including the chips,” said Cesare Garlati, chief security strategist at Prpl Foundation, which is focusing on open source IoT interoperability. There are no margins in competing on basics, like security, he said, adding that “there is a middle ground where you can add value without doing everything.”
One approach to thinking about where to add value might be to look at the IoT stack through a slightly different lens than engineers have used for traditional IT infrastructure, said Kati Walcott, CTO at the OpenFog Consortium and principal engineer at Intel. The OpenFog Consortium has developed a reference architecture to support IoT interoperability, interchangeability and composability for different use cases across different levels:
- Level 1 — Device or technical interoperability layer
- Level 2 — Syntactic level of interoperability corresponding to protocols like XML and JSON
- Level 3 — Semantic layer for enabling AI and deep learning to make sense of it
- Level 4 — Ambient loop layer for enabling feedback loops between people and machines
The ambient loop is a new way of thinking about designing IT systems and is not included within the traditional OSI model. It relates to connecting the person to IoT infrastructure. “This is creating the ability to use a device and for our wishes to be translated into the environment,” Walcott said.