Business and Technology Series Brings Internet of Things Insights

Kapil Dandekar, Brenna Sniderman, Jimy Baynum, Mike Tomasco, Raj Suri

The network of wirelessly connected devices known as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, and as it is increasingly employed by companies and studied by researchers – including by faculty and students at Drexel LeBow – leaders across all areas of business seek to understand and implement more fully. With these present and future challenges in mind, the Drexel Business Solutions Institute (DBSI) convened a panel of experts across a range of industries to share their experiences with IoT adoption and their perspectives its potential for innovation and disruption.

The panel, facilitated by Kapil Dandekar, professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering, emphasized adaptation, technology adoption and the emerging mismatches between traditional business and leading-edge technologies.

Joining Dandekar were Jimy Baynum, global sales and marketing director, eCommerce with Essity Professional Hygiene Business; Brenna Sniderman, digital technology and industry 4.0 research lead with Deloitte Services LP’s Center for Integrated Research; and Mike Tomasco, senior director of business technology at Pfizer. With input from faculty, students, alumni and business leaders from across a range of subjects and areas of expertise.

The panel’s members addressed how to handle the abundance of data coming from networked device. “If you’re in a traditional market, you’ve done focus groups. Ask yourself: Could I get that answer from the data? The data is all this raw information and you can throw all these questions at it. That’s the best way to think about it,” Baynum says.

Tomasco built on this, asking, “What if we used the data to tell us what to do?”

“In manufacturing, you always know you’re dealing with an efficiency problem,” he added. “A lot of people in manufacturing are six-sigma based, and they don’t understand the predictive nature of the future and what AI can do for you.”

Dandekar pointed to the use and effectiveness of IoT technology coming from “sensors in things that didn’t have sensors before” and identifying that a major limiting factor in the growth of these technologies will be hardware and battery power.

He also identified a role outside of engineering – and even outside of business – for experts in social sciences to study people’s attitudes toward technology adoption. “We can develop all the technology that we want, but will people really use it?” he asked. “That’s one of the challenges of making IoT unobtrusive.”

Later on, Baynum contributed a bit of forward-thinking analysis: “Someone’s going to come up with a common platform and everyone’s going to use it. All of these IoT systems are being developed separately. If you can be the first in your segment, you can become the standard.”

Sniderman noted that because developments in technology are happening so fast, government regulations are lagging behind; the regulatory environment may soon be different.

As Dandekar opened up the discussion to questions from the audience, students, faculty and other business leaders, including some from the Drexel alumni community, chimed in on a cross-section of issues and subject areas, including data security, technology commercialization and other challenges.

“IoT is an area that really inspires people’s imaginations, and it requires people working in different disciplines to make it work,” Dandekar says.

Last week’s panel was the first event in the Drexel Business Solutions Institute’s Business and Technology series during 2018-19 school year; panels on Blockchain on February 21 and on Artificial Intelligence on May 16 are still to come.

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