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What was the last thing you bought online? Why didn’t you go to a store to buy it? Was it for the vast number of items you could scroll through before making a choice or the recommendations that the website or app pulled up for you, remembering your choices and interests from a previous visit, or the ease with which you paid for it with a card whose details were already stored with the website?

The online shopping experience is leaps and bounds ahead of the traditional experience in terms of using data and technology to provide unique and personalized customer experiences. While brick and mortar stores also have their own upsides, the move towards omni-channel retailing today is key.

So what does an omni-channel experience really mean? The term refers to merging of services and features of multiple channels in order to provide a seamless, integrated and consistent experience to users. It means bringing the best of online shopping to the physical store to enrich customer experiences and create new channels for revenue generation.

The reason that e-retailers are able to provide a vast number of superior and personalized features is because of access to a larger volume of data and analytics. Their algorithms are constantly monitoring your every step, from consideration to the point where a sale occurs. Traditional retailers need the same approach and connected products under Internet of Things provide a way to do exactly that. A digital transformation of store assets by connecting them to each other and the internet through means of sensors or digital tags (barcodes, QR codes, Datamatrix codes, NFC & RFID tags) working together with AI and cloud computing, will result in smart connected products at every point within a customer’s journey, collecting and analyzing data.

Many brands already have an online presence as well as applications from where one can directly buy their products. However, a true omni-channel retail experience is one where it works in tandem with, influences and enhances the in-store shopping experience.

A number of leading brands are also coming up with innovations to improve customer engagement and play to their expectations born from online buying habits regarding a seamless and hassle-free shopping experience. Here is a look at the areas within a brick and mortar store that could see incorporation of connected products to facilitate an omni-channel retail experience.

Personalized services
Analytics and personalized services and features go hand in hand together. Brands need to know about their customers in order to curate services for them. Data on a customer’s journey across the store, products they pick up or put back, keeping track of their past purchases and recommending more according to that, and extending coupons and offers specifically for them; feeding data of such nature into algorithms that perform analytics then deliver insights upon which personalized services can then be built.

Kroger has partnered up with Microsoft to roll out EDGE™ Shelves (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment). Equipped with digital displays, these shelves promise to provide a unique guided customer experience. The solution will also utilize in-store sensors to identify individual shoppers and extend custom recommendations, promotions and offers as well as other personalized content.

Customer’s in-store journey:
The journey of a user buying things online is not too complex; browse, select, pay. If they are a regular customer, chances are the app already knows their delivery points and payment details. A similar journey is far more difficult to emulate inside a retail store. The popularity of Endless Aisles technology is a step in this direction. This technology is based on the observation of how some people fail to find a particular product in their size or colour. No problem! They can simply place an order with their specifications using an endless aisle in the form of an interactive kiosk within the store itself, and the product gets delivered at their doorstep in a couple of days. It’s a win-win situation; customers don’t leave the store unsatisfied and the retailer does not lose out on a sale.

Another feature gaining traction is “click and collect/return”, where customers can place orders through the brand website or mobile app and collect their items from a store at their own convenience.

Consumer Transparency
Smartphones are everywhere and 71% of consumers use theirs to conduct research on products before buying them in-store. Retailers can capitalize on this medium’s ubiquitousness and familiarity to create a similar experience inside retail stores. Modern consumers are also more conscious of how their lifestyle choices, including products they buy and consume, impact the environment and society. Electronic labeling practices incorporating scannable QR codes, RFID tags or NFC stickers, let the customer pull up expanded product information instantly on their smartphones, presenting more than a simple ingredients list, and allowing the brand to display the entire journey of the product from its origin to the shelf. These tags can be further utilized to enrich customer experiences by providing tailor made content for a particular customer such as promotions and offers.

Navigation
In-store navigation services are another example where connected smart products can contribute to unique multi-channel experiences. Retailer Target has installed store fixtures like LED lights which have built-in bluetooth beacons. Their app takes advantage of these beacons to locate users inside the store and guide them to their desired locations by pulling feed from shopping lists stored by the user on it. French Retail giant Carrefour in partnership with Philips has implemented a similar system, however using Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology instead. VLC enabled LEDs emit a code that is readable by any camera on a smartphone, connecting customers to the digital experience provided by the store through their app.

Beating the Queue
Amazon Go is the true embodiment of what a connected retail store of the future will look like. Customers in these cashierless stores need not stand in long queues for checkout as they can just grab what they wish to purchase and walk out. The exit turnstiles trigger an automatic payment from the customer’s credit card, which is already stored on the app, on leaving the store. Not only are these stores getting rid of one of the most annoying bits about shopping in a a brick and mortar store, they are also combining multiple sensors across the store to collect a treasure trove of valuable data. Weight sensors on shelves know exactly when an item is removed from the shelf, or when it is put back. Multiple cameras track and record each customer’s movements within the store. Computer vision along with intelligent algorithms combine to create a unique identification for each customer and separate them from others.

Traditional brick and mortar stores are in an urgent need to innovate in order to maintain a competitive edge by keeping up with consumer expectations and habits, which are constantly evolving thanks to e-commerce. They need to look towards Internet of Things and establish a connected and digital ecosystem within their stores which collect valuable data on their customers, data that can then be converted into smart insights, on the foundation of which smart decisions can be taken to provide sophisticated, delightful and engaging customer experiences.

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In recent years I have listened till the satiety about the importance of ecosystems to make the promises of the IoT come true and in some way for not to leave in bad position the analysts who have flooded us with their optimistic predictions.

All, or at least most of those who read my articles know that there is no company in the world, no matter how great it is, it can do everything in IoT. So, ecosystems are the key to successfully in this business.

The ecosystem allows to achieve a multiplier effect and a trusted environment.

Creating an IoT ecosystem either horizontal (technology) or vertical (industry) requires a lot of talent alliance managers able to maintain win-win transactions over the time.

Select an IoT ecosystem is not an easy task. In the IoT ecosystems there are fights between equals, also abuses usually produced from the big ones over the little ones. There are conflicts with companies that are in several ecosystems sometimes with contradictory interests. It is very usual how partners collide with the objectives of the ecosystem and you can imagine betrayals and back stabs.

For instance after IBM acquisition of Red Hat, will the IoT open source architecture designed by the ecosystem Red Hat , Eurotech and Cloudera be a good decision?

In my post “The value of partnership in Industrial Internet of Things”  and subsequent comments I presented several successful cases of collaboration among members of these ecosystems. But let's be honest, there are few references and examples after 4 years.

The fragility of Alliances in IoT is a challenge to accelerate adoption of IoT Ecosystem solutions.

IoT Ecosystems

In Harbor Research article “ Has Anyone Seen A Real Internet of Things Ecosystem?” ,dated November 2013, the analyst firm wrote that no really significant ecosystem or network of collaborators had emerged in the IoT arena in spite there was early and very interesting efforts being made by several players. We can thing that in 2013, these ecosystems were very emergent alliance developments and have had not attained the scale, scope and momentum we expect will be required to really drive this opportunity to its intended and expected scale.  Most of the attempts thus far to drive an ecosystem advantage have failed to scale and reach critical mass.  This just underscores how challenging building a high velocity network of partners can be.

In this article I will focus my analysis on 4 examples of IoT ecosystems that represent a big portion of the value chain in the multiple IoT submarkets: IoT Connectivity Provider, IoT Cloud Platform Vendor, IoT Professional Services and IoT Solution Aggregator.

Telefonica: IoT Connectivity Ecosystem - https://iot.telefonica.com/partners

One of my first attempts to monetize my IoT services was through the Telefonica IoT Solution Partners program. It was four years ago. At the beginning I received a couple of calls from the Operator to help me create my account and describe my services. We were many partners and although the Partners Search portal left a lot to be desired, I did not see much competition in my services and I thought that we would be the perfect accelerator for the ecosystem. I was wrong. Since I register, I have not received any invitation to participate in any event for partners, nor has anyone contacted me to request my services, nor have I needed the portal for contact any other partner (for that I already have my LinkedIn network).

How the hell are you going to find me as IoT Solution partner if Telefonica IoT web page does not offer a link to the partner search page ? and the use of this non update page is frustrating with duplicates names, closed companies, etc.

Telefonica identifies 3 types of Partners: Operators Alliances, Channel Partners and Solution Partners.

Operators Alliances: Telefonica is partnering with other Tier-1 telecom operators including the IoT World Alliance and other operators like China Unicom, Sunrise and Avea in order to provide IoT customers with the best, seamless services worldwide and lower costs.

Channel Partners: Telefonica enables partners to drive growth and differentiate their business by reselling their Global Managed IoT services. It helps to increase their capabilities, enabling deployment on a global scale, in particular in regions such as Europe and Latin America

Solution Partners: Telefonica Solution Partners ecosystem consists of a global network of IoT providers with functional or industrial expertise: IoT Device Providers, IoT System Integrators and IoT Industrial Experts.

I never liked the idea of Telefonica oriented to quantity (around 1000 partners including duplicate names and not updated list) instead of quality in Partners and I think the results have been and are very poor. Clearly a point to improve if they want the IoT to take off inside the Operator.

Talking with Telefonica IoT you quickly recognize that if you are not Microsoft, AWS, or similar unless you bring business to them you will never get business from them.

Telefonica does not lead any IoT ecosystem, neither geographically, nor industrially nor technologically. It is just one more logo (important of course) in many presentations of IoT vendors.

I can not understand of its win-win strategy and goto market regarding IoT platforms. In addition to its own platform, Telefonica appears as a partner of at least Microsoft Azure, PTC-Thingworx, SAG Cumulocity, AWS IoT, Cisco Jasper, Libelium, etc. Maybe they should select partners around ‘share of outcome’ rather than share of investment if they want to lead some ecosystem. Pecking is good for the birds.

Telefonica need an open-minded company culture to become comfortable with an ecosystem structure.

IoT Cloud Platform Vendor  -  Microsoft IoT Ecosystem

Having worked at Microsoft, I recognize that I have had the temptation to become an IoT partner. But also, because my business model is based on vendor independence my decision was to help other companies to enter in the MSFT IoT ecosystem

This year I was convinced that I needed to change my approach. But, instead of becoming a partner, I decided to convince other 2 Microsoft partners strong in complementary disciplines (Business Intelligence and Cloud) to create a specific area for IoT. I have not succeeded, which makes me think that despite the efforts and investment planned by Microsoft, Partners do not see IoT business clearly yet.

The list of Internet of Things Trusted Partners certified in Microsoft Azure Certified is impress and I recognize the effort of Microsoft building an IoT ecosystem that fuels business transformation. Without going further, the largest partnership with GE Predix and the partnership with PTC  will help industry customers accelerate their digital transformations by adopting IoT.

In this case, finding an partner de Microsoft Azure IoT is easier than in the previous case. The categories of IoT partners for Microsoft are: Devices, Gateways, security, isv, network and telecommunication and system integrators.

By the way, no partner in Spain according with this web. ☹. Maybe is the right time to invest.

 Microsoft is expert identifying, nurturing and managing partners and Azure IoT is a great opportunity to lead some IoT ecosystems.

IoT Professional Services - EY IoT Ecosystem

EY, otherwise known as Ernst and Young, is a leader in the IoT space. Not involved in the construction of devices themselves, EY is instead helping organisations navigate the largely unchartered waters of IoT.

While working in an engagement with EY IoT, I read a report developed by Forrester Research dated Oct/18, 2017 “Vendor Landscape: IoT Professional Services”. This report segments the landscape of IoT Professional Services firms, based on functional capabilities to help enterprises deploy IoT-enabled processes, vertical market focus, and geographic reach. Based on the service offerings, vertical capabilities, and characteristics of a broad array of professional services firms, Forrester has identified eight categories. The major players in the consulting firm segment include Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PWC because these strategic consulting firms combine strong business strategy capabilities with the ability to execute on digital transformation initiatives. The report clearly showed EY strong IoT capabilities across the globe. EY was also recognized as Internet of Things services leader by HFS Research.

For EY, initiatives like launch a global IoT/OT Security Lab to help clients stay ahead of emerging threats or to launch EY wavespace™, a global network of growth and innovation centers to help clients achieve radical breakthroughs is a way to demonstrate its strategic alliances like SAP, GE Digital, Microsoft, IBM or Cisco how important is to create an ecosystem with the firm. These technology vendors rely on EY to implement IoT solutions in large customers with a business-driven approach.

Do not expect EY or any of the consulting firms to lead any IoT ecosystem. Their role is to leverage their business strengths and client relationship to empower the ecosystems to which they belong

IoT Solution Aggregator - Tech Data IoT Ecosystem

Perhaps the most complex task I have done regarding advising of IoT ecosystems was with one of the largest IT distributors in the world, Tech Data. The challenge of balancing players like Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, IBM, Schneider or Vodafone with innovative startups in several industry verticals and different use cases without anyone feeling careless was very exciting.

To find a right place for Tech Data in the IoT value proposition schema, , was another challenge. It was great helping the company defining its role as an IoT Solution Aggregator and define which partners should be included for Tech Data IoT repeatable solutions.

Tech Data has been able to demonstrate how to become useful for IT and OT vendors and how provide value to existing and new channel of IIOT system Integrators worldwide.

I always have believed this approach could make easy for their small and medium end clients to adopt IoT solutions quickly.

I did not have time during my engagement with Tech Data to analyse and support the launch on new business models, but I am sure they will leverage its position to offer new services based on data aggregation.

Education, the latest products, support services, and firm footing in the B2B world put IoT Solution Integrators  at the centre of the Internet of Things craze.

 Key Takeaway

The IoT market is still in its early stage. Enterprises face many different options for IoT partners and suppliers. Choosing the right ecosystem is critical not only for a successful IoT project implementation but for the journey in their Digital Transformation.

IoT ecosystems need to understand that most industries thrive on "coopetition," it’s important to become cognizant and respectful of competitors, as they may also be your potential partners.

Just like with people, when it comes to IoT business, no two ecosystems are alike. We have been helping different type of companies to build or enter in the most suitable ecosystem. I have no doubt only the best ecosystems will survive; the challenge is to rank among so many. It is really a nightmare.

Ecosystems is hardly new but as rapidly evolving and if they are able to leverage the shared data and information from intelligent sensors, machines and assets, radical new modes of value creation will emerge.

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Given my Telco background, it was logical that back in 2014, I published some of my first articles in my  IoT Blog about the topic “IoT Connectivity . I described how the optimist predictions of analysts and companies like Cisco or Ericsson, made the Machine to Machine (M2M) an attractive market to invest.

The fact that “Tata Communications have acquired mobility and Internet of Things specialist Teleena is a clear indication of the phenomenal growth rate in the global IoT connectivity market. “By 2021, enterprises’ spending on mobility alone is set to surpass USD 1.7 trillion,” said Anthony Bartolo, Chief Product Officer, Tata Communications.  I hope to see Tata Communications/Teleena in the next Gartner´s Magic Quadrant for M2M Managed Services Worldwide.

There are still people who doubt that connectivity is a key component in the M2M/IoT Value Chain. Please remember without connectivity simply there is not IoT.

Obviously during these years many of my projects have been associated with IoT connectivity. From the analysis of M2M/IoT Service Providers to the conceptual design of end-to-end solutions where connectivity selection was a key component. One of the most interesting projects was the analysis that I made for the Telefonica project "IoT in a box". Without forget projects to compare LPWAN technologies, End to End Security, Identification of Uses cases for 5G. Sometimes also I had to sell IoT connectivity.

In the last years in the IoT connectivity market I have seen:

  • Consolidation of the market like “KORE buys Wyless” or “Sierra Wireless, Inc. Completes Acquisition of Numerex Corp.
  • The appearance of companies like 1NCE, the first dedicated Tier 1, Narrowband IoT MVNO providing fast, secure and reliable network connectivity for low data B2B applications offering a set of optimized product features – such as an IoT flat rate and the first of its kind 'BUY ONCE'​ lifetime fee
  • The still not bloody battle between LPWAN operators (SigFox, LoRA network operators, NB-IOT, LTE-M)
  • Telco Vendors, Operators and Analysts talking about the promise of 5G
  • New Wifi and Lifi IoT use cases
  • IoT Security breaches
  • Operators focus on key industries and use cases
  • The partnership M2M/IOT Service Providers ecosystem evolution
  • Agreements among M2M, MNO and Satellite operators.
  • The lack of standards in the Smart Home connectivity
  • The expectation for solve the real time connectivity challenges in Industry 4.0 and Edge Computing –
  • Time Sensitive Networking Industry 4.0 use cases and test bed by IIC members
  • ….

But in my opinion, enterprises still are confused and delaying their decisions to adopt IoT / IIOT because they need good advice about the right IoT connectivity not just the cheapest prices but easy integration or better customer support.

I want to remember again that I can help you in the selection of the right M2M /IoT Service Provider for your enterprise business requirements as a strategic decision.

IoT Connectivity - the ugly Duckling of IoT Network Operators

Telecoms operators’ more focused approach to bolstering their IoT businesses appears rooted in refining the technology inherent in their connectivity networks. And no wonder, The powerful GSMA has been helping Mobile Operators to define their role in IoT. At first sight, the best way for large telecoms operators generate value from the IoT might appear to be by providing connectivity via their networks. Additionally, they could leverage their vast experience in customer engagement, customer premise equipment (CPE) support and their robust, proven back-office systems by offering their OSS and BSS platforms externally to IoT users, using their OSS to provide users with a turnkey platform to manage their equipment proactively in real time, and their BSS to support the related billing requirements. In fact Global telcos set sights on IoT for growth in 2018.

Nevertheless, Analysys Mason, highlighted “Telcos have been working with the broader ecosystem, including developers, cloud players and hardware vendors this past year – all of which “should set the market up for an active 2018”.

Although many people think that IoT connectivity  is or will become a commodity with little value for customers and along with the hardware will form the ugly ducklings of the value chain, IoT Network Operators should strive to demonstrate that IoT connectivity is vital for the global adoption of the IoT and seek to increase the income derived from its connectivity services with aspect like security and the contextual data value that their networks transport.

IoT Data is the new Oil also for IoT Network Operators

If connectivity seems doomed to play the role of ugly duckling, the data on the other hand see how its value increases and increases with each new technology.

How many times have we seen a presentation with the title "Data is the new Oil”? Even taught by me

Many Telcos are in process of Digital Transformation. The want to compete with the Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon (GAFA) and avoid same situation lived with these Over the Top (OTT) vendors.  IoT is giving them an opportunity to monetize the IoT data and convert their networks in pipelines of value.

IoT data is a new source of revenue without forget that will also produce incremental profit through operational productivity and efficiency.

The new stream of data coming from the physical world and the billions connected things are mostly transported by the IoT Network Operator´s networks and once these data is captured, the IoT Network Operators can monitor everything and feed their AI systems. Is then, when finally, IoT Network Operators can make a lot of money of IoT contextual data and aggregated data.

Can you imagine the opportunities leveraged by the connection of millions of devices and intelligent things over your IoT network? A vast amount of useful data generated by smart containers, smart home appliances, smart cities, connected cars, smart healthcare devices, or wearables, which for many businesses is an extremely valuable commercial tool. IoT Network Operators possess the capability of performing real-time data analytics on readily available data to determine product performance, improve customer experience and forecast network capacity, all of all which IoT-ready businesses could benefit from.

Key Takeaway

IoT connectivity is still at the core of all IoT Network Operators / M2M Service Providers. But some of them are implementing different strategies to capture more business of the IoT value chain. The idea of IoT connectivity will become a commodity with not added value is influencing the decision to invest in new IoT enabled networks (5G, LTE-M, NB-IoT).

It’s clear that there are some strong opportunities for IoT Network Operators / M2M Service Providers looking to capture the full potential of IoT, and it’s time that they open up their services to support companies from all sectors who are looking to employ IoT connectivity but also machine data intelligence as part of their business models in this IoT driven digital transformation.

Telcos offering IoT connectivity should look to monetise data and offer businesses unique insights that could potentially open doors to new revenue streams or even improve operational efficiencies. 

If IoT business is about data and assets, Telcos need to shift from technology and connectivity to business value and creation of valued services.

 

Thanks in advance for your Likes and your Shares.

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Iot and IIoT has made it a long way in the past several years. In fact, according to Forbes, trillions of dollars are at stake as the Industrial Internet of Things rolls out over the next decade. But, has the multi-tillion dollar trend lived up to the hype?

It could be many more years until certain industries reach the levels described in the hype.  Here’s the industries you should keep your eye on when it comes to IIoT technology.

The Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT and IIoT, respectfully), widely encompasses many concepts, technologies, and products, but can generally be described as:

  • A system that contains wired or wirelessly connected components which relay data that can be analyzed or used to control an output of the system
  • A network that allows for automated information exchange between two devices
  • A vision where any and all systems are connected to gather masses of data that will lead to overall improved performance, insights, and control

As of 2018, we most commonly see IoT being used for location tracking, remote monitoring, and preventative maintenance.  Yet, for IIoT the most common application is preventative maintenance. Many of these IIoT systems report back to a control interface, and are not completely automated control loops that are self-evaluating or self-improving.

 

There are some industries in particular that stand out when looking at the IIoT.  We looked at trends that will progress through the end of 2018 into 2019, and asked the following questions.

  1. What industries will be most affected by IoT solutions?

According to BI Intelligence, the ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Transportation and Warehousing’ industries have received the highest amount of investment in IoT to date.  These investments, totaling $230B between the two industries over the past few years, will continue to drive impressive progress in the development of IoT solutions. 

  1. Who will be the key players in IIoT Solutions in 2019?

We are currently witnessing a race to capture the IIoT market.  AT&T is collaborating with Honeywell, Verizon offers a machine-to-machine (M2M) management platform called ThingSpace, and startups like Uptake Technologies are raising absurd amounts of capital to compete with existing analytics giants. Uptake alone has raised $218M since 2015, and specializes in analytics of complex data sets. 

Nearly all of the corporate giants you would expect to have a stake in the race are putting serious resources behind their efforts.  GE is offering Predix, and end-to-end Industrial IoT Platform, and has incorporated capabilities like Predix Edge to allow for edge computing within the platform.  Siemens offers their own Industrial IoT platform called MindSphere, and Bosch is also getting in on the action now offering their IoT Suite publicly available on AWS Marketplace. Further, Schneider Electric developed WonderWare and SAP offers Hana.

We expect that through 2019 we will see more partnerships develop, offering cross compatibility between the many platforms which are available today.

  1. What further developments in IIoT can we expect in the near future?

Security will continue to be a major focus for all providers and users of the IIoT.   In a recent publication Steve Watson, CEO of VTO Labs, explains “security and specifically the ability to detect compromised nodes, together with collecting and preserving evidences of an attack or malicious activities emerge as a priority in successful deployment of IoT networks.” This ability to detect and preserve evidence of a cyber-attack will not only need to occur through edge computing, but it will also need to be maintain its integrity with interoperability of different systems that are linked together.

Given the amount of investment we are seeing in the ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Transportation and Warehousing’ industries we expect to see many breakthroughs in both cyber security for the IIoT and interoperability between the many IIoT platforms. Looking into 2019 we can expect to see more partnerships between major sensor providers and network providers, such as the AT&T Honeywell collaboration we saw in 2018. With more interoperability and collaboration, 2019 may be the year that we see the major breakthroughs in IIoT we’ve been expecting.

 

About the Author: Taylor Welsh is a writer for a Speedtronic reseller, located in Fuquay-Varina, NC. To see more, visit AX Control.

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Until recently, we knew unicorns were mythical creatures which made an appearance only in Greek literature, the Bible, and Marco Polo’s travels. While not a single unicorn was ever discovered in the real world, these days, we seem to be dealing with a whole bunch of them, especially when it comes to business.

Technology has played a crucial role in small and medium businesses, made startups fashionable. Today we have many unicorns trotting about the business landscape.

The unicorns are celebrated for their successes and business acumen. Essentially, a unicorn is a start-up that is valued over $1 billion. When you think of them, think about, AirBnB, Uber, Xiaomi or even Flipkart. These are the new set of businesses that have disrupted the market in their respected sphere. But companies rise and fall all the time, so one may be tempted to ask what is so magical about these creatures?

The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.

Part of the charm lies in reinventing the business model. They find a better way to do business. It may be a new idea or an improvement over the existing one. They offer a vision; a glimpse of what the future may hold and have an intense desire to grow.

Fuelling these dreams through constant innovation and the ability to adapt quickly. Precisely where some of the giant falter. Large businesses are bogged by internal processes and complexities resulting in delayed decision-making, allowing a start-up to swoop in.

 According to a study by CB Insights, there are around 175 unicorn companies globally.

The Unicorns and the Internet of Things

Many entrepreneurs have realized that IoT/IIOT technologies can level the playing field if they intend to dislodge industry giants. IoT Start-ups are looking to attract consumers or SMBs or large enterprises by increasingly relying on innovation on cloud and edge computing, IoT platforms, Artificial intelligence, IoT networks, IoT security or IoT devices.  Advanced technology is a key differentiator but not the only one- A new business model to attract customers could also become the initiator of a new unicorn.

After five years of exploring the fragmented but rich universe of IoT startups, no new unicorn has yet appeared. The most promising startups have seen their light turned off behind the Tech and Industry Giants check books. Those who are still pursuing their dreams of being unicorns see that the market does not accompany and no longer rely on analysts' predictions.

With all this, we may not see any unicorn of IoT. However, if I had to bet on some startups then these are my suggestions. 

The IoT Application Unicorn

My vote for the startup to become a unicorn in IoT Application category goes to: Uptake

Founded in 2014 by the CEO, Brad Keywell, that was also Co-Founder of Groupon, the company counts with a good number of investors. The company is stealing execs away from GE. (Uptake hiring several General Electric top digital executives) and have raised around $260 million since launching in 2014. Uptake was last valued at more than $2 billion, in fact, this startup is probably the first IoT unicorn. Uptake's revenue run-rate exceeds more than $100 million a year and future rounds of financing are expected.

LinkedIn profile: “Uptake helps industrial companies digitally transform with open, purpose-built software that delivers outcomes that matter. Built on a foundation of data science and machine learning, our vision is to create a world that always works — one where the machines and equipment we depend on daily don’t break, and industrial companies are once again the creators of economic growth and opportunity.”

WHY MY VOTE: Predictive analytics software is hot. The company sells to the mining, rail, energy, aviation, retail and construction industries and hopes to leverage data to improve safety, efficiency and productivity for their clients' operations. In spite his CEO has not accepted my LinkedIn invitation, no surprise to be honest, only 54% approve of CEO in glassdoor, the aggressive campaign against GE could launch the company this year. I like that his employees are sent directly to the field to observe fast hand the needs of its client base so they can really build software that solve real business problems.

ALSO FOLLOWING: FogHorn Systems a developer of “edge intelligence” software for industrial and commercial IoT applications..

The Hardware and Sensor Data platform Unicorn

My vote for the startup to become a unicorn in IoT hardware category goes to: Samsara

Samsara sells hardware and end-to-end solutions for fleet and industrial applications.

Samsara was founded in 2015 by CEO Sanjit Biswas and CTO John Bicket, who previously founded and led Meraki – a successful cloud networking company that was acquired by Cisco in 2012 for $1.2 billion. Samsara is based in San Francisco and was funded by Andreessen Horowitz (Raising $25M in funding). In May 2017, the startup announced that it had secured $40 million in a Series C funding round.

Sanjit Biswas, recognized that “They were definitely not the first to notice the technology trend behind the Internet of Things movement, but they realized no one was building products the way we did at Meraki, by combining hardware, software and cloud into an easy-to-use system”.

LinkedIn profile: “Samsara’s mission is to bring the benefits of sensor data to the organizations that drive our economy—from transportation and logistics to construction, food production, energy, and manufacturing—and to improve the safety, efficiency, and quality of their operations.”

WHY MY VOTE: Although not on this occasion his CEO accepted my invitation to LinkedIn, I like that Samsara disrupts the traditional sensor model with an integrated, software-centric solution. The products combine plug-and-play sensors, wireless connectivity, and rich cloud-hosted software, all tightly-integrated for simple deployment. Samsara is used by customers in a wide variety of industries, from transportation and logistics to energy and manufacturing. The company offers various solutions including fleet, ELD compliance, trailer, industrial, temperature, and power.

By focusing Samsara system for ease of use and streamlining deployments in the field, the teams were able to make several design choices that help them deliver a 10 times overall improvement over traditional solution. Samsara was in the list of “The 20 Fastest Growing IoT Companies” and is demonstrating is able to capture customers  in the fleet management and logistics industry against Verizon. The challenge is growth globally not only in US.

ALSO FOLLOWINGGeotab

The IoT Connectivity Unicorn

My vote for the startup to become unicorn in IoT connectivity category goes to: SigFox

LinkedIn profile: Founded in 2010 by Ludovic Le Moan and Christophe Fourtet, the company is headquartered in Labège near Toulouse, France’s “IoT Valley”. Sigfox provides connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT). The company has built a global network to connect billions of devices to the Internet while consuming as little energy as possible, as simply as possible.

WHY MY VOTE: There are drastic limitations in the Sigfox global network. I could say that this will be the network of the stupid devices, but if they improve the network, ensure scalability, quality and security and allow interoperability with their competitors that will connect the most intelligent devices, then this startup will continue empowering companies to create new innovations on the IoT.

Sources announced that Sigfox is in peril as Senior Execs exit. The company has reacted but the pressure to growth in revenues and network deployment is high. Compete with the Telco Incumbents and the mighty powerful GSMA is a Hercules' own task. Some help from the French government and the EU will be appreciated, so the company can not be acquired. The Board and investors should guarantee the money the company need to comply with the high expectations of the market. In my opinion the window of opportunity is 2020. They have 2 years to demonstrate they can become the IoT-Connectivity unicorn.

ALSO FOLLOWINGActility, Link Labs, and of course the LORA alliance and M2M Service Providers.

The IoT -AI Platform Unicorn

My vote for the startup to become a unicorn in IoT/AI platform category goes to: C3IoT

I have written a lot about IoT platforms and I think that most startups will disappear in 3-5 years or they will never become a digi-unicorn. But there is a special case that can reach the end of the road. Mainly for who is behind, my old CEO Thomas Siebel.

LinkedIn profile: C3 IoT is an AI and IoT software platform provider for digital transformation. C3 IoT delivers a comprehensive and proven platform as a service (PaaS) for rapidly developing, deploying, and operating large-scale AI, predictive analytics, and IoT applications at scale for any enterprise value chain in any industry. At the core of the C3 IoT offering is the revolutionary C3 Type System—an extensible, model-driven AI architecture that dramatically enhances data scientist and application developer productivity. C3 IoT also offers configurable, high-value SaaS products for predictive maintenance, fraud detection, sensor network health, supply chain optimization, energy management, and customer engagement.

WHY MY VOTE: In January 17, 2018, the company announced a new round ($100 Million) of financing by existing investors TPG Growth, Breyer Capital, Sutter Hill, Pat House, and Thomas M. Siebel.

After the sale to Oracle of its CRM business, Tom, could with this new adventure, return to be relevant in the industry and I think he will not allow his new baby to be acquired. Not at least until he makes C3 IOT a unicorn.

ALSO FOLLOWING: The competition in the AI-powered industrial IoT sector is brutal, but the opportunity is big enough that the 10 startups highlighted here still have room to maneuver and time to scale up. I also keep an eye on them because one or more could well be the next unicorn in this hot market.

Key Takeaway:

Not being a IoT unicorn is not a tragedy. Many companies that started in the M2M business or that have been born in the heat of the IoT are doing well. Their employees are happy and satisfied customers guarantee a long life.

In my post “Is it possible to democratize the Internet of Things? How to avoid that a handful of companies can dominate the IoT”, I pointed out the opinion of Ryan Lester (Director of IoT Strategy, Xively by LogMeIn company acquired by Google). Ryan alerted that IoT feels only achievable to those companies with unlimited resources to make it happen. Looks like, the facts have given him the reason.

Yes, I admit, I would like to see unicorns in IoT. I would also like startups not to be obsessed with this issue and not throw in the towel too soon. If they are acquired, their legacy is very likely to be lost soon and in exchange for money they will have lost the opportunity to contribute to changing the world with their unique innovation in IoT.

Thanks in advance for your Likes and your Shares.

References:

http://www.moneycontrol.com/india-business-live-ibl/growth-for-sme/article/unicorns-in-our-midst-7501221.html

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One year ago, I wrote the first part of this article: "Who need an IoT Analyst?". In this first part, I classified the different types of analysts who are involved in one way or another in the Internet of things (IoT).

In this second part, I will address the special case of analysts specializing in IoT Platforms. For them, I have created 4 categories of IoT Platform Analysts (The Powerful, the Specialists, The Opportunist and the Intruders) and then I ranked them following two high level criteria: Technical Experience criteria and Business Experience criteria.  The level of influence is a subjective value based on my own research and perception.  Likewise, the position in terms of technical and business criteria is also subjective. As usual in these graphics some will feel comfortable and I will receive critics from others. Nothing new under the Sun.

Let us start for the Powerful category:

The IoT Platforms Powerful Analysts' Firms

We will never remove at 100% the shadow of doubt flying over the reports and recommendations that prestigious and powerful firms like McKinsey, Gartner, IDC or Forrester continue to publish. But it also true that these multinational companies count with great analysts and they have the contacts with the right people in the Big IoT platform vendors, so they can get not only marketing info but strategic info from these vendors that is nearly impossible to get for others.

Not all the Powerful always agree, just read the Forrester reports of Q4/2016 and Q4/2018 and compare with Gartner report 2018 or IDC report 2017 to see the differences and the reasonable doubts for customers that only read these reports.

In Forrester reports from 2016 and 2018 we see some leaders maintaining their positions while other companies are losing moment, or they are not anymore in the picture.

Surprise even more if you see the Gartner graphic below with no leaders and most companies in the Niche players segment.

Finally, in the IDC Marketspace IoT Platforms picture dated in 2017 we see that Microsoft, PTC and IBM repeat as Leaders but new companies are included. No Contenders neither participants are interested for the guys of IDC.

Recommendation –  In terms of methodology and scope the reports of these Powerful analyst is not so bad, but they lack the in deep analysis firms required for a customer to take a final decision. These reports are valuable to shortlist candidates in RFIs/RFPs and of course the report is an excellent sales tool for companies that appear in the picture. My recommendation is used it for a first filter.

The IoT Platforms Specialist Analysts' Firms

Some of them started with the M2M market and have evolved to the IoT in a gradual way, without losing its essence like ABI Research, Berg Insight, Beecham Research, Harbor Research. Others like MatchManation or IoT Analytics, however, focused from the beginning in the IoT platform market analysis.

The populated market of IoT platform vendors and the need of these startups for brand recognition with low cost marketing, have made it bloom IoT platform specialist analyst firms offering their services.  Their suspense sales strategy can be annoying. Go discovering who is who is not easy and put all the tracks together is expensive. Some examples below. Nevertheless, I want to thanks to some vendors included in the report that allow download partial reports.

Recommendation - The reports of IoT Platform specialists will help us discover some jewels that the Powerful have overlooked or have not wanted to pay to appear in their famous reports. I do not like how these companies use a game-strategy offering partial pictures or partial reports through their most valuated clients or generic pictures with no names. I believe they need to be courageous and present graphics will all companies’ logos. Otherwise they will be continuing in a niche market that soon will be owned for the Big Players.

The Opportunistic Firms

These analyst firms want to take advantage of the IoT platform moment. Companies such as Navigant, IHS market, 451 Research or Constellation Research have published reports on this topic.

Recommendation - I find their IoT reports useful from a vertical or an individual vendor analysis.

The Intruders Firms

There are other firms (The Intruders) that in my opinion are aggregators of content. Companies like Markets and Markets or Data Bridge deliver big reports with excellent pictures, tables and infographics.

Recommendation - Sometimes they provide for free a Table of Contents with dozens of tables, and a list of dozens of IoT platforms info but I am afraid that in 1 page per platform the info sounds irrelevant for take a decision. They facilitate the multi search in Google to identify IoT platform vendors.

Note: I have not included in this article Universities that produce very interesting to read reports including more granular technical criteria than most of the powerful or specialist analyst firms. 

Key Takeaway:

Recommending a client an IoT platform is a very delicate matter. The IoT platform will play a key role in the execution of its IoT strategy. Giving good advice on the choice of these platforms requires a lot of time and dedication with the client to understand their objectives, identify their use cases, know their organization and their IT / OT systems.

The reports of the analysts of IoT platforms, both those of the Powerful and those of specialists help to make a first filter and to select 3 or 4 vendors that best adapt to their needs. Thereafter, these finalists need to be analyzed in greater depth. That is why I decided to create our IoT Platforms services, which have been so successful and well received by our customers.

We value positively that this combination of IoT Platform vendors and IoT platform analysts exists. The Powerful ones help them as always and the small ones help them in their efforts to be noticed in a technological world as little democratic as the present one.

Thanks in advance for your Likes and your Shares.

 

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Those who regularly read my articles know that I like movies and TV series. Just remember my article "About IoT Platforms, Super Powers Methodology, Superheroes and Supervillains".

This time my article is dedicated to the two trilogies: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World (the latter still pending the third movie).

 

Have not passed millions of years since the appearance of the first telemetry species and their evolved cousins of Machine to Machine (M2M.) But the tempo in technology is measured differently. The unit of time here has to do with Gartner Hype Cycle. For Gartner the technologies pass quickly from Innovation Trigger to Productivity. Companies that want to appear in Gartner´s  Magic Quadrants have to adopt successfully these technologies or are condemned to  disappear.

 

Large companies that have been in the IT world for more than 15 years seem like dinosaurs and they themselves are afraid of disappearing because of a meteorite (IoT metaphorically).

 

In this article I present some technology companies that we could consider as dinosaurs and that are undergoing a cloning (transformation) to adapt to the new world of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence(AI) or Blockchain.

 

As usual in this type of articles, the included companies and the classification is subjective. Therefore, not all dinosaurs are represented (47 species of cloned animals have been portrayed in the novels and films) nor all companies can feel be represented by the dinosaur that I have chosen for them.

 

Welcome to my Jurassic World of IoT.

The threats to these cloned dinosaurs are constant. Despite its size and strength many predators lurk to take down these giants (Uptake digital safe package over GE Digital).

Some species go in packs (Google and Ayla Networks or Microsoft and Electric Imp) to survive and others seek alliances with other cousins giants (Rockwell to take $1 billion stake in software maker PTC) the best way to reign in its territory.

 

There are also dinosaurs in the WestWorld of the Telcos and in the world of Industrial companies that are adapting or cloning, but that is another story.

 

Your comments and suggestions can vary my Jurassic World table of the IoT.

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The internet of things is huge right now. Where is it headed? What is the future of IoT? Take a look at our infographic to understand what exactly the internet of things is and some intriguing statistics on where it is headed.
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The dream of making money with IoT, AI and Blockchain

Have you ever think about how could you make money with the Internet of Things (IoT) or Artificial Intelligence (AI) and of course with Blockchain?  What would happen if you could use the three of them in a new business model?.  Apparently, Success, Success and Success.

In the next sections I provide information of some business models implemented with these three technologies.

IoT Business Models

As IoT moves past its infancy, certain trends and economic realities are becoming clear. Perhaps the most significant of those is the realisation that traditional hardware business models just don’t work in IoT. Take a look at “The top 5 most successful IoT business models” that have emerged as particularly effective applications for IoT.

If any of you is building an IoT product, this article ” IoT Business Models For Monetizing Your IoT Product”  show how to make money with IoT.

Zack Supalla, the founder and CEO of Particle, an Internet of Things (IoT) startup, suggest “6 ways to make money in IoT”.

Finally, in “How IoT is Spawning Better Business Models” we can read three ways companies like Rolls Royce, Peloton, MTailor or STYR Lab  was rethinking their business model and have created revolution in the marketplace. 

Blockchain Business Models 

It sounds repetitive, but yes "Blockchain technology may disrupt the existing business models”. The authors´ s findings concerning the implications of blockchain technology for business models are summarised in the following picture.

 

Do you think that blockchain will likely to cut into big-players’ revenues? Then, this article: “New Blockchain-Based Business Models Set to Disrupt Facebook and Others”, is for you.

If you are ambitious and you are planning to build a viable business on blockchain, then read “Building an International Business Model on Blockchain”.

I am also an advocate of the coming era of decentralization (at least in my most optimistic version) and Blockchain is a step more to create value when the End of All Corporate Business Models will arrive.

AI Business Models 

Companies from all industries, of all shapes and sizes are thus faced with an important set of questions: Which AI business models and applications can I use ? And what technologies and infrastructures are required?.

It seems that we all are convinced that artificial intelligence is now the most important general-purpose technology in the world that can drive changes at existing business models. Not surprised then, that  AI is Revolutionizing Business Models.  The “data trap” strategy, that in venture capitalist Matt Turck’s words consists of offering (often for free) products that can initialize a data network effect. In addition, the user experience and the design are becoming tangibly relevant for AI, and this creates friction in early stage companies with limited resources to be allocated between engineers, business, and design.

This article introduces  some good examples of AI business models :

New Business models with the intersection of IoT, AI and Blockchain

With IoT we are connecting the Digital to the Physical world. Connected objects offers a host of new opportunities for companies, especially in terms of creating new services. The amount of data generated by the billions of connected objects will be the perfect complementary feed to many AI applications. Finally, blockchain technology could be used to secure the ‘internet of things’ and create smart contracts in a decentralized infrastructure that boost the democratization of technology and creation of sustainable communities.

You must remember that new business models that include IoT, AI and blockchain need among other characteristics: Volume and Scalability. Volume of devices, Volume of data, Volume of customers, volume of developers and powerful ecosystems to escalate. 

Good luck in your search and implementation of your new business model.

Thanks for your Likes, Comments and Shares

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Too much time waiting for the IoT year

After years of waiting for my wishes to finally come true that it was finally the year of IoT, I give up. There will be no IoT year. Other technologies are usurping the dubious privilege of leading the technology bubble. Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence are now much cooler.

As has happened on many previous occasions, the IoT will be replaced by other acronyms that will make you forget bad experiences and failed expectations. And with the new acronyms the illusions of those of us who continue to trust in the beneficial implications that the "new IoT" will bring to society will appear again.

Event Organizers were the first to notice the decline of IoT

The first to realize this situation were the organizers of IoT events. If a couple of years ago the weight of the new secondary on stage (Blockchain and AI) did not seem worrying to detract from the main actor (#internetofthings). Now they are the stars and the IoT is marginalized and surrounded by other technologies, badly hurt and melancholy.

Quo Vadis IoT events ?

Will IoT events disappear? Sure. Doesn’t matter if is in 2 or 3 years, but IoT only events will not make sense. In the last 3 months I attended several IoT events in London, Amsterdam, Madrid, Bilbao. I see a slow decline and transformation of #IoT events. Most of them do not satisfy my expectation. I am tired and saturated of see the same tired case studies parroted over and over again.

As my friend Rick Bullotta, I'd like to see some more innovative stories, some failure stories/lessons learned, some HARD FACTS about how long it looks to build, what it cost to build, return on investment.

Of course, we will continue seeing IoT companies, products and services in the Big Events like CES in Las Vega, MWC in Barcelona or Cebit and Hanover Messe in Germany or in industry specific events or company specific events like PTC LiveWorx or Bosch ConnectedWorld .  But the same way that we do not see today Internet events we will not see Internet of Things events beyond 2020. It will be a good sign because the Hype will have disappeared and the reality and the market will have been imposed.

                                                 Thanks for your Likes, Comments and Shares                  

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We are in the dawn of a new cyber society. A society where organizations shall design plans to utilize the unique skillsets of both AI Systems and humans. A society where Humans and AI systems shall work and live together and without fear. A society where humans shall use newfound time and freedom to advance strategic skills and individual talents.
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As the Global PM and CTO for Lumada, it's been a rewarding journey to create a portable Industrial #IoT platform that could run at the Edge on a factory floor, in a train, inside a data center or in any hyper-scale public cloud.

This composable platform (use just what you need for your specific use case) combined with our revolutionary Asset Avatars (Digital Twins) that bring Lumada to life, is the very definition of "Visionary." I also want to send a big congratulations to our Visionary friends at PTC (ThingWorx) and SAP (Leonardo).

Our #Lumada #IIoT platform coupled w/ our IoT Hardware Appliance takes you from #Edge to #Cloud.

Thanks to all the Hitachi collaborators, colleagues and friends I was lucky enough to take this journey with.

Get a free copy of the Gartner report here:
https://www.hitachivantara.com/ext/gartner-magic-quadrant-for-industrial-iot.html

-Rob

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After years of evangelization waiting for the promises of the Internet of Things (IoT) to come true it seems that we are finally close to reaching the trough of disillusionment phase, we begin to forget all the hype generated so far and focus on reality. A harsh reality that involves selling IoT and not continue selling smoke anymore

THE TIME TO SELL IoT IS NOW

The sale of IoT is perhaps more complex than the sale of other disruptive technologies such as Big Data, Cloud or AI and maybe as complex as Blockchain today.  In the article “ Welcome to the first “Selling IoT” Master Class!” I commented how it should be  the evolution of M2M Vendors for sell IoT and how should be the evolution of IT Technology Vendors for sell IoT. However, many of these companies still have difficulty in forming and finding good sellers of IoT

The truth is that nowadays it does not make any sense to sell IoT as a technology. Enterprise buyers only want to buy solutions that provide measurable business outcomes while, in the other side, many IoT Vendors only want to sell their portfolio of products and services that have been categorized under the umbrella of IoT, either as quickly as possible or at the lowest possible cost.

During last 5 years, I have been analysing how IoT companies sell their products and services. Some of my customers (Start-ups, Device vendors, Telco Operators, Platform vendors, Distributors, Industry Applications, System Integrators) requested me to create IoT sales material to train their sales team about how to sell their IoT solutions and services. And sometimes I also helped Head Hunters or customers searching for IoT sales experts

Based on this varied experience I have launched this year a new service: “IoT Sales Workshops” to help companies train their internal teams in how to sell IoT. Here are some of the lessons I learned

  • There is a time for act as an IoT Sales generalist and a time for act as an IoT Specialist.
  • You need to adapt the IoT storytelling based on your audience.
  • Being an IoT expert is not synonymous with being successful in selling IoT.
  • You need to show how companies can get more out of IoT by solving a specific business problem.
  • Make it easy for the customer to see the benefits of your IoT product or IoT service and what is the value you are adding.
  • Given the complexity and specialization of IoT by vertical, explain companies the need to focus more closely at business cases, on their IoT business model as well as the ROI over three to four years before jumping into technology.
  • You need to be patient because IoT selling is not easy and takes time align strategy and business needs with the IoT products and services you are selling.
  • Build a strong ecosystem and make easy the customer the adoption of end to end IoT solution collaborating with your partners.
  • Train your IoT Business and Technical experts to get better at telling stories. Design a new marketing and sales communications playbook. Keep it simple. Build your narrative from the foundation up – one idea at a time.
  • If you want an IoT sales expert you need to pay for it (not expect miracles from external sales agents working on commission base).
  • IoT Sales is a full-time job. You will not have time to other enterprise activities.
  • Selling IoT to large enterprises is a teamwork process.
  • Be Persistent. Do not expect big deals soon.
  • Be Passionate, Be Ambitious, Be Disruptive to sell IoT.

Summary

I do not consider myself an IoT sales expert. And of course, neither a superman of sales. In fact, I have shied away from classifying myself in the role of a pure salesperson even though over time I have given a weight and value to this work that once seemed derogatory to me.

Sell IoT is not easy. In a few years we will have forgotten of the word IoT and we will be selling new hypes, but in the mean time you need to be prepared for disillusionment moments, long sales cycles and a lot of work with sometimes poor results. However, I do not know if will be 2020, suddenly if you persevere you probably will be awarded as the best IoT sales expert and you finally will earn a lot of money.

Be Persistent, Be Passionate, Be Ambitious, Be Disruptive to sell IoT

 

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IoT Evolution or IoT Revolution

During all these years evangelizing on the Internet of Things (IoT), I have been explaining to customers, partners and friends that IoT can positively change the way we do business and the way we live our lives.  I have been asked if IoT is a new revolution in our society, or it is just one more step in the technological evolution of the he digital revolution. Today, the debate continues but whether evolution or revolution, The Internet of Things is here to stay.

If you have read AIG´s whitepaper entitled “Internet of Things: Evolution or Revolution?” you learned IoT, from its origins, to its applications in business, the risks associated with its inevitable arrival and how with the IoT is coming bringing dramatic changes. In the whitepaper we discover that in spite IoT is often presented as a revolution that is changing the face of society or the industry in a profound manner. It is an evolution that has its origins in technologies and functionalities developed by visionary automation suppliers more than 15 years ago

I definitely think it’s an evolution

The development of the Internet of Things is a bold move. IoT is not just a leap from the Internet. The Internet of Things brings with it an evolutionary force that we rarely see in technology.

It is important not scare the most conservative enterprises. It is not about ripping out current automation systems to replace them with new technologies. End users will resist rapid and radical change because of the increased risk of downtime and associated costs.

I think that this debate should be framed in a more general question. What Age period are we living?

 

The Connected Age or the Age of Sensorization

I consider the start of the Connected Age when the Internet of Things term was coined by Kevin Ashton executive director of the Auto-ID Center as the title of a presentation he made at Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 1999. Probably Kevin envisioned that the move to sensorization will transform every industry in the world.  In the Age of Sensorization, it’s possible to make more accurate and quantifiable assessments using real time sensor based information.

The main driving force behind the Connected Age is data – data that can be collected, data that can be analysed, data can be shared and data can be used to improve many service offerings.

Data is the new oil in this AgeThe global sensorization is driving new ideas and thoughts that will ultimately drive innovation in our personal, business and working lives. Sensor´s data is opening up new opportunities, driving new business models and taking innovation to new levelsNo doubt that sensors’ data is a valuable commodity. The European Commission has proposed to impose a tax on the revenue of digital companies based on their users’ location, on the grounds that “a significant part of the value of a business is created where the users are based and data is collected and processed.”

We are still living in the Connected Age. I expect this Age ends in 2025, no because there will not be more things to connect but because is when most of things will become intelligent and start controlled by robotsThe Robotic Age or the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Reading Genesis of AI: The First Hype Cycle, I  rediscovered how Artificial Intelligence (AI) was born and evotution till now. But it was after I read Your Data Is Crucial to a Robotic Age. Shouldn’t You Be Paid for It? I realised maybe I was wrong and we already living the final years of the Connected Age and we are entering before 2025 , not without a certain fear, the Robotic Age.

According to IDC: ”By 2019, 40% of digital transformation initiatives – and 100% of IoT initiatives – will be supported by AI capabilities.

Qualcomm envision a world where edge AI makes devices, machines, automobiles, and things much more intelligent, simplifying and enriching our daily lives.

AI has emerged as the most exciting capability in today’s technology landscape. It’s potential is rich in large, complex organizations that generate massive amounts of data that can be fed into AI systems.

Data is the crucial ingredient of the AI revolution. We can envision that  AI -driven companies will represent the future of broader parts of the economy and  we may be headed for a world where labor’s share falls dramatically from its current roughly 70 percent to something closer to 20 to 30. At the same time the number of robots will increase and be part of the society.

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence have reached a crucial point in their evolution. A robot is no longer just a mechanical device capable of interacting with its environment and carrying out an assigned task. At present, the main research laboratories all over the world are developing and implementing in sophisticated robots technical, practical and even philosophical tools. Nevertheless, we can not forget that there are still problems in the land of AI.

Could we avoid psychopath and sociopath robots?

Companies need to move quickly to embrace AI so that they can support the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) and deliver the kinds of services customers are demanding.

Finally, if your company is thinking about Build or Buy Artificial Intelligence, take a look at this article.

The Cognitive Age

The cognitive revolution was a period during the 1950s-1960s when cognitive psychology replaced Behaviourism and Psychoanalysis as the main approach in psychological fields. Increasing focus was placed on observable behaviours in conjunction with brain activity and structureFor those of you who believe the mind the centre of all things, David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, wrote two editorials  that point to wider transformations that are shaping the world in which we liveWe could consider the start of Cognitive Age when Facebook abandoned an experiment after two artificially intelligent programs appeared to be chatting to each other in a strange language only they understood. The two chatbots came to create their own changes to English that made it easier for them to work – but which remained mysterious to the human.

Are we sure Facebook shut down Its Artificial Intelligence Program?  Facebook not the only company or government running secrete AI programs. Are you scaredThere are many myths about Cognitive. This article pusblished by Deloitte the Consulting company help dispel five of the most persistent myths.

  • Myth 1: Cognitive is all about automation
  • Myth 2: Cognitive kills jobs
  • Myth 3: The financial benefits are still remote
  • Myth 4: AI is overhyped and bound to disappoint
  • Myth 5: Cognitive technology is just for ‘moonshots’

We need to start thinking how to  prepare ourselves and our business for the Cognitive Age.” As I explain in “Bring Your Own Cyber Human (BYOCH) – Part 1: Augmented humans” we are in the path to being cyber humans. To live in the Cognitive Age, I encourage companies to invest in how to enhance our senses and to increase our intelligence to compete and win over robots.

Key Takeaways

The Connected Age is a fact. ARM is predicting 1 trillion IoT devices will be built until 2035.  For those who think that the IoT is a revolution, not be worried because we are just simply in an evolutionary process.

With the introduction of AI and machine learning, enterprises will be able to embark on projects never thought possible before. The Robotics Age is going to be a great challenge for humanity. The fear of being inferior to our creation, not being able to control them, to compete with machines for a job, to have to obey them will really mean the beginning of a revolution.

What does AI mean for the future?. What will be the implications and the risks? Will AI really understand humans?. With the current skills humanity will be in inferiority to face the cognitive systems that will populate Cognitive Age.  That is why I encourage governments, private laboratories and researchers to work on  Augmented Humans projects if we do not want to be slaves to our uncontrolled inventions.

Thanks for your Likes and Comments.

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What is a smart city? The answer depends on who you ask. Solutions providers will tell you it’s smart parking, smart lighting or anything to do with technology. City officials may tell you it’s about conducting city business online, such as searching records or applying for permits. City residents may tell you it’s the ease of getting around, or about crime reduction. Everyone is right. A smart city, built properly, will have different value for different stakeholders. They may not think of their city as a “smart”city. They know it only as a place they want to live in, work in, and be a part of. To build this type of city, you have to first build the smart city ecosystem.

 

A smart city is built on technology, but focused on outcomes

A scan of the various smart city definitions found that technology is a common element. For example, TechTarget defines a smart city as “a municipality that uses information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve both the quality of government services and citizen welfare”. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) envisions a smart city as one that brings together technology, government and society to enable the following characteristics: a smart economy, smart mobility, a smart environment, smart people, smart living, smart governance.

But what does a smart city really do? Our scan of smart city projects worldwide showed that initiatives fell into one or more smart city “outcomes” (Figure One).

Figure One. Smart city projects are aligned to one of seven outcomes.

 

As a starting point, we define a smart city is one that uses technology extensively to achieve key outcomes for its various stakeholders, including residents, businesses, municipal organizations and visitors.

 

The smart city ecosystem framework

Figure Two shows our framework for a smart city ecosystem. A vibrant and sustainable city is an ecosystem comprised of people, organizations and businesses, policies, laws and processes integrated together to create the desired outcomes shown in Figure One. This city is adaptive, responsive and always relevant to all those who live, work in and visit the city. A smart city integrates technology to accelerate, facilitate, and transform this ecosystem.

Figure Two. The smart city ecosystem framework.

 

Four types of value creators

There are four types of value creators in the smart city ecosystem. They create and consume value around one of the outcomes listed in Figure One.

When people think of a smart city, they automatically think of services provided by municipal and quasi-government agencies, such as smart parking, smart water management, smart lighting, and so on. In fact, there are three other value providers and users that co-exist in the smart city – businesses and organizations, communities, and residents.

Businesses and organizations may create services that use and create information to create outcomes for its stakeholders. Some examples of “smart” businesses include Uber and Lyft for personal mobility, NextDoor for information sharing, and Waze/Google for traffic and commute planning.

Communities are miniature smart cities, but with very localized needs. Some examples of potential smart communities include university campuses, office parks, airports, cargo ports, multi-dwelling unit (MDU) or apartment complexes, housing developments/neighborhoods, business districts and even individual “smart” buildings. They have needs for smart services that may be tailored specifically for their stakeholders.

Residents or individual citizens are also smart services providers in the smart city. A resident living near a dangerous street intersection can point a camera at the intersection and stream that information live to traffic planners and police. Residents place air quality measurement sensors on their properties to monitor pollution and pollen levels during certain times of the year, and make that information available to other community members. Residents can choose to make these smart services temporary or permanent, and free or fee based.

 

The Smart City is built on layers

A smart city is an ecosystem comprised of multiple “capability layers”. While technology is a critical enabler, it is just one of many foundational capabilities that every smart city must have. No one capability is more important than the rest. Each capabilities plays a different role in the smart city. These capabilities must integrate and coordinate with each other to carry out its mission.

 

Value layer. This is the most visible layer for city residents, businesses, visitors, workers, students, tourists and others. This layer is the catalog of smart city services or “use cases”, centered around the outcomes (Figure One), and offered by value creators and consumed by the city stakeholders.

Innovation layer. To stay relevant, value creators in the smart city must continuously innovate and update its services for its stakeholders. Smart cities proactively facilitate this through a variety of innovation programs, including labs, innovation zones, training, ideation workshops, skills development and partnerships with universities and businesses.

Governance, management and operations layer. The smart city creates disruption and results in digital transformation of existing processes and services. Smart city management models must integrate a new ecosystem of value creators and innovators. They must plan, support and monetize new business models, processes and services. They must upgrade their existing infrastructure and management processes to support “smart” services. Finally, they must measure the performance of the city with a new set of metrics.

Policy, processes, and public-private partnerships, and financing layer. The smart city doesn’t just magically appear one day. An entirely new set of engagement models, rules, financing sources, and partners are required to build, operate and maintain the smart city. Cities must develop a new set of “smart” competencies in order to get and stay in the “smart city game”.

Information and data layer. The lifeblood of the smart city is information. The smart city must facilitate this in several ways, including open data initiatives, data marketplaces, analytics services, and monetization policies. Equally important, they must have programs that encourage data sharing and privacy policies to protect what and how data is gathered.

Connectivity, accessibility and security layer. People, things and systems are interconnected in the smart city. The ability to seamlessly connect all three, manage and verify who and what is connected and shared, while protecting the information and users is crucial. The highest priorities for smart cities are to provide a seamless layer of trusted connections.

Smart city technology infrastructure layer. Most people automatically think of technology when talking about smart cities. The smart city technology infrastructure must scale beyond the traditional municipal users and support a new class of value creators, and city/user stakeholders.

 

Leveraging the smart city ecosystem framework

The smart city is a complex ecosystem of people, processes, policies, technology and other enablers working together to deliver a set of outcomes. The smart city is not “owned” exclusively by the city. Other value creators are also involved, sometimes working in collaboration and sometimes by themselves. Successful and sustainable smart cities take a programmatic approach to engage its stakeholders across the ecosystem.

Our research has found that many cities are not taking an ecosystem approach to smart city projects. This is due in part to smart city projects being managed by the Information Technology (IT) organization where their charter is on systems development and deployment. In contrast, more experienced smart cities manage their smart city programs through internal cross functional “Transformation” or “Innovation” organizations.

Regardless of where cities are in their smart city journey, they must get ahead of the “curve” with smart city projects. They begin by thinking in terms of building the broader ecosystem in order to create a sustainable and scalable smart city. Key next steps include:

  1. Understand the smart city ecosystem framework and tailor it to the realities of their specific city. Incorporate this model into the development of their smart city vision, strategy and execution plans.
  2. Relative to the smart city ecosystem framework, identify current capabilities and gaps across the various layers. Understand what is needed to support the four types of value creators.
  3. Evaluate existing and new smart city projects and initiatives against the ecosystem framework. Use this framework to identify what is missing from the project plans and what is needed to make the projects fully successful.
  4. Prioritize and develop competencies across the various ecosystem layers. A smart city requires new skills and competencies. Augment existing capabilities through strategic partnerships and contracting with service providers, as required.

 

About:

Benson Chan is an innovation catalyst at Strategy of Things, helping companies transform the Internet of Things into the Innovation of Things through its innovation laboratory, research analyst, consulting and acceleration (execution) services. He has over 25 years of scaling innovative businesses and bringing innovations to market for Fortune 500 and start-up companies. Benson shares his deep experiences in strategy, business development, marketing, product management, engineering and operations management to help IoTCentral readers address strategic and practical IoT issues.

This post was co-authored with Renil Paramel, an IoT Innovation Catalyst, Strategist and Senior Partner at Strategy of Things.

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