July 1, 2014
Entrepreneurs have always made the difference. And will always be the ones pushing the boundaries and finding new innovative solutions to problems. They continuously bet their time, energy, savings, past and future on making their ideas fly. And they are always the ones to create the next big thing. When we look back at how we ended up where we are, it is easy to pin-point the inventions, individuals and companies that made difference. But it is very difficult to figure out which few of all thousands of entrepreneurs that will make the difference onwards.
Internet of Things is now incredibly hot and most people would agree that it will impact states, industries and life of people around the globe. Governments are making big statements and big investments in IoT to put their country in good position. Analysts and other experts claim they have the answers to what will happen, when and how much. And operators, consultants and vendors are fighting for an important role in what to come.
If we read the books of recent history we will find that the Internet started off as a research project but entrepreneurs made it what it is today. ISP:s connected people and businesses to the Internet, companies like US Robotics provided fast affordable modems and remote access solutions, Netscape and others created browsers and Alta Vista powerful search engines. Then thousands of web designers started to make good-looking web sites followed by CMS systems for more organized creation and maintenance of webs. While organizations started to benefit from the efficiency and improved service possibilities using the Internet, entrepreneurs exploited new innovative ways of doing things and completely new ideas. And ever since we have seen new innovative companies growing from nothing to big or huge: Amazon, Google, Twitter, SalesForce.com, LinkedIn, Spotify, Skype, Klarna, iZettle and TrueCaller just to mention a few – yes I am Swedish… Nobody figured out before hand how the Internet value chains would look like, which business models would be successful, the impact it would make or which companies would become the new giants.
Internet of Things is a misleading name. It’s the same Internet and we are just adding things to it. That’s why I prefer Internet of Everything. It is safe to argue that the development of Internet of Everything will follow a similar path as the Internet of People and Businesses. The main differences are that it will happen faster and ignorance will not be an acceptable excuse this time. It will be entrepreneurs once again who form the future and there are many of them around already! I have 28 of them in my Swedish M2M Service Enabler
alliance alone but there are thousands of them around the world. And they are fighting hard every day to prove to customers, partners and investors that their idea, solution or approach will be a great success.
I would welcome more appreciation and support for the entrepreneurs! They don’t need a lot and it is paying customers who should fund most of their development. But a little help to go abroad to meet potential customers and partners and, most importantly, commercial pilot projects at home would be a very good start. There are initiatives already including startup and incubation programs, competitions like EIT ICT Labs Idea Challenge, Cisco’s IoT challenge and IPSO Alliance IoT Competition as well as investors looking into this field. But let’s give the entrepreneurs what they need to make this happen for us!
April 30, 2014
In April last year I wrote that the M2M industry was leaving the connectivity focused baby phase and entered its teens. This was great news and happened much faster than when we connected people and businesses to the Internet. In essence this meant that all players who wanted to be part of building the Internet of Everything, not only the connectivity guys, started to gather around the table. Looking at when Internet of people and businesses was developed made it obvious that no one could make it alone and partnerships became the name of the game. That’s pretty much where we are today and these efforts are very promising.
A major change has to take place before the industry leaves its teens and the building of Internet of Everything gains solid momentum – the IT companies have to take the lead. Up until now connectivity players have been enabling and driving but since “data is the gold of M2M” it has to be the IT players who take over before we really can get going. The value of any M2M application is realized when the information collected or created shows up in a decision-making system or a system managing processes of any kind. This is why application developers, system integrators, app developers, architects, UX designers, CIO:s, business analysts and others are key to bring on board. And this is why leading IT companies will have to join the party before take off.
I have been waiting for the first ones to walk the talk and I’m delighted to share with you that it’s happening here and now! Cisco has rapidly been ramping up their efforts in the Internet of Everything space with research, reports, speeches, acquisitions, idea challenges, etc. And last week they joined our Swedish M2M Service Enabler (SMSE) alliance as the first sponsor from the IT industry. This was very well received by our 26 members of the alliance and media. I expect collaboration and results quite rapidly and I am convinced we will have the leading IT players in Sweden, vendors and consultants, in our alliance before summer. My aim is to make Internet of Everything for Real 2014 in Stockholm June 18 the first event where leading connectivity and IT players will discuss how to create and promote the Internet of Everything together with the entrepreneurs and customers.
Yet another evidence of the importance of IT in building the Internet of Everything was an interview with Klas Bendrik, Group CIO at Volvo Cars, in CIO Sweden today (in Swedish). Mr Bendrik says that everything change when both customers and products are connected – how they develop, design, sell and service cars. It influences the entire life cycle of the car and redefines the entire foundation for their company. “I and our IT function get involved in all business development when IT becomes part of the core processes in the car life cycle”. Voila! Data is the gold of M2M. The only difference from when Internet of people and businesses was built is that ignorance will not be an acceptable excuse this time. Decision makers need to look into what the Internet of Everything will mean to their business and industry now.
June 29, 2013
What more does it take to make M2M aka Internet of Things – everything or some things – happen big way? Let’s revisit the key components again. Data is the gold of M2M and the winners will be those who best utilize the data captured. Integration of data in existing business systems and processes is key to maximizing the value. Distribution of information through relevant channels and to terminals of users choice, using open api’s and gorgeous human-machine interaction is required for the applications to be used. Generic Device Control platforms on top of service providers networks together with Specialist Service Enablers are required to make it affordable to develop and maintain applications for clients of all types. The winners in Service Enablement will be the ones who understand the data they are dealing with and due to the huge amounts of industries and functions to be served Service Enablement will be a very fragmented part of our industry.
I see most of this happening now and our industry is definitely developing fast. We are in the teenage stage already with clients moving from thinking and talking to doing. From Powerpoint to pilots. There is absolutely no better way to understand what happens if one connects things than actually connecting some things to play around with. And there is no better way to go for that than to contact a Specialist Service Enabler who has most things ready. Connecting things and collecting the data in the cloud was good enough 1-2 years ago when technology was the key challenge. But today the challenges are mainly business centric why understanding the context of the data is key to succeed. This is why Specialist Service Enablers is the right choice when it is time for a pilot or proof of concept project.
But there is one major thing missing: Internet is global, ICT is a global business and Internet of Things will have to be global as well to prosper. Vendors and operators are working quite hard to make this happen which is great but it will take long time and they can’t make it themselves. Most organizations in the world are small to medium-sized and the software they use are mostly local or localized. Law, policies, culture, language, taxonomy, habits, taxation, religion, alphabet and friendship are examples of things that make people use local software. And it will continue to be like this for many many years. Since the data captured in M2M solutions should end up in business applications, maybe blended with data from public or commercial sources, we need what I call a glocal value chain. The global component is needed to drive economies of scale and enable international business etc. The local part is there to cope with the local requirements, to ensure proper integration in business systems and to engage integrators, consultants and developers locally bringing their clients with them.
Glocal value chains are always difficult to make work. But in our case, whatever we call our industry, I find it quite straight forward. The global part consists of operators (like Telenor Connexion) and their alliances (like GMA), Telecommunication vendors (like Ericsson and Telit) and international ICT vendors (like Cisco, SAP and Oracle who all have started to move now). Ever since Ericsson’s 50 Billion Devices statement this inside-out effort has been coming along quite well. The local part, i.e. developers, integrators, resellers and consultants, has in most parts not got going yet and therefore the small to medium businesses in general are in waiting mode or not even aware. Specialist Service Enablers constitute the missing link. Due to missing operator device connectivity services they have had to learn to deal with the connectivity layer directly. And the services they provide to customers in the industry they target is to a large degree useful across boarders. To me it’s clear: operator networks with device connectivity services together with Specialist Service Enablers interfacing to local developers and integrators is the way forward. The challenges are primarily commercial and practical, not technical. I am working with members of Swedish M2M Service Enablers in several projects along those lines and it looks very promising.