‘We see edge and IoT computing transforming all aspects of our lives’

6 Nov 2020

Image: Jim White

IOTech Systems’ Jim White discusses the future of edge and IoT computing, from tech opportunities to security challenges.

Jim White has more than 25 years of experience in software development across a range of industries, working for companies such as Dell Technologies.

He is now chief technology officer of IOTech Systems, a UK-headquartered company that specialises in internet of things (IoT) software and services using edge computing.

‘These technologies allow us to see, digitise and understand what was previously only guessed at or lightly understood’

Describe your role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

I’m responsible for outlining IOTech’s technical vision, which includes designing and implementing the company’s general product strategy and technical direction. I work with partners and industry organisations to align the company’s complementary products and services, industry standards and open-source offerings.

A big part of that includes interacting with customers to help guide product vision and incorporate IOTech products into solutions that meet their needs. I serve as the externally facing technical voice of the company.

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

With our base edge/IoT middleware platforms created (Edge Xpert and XRT), IOTech is now focused on providing more complete or ‘full-stack’ solutions to help organisations deploy and manage IoT solutions at scale. We are working on an edge management solution called Edge Builder to help organisations deploy, orchestrate and manage their edge nodes and applications with minimal or no touch.

We are also working to incorporate visual inference capability into our edge/IoT middleware using cameras and the latest visual inference AI capabilities to address a host of additional edge use cases.

How big is your team?

Headquartered in the UK, IOTech is 55 people strong with engineering teams in Scotland, England and Taiwan. We have personnel spread across the globe to include Singapore, France, Ireland and the US, in addition to Taiwan and the UK.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?

IOTech is at the heart of helping many organisations with their digital transformation. We are helping organisations get the operational technology connected to and working with their information technology.

At its heart, this is what edge/IoT computing is about. It allows organisations to improve and optimise operations more quickly, as well to create new revenue-generating products and services for their customers.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

We certainly see edge and IoT computing transforming all aspects of our lives and businesses. These technologies allow us to see, digitise and understand what was previously only guessed at or lightly understood.

With billions of ‘things’ or sensors coming online, we have the means to use this data to better understand our physical world. We can act on it quickly and locally to save resources, improve quality of service – such as removing breakage, improving care, etc – and generally improve lives.

AI and machine learning are transformative on their own. But together with edge computing, big data that comes from edge/IoT solutions are also allowing us to infer new and amazing insights much more quickly than in the past.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

For the most part, the elements to protect our data are already available. The key is to apply them. Like the locks on the doors to our homes or cars, they give us quite a bit of security – but only if we choose to use them.

Encryption, limiting access of data to the systems and people that need it, use of industrial-grade authorisation and authentication services, secure transport, proper back-ups, proper disposal when no longer needed, etc – these are not novel ingredients to the security of data. They just need to be applied correctly and monitored, especially on avenues of likely security threats, for attacks and theft.

Because edge computing is opening up more access to more data at the farthest reaches of the network, the avenues of attack have increased, such as through a simple sensor or device. So, we need to apply the security elements out to that edge.

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