What Is Internet of Things, and Why Should Meeting Planners Care?

By Kelsey Ogletree, May 9, 2016

Reaching Critical Mass

Gavin Whitechurch, executive vice president of Informa Telecoms & Media (one of the world’s largest information providers, valued at $5 billion on the London Stock Exchange), banked that IoT would hit it big when he moved from London to Silicon Valley to launch a new event called Internet of Things World (IoT World) two years ago.

“We could see a lot of interest in IoT within our current audiences because it cut across a lot of different technology sectors,” says Whitechurch. “Not only was the interest level high, but audience groups were wide.”

With a staff of two, plus his own 35 years’ worth of experience running large events, Whitechurch planned his 2014 startup IoT conference for 350 people—and 700 showed. In year two, attendance increased eightfold to more than 5,800 attendees. For the 2016 event, which took place at California’s Santa Clara Convention Center May 10-12, Whitechurch expected a global audience of 12,000. “You could say we’ve reached critical mass, or the tipping point,” he says.

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LEGO Smartcity model at IoT World 2016.

Whitechurch is not the first to think so. Scott Kargman, chief operating officer and co-founder of Crossfire Media, goes way back with IoT—back to before the concept was called the Internet of Things. Since 2000, Kargman has been involved with executing tech-focused conferences for various companies. Topics, from voice over IP (VoIP) to 4G wireless to LTE, have morphed as technology has advanced. In 2010, Crossfire Media launched the first M2M conference focused on machines talking to machines.

“The industry grew rapidly, and machine to machine is just a slice of the pie when it comes to IoT,” says Kargman. “After a couple of years, we morphed the show into IoT Evolution Expo,” which is what the show is known as today. Crossfire Media also publishes a print magazine in the IoT space.

In Las Vegas this July 11-14, about 3,500 people will convene for what Kargman calls the third “stand-alone IoT Evolution.” When the event was first launched, it was held within a larger event until it proved it could stand on its own, a model Kargman says is common in the technology space to help mitigate risk. “It took time for the industry to catch up with us,” he says. IoT Evolution Expo had 53 exhibitors in 2015. This year in Las Vegas, space can accommodate 100, “but we can always find more room if we have to,” Kargman says.

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