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Culture of Collaboration, the Key to Success in IoT Era

As the Internet of Things (IoT) moves from an abstract concept to a bona-fide business reality, it will fundamentally change the way companies and consumers interact with products, leaving them with a choice to either help shape this new, more connected future – and Michigan’s role in it – or get left behind.

That was the challenge issued during The Internet of Things: Opportunities and Obstacles in a Connected World panel. Participants consistently reinforced that the barrier to fully implementing IoT isn’t technological, but cultural. Businesses, traditionally conditioned to seek full proprietorship, must instead learn to adapt and value open collaboration to leverage IoT’s vast potential.

“If you’re talking about owning something, you’ve already lost. This isn’t about owning anything. It’s about partnerships,” said J.R. Automation CEO Bryan Jones.

Start Garden founder and CEO Rick DeVos agreed, stating: “If Michigan wants to lead, leaders must look beyond their own walls and seek new models and technologies.”

This mindset led to the creation of Seamless – a Grand Rapids-based accelerator that brings together a consortium of companies, including Faurecia, Meijer, Priority Health, Spectrum Health and Steelcase, to support and grow emerging IoT startups. Faurecia Vice President of Innovation and Ventures Rick Huber stressed that Seamless’ success was based on the implicit trust each partner has in each other.

While panelists acknowledged that Silicon Valley has strong advantage in software and technological innovation, they reiterated that Michigan has a key role to play in IoT as a manufacturing and engineering hotbed.

“We as makers have a great opportunity to capitalize on a tremendous market … and bring value back to the state,” said Modustri founder and CEO Brian Steketee.

All of the panelists agreed that partnerships between the two locations (Detroit and Silicon Valley), in the end, could bring greater value to global consumers.

“This isn’t alarming. This is exciting. This is an example of the collaboration we are talking about,” said Huber.

The panel was sponsored by Meijer and moderated by ThoughtFull Design’s Tom DeVries.