Charting Stacks

Reflections on ThingMonk 2017

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We held our annual Internet of Things conference, ThingMonk, last week in London. Over the last five years we have watched the conference evolve and as we have already noted this year’s themes focused on the confluence of technologies that are enabling the emergence of Digital Twins.

While Digital Twins was the key theme, it is always good to reflect on some of the other points of interest from the conference (all the talks have very interesting content, keep an eye out for videos in the coming weeks). Undoubtedly the highlight of the entire event was an unplanned guest appearance from Femi Owolade-Coombes.

GDPR, Data and the Future

We were delighted to welcome Dr Monica Horten to ThingMonk for a talk that was directly relevant to IoT, yet far removed from the content of many practitioner focused technology conferences – Data Is The New Currency.

The importance of data is well understood, and although, as my colleague Rachel Stephens has noted, data is not easily added to a balance sheet, there is no doubting its economic importance. The implications for technologists are many fold, as several of the attendees of ThingMonk captured:

There was far more substance to this talk then I am giving justice to hear, the video will be worth your time.

Sensors, Sensors, Sensors

A huge amount of the focus around IoT is focused on what we can do with the data collected. This has led to a distinct misalignment of expectations between how the data is collected and how it can subsequently be used.

During her talk “The Top 10 Reasons Your IoT Project Will Fail”, Yodit Stanton, CEO of OpenSensors absolutely nailed this point.

Sensors were also returned to by Gary Barnett, CTO of As Gary pointed out the cost of measuring air quality accurately in London is significant. Five pound sensors in a few locations are just not up to the task.

Both talks raised a far more serious point though, IoT at scale needs significant investments in quality components. If you are being engaged in a project that wants to cut costs on the sensor front, you are ultimately not going to deliver on the projects requirements. This is no different to many other areas, but, as an industry, we seek to commoditize hardware more than any other areas. The longer-term impacts of this are already being keenly felt in the number of IoT projects which are being deemed as a failure globally.

Blockchain and IoT

Selecting a talk related to Blockchain and IoT was always going to be a risky prospect. The audience we gather at ThingMonk is looking for far more than hyperbole, and has a pretty low tolerance for hype.

But select such a talk we did, there are many gems from Joe Pindars talk, but if you were to take away just one thing about Blockchain it is that it should be hidden infrastructure and boring.

It is very, very early days for Blockchain and IoT. Once we see past the hype there are some genuine possibilities.

Digital Twins, 3D Scanners and Gaming Platforms

Juan Perez from Azure IoT was joined by architect Arturo Toledo to talk about digital twins, architecture and the possibilities there in. The entire space was scanned by an extremely high definition laser scanner and a virtual representation of the space, and the people, was created live on stage.

Suffice to say you will need to watch the video to truly appreciate this.

A Note on Diversity

We have previously run a formal diversity program at ThingMonk 2016, with support from our friends at This year we had the opportunity to invest further in the program thanks to Salesforce, who sponsored the program and were actively involved throughout the entire event. My colleague, James Governor, has already written up his notes.

To our mentors – thank you for giving us that most precious of things, your time. To those that took part in the program an even bigger thank you – you ensured all of us learn.

Finally, our biggest thank you of all goes to Bybreen Samuels, who has been a participant in the program at Monkigras and co-ordinated everything for us around ThingMonk. As anyone who has run such a program before will know things do not “just happen”, there is a huge amount of reaching out, inviting, reassuring, co-ordination and heavy lifting to be done to make it a reality. From all of us at RedMonk, thank you Bybreen.

ThingMonk Videos

Videos from ThingMonk will be posted over the coming weeks. In a journey towards eventual consistency we will be posting links on, and our various twitter feeds.

Disclaimers: Salesforce and Microsoft are current RedMonk clients.

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