Editor’s note: Tom Snyder is executive director of Raleigh-based RIoT, a growing users group focusing on startups and business opportunities within the Internet of Things universe. He’s a regular contributor to WRAL TechWire.


RALEIGH – Last week, executives and industry practitioners from around the world converged in Barcelona for IoT Solutions World Congress.  IOTSWC is one of the major events of the industry, and attendees’ excitement was high to finally be back in person catching up with global partners and meeting new ones.

RIoT had an opportunity to speak, presenting cutting-edge work that the Town of Cary is leading.  More on that in a moment – first, a summary of the major themes that came out of the event.

Photo courtesy of NC RIoT

Tom Snyder

  • Cybersecurity Cannot be Underprioritized

Speaker after speaker across every industry echoed the importance of protecting data, systems, networks and devices.  Ann Dunkin, the CIO for the US Department of Energy stated that cybersecurity is the #2 priority at DOE, after world class service and ahead of innovation.  Protecting against cyberthreats was one of the top 3 priorities mentioned by speakers in healthcare, transportation, supply chain and agriculture.  A shortage of expert workforce has put acute strain on the industry, and the topic was clearly the most frequently discussed during the week.

  • HealthTech is Poised for Growth

An aging population creates a doubling of healthcare demand in the coming years at the same time that the healthcare workforce and budgets are declining.  Experts anticipate two things need to happen to bridge the gap.  First, emerging technology must be applied.  Surprisingly, while using tech for efficiency, automation and throughput – typical applications of new technology – was discussed, the number one problem the industry recognizes is a need to improve the user experience in healthcare.  Until we create compelling UX, tech adoption will be slow.  Second, the market needs to shift from healthcare to health.  Reducing burden on healthcare systems is all about helping people to stay healthy in the first place.

  • Supply Chain Reinvention

Supply chains are transforming into supply networks.  Decades of focus on lean systems and efficiency will be replaced with more focus on resilience and agility.  Cost will always be a factor, but there is now demand for significantly higher transparency, deeper into supply networks, which leads to a stronger understanding of weak points and where to build in flexibility.  Expect to see more global distribution of key manufacturing segments like semiconductor fabrication.

  • Increasing OPEX Mindset

Rolls Royce is famous for being one of the first companies to stop selling expensive capital equipment (jet engines) and start selling outcomes (flight hours).  While not new, there is a significant increase in focus on Equipment as a Service, Assets as a Service and other outcome-based pricing.  The business model shift creates a win-win.  Equipment makers make more lifetime revenue than from a single sale.  Equipment users avoid expensive financing costs and see ongoing improvement as “smart” equipment algorithms drive continuously better performance over time.

  • The Triangle Continues to Lead

Our region is gaining recognition as a global center of excellence for IoT and Data technologies.  Nicole Raimundo, the CIO for Town of Cary, is regularly invited to speak internationally about smart cities leadership.  She took the opportunity at IOTSWC to present a new LoRa network that the town is deploying.

LoRa is a low power, long range wireless network, ideally suited for sensor monitoring.  Cary is the first municipality in the US that I am aware of to deploy public LoRa for internal town use, and also to invite private enterprise to run applications on the network.

Rachael Newberry, Program Director for RIoT partnered with Nicole, explaining how Cary has leveraged RIoT’s startup accelerator to drive an innovation mindset within local government.  We see cities from around the US reaching out to learn from our region.