Hype or not? Both!

October 16, 2014

Gartner_Hype_Cycle.svgIoT is hotter than ever! Gartner just placed IoT at Peak of Inflated Expectations in their Hype Curve and forecast 5-10 years until the Plateau of Productivity. But our baby is growing much faster than anything else we have seen before and I stick to my previous view that our baby will be grown up, but still young, 2016 after only three years as teenager. Good enough technology and infrastructure are in place since a couple of years and when organizations started to go from Powerpoint and thinking to trials and pilots we reached the teens. Four things have been missing to leave the teens behind: solid participation from the IT players, a hot M&A market, active and seriously engaged enterprises and efficient easy-to-use prototyping tools for users of IoT. All these things are starting to happen now which is one of the reasons why I dare to challenge Gartner on their projection. But there is another aspect of IoT which is underestimated: how the value is created.

In most cases we build something and when it’s done we start harvest. And if customers like what we built it takes off. It might take a couple of years at least  to plan, develop and start produce, then we start market and after another year or so it might take off. That explains Gartner’s 5-10 years to Plateau of Productivity, if one ever gets there. But IoT applications deliver value when the information created is distributed to an IT system, shows up in an app, makes an alarm go off somewhere or change a road sign. Initially all IoT applications had to be created end to end – from sensor to terminal – which made them expensive to make and maintain. But now we can leverage existing networks, platforms, tools, terminals and applications making it much cheaper and quicker. So far we have seen this primarily in the consumer market where a connected sensor providing data to an app has been good enough. In enterprises data management and delivery is more complicated and changes in processes and business models takes time, but they are getting there. When they do, the operational value (cheaper, faster, etc) will be obvious and the strategic value (brand, innovation, employer attractiveness, etc) will be visible in the horizon. One only has to look at what GE is doing with Industrial Internet to understand that the impact will be massive.

Everyone promoting the story about billions of connected devices delivering data to impressive Big Data systems creating trillions of $ benefits clearly put IoT at the peak of inflated expectations. But all hard-working organizations and entrepreneurs working on industry or company specific IoT applications, well-integrated and cleverly implemented, are changing the world very fast. These efforts will start pay off soon putting competitors who haven’t started yet in a very difficult situation similar to when the frequent flyer program happened or Richard Fosbury jumped 2.24 at the Olympic Games in Maxico City 1968  using a “redicolous” new technique.

The only major difference between when we connected people and businesses to the Internet and when we connect things is that ignorance will not be an acceptable excuse this time. Beyond some clever start-ups the winners will be organizations who best understand when and how to improve their business using IoT solutions.


Inspiring example: Infracontrol makes cities talk

July 21, 2014

smartcityOne of the most talked about areas for Internet of Things is Smart Cities. Cities themselves invest to become one. Most of the large players in IoT focus on Smart Cities. There are events, predictions, articles and show cases everywhere and each and everyone use their own definition of Smart Cities. A city is a very complex and dynamic location which from an ICT point of view could be described as a system of systems. It is obvious that sub-systems could be more efficient using IoT solutions and that the overall system of systems could be improved if the data collected was shared cleverly between the systems. No wonder Smart Cities is a perfect topic to focus on both for suppliers and municipalities.

But how much smarter has cities become over the last years? Well, there are of course impressive reference cases here and there and a lot of sub-systems in a lot of cities have become better using IoT solutions. But the size and complexity of pulling it all together in a city is difficult to deal with both from practical and technical perspectives.

This is why I am really impressed by Infracontrol, their pragmatic approach to Smart Cities and what they have been able to do. They started about 20 years ago to help cities connecting mainly traffic related things like tunnel alarms, ventilation systems and traffic lights. As they grew bigger in several cities and with new applications they developed Infracontrol Online™ 2003 to connect cities and citizens for better services. Today they have 56 Swedish municipalities using Infracontrol Online™ and their first ones in Portugal in place as well. Their customers report 60% better service quality, 30% savings in maintenance expenses, a lot of energy savings and higher citizen satisfaction. Sounds smart to me! Needless to say Infracontrol is a member of  the Swedish SMSE-alliance!

Get inspired by Jenny Gustavsson’s 5 minute pitch on Infracontrol at Internet of Everything For Real™ 2014!

Inspiring examples: Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems – TPMS

September 23, 2013

TPMSVehicles with wrong tire pressure cause accidents and consume excess energy. Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) were developed to prevent these issues. The first passenger vehicle to adopt tire-pressure monitoring was the Porsche 959 in 1986 and today it is becoming a legal requirement in more and more countries. Car manufacturers have been introducing different TPNS systems more or less voluntarily but in the United States, as of 2008 and the European Union, as of 2012, all new passenger car models released must be equipped with a TPMS. Similar laws are on their way in Asia-Pacific.

TPMS are definitely complex from an engineering, communication and product point of view and the combined investment, including equipment in garages and motor vehicle inspection sites, the sensors in the tires and the receiving part of the in-car system is very big. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US estimates that 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year are attributable to crashes caused by underinflated tires (Bob Ulrich, Editor, at Modern Tire Dealer) so it seems like well working TPMS can help save lives, money and the planet. But every system like this is always a potential hacker target and Rutgers University and the University of South Carolina released a joint study some years ago indicating that they had succeeded to hack a car through the TPMS.
In any case, this is a typical M2M application – it’s been around for years, many of us have them, they are not SIM-based and they deliver on the three M2M promises: safety, sustainability and efficiency.

ITS 2.0

November 9, 2012

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) has been worked on for some twenty years. The idea to look at traffic and transportation using a holistic approach is great and rarely disputed. And the effects when ready would be fantastic! Efficiency, safety, sustainability and convenience, all the key promises of M2M, are there. But still the development is quite slow. Of course we need to remember that a lot of these issues are infrastructure related thus complex and time-consuming to develop. And a multimodal transportation approach require integrated organizations which is yet another complex thing to change. There are also many stakeholders and a lot of legislation involved.

But still I believe there are ways to drastically speed up the process: by leveraging the rapid development in technology in combination with innovation and pragmatism we could make things happen fast. Examples of key things to leverage are

  • the open data movement to allow entrepreneurs to drive innovation
  • the smartphones and pads to allow users of the transportation systems to access the information they need to make qualified decisions
  • crowd sourcing and other innovative ways to collect data
  • entrepreneurs to drive creativity, innovation and choice
A very good example of an ITS type application which is in place and leverage all of these is Waze. It is the world’s  fastest growing community-based traffic and navigation app and it is free. They claim 30 million users already and they even get help to edit the maps from their users. It started as an open-source mapping project in 2006 and Waze was founded 2008. The company is backed by serious investors and the business model is based on location-based advertising. The level of innovation is high and you can for example connect your Facebook account to see where your friends are.

Think about this: First came GPS devices integrated into cars for maybe 3-5K$, then came mobile GPS devices, often with better maps and features, for about 1/10 of the price and now this, for free. The power of what today’s technology and modern ways of working can do is immense. The services are continuously improved and by using one device for many things we even help save the planet.

I am focusing a lot on ITS and together with our partners and entrepreneurs we have numerous concepts and ideas (including dynamIQ parking™ which we launched at ITS World Congress) leveraging modern technology and ways of working to make drastic ITS progress. Let’s get going!

ITS World Congress is over – call for action

October 30, 2012

ITS World Congress in Vienna is over. A well organized high-profile event with ministers, a grand opening event and a grand ball. The large exhibition halls were full of technology and complex drawings, the seminar program extensive and ministers from all over the world attended. We have seen the movie before: there was full agreement among delegates, speakers and exhibitors also at the 19:th ITS World Congress that ITS is important to save the world, increase safety and security and improve efficiency for people, organizations and societies. A lot of things are  happening in the field but still too many “one road here and one road there pilots”.

But there are three fairly new enablers in the ITS market that can make things happen big way:
  • – the smartphones and pads allowing us to visualize complex things and deliver relevant real-time information for powerful decision-making
  • – the Open Data initiatives carried out in Europe and elsewhere enabling developers to access enormous amounts of relevant data for innovative ITS solutions
  • – the rapidly growing M2M market is feeding Service Enablers with data and together with the Open Data sources this enables faster and more cost efficient development and maintenance of applications.
We have what we need to start taking real advantage of ITS now. Decision makers need to be brave enough to make the right decisions: ensure a strategy for management of data, use of M2M, etc. then go from pilots to action, open up the data and let the entrepreneurs figure out what users want. This will help us realize the benefits of ITS in terms of efficiency, sustainability, security and convenience.

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.

Inspiring example: use of M2M to change behavior

September 8, 2012

The key deliverables of M2M are efficiency, security and sustainability. M2M can also deliver convenience which mainly is relevant for the people involved. Well designed M2M implementations often deliver across all of these areas.

Public bus transportation is an important part of the transportation system. To pick the bus should be safe, energy-smart and help improve efficiency in the city. And except for peak hours when buses might be full, the ride should be convenient. But even though buses are quite similar the drivers have different driving style. A recent study at the University of Lund concludes that it is more dangerous to go by bus than by car in cities. Injuries from traffic accidents with buses are rare but a lot of people hurt themselves when they fall during the ride, when jumping on or off the bus or at the bus stop. This is one area where the driver makes a difference. Energy consumption, impact on traffic flow and convenience for the passengers are other areas where the bus drivers knowledge and style makes difference.

The public bus company in the city of Borås in Sweden are now installing a M2M system in the buses which measures how well the drivers drive. The metric used is passenger comfort and a lamp indicates performance: red means poor, yellow is ok and green is great.

I like this a lot since it’s an easy way to improve something in many different ways. Just by showing the performance the drivers will improve their driving – it is an old truth that what is measured gets better. The project makes the company and it’s employees aligned to what is considered important. And last but not least, the “red drivers” get training and the “green drivers” a bonus. What a wonderful way to make things better.

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