Grandiose claims surrounding technology innovation is nothing new. Many incessantly-hyped “advancements” have failed to reach their potential, while others have indeed led to significant changes in how people live their lives.

One of today’s most buzzed-about technologies is the Internet of Things (IoT). While many different statements have been made about the effect it will have on people, businesses and society, it remains a technology that is more talked about than used.

The key to realizing the business and social benefits of IoT is moving from trials and proofs of concept to actual commercial deployments.

Recently, ServerCentral sponsored a conference dedicated to doing just that: the Illinois Technology Association’s 6th annual IoT Summit.

The event featured nearly 60 speakers discussing both the horizontal aspects of IoT, like blockchain, security, policy, artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), and specific verticals where IoT can (and is) making a difference, like healthcare, manufacturing, smart cities and retail. The goal was to expose the audience to real-world examples of commercial IoT deployments like these:

  • Smart trashcans to keep a city clean
  • Smart lighting systems that can monitor air quality and traffic flow
  • Smart cattle-tracking systems to improve food supply chains
  • Smart inmate-tracking systems to improve prison security

Overall, the speakers emphasized how important it is to have a laser-like focus on a business problem to be solved by IoT, and then using the technology as part of a well-architected, end-to-end system to solve it.

Here are some key takeaways from the conference.

The term IoT can cause issues with the C-Suite but avoiding it sometimes helps move things along

Focusing on solving a business problem is key to making IoT projects work.

  • To increase chances of moving to successful commercial implantation, relentless focus on solving business problems is necessary
  • Proofs of concept can be skipped and commercial pilots put in place IF the focus on business problems is there when a project is proposed
  • The term “IoT” can cause issues with the C-Suite; avoiding it sometimes helps move things along


A vertical-market focus improves IoT success rates.

  • Generic, horizontal technology/solution discussions are of less value than sector-specific knowledge of business problems that can be solved with IoT
  • Vertical market expertise in crafting and architecting IoT solutions is critical


Company size is irrelevant to IoT project success.

  • Some of the most successful companies in IoT are smaller technology consultancies
  • IoT technology knowledge and vertical market business experience is more important than size


End-to-end solutions are in demand.

  • Cloud is an important part of IoT solutions, but it’s only one component
  • Customers are most interested in end-to-end solutions


Insufficient cybersecurity is an acknowledged threat.

  • Expansion of connected endpoints at the edge creates big cybersecurity issues
  • Speakers universally acknowledged that cyber-resiliency is key success factor for IoT


Chicago is becoming a top-tier tech hub.

The conference also covered the important P33 initiative geared toward making Chicago a top-tier tech city. Speakers emphasized little-known statistics about Chicago’s tech community:

Continued growth in areas like IoT, cloud, and cybersecurity will help our city drive the technology revolution of tomorrow.

Overall, this event emphasized the importance of IoT to improving our way of living, enhancing our businesses, strengthening our cities, and driving recognition of our local technology community. The topics covered, the speakers gathered, and the lessons learned at this conference will certainly help advance the real-world adoption of IoT solutions.

ServerCentral was proud to sponsor this event.

Want to see IoT working in the real world? Check out this case study on IoT-enabled manufacturing.

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