Biz of Things

Business of things

You Invested, You Innovated, and You Implemented IoT…But Where is the Money?

As the Internet of Things continues to charge towards the peak of Gartner’s Hype Cycle, more companies are making investments, sometimes substantial, into IoT technology. Gartner is expecting a total investment into IoT of $1.7 billion in 2017, with a total of 8.4 billion connected devices. The IoT vision being published across the internet is tantalizing; more connectivity leads to more data collection, more data collection leads to more insights, and more insights lead to more money. That is the IoT elevator pitch, and in many cases, such as with GE, Honeywell, and John Deere, that promise is being realized into a significant return on investment. On the other hand, many businesses are not realizing revenue from their IoT investments, and are left wondering why. They have well-designed things that are connected to the internet, a platform to collect, transfer and analyze data, and they have data; so why aren’t so many of these IoT investments getting off the ground?

The first reason might be that the organization is not aligned with the IoT vision, and does not know how to carry out that vision. If you have ever worked for a large corporation, you …

Transformative IoT Products Come from Transformed Organizations

As startups continue to develop amazing IoT consumer devices, large corporations are taking notice. The success of Grush and Kolibree seemingly spurred Oral B to create a connected toothbrush; Sensoria’s smart running socks appear to have inspired Under Armour’s new line of smart running shoes, and Whirlpool and Kenmore have added a connected washer and dryer to their product lines. With more and more time-tested companies adding connectivity to their product lines, competitors are taking notice and are scrambling to add connectivity and analytics to their own product lines. Going from selling “regular” products to selling “smart” products requires more than simply adding Internet capabilities to an existing product; it requires a complete digital transformation across the organization. Digital technology will not succeed as an isolated offering; an organizational mindset across departments, employee talent, and leadership must “bleed digital” in order to successfully transform a product or an organization.

Organizational Mindset Across Functions

When a company begins to foray into the digital space, it is crucial that each area of the business adopts a digital mindset. If your company plans to develop a smart product that collects and stores large amounts of data, new possibilities …

Most Homes Don’t Have One Person Who Can Administer the Internet, So Who Will Administer All These Devices?

IoT products are providing significant value in making consumers’ lives easier. Coffee being brewed as soon as the morning alarm sounds, automated temperature control, and laundry detergent replenishment are all aimed to remove friction and help streamline people’s everyday lives. That’s great when it all works, but now that these smart products are connected to the Internet, who is going to administer them? Most of us have had our lives put on hold at one point by a cable or internet outage. With IoT, that same outage will cause inconvenience on a much larger scale. Most households are lucky enough to have one person who can set up the home network, password, and troubleshoot any interruptions. Now with many household and office devices connected to the internet; some via WiFi, some with Zigbee, and others through LTE, there will need to be a great deal of technology savvy in the home or office to alleviate any network issues that could render these smart devices useless.

In order for IoT devices to succeed in the consumer space outside of Silicon Valley, it is imperative that companies assume that customers have zero technical know-how and that they …

Connected Devices Are Transforming Everyday Products into Services for Customers

With new smart products hitting the market almost daily, IoT is changing the way we look at consumer products and workplace equipment, in a variety of ways. We can interact with these products in new ways, we can gather insights from these products that we could never get before, and we can use these products to automate the mundane tasks that have slowed us down in our lives. However, there is one significant change that may not be as obvious at first glance that will mean everything to the success of an IoT company. Household appliances and office equipment will no longer interface with us simply as products, but in most cases will provide a service. IoT is revolutionizing how product companies maintain relationships with their customers as service providers in the following ways:

1) Companies can proactively monitor and troubleshoot your products before they fail

With the ability to monitor the devices over the Internet, companies will be able to notice symptoms of failure, diagnose the problem remotely and troubleshoot the device by sending a patch over the internet, or sending a technician to come and fix the problem. Due to the ability to …

Too Much Focus On the Product Instead of the Customer is Hurting Consumer IoT Adoption

Day one of the Smart Home Summit in Palo Alto was humming with energy this past Tuesday. Although the space was tight, the turnout and participation from both speakers and conference goers was great. Something that certainly caught my attention was from the opening keynote all the way through the end of the day, there was one overarching theme above all else: smart home players and products have increased as expected since the conference a year ago, but customer adoption has not come close to meeting expectations. People had various opinions as to why this is so, pointing at cost, lack of interoperability and weak go-to-market strategies. Though these are all certainly contributors to the problem, I believe that smart product builders are getting so lost in the innovative technology and dazzling new insights collected from these shiny new devices, that industry leaders are forgetting the basic principles of customer experience. People want a product that saves time, money, or adds control in their lives, but will not be willing to pay a premium if interfacing with the device adds more work or an adjustment to the current way of doing things.

Every successful business …

Indoor Localization Will Bring Similar Value to Businesses as GPS Has Brought to Consumers

Let’s face it, GPS has completely changed our lives. As someone who is directionally challenged, every time I step in my car I am thankful that I have Google Maps to direct me to my destination. No need to pull over and look at the map, and no need to print Mapquest directions the night before and read through the list as I drive. Most importantly, when I’m craving Chipotle, my map takes me to Chipotle. I frequently think about how much value GPS has added to most every person’s life. Not only does GPS save people the time and mental energy it takes to plan a route, it allows them to make on the fly decision as to what comes next in their day with minimal friction. Think about how much value can be added if we could do the same thing, indoors.

Indoor localization is something that universities and research labs have been working on for years. Indoor localization uses what is called an Indoor Positioning System(IPS) to locate people or objects by transmitting radio frequency waves throughout an indoor setting. When a frequency wave reflects off a person or an object, the …

Highlights from IoT Tech Expo 2016, North America

Last week I attended the IoT Tech Expo, North America, in Santa Clara California. After trudging through a mostly empty and uninspiring Wearable Technology Show a couple of weeks back, my expectations were not very high. That may have been a good thing, since the attendance, keynotes, and content blew my mind. With months of marketing efforts in discussion groups and in advertising, I would like to commend the IoT Tech Expo organizers for doing a tremendous job in putting together the event. The conference tracks consisted of a good mix of keynote presentations and expert panels in Developing & IoT Tech, Wearable, IoT Innovations, Connected Industry, Smart Cities, Connected Services, Data & Security and Connected Living. Below are some of the themes I gathered from the two-day event.

Connectivity Wars

There would not be an IoT event without representatives from the different connectivity alliances debating the benefits and drawbacks of various connectivity protocols. LoRa had a large presence at the show, as did Zigbee and Verizon. Comcast and Orange also made their presence known at the show, both of whom were advocating LoRa, since both recently adopted LoRa’s network as part of their new …

Zentri’s Platform Recognizes the Value of Partnerships in the IoT Ecosystem

In my latest post, Zentri is Providing an Open Platform That Will Bring Your Product into the Connected World, I discussed how Zentri is taking an open approach in providing its customers with an easy to implement connectivity, security and device management platform. As new business models develop with the Internet of Things, I believe the best way to integrate with the rest of the connected world is to form strong alliances with competing and complementing product and service providers in the space. Nick Dutton, Head of Business Development, and Julie Mullins, Marketing Manager at Zentri kindly shared their view regarding how partnerships are critical to their business as an IoT service provider.

Bringing In The Hardware

Though Zentri has quite a stellar line of hardware modules, they are open to having their customers run the ZentriOS operating system on modules produced by other manufacturers. Zentri initially launched their long line of hardware to ensure that the operating system can run over a variety of silicon solutions, work with different radio solutions and with different technology. Creating these modules not only allowed the company to create a suitable business by selling hardware, but more …

Zentri is Providing an Open Platform That Will Bring Your Product into the Connected World

When an IoT developer is searching for a platform to connect and secure their product, they will typically run into a plethora of options which at first glance may look the same. In reality, the term “platform” is very vague, as different platforms provide different options, capabilities and varying degrees of flexibility. One of the platforms I find most intriguing is Zentri, which focuses on its mission to connect, secure, and manage its customers’ devices through its device management tool; while also offering product lines in various stages of the IoT prototype to scale spectrum, from hardware development to connectivity to cloud storage and analytics. I had the opportunity to chat with Nick Dutton, Head of Business Development, and Julie Mullins, Marketing Manager at Zentri. It was a great experience not only learning about their platform and their company goals, but also learning about how they view the entire IoT ecosystem, and the current challenges it faces.

A Flexible Way to Get Customers Connected 

The first thing that stood out to me in our conversation was how lightweight and flexible the Zentri platform is. The tone of the entire conversation revolved around providing their customers …

Jabil’s Digital Transformation Will Disrupt Supply Chain by Boosting Customer Engagement

The supply chain industry has been integral to global commerce since the time companies started building products. With cutting edge breakthroughs in technology, machines have become more efficient and products are delivered faster. However, there is still little visibility into the process itself. Due to the number of stages involved in the supply chain process, it may take suppliers an extended period of time to design, manufacture, assemble, package and deliver products ready for retail. Since most product owners typically have relationships with multiple suppliers, many times they find themselves lost in the process; unaware of risks to their product cycle due to inefficiencies in the supply chain or unforeseen circumstances. Jabil Circuit Inc, one of the largest manufacturers in the world, moving over 700,000 parts across a global network of more than 17,000 suppliers sourced from more than 30 countries, is about to disrupt the supply chain industry by utilizing Internet of Things (IoT) technology to digitize a process that has been mostly unchanged for several decades.

Today, Jabil has announced it will release new managed services powered by its InControl™ Intelligent Digital Supply Chain and Procurement Intelligence Platform. Before we get into …

Radius Innovation and Development Launches Innovation Acceleration Services That Will Turn Your IoT Idea into a Product….Fast

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been one of the hottest buzzwords of the last few years. Entrepreneurs are scrambling to find ways to solve problems and generate new opportunities using connected devices and established businesses are beginning to develop smart products to get ahead of the competition in the digital age. Anyone who has tried to create an IoT solution knows that developing and implementing a connected product is not easy. Whereas mobility opened countless doors, allowing mobile apps to be developed in droves. IoT was a different story. A product that would add value required an application, hardware and integration with a still developing ecosystem. And that was only the beginning. IoT entrepreneurs still had to choose the right protocols and technologies for their solution, secure the product, and gain insights from the right data points in order to add business value and justify the high cost of production. And on top of that, every business model changes with IoT to account for the high cost, difficulty of production, requirement for partnerships and service-oriented nature of a connected product. The Internet of Things can only succeed if there are more comprehensive solution providers …

Businesses are Realizing They Need IoT to Grow Value…..and Here is the Proof

A year ago, I started myself on a path far removed from anything I have done before. I decided to dedicate myself to the Internet of Things, not because of the shiny new toys it provides like smart watches or autonomous cars, but because I believed that IoT will change business as we know it, no matter what company you are or what industry segment your company is in. In 2016, we are finally seeing the arrival of IoT. Businesses in all segments are allocating budgets toward IoT technology and are finding ways to utilize this technology to increase their bottom line. Those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning know that I believe partnerships between tech and non-tech companies will be vital to the impact this technology will have on our world. This notion is coming to fruition, both in terms of pure partnerships with startups, and with acquisitions by bigger corporations.

According to a report released by Ernst and Young last week, the second quarter of 2016 saw the third highest global technology mergers and acquisition value ever. A large majority of acquired companies were in the Internet of Things …

Dash to Dominance – How Amazon’s Masterful Utilization of IoT Technology Will Keep Them at the Pinnacle of Ecommerce

Amazon, our beloved online bookstore, has been making a lot of moves these days, some of which people cannot understand. Let’s start with the infamous Amazon Dash buttons. For those who do not know what they are, they are small devices topped with a push button that allow consumers to order and pay for a single household item they need to restock, with the press of a button. There is one button for a single product, so those who want to replenish fifty items in their house will need fifty buttons. When Amazon first released these Dash Buttons in March of 2015, the release was met with…well…laughter and confusion; so much so that many folks on the internet and in social media suggested that the announcement was just an April Fool’s joke. Now that reality has set in, the same people who thought it was a joke now seem to think that it is just a futile product by Amazon, one that was poorly planned and destined to fall off the same cliff as Google Glass. I would agree with that sentiment if the Dash Button was Amazon’s end game, but it is …

Pokemon Go is Giving Us a Preview of the Potential Dangers of AR Smart Glass Wearables

Unless you live under a rock, you either play Pokemon Go, have seen someone play Pokemon Go, or at the very least have heard about the craze that is Pokemon Go. You probably have also heard about some of the accidents that have resulted from people being glued to the pseudo-augmented reality game. Pokemon Go, or the people playing Pokemon Go, have caused car accidents across America, led two people off a cliff, and made trespassing a new trend. It has gotten so crazy that Israel has issued a Pokemon Go warning, and a Russian bank is selling Pokemon Go accident insurance. The good thing is, I never plan to play Pokemon Go, and I do not care about Pokemon Go. However, I do care about IoT, and Pokemon Go is providing a good warning as to the dangers that IoT products such as smart wearable glasses may bring.

The Internet of Things is preparing to take enterprise by storm, and many enterprise smart solutions require workers to wear smart glasses equipped with augmented reality technology to allow workers to collect more information to better perform in their day jobs. I myself …

Thread Group – OCF Alliance: What This Means for Standardization

Yesterday, big news broke in the IoT world, with Thread Group announcing a partnership with Open Connectivity Foundation to create interoperability between the application layer and the wireless mesh network layer. While most in the industry rejoiced due to this big step towards IoT interoperability, I believe there are still many questions that need to be answered, about the consortium’s motives, and its ability to expand, and convince others in the ecosystem to fall in line.

Thread May Be IoT’s TCP/IP

Since its formation in 2014, Thread has made a significant case to be the standard for IoT networking protocol. By using standard 6LoWPAN, Thread enables IPv6 communication over existing IEEE 802.15.4 radio silicon networks.This allows IPv6 packets to be sent over low power, low speed channels, which checks many boxes for IoT developers and customers alike. Up until now, one question about Thread’s standard was their lack of a specified application layer. By partnering with the Open Connectivity Foundations, whose mission is to define consolidated communications throughout the industry and create a consensus with its companies, Thread has certainly given itself a leg up in becoming the standard networking protocol in IoT.


Can IoT Help Fast Food Chains Bring “Value” Back to the Value Menu?

McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s. Most of us grew up eating these low cost, highly delicious munchies, but if you are like me you now resist taking a trip to the land of childhood nostalgia. I think I can speak for most when I say we are not avoiding fast food chains because of taste, we are avoiding them because of how unhealthy one meal is for your body, and because the cost of our favorite items such as the Big Mac, is approaching that of higher quality restaurants. It has been known that fast food sales have been struggling since a short surge during the 2007 recession. Last month, the industry suffered its worst performance since January 2014.

Fast food chains are trying to listen to their customers by providing healthy options, replacing artificial ingredients with more natural ingredients, and broadening menu offerings. McDonald’s announced today that it will replace its use of high fructose corn syrup in its buns with sugar, and are now rolling out chicken nuggets and certain breakfast items free of preservatives, amongst other ingredient swaps. If fast food chains continue to amend their classic menu items with ingredients …

Time to Tech – Why Slow to Adapt Verticals Are Finally Turning to IoT Tech Partners to Help Them Move Forward

If you live in Silicon Valley, you will probably find yourself surrounded by technologies that push the limits of your imagination. If you take a stroll through the bay area, you may see drones flying around local parks, autonomous cars driving down the streets of Palo Alto, or thousands of people staring addictively at their Apple or Google powered phones while pacing down the sidewalk trying to catch Pikachu using Pokemon-Go. And with the impending launch of Microsoft HoloLens and other functional smart glass wearables, we will have pixels integrated with our line of vision so much so that they will become part our environment.

A lot of people seem to point to these futuristic gadgets that we have always dreamed about, as the technological takeover; but I disagree. These groundbreaking inventions are amazing, but after all they are a product of technology companies doing technology things. Technology companies have always been forward thinking in creating products that provide a “wow” factor, with varying degrees of functional use. From my point of view, the next technology revolution will not be defined by the “wow” factor, but defined by how technology is adopted by …

Because You Need Somebody to Lean On, The Transformation of Business as We Know it

Look out business owners! Along with technologies, business as you know it is changing. The way consumers operate and approach purchases is changing. In turn, the way businesses operate to meet these consumer needs is changing as well. Consumers no longer have to spend a large sum of money to purchase something when they can potentially gain use from someone else’s purchase. If you live in San Francisco, you no longer have to make the decision to either pay 20 grand for a car or get ripped off by a cab company in order to make your 2-3 needed trips a week. You can now pay a very reasonable price by ordering an Uber or a Lyft to have someone use their own purchased car to take you where you need to go. We are entering an era where millennials are not constantly looking to acquire assets, but are more so looking to be as resourceful as they can with the assets available to them. The logic here is simple, in order to accumulate all the assets you need to live a good life: own a house, buy a car, stay at hotels when traveling, …