Axeda acquisition makes PTC an IOE power house

July 26, 2014
axedaThe creation of the Internet of Everything has been going on for a while now. It is easy to find estimates of the number of connected devices some years from now and how much the market will be worth but still hard to find the evidences that it actually happens and in which pace. A year ago I declared that we entered the teenage phase meaning that early moving customer started to go from power point and  plans to pilot trials and roll-out. I still believe we are in the teenage phase but another important indicator – mergers and acquisitions – is starting to show that we are coming closer to the real take off. Because of this I will try to track relevant M&A deals in my blog onwards.
Intel recently acquired Basis Science with their advanced health tracker, Google has spent about $5B acquiring Waze, Nest and Dropcam but PTC’s recent acquisition of Axeda for $170 million in cash following their $112 million Thingworx acquisition in December are even more interesting to me. PTC provides systems and solutions to a long list of very large companies globally and they obviously believe being a leader in IoT system and service enablement is key. I believe the Internet of Everything will be grown-up in less than two years from now and insist that the key difference from when people and companies were connected to the Internet is that ignorance will not be an acceptable excuse this time.
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Don’t forget the IoE entrepreneurs!

July 1, 2014

bulbEntrepreneurs 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!


What is Google up to?

June 24, 2014

dropcamMergers and acquisitions indicate rapidly growing markets ahead. Google made a 3.2B$ acquisition of Nest in January. Now they just followed on with an acquisition of the Wi-Fi surveillance camera maker Dropcam for 555M$. Thermostats, smoke alarms and cameras – what is Googles plan? I think it is the homes and maybe offices they are after. There are many thermostats, smoke alarms and smart cameras available but Nest and Dropcam definitely comes with a cool design which should at least bring home healthier margins. People love nice products! Google has always been interested in Wi-Fi and it’s not a wild bet that there will be Wi-Fi in homes and offices. But this can’t be enough, they must be going after a service model with recurring revenues and collecting data from these devices to store, manage, analyze and sell. I have always claimed that “data is the gold of M2M” and I am confident that Google shares that view.

Provided I’m right, I still questions that idea. Even if Google spend another couple of B$ to buy companies with cool things (Sonos could be a good target) they will never get market share over maybe 5-10% and scattered around. I understand that they could sell the information back to the users of these devices but that seems to be a difficult path to get the money back. And if they try to sell the data elsewhere I would believe the owners of the devices and policymakers would have a view on that. But Google knows all that. The recurring revenues are obviously attractive but it feels questionable to pay this much to get there.

On top of all I believe their will have to be at least three separate wireless networks in homes: an unmanaged Wi-Fi with good performance but only best effort services, a really secure fully managed network for security related applications like door locks, surveillance and medical monitoring, and maybe even a third managed low bandwidth network for connecting things like fridges, coffee machines, etc. And even worse, we will see a mix of WAN and LAN technologies being used as well. I simply don’t see how one can deliver sensible services like surveillance or smoke detection over an unmanaged best effort Wi-Fi network. Successful companies with such services like Verisure today typically manage their own network.

So I am probably wrong. Goggle sees something I don’t. And they also understand the down-side of connected hardware since Nest just had to recall 440.000 smoke alarms due to a potential risk that they didn’t alarm immediately. But I am happy for their acquisitions since it stimulates entrepreneurs, customers and other companies who consider playing a sincere role in building the Internet of Everything.


What an exciting start of the M2M year 2014!

January 15, 2014

nest tstatIn my Christmas Internet  of Everything Chronicle I wrote that 2014 will be the year when IT players jump on the band wagon and when M&A activities will accelerate. With Google acquisition of Nest for $2,3B and PCT’s acquisition of Internet of things startup ThingWorx for $112M I have already delivered on my prediction. And it’s only January 15 today!

Since data is the gold of M2M Google is an obvious player in this field. And by buying Nest they made a clever inroad to people’s homes. The logic is that people buy “the thermostat that Jobs would have loved” regardless if they need it or not, Google start collect valuable data and use it together with all the other data they have. Then Google can leverage the Nest thermostat and other devices to also collect other type of data from the homes. Brilliant! But it is worthwhile to notice that some Nest loving consumers have already stated in public that Google is not welcome in their home and some have even smashed their Nest device. But I think this is a clever move which will put Google in an interesting position. And their acquisition will be an eye-opener to many other companies. You already know that I believe the only difference between when we connected people and business to the Internet and now when we connect things to the Internet is that ignorance will be no excuse this time.
What an exciting start of the Internet of Everything year 2014!

Will ignorance be an acceptable excuse this time?

October 8, 2012

We connected businesses and people to the Internet to get mail and web. That was an easy sell! We got it and we discovered a lot of more important things to use the Internet for, increasing productivity and efficiency in organizations across the globe tremendously. Then, clever people started to utilize the data created to invent new applications and business models. Google, Amazon, eBay and Facebook are just a couple of well-known examples. Since nobody had a clue about what the Internet would bring, ignorance was often an acceptable reason for failure at the time.

Now we are connecting also things to the Internet. Once again we focus on connectivity and operational values. Efficiency, Security, Sustainability and Convenience are the key values that M2M and the Internet of Things offer. Soon we will start to see clever people utilize the data created to invent new applications and business models. Well, some have already started. We have seen the movie before and the early warning systems works perfectly well this time why ignorance will not be an acceptable excuse.

It’s about time for decision makers to get on top of the M2M development and what it can do to their organization and industry. There are many ways to find information including articles, blogs, conferences and reports (I obviously recommend M2M Business Strategy & Planning which I am the proud author of) but the important thing is to get going, now.


Road traffic 2.0

August 17, 2012

A lot of people and animals are killed and injured in road traffic, road vehicles impact our environment significantly and road traffic is an important part of efficient transportation of people and goods. With the key promises of M2M being safety, sustainability and efficiency there is a perfect match between road traffic and M2M. A lot of research projects are on-going and part of the overall efforts towards the ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) vision.

The air traffic system has for many years been developed aiming towards zero accidents. This process has made air traffic very safe and I am told that most of the remaining accidents are caused by human beings. The use of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) is increasing mainly to avoid dull, dirty or dangerous flying missions. We have for example all heard about drone attacks (military planes without pilots) in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

If we can fly helicopters and aircrafts without pilots we must be able to modernize the road traffic to make it safer, more friendly to nature and more efficient. And even if humans cause many or maybe most of the problems on the road we still don’t feel comfortable putting ourselves in the hands of technology on the roads or in the air. But this will change. The technical solutions are ahead of what we are willing to accept but carefully managed real life trials together with clear and big benefits will slowly make us humans agree to start using new solutions.

There are many advanced research projects in road traffic continuously pushing the frontier forward. Earlier this summer Volvo successfully led a road train consisting of a Volvo XC60, a Volvo V60 and a Volvo S60 behind a truck on a 200 km journey through Spain as part of SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for Environment). The cars outfitted with cameras, radars and laser sensors were six meters apart and drove safely 85 km/h without any driver interference. The vehicles in the test have covered some 10.000 km on test circuits before the trial. Beyond improved safety and sustainability road trains would allow us drivers to put a professional driver in command for a while, take a bite, check our mail and take a nap before taking control of the car again. Sounds great!Another interesting project is Google Driverless Cars. In May 2012 the first license for a self-driven car was issued in Nevada: a Toyota Prius modified with Google’s experimental driver-less technology. The team just announced that they have completed over 300,000 autonomous-driving miles accident-free, typically have about a dozen cars on the road at any given time, and are starting to test them with single drivers instead of in pairs.

ITS World Congress 2012 in Vienna October 22-26 is an interesting event for anyone interested in where road traffic is going. I’ll be there!


M2M Development für alle

June 18, 2012

There are many reasons why M2M solutions will hit society, businesses and people with enormous power. Most of them relate to what happens when we connect things and put computing on top but one specific force is democratization of development tools – a similar brutal force that Basic and Hypercard gave to the PC industry, and that Apple provided the mobile industry with the App-concept. When thousands or millions of developers get going, innovation, specialization and competition happens big way.

Arduino is an open well documented physical platform developed 2005 in the Olivetti town Ivrea, Italy. It is a platform which collect, compute and communicate data which makes it the perfect prototyping tool for students, hobbyists and professional developers to realize their device ideas. Today the affordable and easy to use development kits can be bought at the Radioshacks of the world. Nobody knows how many Arduino developers there are but over 300.000 boards have been sold, the ratio of cloning is currently estimated to one per original board and Arduino skills are more and more often requested in CVs.

Arduino supports Windows, Mac OS X and Linux and there are a number of boards available. They are really affordable and pre-assembled Arduino modules cost less than $50. The community is rapidly growing and it’s easy to join by for example following the Arduino blog.

Among the companies using Arduino for their tools and services are Google and Telefonica. And the more I dig into the world of M2M the more spectacular examples of Arduino projects I find. Imagine this: a 14 year old boy in Chile developed an Arduino machine which post a Tweet when detecting an earthquake and now this alert is sent to some 30.000 followers on Twitter.

This is only the beginning. The opportunities are massive but some risks are also involved. Many companies will experience difficult competition from unexpected directions and some will leverage these forces to strengthen their position in the market. Governments will see completely new solutions to old and difficult problems. And consumers will be offered new innovative services, many of them replacing products we buy today.

I’m fortunate to work and live in the middle of this period of great change!


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