Oct 24, 2018 | 3 min read

Conversation with Dr. Richard Soley

Podcast #32: Helping Industrial IoT Become a Reality

Richard Soley is Chairman and CEO of the Object Management GroupExecutive Director of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and founding partner of the IoT Solutions World Congress. In this special edition of the Edge Podcast recorded on site in Barcelona, he shares some of the notable developments coming out of the conference.

The IoT Solutions World Congress is differentiated from other events through the focus on end users and case studies, showcasing test bed work shepherded by the IIC. In our conversation, Richard Soley shares stories and examples of notable work underway, the potential for productivity gains across industries, and the view that manufacturing represents the industry with the most to gain from connecting assets and advanced analytics. Additionally he discusses the launch of the IIC’s new Resource Hub. Finally he shares a fascinating story about standards that connected the design of Space Shuttle booster with the Ancient Romans. 



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The IIC Resource Hub 


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Good day everyone, this is Ed Maguire, Insight’s Partner with Momenta Partners, and we’re here onsite at IoT Solutions World in sunny Barcelona. With me is the Grand Poohbah of the entire event, Richard Soley who is the Chairman and CEO of Object Management Group, but also the Executive Director of the Industrial Internet Consortium. I want to thank you for taking some time to speak with us. 

It’s my pleasure. 


I’d love to hear a bit about your background and what had brought you to the start of this event. There are many thousands of people here, we’d love to get a bit of a back-story on what brought you to create this amazing event in Barcelona. 

Well, it couldn’t be in a better place first, but I’ll come back to that. We started the Industrial Internet Consortium as part of the Object Management Group, the OMG itself is 29 years old, I’ve been with the company 29 years today, by coincidence my 29th anniversary, I’ve been CEO for the last 21 of those years. And what we do is accelerate the adoption of various technologies, so OMG has always focused on standards, very quickly creating standards that have impact on the industry, so our first standard which came out 28 years ago, corner standard is now in every mobile phone on the planet, every banking system, every robotic system etc.  

But not everything is about standards, so when we looked at the IoT industry five years ago, we said it’s not ready for standards because nobody knows what’s necessary. What standards do we need to build? You need a sandbox, you need what we now called a testbed, but it’s basically a sandbox, a way to build stuff and see what you need. 

  • What are the best practices? 
  • How should you train people? 
  • How should you retrain people?  
  • How should you hire people?  
  • How do you avoid problems in your staffing?  
  • What kind of technology would make it easier,  
  • What kind of standards, and implementations of standards would it make it easier to build those testbeds? 

So, we started four and a half years ago, this consortium, March of 2014, with the explicit idea that we would build testbeds in manufacturing and production, healthcare, automotive systems, other kinds of transportation systems, smart energy, smart grids, smart buildings, smart cities, and so-forth; we would build those systems and see what we learned. So, we’ve been doing that now for four and a half years, we’ve started to publish results in the last six-months approximately. The first paper we published was called, ‘Why We Do Testbeds’, and had some results from our track and trace testbed run by Bosch & Holmberg.  

We’ve since published four other testbed result papers on energy grids and so-forth, in our Journal of Innovation. But guessing what your next question is, what we’re talking about here, we finally discovered that giving people a big pile of paper to read, Reference Architecture, Vocabulary of Security Architecture, Connectivity Architecture, and the results from 30 testbeds, they’re just not going to read it. So, we announced yesterday a resource hub, which makes it possible to tell us what you’re looking for, what you’re building, what kind of system you need. We’ll find automatically using AI techniques the parts of our documents that are relevant, and have something to do with what you’re asking. We’ll even go to the extent of drafting the RFP’s for you, what standards are necessary and so-forth, whilst also using it to work with our liaison partner, so that they know what standards are required based on the outputs of our testbeds. So, for example, we also announced yesterday that the OMG is building a new standard for track and trace, based on the requirements that came out of that track and trace testbed, it would have been easier to implement the supply chain part of that testbed if there was a standard, to let’s develop the standard.  

Why this event? That seems to be a great question, considering there seems to be an IoT event every other day somewhere around the world, but this one is different. Not only is it in Barcelona, which is a wonderful city to be in, not only have we partnered with Fira at Barcelona which are fabulous partners, nobody is better, but it’s an event which is focused entirely on end-user case studies, even the keynotes about end-user, we require it, even the paid keynotes are required to talk about end-user case studies, and I think just as importantly, if you want to see, touch, feel, smell the testbeds, go to the floor, that’s where they are. Have you been there? 


I have, and this is my second year but what really struck me about the booths was, how many live machine demos there are on the floor. I’ve been following what you define as IoT closely for about five years now from my Wall Street days. It’s a palpable change in how much we’re seeing real concrete demos in vendors booths now, not just a lot of slideware, vaporware. 

I think that’s happening, that’s one part of it, the other part is a recognition that IoT is not in the usual sense a market. What IoT is, it’s something that impacts agriculture and healthcare, and transportation, and manufacturing and production, and energy grids, and smart cities, smart homes, and a million other things. Those markets are going to be irrevocably changed by IoT, so that’s what we’re showing off, that’s what you see in the booths, it’s certainly what you see in the test beds, and this you can touch and feel on the floor, how those markets are affected by the implementation of IoT; not just how the technology is used, but how the business models change.  

The obvious one of course is jet engines, GE’s been talking about for ages, Rolls Royce says the same thing, you can lease an engine from those guys instead of buy it now, they maintain ownership an protect the connection to the jet engine long term, and they can maintain it better than anybody else ever could. But that’s going to be true in a million other markets, and it’s a recognition that, pardon me, airlines don’t want to own jets, they want propulsion, if it’s provided by magic, they’re just as happy, they want propulsion. Companies don’t want to own air compressors, they want compressed air, etc. etc. etc. and it’s a consumer device issue as well, I don’t want to own a car, I just want to get from here to there. 


People want the utility that serves their purpose and serves their interest, rather than owning part-assets. 

Exactly, what Xentra calls an outcome.  


That makes a lot of sense. I want to ask a bit about the process of putting standards together, and I’d love to get your perspective on what it’s like to develop a standard. Clearly standards have been an important topic of discussion in the rise of Connected Industry, or IoT, but what are some of the considerations? You’ve mentioned the corner standard, and having developed standards with Object Management Group, but how does that differ from other undertakings in the technology landscape, the technology world? 

First, when you do surveys and ask people what’s impeding the adoption of IoT in your organization, they always say number one is interoperability, number two is standards, they’re wrong. Number one is talent, talent is far more important, and we’re developing talent in these programs as well of course, but these are people now that have built the IoT systems, and know how to build IoT systems. That said, it’s still valuable to have standards, and although IoT is not a standards organization, it is discovering what standards are necessary, and OMG very much is a standards organization, having developed about 1,000 standards over the last 29 years. There are many ways to develop standards, the most obvious of standards that were developed by a single vendor, backed by a single vendor, so Microsoft Windows, Apple IOS and so-forth, those are standards. You may not like how they work to you, but they are standards. 

On the other end you have organizations like ISO or ITTC1 and that developed standards the old-fashioned way, everybody sits in a room, you develop a consensus, and you make sure not to standardized on anything that somebody has implemented, because that’s not fair to the other vendors. We’re somewhere in the middle, OMG. OMG develops standards using a methodology which is much faster, in fact we’ve done it 1,000 times, so I can tell you it takes an average of 17 months to complete from requirements to specification, and there is at least one implementation within 12 months of that, or the standard is removed from the book of standards, and it has happened. 

We do not require the step that the specification not actually exists, we require that it does exist, because you want to be fair more to the users than the vendors, there are a lot more users than there are vendors. There’s nothing worse than a standard that takes up space in a book, or on a hard-disc when nobody’s ever implemented it. The iconic example is ISO Cobalt, sorry to mention something that nobody likes to talk about anymore, but ISO Cobalt took 11 years to develop. Do you know how many implementations there are? Zero. 


That doesn’t serve anybody’s uses. 

No, it’s fun travel for people in the committee. 


It becomes these giant boondog. 

I don’t think it was intended as a boondog, let me be clear, but it ended up being one. I mean OMG members also travel all over the world, but we get a lot done. 


Well, having a boundary to the requirement, essentially it sounds like you have a distinct methodology to develop those standards, and then also distinct strict criteria that in short, they remain active and viable. 

Exactly, and if they’re ever not implemented anymore, then the incentive goes away, it really does. We’ve done it three times, only three times but we’ve done it, because we want to be sure that our standards mean something. So, you’re going to see quite a lot of standards in the IoT space as well, most of the standards that are being invented for IoT now, number one – not based on real testbeds unfortunately, and number two – focused on the easiest part of the problem, which is communications. I’m not saying it’s easy, it’s the easiest part of the problem, the hardest part of the problem is semantics. Once I’ve got a bit from me to you, what does it mean? And that you’ve got to do in each vertical market, so the track and trace when we were focusing on manufacturing, we have other specifications and standards that we’re going to do in healthcare, transportation, energy grid management, and so-forth. 


So, the Industrial Internet Consortium I know they’re doing a lot of work on reference architectures, and I think it would be helpful to provide a bit of context in terms of understanding how the consortium has come about, and how you think about dividing the world, or looking at this emerging Cambrian explosion of innovation? You have to be able to take a vertical view of a lot of the technologies, but it would be helpful to understand what informed the way that you look at the world, and how you prioritize essentially the projects that you’re working on, and your efforts. 

That’s a good question. First, how it started; five companies came together and realized that no-one’s going to win in this marketplace, either everybody’s going to win, or nobody’s going to win, but there’s not going to be a single winner, there isn’t going to be a Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon. Why is that? Well, obviously the whole point is connecting systems that no-one ever intended to be connected across boundaries, across boundaries of applications, across boundaries of systems, across boundaries of countries. So, the whole point is connecting different systems from different companies, so you’re never going to see a winner, nobody’s going to win in the IoT space. I don’t even know what it means.  So, what we do is, we start with the use case… well, backing up a little bit, we as I’ve said have a number of documents in our vocabulary reference architecture, connectivity framework, security framework, and so-forth 

Those are about what you have to think about to build, for example a secure IoT system, but what’s more interesting I think is, results of testbeds. So, we start with a use case, I’ll give you some examples in a moment, we then build an eco-system, a set of companies that have technology that will implement that use case. Then we do whatever edits that seem to be necessary to our reference architecture, and our security framework, based on that use case and how it affects those implementers, then we build it. We really build it. We have nearly 30 very large projects worldwide, some of them in the tens of millions of dollars of euros, and then we do our best to capture best practices, as I mentioned, not only technology best practices, but human best practices, from each testbed.  

So, an example of the used cases. The track and trace testbed, our very first testbed, and the first one that’s generating requirements for new standards, started with a very simple idea; if I knew where everything was in the factory, people, parts, work in progress, and tools, could I make the factory safer and more productive? I think that’s kind of silly because the answer is obviously yes, but it’s not so silly because you want to know how the answer is just yes. So, I think safety is kind of obvious, that is, you know where the robot arms are, you know where the people are, if the robot arms are about to swing around and kill somebody, you can stop the robot. It’s a real problem in factories, and what they normally do is they put robots in cages so that people don’t accidentally go near them. Did you know that 90 percent of people hurt by robots in factories, have worked in the factory for more than five years? 


Really, is that the complacency? 

Exactly yes, they know better. So, that’s a real issue. From the productivity standpoint, can you imagine a factory where people spend half their time looking for the right tool? Those factories exist, and if the system can tell you that the tool is behind you 10 meters on the left, imagine the increase in productivity. So, that’s what we’re doing, you can increase productivity with video-analytics, so we’re looking at that, but just knowing where things are. The first phase of that testbed that Bosch used Cisco wireless wi-fi routers, a triangulation of wi-fi routers to give them locations of things inside the factory within one meter. It doesn’t sound like much, but at least you know it’s fairly close. They now do 5cm resolution in factories using camera technologies. 

So, just to give you an idea of other testbeds that look completely different, we have a testbed also run by Dell in Southern Ireland, County Cork. Again, used case was trivial, or at least trivial to the state, that is if we could connect the national resources of Ireland with the county resources of County Cork, (provinces are called counties in Ireland), could we offer better services to the customer, that is citizens? Simple, it’s a simple well-defined business used case, and has nothing to do with technology, but if you look at the first test they ran on the testbeds, it was what the call an ambulance test, it’s a bit of a mindblower. If the person running the ambulance knows whose being picked up, you’ve sent to an address, that person’s healthcare data is downloaded in real time from the healthcare records, of the national healthcare system of Ireland, and uploaded directly to the ambulance. They now know if you’re allergic, have Alzheimer’s, if you’re diabetic etc. etc. and they can do a better job treating you. Furthermore, what happens in the ambulance, if they have time, is typed in there and goes back to the hospital, and a treatment plan and stabilization can be planned ahead of time before arrival, so you don’t have the normal screaming and yelling in the emergency ward, when the ambulance arrives. We think we save lives in fact. My point is, it’s not just about money, and the use cases are extremely varied. 


How do you look at capturing best practices?  Because it would seem, just in the two cases that you’ve described in the factory and ambulances, there would be a wealth of insights that come from being able to collect all this data for the first time. Do you have a structured process to codify the best practices? 

I wish we did. 


Not that there necessarily is an easy way to take a cookie kind of approach to such different situations but, how do you think about the scenarios that evolve. I’m interested in understanding the iterative process, and how you arrive at some of the insight that come out of your experience? 

To date, we don’t have a very structured approach to reporting best practices, I wish we did, in fact I wish we had a best practice for recording best practices. We’ve talked about many different ways to do it, today all the testbeds do it themselves, I’ve actually talked to some major professors at large universities who have some ideas about having registrants basically sit in on the testbeds, and give them a structured way to collect best practices, but I don’t want to leave the impression that we’re doing that today, we’re not. I don’t have a very good answer to that question unfortunately, but it’s a good idea. I should say, we’re just starting to collect results from testbeds in the last six to eight months. 


You’ve brought up a really important point, which is the constraints of talent that exist in the industry. In our podcasts we’ve explored a lot of the conflict between operational technology, and information technology, and the need to train people. 

Flexibility versus robustness. 


That’s right. How do you envision in an ideal way how the output, what you’ve learned, how these testbeds will help develop talent, and create insights that can be propagated? 

The initial way is trivial, that is the people that built the testbeds as part of the testbed development project, have that expertise. What you’re really asking is the harder question which is, once we’ve collected best practices, how are they taught? And that’s why I really want to work with universities, because universities have methodologies for teaching, which we don’t. Why should we recreate them of course? It’s something we’re thinking about now that doesn’t exist yet, but eventually we’re going to have to make sure those best practices are pushed, rather than pulled. Today they’re pulled, and we’re just starting to figure out what gets pulled with our research hub announcement literally yesterday. But once we know more about what’s being pulled and what they’re looking at, and what the real projects look like, we’ll understand I hope, better how to train people, or at least how to transfer that knowledge to people that know how to train people. I don’t claim to be a good trainer. 


It’s a question that keeps coming up, and I think in many respects it really reflects how nascent the discipline around Connected Industry, I’ll use the term industrial IoT, really is. 

You can use whatever term you like, the Germans use industry fernul, I hate that because I know what it is! The French use the phrase Industries du future, I hate that one because it sounds like it’s always in the future. China calls it China 2025, I like that term because I know exactly when it’s going to succeed, 2025. The worst phrase I think of all is the one the US Government uses, which is cyber-physical systems. 


That’s bad. 

Well, I asked the head of cyber-physical systems at NIST, ‘What in the world was a cyber-physical system?’ He said, any system which is both computerized, cyber, and physical. I said, ‘Um, I think that defines all systems’. 


It’s not a very good marketing term either. 

No, well it’s not. We use industrial IoT for a very simple reason, there was this revolution from 1850 to 1950, it was the Industrial Revolution, productivity increased by a factor of four during that time by the way, and that productivity increase created a large increase in consumer demand, which created jobs, thank goodness, because jobs were lost to industrialization. It happened again from 1960 to 2000, that was the Internet revolution which moved human connectivity to machines, and during that time by the way, productivity went up by a factor of four, lots of jobs were lost. I don’t read newspapers anymore, I read newspapers online, but I don’t read paper ones, I read a lot of kindle books, but I don’t read the paper-books, although I’m old enough to love and miss paper-books, but I can’t travel with all the ones I’m reading. But productivity increase means there was a consumer demand increase, and job increase at the end. I think that’s going to happen again as we apply Internet technology to industry, which we therefore call the Industrial Internet. Simple idea. 


It’s really fascinating just walking the floor here and seeing how many industries are rethinking just fundamental processes. What’s surprising to me is in a sense how quickly a paradigm vision can take hold, for instance, the whole concept for transportation services, and the reality of how close some of that technology is. What are some of the significant shifts in looking at the way companies and end-users – I guess the stakeholders that you work with, have looked at the market over the last five years or so? The reason I choose that time period is, that was when we got the initial excitement about IoT in 2012-2013, vendors were started publicizing big forecasts of economic value-add, and connected devices. But I would love to get your perspective on the evolution of the practical perspective. 

I think despite what the Wall Street Journal says, the average person doesn’t care about IoT per se, it just wants safer minds, better citizen services, more productive factories, more productive farms, and so-forth, this is just another stab at that. What’s interesting about it is, it’s using technology that’s been around for decades, there’s nothing new about IoT, what’s new is the price has gone to zero, or close to it, controlling ubiquity has gone up incredibly.  

I bought a memory card in 1976, I’ll never forget, a triple-high VME card, 64 kilobytes memory, $16,000. 64 kilobytes of memory. Now in my bag sitting over there, has 2 gigabytes of memory card, just in case I need it, and I think it cost me $9. Process and power costs zero and is ubiquitously available from the Google cloud, or from the Amazon cloud, or from the Salesforce cloud, or a million other clouds, and it costs practically nothing on a per process or per minute basis. 

I built a voice recognition system in 1981 when I was at MIT, it used the mainframe, $10 million mainframe, extremely expensive and did a really bad job. My phone does a much better job today, because the computer costs nothing, that means people get excited because the technology has got to a point where it might be useful for something, but what it might be useful for is more interesting to think about, to me anyway, the use cases are more interesting than the technology. So, when I think that agriculture could be much more highly productive if the harvester knew exactly how much water each squirt 10 centimeters took in the last 20-years per year, and how much fertilizer, and how much growth there was, and how much rain there’s been and so-forth; harvesters actually do that today, and they can give you twice, three-time, four-times the productivity in the field than they normally get. It’s just like what I was saying before about jet engines, I think the average farmer doesn’t really care what technology does that is able to perform that, magic would be just fine. 

In other words, Arthur C Clarke said, ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’. I think he has a point, I think people don’t care about the technology per se, they just want the outcome. 


Technology vendors though tend to get a narrative, bright shiny objects, early-on… 

And you want them to! That’s critically important, otherwise, that stuff is never going to get developed. So, I’ve been on both sides of that divide, and let me tell you, if nobody got excited about bright shiny objects, nobody would ever build bright shiny objects, so, it’s important. I think vendors do a great job of understanding what people want, and how to implement it with the technology that’s available. 


With the makeup of this conference, I don’t have much perspective because this is only the second show that I’ve been, but I’m certainly seeing a theme emerge where there is less of a focus on the sensors, and some lower-level gateways, and a lot more focus at least in the rhetoric that I’m seeing, and please correct me if you think differently, I’ve seen a lot of focus on business outcomes. 

Exactly, here downstairs is a room that’s just talking about mobility, there’s a room that’s just talking about healthcare, there’s a room that’s talking about… we don’t have agriculture, but you get the point. But those rooms are separated, and the program is designed by vertical, not by technology, we don’t have a room where we talk about sensors in a room, or we talk about actuators in a room, or we talk about processing power. Frankly, that’s not what people want, they want outcomes, so give them outcomes. Equally, we make sure all the speakers are talking about how it implements some particularly important used case, not what technology is cool, not the cool of new reference architecture. 


That’s critical, the sessions that I’ve been, it’s a really high-quality group of speakers, and I thinJessie DeMesa has been involved from Momenta in putting together some panels, and I have to say it’s a different tone of a tech-focused conference, at least in the last couple of years than what I’ve been seeing over the first round that I used to go to. 

And, more and more every year. Last year we required that the non-plenary events focus on end-users, now we required that all the speakers focus on end-users. I think that really works, it makes the diamond sponsors unhappy sometimes, but it makes the attendees to the event happy, that’s what I care about. I think the fact that we center the exhibit floor on testbeds sends a message, that the most important thing is real systems to solve real problems. It’s kind of hokey to say it, but the fact that there’s a fire truck down there, says, I don’t want to care about sensors, I want to care about fire trucks. 


There’s an interesting presentation on shoes, that Ecco the shoemaker has this ability to analyze someone’s gait to create a better insole. 

Yes, exactly. You look at some of the keynotes, I didn’t get to go to many of them, because I’ve been doing things like this, but for example, Jonathan Ballon for example at Intel, he had up on stage, one after another, end-user case studies, and he was talking about what the case studies were, and how the technology implemented those case studies. That’s what you want to know. 

Look, every engineer, and I is one! … starts with the problem of, ‘What do I do first’, and a lot of what you hear answered downstairs is what you do first… and it’s not obvious. And you’re going to learn that from people who have already done it, and made the mistake three or four times when they were trying. 

Are there any industries that stick out to you, at least in your experience, that have been particularly successful in being able to demonstrate the potential of…? 

Everybody asks which industry is going to adopt IoT first. I actually know, its manufacturing; not because manufacturing is particularly susceptible to IoT, but because it was the first industry to start looking at it seriously, and I think it’s the furthest along. Unsurprisingly, about 40 percent of our testbeds are manufacturing, and production related, 40 percent – that’s a lot. As I say, I think it’s just as applicable to healthcare, agriculture, and energy grids, as it is to manufacturing, it’s just that manufacturing seems to be ahead. If you look in Europe especially, like if you know in Germany, industry fernal focus entirely on manufacturing and production because of the very large society of small and medium enterprises that do manufacturing and production, and support manufacturing and production in Germany.  

So, I really think it’s going to be manufacturing, but I will tell you what the other thing it is, the job of a taxi driver in 20-years is going to need to find another job. 


That was a key point and a key concern that again, you highlighted earlier, we’ve had a couple of cycles where there was industrial revolution, and the Internet revolution, where you get this creative destruction where jobs are cycled out, and new ones are created. There’s been quite a lot of concern about technological unemployment and you have these dynamics of essentially accelerating change and declining cost, is it your sense that the public concerns about technologically driven unemployment are appropriately calibrated to… 

I thought you were going to say overblown. I think they’re not overblown, I think their worry is perfectly reasonable. During the industrial revolution hundreds of thousands of weaving jobs were lost, which is why you had the Luddites, and those sorts of people going around destroying looms with automated looms, because they were destroying jobs. Technology won out in the end, and always wins out in the end, our jobs should be to figure out what the new jobs are going to be, because there’re going to be new jobs, I just don’t know what they are.  

When there was only one Webmaster in the world, his name was Tim Berners-Lee, nobody could have guessed that the job down in five years would be Webmaster, and there are now tens of millions of Webmasters worldwide. Those jobs were created out of the blue, but more importantly the increase in productivity created consumer demand, which created jobs, and I think that’s going to happen again. What are those jobs? I don’t know, that’s one of the reasons we’re doing testbeds, learn what the jobs are. And I still don’t know. 


I was a moderator on a panel, and the discussion was how automation and artificial intelligence are refactoring the existing jobs within factories, it seems there’s still quite a bit of cultural resistance… 

Yes, but it’s like holding back the tide. There’s a great book that’s sort of on this topic, it’s called ‘The Box’, and it’s a history of containerization, it’s about how containers were funded, standardized, how ships, trucks, and airplanes and so-forth started using containers. How we ended up with the standardized 40 ft container, and the standardized half-container at 20 ft x 8ft. It’s a fascinating book, not just to be interested in standardization but, people try to hold back the tide. Before containerization New York City was one of the great shipping capitals of the United States, and the unions in New York City did everything they could to stop containerization, including requiring that containers be unpacked and re-packed by longshore men. 


Sounds very typical. 

With the net result that people shipped into Oakland which was not unionized, even though they still had to ship back across the country from Oakland to New York. The net long-term effect was the creation of the Elizabeth, New Jersey, completely automated shipping systems, in New Jersey therefore avoiding New York state laws and New York state unions. It’s like holding back the tide and technology is even stronger. 


That’s great that you gave a book recommendation, because that’s a question that I ask every podcast guest. 

Well I strongly recommend ‘The Box’. It sounds like it would be dry, but it’s not, and there are amazing-amazing parts in it, for example the first major shipper to standardize the box, and build the ship specifically for carrying containers, got their money from what was then called the National City Bank, which is now called Citibank. It was a junior loan officer who made the call much larger than he was allowed, but decided it was interesting enough. He was excoriated when he got back to the office, for approving a loan much higher than his limit, but the bank decided to back the loan anyway. Eventually Walter Wriston was CEO of Citibank, that’s how he got his start.  


That is amazing, and that’s a great way to circle back again to the value of standards. The Romans standardized the width of the carts 

Oh, it’s such a good story, the standard gauge for trains in the United States is 4ft 8½ inches, that is a bizarre gauge. Why is it 4ft 8½ inches? And by the way, if you work it out in metric it’s not a good metric either, that’s because that was the standard gauge after the 2ft attempts in the UK as well. Why was it 4ft 8½ inches in the UK? Well, because the first rails were laid on the flattest roads that existed in the UK, which had been built by the Romans. Why did the Romans choose that width? (that’s twice 4ft 8½ inches of course, because there’s travel in two directions) Well, that was the width of a Roman war chariot. Why were the Roman war chariots 4ft 8½ inches wide? Because that’s the width of two Roman war horses, yoked together. So, now you know. 

But now move forward, the Space Shuttle had two Thiokol boosters, which were a little bit smaller than intended, that’s one of the reasons they had to have that huge booster in the middle. How did the Thiokol move those boosters to NASA’s launch sites in California, in Florida? By rail, and that meant that the boosters had to fit under all the bridges, and across all the bridges, and so forth on the rail systems of the United States, so they could not be more than 4ft 8 ½ inches around. 


That is an amazing story. 

Which tells you that one of the most modern transportation systems in the world, the United States Space Shuttle was designed partially around the width of two Roman war horses butts. 


It tells you that the standards, these rails of course which give rides to businesses and commerce, and communication, right now the standards that are emerging today will be the railroads of commerce and innovation for centuries to come. 

Absolutely, and technology systems are far less important than other considerations sometimes, for example, the two newest aviation plants in the United States, one in Alabama, one in Charleston, the reason they’re in those locations is because they’re near water to ship things around. 


It’s amazing. We’re coming up to the end of our allotted time Richard, and I want to thank you so much for your insights, it’s been fascinating. I’ve learnt a lot and I very much appreciate all the efforts that youyour team, and all the participants have come together to create this amazing event. 

Mostly the team which makes me look good, they do all the work! And I thank you for doing panels, and participating in panels as well, because it makes a difference to have people who care about not only the technology, but how it’s used. 


I’m very passionate about it, and so is our team. This has been Ed Maguire, Insights Partner at Momenta, and we’ve been speaking with Richard Soley, who is the CEO of The Object Management Group, and Executive Chairman of the Industrial Internet Consortium, but also the driving force behind the IoT Solutions World Congress, here in Barcelona. Thank you again for your time. 

Thanks for coming. 

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