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5 Tech Execs On How COVID-19 Has Impacted The IoT Market

CRN talks to executives at Intel, Microsoft, GE Digital, PTC and FogHorn Systems about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the IoT market.

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Mandy Mock, Vice President, General Manager, IoT Platform Management And Marketing, Intel

We think there's a lot of opportunity in front of us. It's kind of interesting with the COVID-19 stuff that's happening right now. We're seeing a surge in customer inquiries around automation and solutions that reduce dependence on human presence and interaction. And so we're thinking that we're going to see an acceleration across the industries of implementation of these sorts of solutions, where people have been more risk adverse in the past. We think this really is going to drive that that shift faster.

We're seeing it multiple places. Retail and industrial manufacturing, specifically, are big ones, but health care also, especially right now, I think people are thinking a lot about how do they make the environment safer with less human contact needed. So we're seeing that there too.

[One use case for industrial environments] that jumps to mind first is just visual detection of anomalies, being able to remove people from the line who are doing manual detection of errors right now, is a quick way to reduce your social interaction.

[Automation has] been trending this way. People know this is coming. But at the same time, there's a lot of aversion to risk. If you have an established system, it all works. Let's use the factory example. Your lines are running well. It's both an expense and a risk to implement completely new systems. You've got to set up a copy potentially of one of your lines in order to implement the new things, then you've got to invest in the infrastructure and then do the transition. And so that definitely makes people cautious in their transition, I would say. What this [COVID-19] environment is doing is really making them conscious of the cost of not moving, and so it's accelerating the interest and the desire to make the transition.

We're always trying to anticipate what use cases are going to be needed. And we're, of course, talking with our customers and Industry analysts all the time about what do we anticipate for future needs. It's tough, obviously, for us to predict what sort of impacts that will have on workforces and so forth. The only thing I would offer is that we've been going down the road of automation for a long time, and the U.S. at least until COVID, has seen some of the lowest unemployment levels we've seen, so we've been fairly successful at dynamically adapting to the environment, and I personally have great confidence in our ability to continue as a human species.

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