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The business of IoT,
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Blog Posts: October-December 2014


Blog posts with a personal twist by Editor-in-Chief Maxine Bingham and Technology Editor Ron Bingham.

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Maxine Bingham

Top 10 Reason Why 2014 Foundational Year for the IoT: 3B IoT Devices by End of 2015
30 December 2014

Here are mImage of Phone with Iconsy top ten reasons why 2014 was the foundational year for the IoT:

  1. Emerging standards groups (from Google’s & Nest’s-driven Thread (based on IEEE 802.15.4), to the Cisco, Microsoft, etc. AllSeen Alliance).
  2. Awareness of privacy and security (all the way up to US Congressional hearings).
  3. Plethora of funded startups in IoT cloud, wearables, connected car, connected retail, eHealth, energy management, smart cities and semiconductors who plan to make product/services delivery announcements in 1Q2015.
  4. Incubators and accelerators, from Innovation Prime in San Francisco and Paris to China-based HAX (focused on lean hardware), some of which have corporate support.
  5. Global governmental support in the hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars by countries such as Korea, China, India and the UK (does the USA need to wake up, or, do we leave it our capitalist system?).
  6. Countries such as India soon to establish university curricula for the IoT.
  7. Billions of dollars being made in Industrial Internet services and products.
  8. The number of hardware companies moving to a SaaS model to take advantage of business disruption of the IoT.
  9. The rising number of leading semiconductor companies (i.e., ARM, TI, Intel, Qualcomm, etc.) and startups/emerging companies (i.e., CSR, Sunrise Micro, etc.) investing in IoT communications and capabilities.
  10. Appearance of new IoT cloud providers (i.e., Ayla, TreasureData, FortyCloud, Concirrus, Arrayent - profile coming soon, etc.), and established cloud providers re-branding as IoT ones.

Add to these a flourishing of IoT events that are growing in number and attendance (remember Comdex? - that marked the end of a computing era) - this is a beginning) and smarter cities and wearables taking off in the first half of 2015 (Apple SmartWatch, anyone?). Thus, we are expecting 2015 to be the year when IoT solutions are delivered to enterprises and consumers worldwide. This fits with IoT Perspectives' prediction that the IoT market will reach three billion units by the end of 2015.

Image Courtesy of Kanate /FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Maxine Bingham

Two Unique Global Incubators for IoT Entrepreneurs: HAX in SF and China, and the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneur Programme for Africa
28 December 2014

It’s often our pleasure to meet with IoT entrepreneurs and those who support them as part of our brief here at IoT Perspectives. Here we look at two unique incubators.

We spoke with Benjamin Joffe, general partner at HAXLR8R, located in San Francisco and Shenzhen, China. Their focus is on crowdfunded lean hardware. Their goal is to help teams transform themselves into functional companies by providing mentorship, seed funding and immersion into an intense startup community of like-minded entrepreneurs. They have funded over 30 ventures, and, beyond help in finding manufacturers in China, offer extensive business services from branding and image to business strategy. They want to take a venture from prototype into production.

As Joffe said, “Two key aspects of crossing the chasm between a crowdfunding campaign (where you get paid up to a year before shipping) to retail (where you might need to finance up to 6 months of inventory) is demand creation and distribution.”

Their program includes four-and-a-half months in Shenzhen, China, in order to either finalize design/prototype or develop help in scaling, and culminates demos at San Francisco HAXLR8R Day with investors and press (after two weeks in San Francisco preparing for the demo day and at Makerfaire). HAX takes 6% equity for $25k or 9% equity for 100k.

During the RE.WORK IoT Summit in San Francisco, I saw a demo of one of HAX's investments, Voltera’s 3D circuit board printer. It enables you to print dual layer PCBs on FR4 with 10mil space/trace. Their 20mΩ/sq sheet resistance and conventional soldering is designed to make prototyping easy. It’s small, easily placed on a tabletop.

I find HAX's approach comprehensive and smart. HAXLR8R S6 will run from January 20th through May 2015. Apply here.

December 2014 saw the launch of the $100M Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Foundation, whose vision is to "establish the pre-eminent pan-African entrepreneurship programme and create 10,000 startups across Africa within the next 10 years that generate significant employment and wealth."

Their purpose is to:

  • Identify 10,000 African startups and entrepreneurs with ideas that have the potential to succeed.

  • Grow the businesses through business skills training, mentoring, access to seed capital funding, information and membership in their Africa-wide alumni network.

  • Create businesses that can generate at least 1,000,000 new jobs and contribute at least $10 billion in new annual revenues across Africa.

The program is looking for “young compelling businesses with strong market feasibility, clear financial models and run by capable teams.”

“The opportunity and challenge in Africa is scale – in our people, our resources and our horizons. In my business and philanthropic journeys, I have always sought ways to help inspire a generation across our continent. This program brings together my own entrepreneurial experience and my fundamental belief that entrepreneurs – women and men across Africa – will lead Africa’s development and transform our futures,” said Tony O. Elumelu, CON, founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.

“The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme will offer a structured, multi-year opportunity to access funding, knowledge and perhaps most importantly mentoring, on scale that is unprecedented in Africa – it is our opportunity to empower a generation,” said, Mr. Elumelu.

The program will identify and help grow an initial 10,000 start-ups and young businesses from across Africa over the next 10 years, targeting the creation of 1,000,000 new jobs and $10 billion in annual revenues.

Keep an eye on our Home Page (under the Events section) for a continuously updated list of global incubators for early stage ventures.


Maxine Bingham

Companies Worldwide Are Deploying IoT: Forrester/Zebra Report Interviews 500+ Enterprise Decision-Makers
18 November 2014

Forrester Research has published a report (commissioned by Zebra Technologies) about how "Internet-Of-Things Solution Deployment Gains Momentum Among Firms Globally: Improved Customer Experience and Supply Chain Optimization are Leading Business Benefits Of IoT Solutions.” Read Report

While one needs to be a bit careful about company-paid reports, this one is a survey of 577 enterprise decision-makers. As companies such as GE are reporting revenues of close to $1B in industrial (or enterprise) IoT alone, I believe that enterprise IoT is not only here, it is probably leading consumer IoT.

Some of the summary points in the report include that (my comments in italics):

Enterprises recognize the strategic criticality of IoT and understand how it will transform their businesses

  • Over 80% of surveyed firms agreed that IoT solutions are the most strategic technology initiative for their organization in a decade [my emphasis].

- Organizations surveyed represent many sectors, including retail, manufacturing, consumer products, transportation, healthcare, government, oil/gas, and hospitality, and are deploying these IoT solutions to address a variety of strategic, operational, and business challenges.

Companies are not only realizing the importance of IoT, they are implementing it. Note that NA & Europe lag: Asia-Pacific governments as well as private enterprise are investing heavily in IoT

  •   Nearly 65% of surveyed firms have deployed or are in the process of implementing IoT solutions

- In 2014, 25% of surveyed global firms already had an IoT solution in place, and nearly 40% of firms are in the process of implementing an IoT solution.

- Over 70% of Asia Pacific firms [my emphasis] have an IoT solution in place or are in the process of implementing an IoT solution. Construction of new cities, buildings, and state-of-the-art infrastructure in many Asia Pacific countries enables this strong IoT solution momentum.

- Between 52% and 60% of European and North American firms [my emphasis] are in these same stages of IoT solution deployment.

Reduced cost, smaller form factors and increased capability of sensors, semiconductors and data center networking are key enablers of IoT

  •     Wi-Fi, real-time location tracking, and security sensors are important elements of IoT solutions

IoT is not hype; it is a necessary factor for ensuring increased revenues, profits and competitiveness in a tough global economic climate

  •     Organizations can achieve a wide range of business benefits from IoT solution deployment.

- Improved customer experience leads the list of benefits, with 49% of firms identifying this as one of the top five benefits of deploying IoT solutions.

- Supply chain optimization, visibility, and loss prevention closely follow and were identified as a top five benefit by between 45% and 46% of firms.

- By enhancing supply chain processes, firms can improve business process efficiencies, reduce working capital, and locate assets.

The report also looks at what technology partners are needed, what are the inhibitors to deploying IoT, etc.

Forrester Research Chart

As our interviews and many vendor presentations at IoT conferences have demonstrated, industrial – or, as we like to call it – enterprise IoT, is not hype, it is a necessary condition for customer satisfaction and business transformation.


Maxine Bingham

Speaking with Ford at Gigaom Structure Connect
4 November 2014

I came back from the Gigaom Structure Connect: Building the Internet of Things, conference, 21-22 October in San Francisco, with my head reeling from all the great sessions and interesting new companies that were exhibiting. Even established companies, such as Zebra Technologies, with its new Zatar, avatar-based cloud platform, and GoGo, who provide Wi-Fi for 2,000 Gogo-equipped commercial aircraft, were there to make new partners and introduce new IoT capabilities.

For example, I spoke with Operation Manager for the Ford Silicon Valley Lab Chuck Nagi, at a Gigaom dinner. We discussed Ford’s commitment to bringing IoT-based services to its autos. One way their commitment is demonstrated, Nagi said to me, is by locating a Ford research and innovation lab (center) in Palo Alto, CA. He added that Ford’s main interests around the IoT are to (1) keep the customer safe, (2) be as green as possible, and, I would add, provide connected car services to differentiate Ford autos while adding revenue. As Ford says, what better mobile device is there than a vehicle? Ford realizes they can’t do it all, so are actively seeking IoT partners, thus, one of the reasons for an innovation center in Silicon Valley.

Ford has also demonstrated its IoT focus with the appointment of an Executive Director of Connected Vehicle and Services - Don Butler (see Ford’s 3 Jan 2014 announcement). Butler is responsible for Ford’s global integrated connectivity vision and strategy. He leads the development of a near, mid and long term plan for implementation of the customer experience inside and outside of the vehicle. Butler most recently was vice president, Cadillac Global Strategy for General Motors, where he led the development of the strategy for Cadillac’s global expansion, and, in his 30-year career with GM, was vice president, Global and OEM business for OnStar, GM’s telematics business.

Ford has described a number of IoT partnerships already. One is with Intel, for what they are calling the Mobile Interior Imaging (Project Mobii) I am betting on more announcements from Ford in this space, especially in 2015, as they ramp up partnerships and, perhaps, the Silicon Valley center.

Photos Courtesy of Ford Motor Company web sites

 


Maxine Bingham head shot

Is Big Data the Real Story for the IoT?
12 October 2014

I’ve recently spoken with three IoT startup cloud providers at various stages of growth: Ayla Networks, Concirrus and TreasureData, and been struck by their similarities and differences. All three demonstrate that the IoT is not hype, it’s here, as their investors, founders and customers attest, and all three believe that customers need a complete solution to get the value inherent in the volumes of data that their industrial or consumer IoT generates. It’s just that each IoT cloud company takes a unique technological approach to the problem of helping customers (and subsequently their users), experience value from, as we say technically, gobs and gobs of data. These interviews led to a “duh” moment. One of the less glamorous-appearing, perhaps, but very important stories about the IoT is the enormous disruptive value of the combination of Big Data and the Industrial Internet of Things.

According to illuminating new research by GE and Accenture, “How the Industrial Internet is Changing the Competitive Landscape of Industries”:

“… executives across the industrial and healthcare sectors see the enormous potential of the Industrial Internet—the combination of Big Data analytics with the Internet of Things [emphasis added]. The Industrial Internet enables companies to use sensors, software, machine-to-machine learning and other technologies to gather and analyze data from physical objects or other large data streams—and then use those analyses to manage operations and in some cases to offer new, valued-added services [emphasis added].

The research reveals that there is a growing urgency for organizations to embrace Big Data analytics to advance their Industrial Internet strategy. The vast majority of respondents believe that Big Data analytics has the power to dramatically change the competitive landscape of industries within the next year. Most are investing accordingly, with the support of their Board of Directors.

Nonetheless, challenges around security, data silos and systems integration threaten to delay Industrial Internet solutions that could offer distinctive operational, strategic and competitive advantages.

The Industrial Internet has the potential to drive trillions of dollars in new services and overall growth. To reap those rewards, industrial companies will need to use insights about their customers and their customers’ use of industrial goods to build new offerings, reduce costs and reinvest their savings.”

Key findings from the report “that establish Big Data analytics’ potential” include:

  • 89% say that companies that do not adopt a Big Data analytics strategy in the next year risk losing market share and momentum.

  • 93% of respondents feel that newer entrants are leveraging Big Data analytics as a key differentiation strategy.

  • 84% feel that Big Data analytics has the power to shift the competitive landscape for their industry in the next year. 87% believe it will have that power within three years.

  • Almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) focus on monitoring—the ability to monitor assets to identify operating issues for more proactive maintenance.

  • About one-third of healthcare organizations (31%) claim that they are significantly ahead of the game in the area of analytics.

  • About half of all healthcare organizations surveyed are investing from 10- 20% of their overall technology budget on Big Data analytics.

While it’s fun to talk about consumer applications of the Internet of Things, major corporations, such as GE[1] and Cisco, as well as the three cloud startups we’ve profiled, show that the Industrial Internet of Things, aligned with Big Data/analytics, not only has the power to transform business – it’s already started.


[1] See: L. Dignam, “GE, forges Internet of things alliances with Verizon, Cisco, Intel,” ZDNet,10/9/2014
“GE… will deliver more than $1 billion in incremental revenue from its roster of 40 industrial Internet services. GE currently monitors and analyzes 50 million data points from 10 million sensors on $1 trillion of managed assets daily.”

 


Ron Bingham photo

Google Announced its Next "Big Idea" for the Internet of Things, but, Qui Bono?
3 October 2014

What if you could walk up to a poster in mid-winter in Times Square featuring an exotic South Sea island and have it direct you through your smartphone to a website where you could on impulse book your winter getaway on the spot? Or, alternatively, buy a hot cup of coffee from a nearby kiosk over the Internet and sigh about the vacation opportunity missed? If Google is successful with its “Physical Internet” that may very well happen. 

Google's idea is to develop a standard that would allow “things” on the Internet to broadcast a URL using low-energy Bluetooth. The URL could then be picked up by an Android or iPhone mobile device, and be presented to the user in a ranked list initially based on the strength of the signal, i.e., the closest device on the top of the list. This is similar to the feature on your mobile device that locates nearby WiFi hot spots. Once the IoT device’s URL is captured and selected by the user, the native browser on the mobile device could access a website.

Once on the device’s website, two-way communication is established and there are a number of possibilities. The web page could simply supply information or it could be a full-featured multi-page web application. It could require login for added security. Through this means, a user can communicate with the device - to buy a soft drink, hail a cab or fill in the blank with your own imagination.

The “thing” broadcasting its URL uses one-way communication initially, so it will have no knowledge of the user presence and users cannot be tracked unless they access the URL. I admire the fact that Google currently offers both an Android and iOS application to developers.

I’m always skeptical when a for-profit enterprise offers up a standard. I’m old enough to remember the browser wars and the headaches that gave web developers with the plethora of incompatible browsers. “Cui bono?” Who benefits? Certainly Google does. Not only will Google track your searches, but it will now also track what and where you accessed a device and helpfully prioritize your list of things based on your past preferences as you stroll by them - hawking their own URLs for your attention.

The motivation Google offers for this “Big Idea” is that instead of an app for every IoT device having to be on your iPhone, you will only need one - Google’s or perhaps Apple’s or other smart phone manufacturer’s app. After all, with the incipient explosion of the Internet of Things, who wants hundreds of apps cluttering up their home screens when you can have a single IoT browser do the job.

There are a few problems with this concept. First, as Google acknowledges, you would not want your thermostat or security system blasting out URLs to your neighbors or to a burglar strolling by your home. This would limit the application to public IoT devices. Secondly, the opportunity for spam is greatly multiplied - URL spam with all the attendant opportunities for malware and fraud multiplied many fold.

I think Google has a seed of a great idea but there has to be a lot more work done to also ensure security and privacy.

Google would be well advised to speed adoption to form a consortium and put the IP in the hands of a more neutral party that can represent the needs of all interested parties.