Kathy Gibson is at Dell EMC Partner Summit in Cape Town – The Internet of Things (IoT) is about more than connecting things – in fact, it goes well beyond the things themselves.

This is the word from Odile Aboumarad, partner pre-sales manager: Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Dell EMC,  who says IoT is about the data, sent from things, using networks , to the compute or storage – and ultimately it’s about analytics and the realisation of business value.

“We believe that IoT alone is not what the future is about. We need to add value to IoT with artificial intelligence (AI) from the edge, to the core, add into to the cloud.”

The way we have always done things has been about driving change for customers, Aboumarad ays. “IoT will be the largest spending category in 2018, with $239-billion going largely towards modules and sensors, along with spending on infrastructure and security,” she says.

“Indeed, global spend on IoT will reach $1,29-trillion in 2020.”

“Some people the opportunity is on the consumer side, others that it is manufacturing,” Aboumarad says. “The reality is that it is everywhere.”

IoT is about taking what is there, adding value and gaining efficiencies, says Aboumarad.

By 2021, more than 55% of sending on IoT projects will be for software and services, she adds.

IoT is set to change societies across the board, Aboumarad points out.

DEWA believes it will achieve a 30% reduction in energy and water consumption in 30 000 buildings by 2030.

AeroFarms will increase productivity in filed farming by 390-times using IoT.

Meanwhile, IMS Evolve will save enough energy to power 67 000 homes for a year by solnotring and managing the temperatuve in supply cold chains.

“The business value is also clear,” Aboumarad says.

Organisations can achieve operational efficiency through higher yields, lower costs, improved quality, predictive maintenance and energy saving

Customer experience is enhanced through personalised retail and hospitality, improved OTA, product enhancments and automated product maintenance.

IoT can also mitigate risks in food safety, regulate compliance, increase worker productivity, and improve safety and surveillance.

Getting to value can be challenging, though.

Customers have to define the business case then get stakeholder alignment and interoperability, Aboumarad says. Projects have to be able to scale as well, so they can start small and scale up.

Analytics is vital, plus systems must be easily managed and secure.

IoT will be a major play in the city of the future, says Aboumarad. Citizens want to be connected; they want to be safe and feel at home; they want a city that provides for their needs in terms of affordable housing and education.

Governments wants to service citizens, and make them happy. They have to cater to all citizens of every age. They need to lead expectations and provide services while driving revenue to the city.

“While doing this, we are generating data,” Aboumarad says. “City managers need to leverage data and transform it into services.”

Worldwide, more and more people are moving to cities, which are growing in an unplanned manner, resulting in aging or unplanned infrastructure as public budgets decline, and environmental sustainability becomes a very real challenge.

“With all these challenges, they still have to transform cities.”

Using IoT, city managers can deliver optimised traffic systems, while reducing energy consumption, using predictive policing, improve city functions, detect drops in air or water quality, and automate waste management.

The start, says Aboumarad, is to take one use service or utility, transform that and start building outwards from there.

Digital services have been transforming things like waste management. RFID can be attached to a waste bin turning it into a connected smart asset that is integrated into a smart system.

When a single system like this is scaled up, it can grow from campus to city to nation, creating an intelligent “system of systems”, Aboumarad says. These systems can also start integrating with other utilities.

The end result will be significantly technical and complex digital cities, she adds.

Key characteristics of a digital city include modular system and flexibility.

“So digital cities are about partnerships between citizens, private sector anf the public sector. The systems themselves need to be open, agile, secure, software defined and data analytics driven.

“At the end of the day, a digital city needs to be resource optimised, people centric and data analytics-driven,” Aboumarad says.

“Any number of utilities and services will require the same infrastructure, and this needs to be supplied by technologists. We can help city managers and citizens to implement their vision.”

Dell EMC partners with resellers and customers from the edge to the core to the cloud, with product and service offerings across the ecosystem.

In fact, says Aboumarad, Dell EMC is changing the idea of data science to encompass both centralised and edge data analytics. Deep learning will ake place in the cloud, while machine learning will take place on the edge, she explains.

“The power is in having both, so we can get the right data at the right time, to take the right action.”

Dell EMC partners across the ecosystems, from the sensors to the analytics.