Blog Posts: October-December 2014
Top 10 Reason Why 2014 Foundational Year for the IoT: 3B IoT Devices by End of 2015
30 December 2014
Here are my top ten reasons why 2014 was the
foundational year for the IoT:
- Emerging standards
groups (from Google’s & Nest’s-driven Thread (based on IEEE 802.15.4), to the Cisco,
Microsoft, etc. AllSeen Alliance).
- Awareness of
privacy and security (all the way up to US Congressional hearings).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?).
- Countries such as
India soon to establish university curricula for the IoT.
- Billions of dollars being made in
Industrial Internet services and products.
- The number of hardware companies moving to a SaaS model to take advantage of business disruption of the IoT.
- 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.
- 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
Image Courtesy of Kanate /FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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
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
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.
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.
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."
purpose is to:
businesses through business skills training, mentoring, access to seed capital
funding, information and membership in their Africa-wide alumni network.
The program is looking for “young compelling
businesses with strong market feasibility, clear financial models and run by
“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,
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.
Companies Worldwide Are Deploying IoT: Forrester/Zebra Report Interviews 500+ Enterprise Decision-Makers
18 November 2014
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
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.
of the summary points in the report include that (my comments in italics):
recognize the strategic criticality of IoT and understand how it will transform
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.
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
- 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.
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
is not hype; it is a necessary factor for ensuring increased revenues, profits
and competitiveness in a tough global economic climate
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.
report also looks at what technology partners are needed, what are the
inhibitors to deploying IoT, etc.
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.
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.
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
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].
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
challenges around security, data silos and systems integration threaten to
delay Industrial Internet solutions that could offer distinctive operational,
strategic and competitive advantages.
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
Key findings from the
report “that establish Big Data analytics’ potential” include:
say that companies that do not adopt a Big Data analytics strategy in the next
year risk losing market share and momentum.
of respondents feel that newer entrants are leveraging Big Data analytics as a
key differentiation strategy.
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
two-thirds of respondents (65%) focus on monitoring—the ability to monitor
assets to identify operating issues for more proactive maintenance.
one-third of healthcare organizations (31%) claim that they are significantly
ahead of the game in the area of analytics.
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
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.
See: L. Dignam, “GE,
forges Internet of things alliances with Verizon, Cisco, Intel,” ZDNet,10/9/2014
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.”
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.