Deloitte provides process for nuanced IoT strategy decisions

So much of the Internet of Things is still in the gee-whiz stage that we haven’t seen much in terms of nuanced IoT strategies. By that I mean ones that carefully weigh tradeoffs between companies and consumers to try to find strategies that are mutually beneficial and recognize there are new factors at play in IoT strategies, such as privacy and data mining, that may have positive or negative consequences for the customer/company interplay.

Deloitte’s “University” has made an important step in that direction with its “Power Struggle: Customers, companies and the Internet of Things” paper, co-authored by Brenna Sniderman and Michael E. Raynor.

In it, they explore how to create sustainable strategies that will be mutually beneficial to the customer and company — which are not always immediately apparent, especially when you explore the subtleties of how these strategies might play out in the new reality of the Internet of Things.

The study’s goal was to understand the factors that can distort IoT’s benefits, and instead create win-win IoT strategies.

Sniderman and Raynor suggest there are four quadrants into which a given strategy might fall:

  1. (the sweet spot!) “All’s well: Sufficient value is created, and that value is shared between customers and companies sufficiently equitably such that both parties are better off and feel fairly treated.
  2. “Hobson’s choice: A Hobson’s choice exists when you’re free to decide but only one option exists; thus, it is really no choice at all…. Even when customers come out ahead compared with their former options, their implied powerlessness can lead to feelings of unfairness.
  3. “Gridlock: In their quest for value capture, both sides are pulled in opposite directions, with neither able to move toward an optimal outcome. Here, both parties recognize IoT enablement as something that should lead to success, but neither party is able to reach it, since their competing interests or different value drivers are working at cross purposes.
  4. “Customer is king: Although particular IoT deployments might make economic sense for companies, customers end up capturing a disproportionate share of the new value created, pulling this outcome more in the customers’ favor; Craigslist is an obvious example.”

According to the authors, a key to finding the win-win, “all’s well” solution is the Information Value Loop (which I first discussed last Spring) that creates value out of the vast increase in information made possible by the IoT.

As I mentioned then, “This fits nicely with one of my IoT ‘Essential Truths,’ that we need to turn linear information flows into cyclical ones to fully capitalize on the IoT.” When you do that, it’s possible to design continuous improvement processes that feed back data from actual users to fine tune products and processes.  GE has found it leads to much shorter iterative loops to design improved versions of its products.

Here’s the gussied-up version of the cool hand-drawn visualization from the Deloitte brainstorming session that led to the Information Value Loop (print it & place it on your wall next to the one on privacy and security that I wrote about a while ago):

Deloitte Information Value Loop

The information no longer flows in linear fashion: it’s created from using sensors to record how things act in the real world, then goes through the various stages of the loop, each of which is made possible by one of the new technologies enabling the IoT.  The goal is either enhanced M2M integration among things, or improved actions by humans, and, to be sustainable over time:

“A value loop is sustainable when both parties capture sufficient value, in ways that respect important non-financial sensibilities. For example, retailer-specific and independent shopping apps can use past browsing and purchasing history—along with other behaviors—to suggest targeted products to particular customers, rather than showing everyone the same generic products, as on a store shelf. Customers get what they want, and companies sell more.

…  “The amount of value created by information passing through the loop is a function of the value drivers identified in the middle. Falling into three generic categories—magnitude, risk, and time—the specific drivers listed are not exhaustive but only illustrative. Different applications will benefit from an emphasis on different drivers.”

OK, so how does this theory play out?

Sniderman and Raynor picked a range of IoT-informed strategies to illustrate the concept, some of which may include unintended consequences that would harm/turn off customers or companies. For example, “An ill-considered push for competitive advantage could well overreach and drive away skittish customers. Alternatively, building too dominant an advantage may leave customers feeling exploited or coerced, a position unlikely to prove viable in the long term.”

Understanding the underlying structure of each type of loop is critical, because they naturally pull an IoT strategy in a particular, divergent way.

The example they pick to illustrate the “all’s well” quadrant of results is the dramatic increase in built-in diagnostic technology in cars.  This is of great personal interest: genetic testing has revealed that I am one of the approximately 10% of men who are missing the male car gene: I can’t stand the things, and view them as a big block of metal and plastic just waiting to develop problems (or, ahem, get hit by deer …), so I need all the help I can get. Sniderman and Raynor zero in on maintenance as one area for win-win benefits for drivers and dealers through the IoT:

“Customers often have little understanding of which repairs are necessary, feel inconvenienced by having to go without their car during maintenance periods, and are frustrated by potential overcharges. In response, automakers are embedding sensors that can run a wide range of reliable diagnostics, allowing a car to “self-identify” service issues, rather than relying on customers (“Where’s that squeaking coming from?”) or mechanics (“You might want to replace those brake pads, since I’ve already got the wheels off”). This creates a level of objectivity of obvious customer value and enables automakers to differentiate their products. Interactive features that work with customers’ information can further add value by, for example, potentially syncing with an owner’s calendar to schedule a dealership appointment at a convenient time and reserving a loaner vehicle for the customer, pre-programmed with his preferences to minimize the frustration of driving an unfamiliar car.

In this scenario, both parties collaborate to provide and act on data, in a mutual exchange of value. The customer captures value in multiple ways: He enjoys increased convenience and decreased frustration, improved vehicle performance and longer operating life, reduced maintenance charges, and—since almost everything about this interaction is automated—fewer occasions for perceived exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous service providers.

Value capture extends to companies in the form of ongoing customer interaction. Linking maintenance programming to the dealership encourages customers to return for tune-ups rather than go elsewhere, ideally leading to continued purchases in the long term. OEMs can also access data regarding vehicle maintenance issues and may be able to identify systematic malfunctions worthy of greater attention. Dealers also have an opportunity to make inroads into an untapped market: Currently, just 30 percent of drivers use the dealer for routine maintenance…”

Kumbaya! But then there’s the opposite extreme, according to Sniderman and Raynor, represented by smart home devices, which would lead to the lose-lose, gridlock scenario.  I think they seriously underestimate the understanding already by manufacturers in the field that they need to embrace open standards in order to avoid a range of competing standards (Zigbee, Bluetooth, etc.) that will force consumers to invest in a variety of proprietary, incompatible hubs, and therefore discourage them from buying anything at all.  All you have to do is look at new hubs, such as Amazon’s Echo, which can control devices from WeMo, Hue, Quirky, Wink — you name ’em, to realize that sharing data is already the norm with smart home devices.

Because this missive is getting long, I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to investigate Sniderman & Raynor’s examples of the “customer is king” scenario, in which the customer grabs too much of the benefit (have to admit, a lot of the location-based IoT retail incentives still give me the creeps: I hate shopping under the best of circumstances, and having something pop up on my phone offering me an incentive based on my past purchases makes a bad experience even worse. How about you?); and the “Hobson’s choice” one, in which usage-based car insurance runs amok and insurers begin to charge unsafe drivers a surcharge — as documented by the devices such as Progressive’s “Snapshot” (I was dismayed to read in the article that Progressive is in fact doing that in Missouri, although I guess it’s a logical consequence of having objective evidence that someone consistently drives unsafely).

I can’t help thinking that the 800-pound gorilla in the room in many of these situations are the Scylla and Charybdis of the IoT, threats to privacy and security, and that makes it even more important that your IoT strategies are well thought out.

They conclude that, from my perspective, data isn’t just enough, you also need the decidedly non-technical tools of judgment and wisdom (aided by tools such as their Information Value Loop) to come up with a sustainable, mutually advantageous IoT strategy:

“Identifying where the bottlenecks lie (using the Information Value Loop), how each party is motivated to respond, and seeking to shape both incentives and the value loop itself puts companies more in control of their destinies.

“Second, taking a hard look at who benefits most from each IoT-enabled transaction, understanding when a lopsided value-capture outcome tips too far and becomes unsustainable, and taking steps to correct it may also lead to long-term success.

“Lastly, an honest assessment of where IoT investments may not have an appreciable benefit—or may decrease one’s potential for value capture—is just as crucial to a company’s IoT strategy as knowing the right places to invest.”

I may quibble with some of their findings, such as those about smart homes, but bravo to Sniderman and Raynor for beginning what I hope is a spirited and sustained dialogue about how to create sustainable, mutually-advantageous IoT strategies!  I’ve weighed in with my Essential Truths, but what are you thinking about this critical issue, often overlooked in our concentration on IoT technologies? 

The IoT Can Revolutionize Every Aspect of Small Farming

When the New York Times weighs in on an Internet of Things phenomenon, you know it’s about to achieve mainstream consciousness, and that’s now the case with what I like to call “precision agriculture,” enabled by a combination of IoT sensors in the fields and big data analysis tools.

The combination is potent and vital because an adequate supply of safe food is so central to our lives, and meeting that need worldwide depends increasingly on small farms, which face a variety of obstacles that big agribusinesses don’t encounter.

Chris Rezendes, a partner in INEX Advisors, who’s been particularly active with IoT-based ag startups, pointed out to me in a private communication that the problem is world-wide, and particularly matched to the IoT’s capabilities, because food security is such a ubiquitous problem and because (surprisingly to me) the agricultural industry is dominated more by small farms, not agri-biz:

“… most people do not have an understanding of the dimensions of food security beyond calories. Feeding the world demands more than just calories. It demands higher nutritional quotient, safety, affordability and accessibility.

“And all that translates in many models into a need for a more productive, profitable and sustainable small ag industry.

“Most folks do not realize that that there are nearly 700 million farmers on the planet. In the US alone, we have 2.3 million ag operations (and, BTW, the number of millennials entering the field is nearly doubling each year) — and that is not counting processing, packaging, distribution, or anything related to fisheries. Most of those farms are pretty small … less than 500 acres on average, and when you strip out the conglomerates and the hobbyist farmers, you are left with hundreds of thousands of small businesses averaging nearly $4 million per year in revenue.”

As reported by The Times‘ Steve Lohr, Lance Donny, founder of ag technology start-up, OnFarm Systems, said the IoT’s benefits can be even greater outside the US:

“.. the most intriguing use of the technology may well be outside the United States. By 2050, the global population is projected to reach nine billion, up from 7.3 billion today. Large numbers of people entering the middle class, especially in China and India, and adopting middle-class eating habits — like consuming more meat, which requires more grain — only adds to the burden.

“To close the food gap, worldwide farm productivity will have to increase from 1.5 tons of grain per acre to 2.5 tons by 2050, according to Mr. Donny. American farm productivity is already above that level, at 2.75 tons of grain per acre.

“’But you can’t take the U.S. model and transport it to the world,’ Mr. Donny said, noting that American farming is both highly capital-intensive and large scale. The average farm size in the United States is 450 acres. In Africa, the average is about two acres.

“’The rest of the world has to get the productivity gains with data,’ he said.”

The marketplace and entrepreneurs are responding to the challenge. The Times piece also reported that IoT-enabled ag is now big business, with a recent study by AgFunder (equity crowdfunding for ag tech!) reporting start-ups have snared $2.06 billion in 228 deals so far this year (compared to $2.36 billion in all of 2014, which was itself a record).  When you add in the big funding that companies such as Deere have done in IoT over the last few years (in case you didn’t know it, this 178-year old company has revolutionized its operations with the IoT, creating new revenue streams and services in the process) and the cool stuff that’s even being produced here in Boston, and you’ve got a definite revolution in the most ancient of industries.

Rezendes zeros in on the small farmers’ need for data in order to improve every aspect of their operations, not just yields, and their desire to control their data themselves, rather than having it owned by some large, remote conglomerates. Most of all, he says, they desperately needed to improve their profitability, which is difficult with smaller farms:

“Those 2.3 million farmers will deploy IoT in their operations when they know that the data is relevant, actionable, profitable, secure and theirs.

“They are not going to deploy third-party solutions that capture farmers’ operational intelligence, claim ownership of it, and leverage the farmers’ livelihood for the solution vendors’ strategic goals.

“For example, we went into a series of explorations with one ag co-op in the East this spring, after going into the exploration thinking that we might be able to source a number of productivity enhancement solutions for vegetable growers and small protein program managers. We were wrong.

“These farmers in this one part of a New England state had been enjoying years of strong, if uneven growth in their output. That was not their challenge: their challenge was with profitability.”

Think of small farms near you, which must be incredibly nimble to market their products (after toiling in the fields!) relying heavily on a mix of CSAs, local restaurants that feature locally-sourced foods, and on farmers’ markets. Rezendes says the small farmers face a variety of obstacles because of their need (given their higher costs) to attract customers who would pay prevailing or (hopefully) premium prices, while they face perceptual problems because small farmers must be jacks-of-all-trades:

“They have only one ‘route.’ They market, sell, and deliver in the same ‘call,’ so their stops are often longer than your typical wholesale food routes. They also have only one marketing, sales and delivery team – and that is often the same team that is tilling, planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and repairing, so they often show up on accounts wearing clothes, driving vehicles, and carrying their inventory in containers that aren’t in any manual for slick brand development manual!

“To complicate things, many of their potential customers could not accept the shipment for insurance purposes, because the farmers didn’t have labels that change with exposure to extreme temperature, sunlight or moisture, or digital temperature recorders.”

Who would think that the IoT might provide a work-around for the perceptual barriers and underscore local farms’ great advantage, the quality of the product?  The farmers suggested to the INEX team once they understood the basics of IoT technology that:

“if we could source a low-cost traceability solution that they could attach to their reusable transport items, they thought they could use that data for branding within the co-op and the regional market. This would reduce the time needed to market and sell, document and file.  The farmers also told us that if the solution was done right, it might serve their regulatory, permitting and licensing requirements, even across state lines.”

Bottom line: not only can sensors in the field improve yields and cut costs for fertilizing and water use through precision, but other sensors can also work after the food is harvested, providing intelligence that lets producers prove their safety, enhance their sales productivity, and drive profit that enables re-investment.

What a great example of the IoT at work, and how, when you start to think in terms of the IoT’s “Essential Truths,” it can revolutionize every aspect of your company, whether a 50-acre farm or a global manufacturer!  

McKinsey IoT Report Nails It: Interoperability is Key!

I’ll be posting on various aspects of McKinsey’s new “The Internet of Things: Mapping the Value Beyond the Hype” report for quite some time.

First of all, it’s big: 148 pages in the online edition, making it the longest IoT analysis I’ve seen! Second, it’s exhaustive and insightful. Third, as with several other IoT landmarks, such as Google’s purchase of Nest and GE’s divestiture of its non-industrial internet division, the fact that a leading consulting firm would put such an emphasis on the IoT has tremendous symbolic importance.

McKinsey report — The IoT: Mapping the Value Beyond the Hype

My favorite finding:

“Interoperability is critical to maximizing the value of the Internet of Things. On average, 40 percent of the total value that can be unlocked requires different IoT systems to work together. Without these benefits, the maximum value of the applications we size would be only about $7 trillion per year in 2025, rather than $11.1 trillion.” (my emphasis)

This goes along with my most basic IoT Essential Truth, “share data.”  I’ve been preaching this mantra since my 2011 book, Data Dynamite (which, if I may toot my own horn, I believe remains the only book to focus on the sweeping benefits of a paradigm shift from hoarding data to sharing it).

I was excited to see that the specific example they zeroed in on was offshore oil rigs, which I focused on in my op-ed on “real-time regulations,” because sharing the data from the rig’s sensors could both boost operating efficiency and reduce the chance of catastrophic failure. The paper points out that there can be 30,000 sensors on an rig, but most of them function in isolation, to monitor a single machine or system:

“Interoperability would significantly improve performance by combining sensor data from different machines and systems to provide decision makers with an integrated view of performance across an entire factory or oil rig. Our research shows that more than half of the potential issues that can be identified by predictive analysis in such environments require data from multiple IoT systems. Oil and gas experts interviewed for this research estimate that interoperability could improve the effectiveness of equipment maintenance in their industry by 100 to 200 percent.”

Yet, the researchers found that only about 1% of the rig data was being used, because it rarely was shared off the rig with other in the company and its ecosystem!

The section on interoperability goes on to talk about the benefits — and challenges — of linking sensor systems in examples such as urban traffic regulation, that could link not only data from stationary sensors and cameras, but also thousands of real-time feeds from individual cars and trucks, parking meters — and even non-traffic data that could have a huge impact on performance, such as weather forecasts.  

While more work needs to be done on the technical side to increase the ease of interoperability, either through the growing number of interface standards or middleware, it seems to me that a shift in management mindset is as critical as sensor and analysis technology to take advantage of this huge increase in data:

“A critical challenge is to use the flood of big data generated by IoT devices for prediction and optimization. Where IoT data are being used, they are often used only for anomaly detection or real-time control, rather than for optimization or prediction, which we know from our study of big data is where much additional value can be derived. For example, in manufacturing, an increasing number of machines are ‘wired,’ but this instrumentation is used primarily to control the tools or to send alarms when it detects something out of tolerance. The data from these tools are often not analyzed (or even collected in a place where they could be analyzed), even though the data could be used to optimize processes and head off disruptions.”

I urge you to download the whole report. I’ll blog more about it in coming weeks.

Exploiting full potential of iBeacons for Internet of Things

One of the most exciting aspects of the Internet of Things is seeing how, when more people are exposed to one of its technologies, they find uses for it that the inventors might not have visualized.  I give you … the iBeacon.

The Apple protocol (again, my obligatory disclaimer that I work part-time at an Apple Store, but have no inside information or any obligation to hype their tech) is used in Bluetooth low-energy transmitters (“beacons”) that broadcast their location to nearby devices so they can perform actions such as social-media check-ins or push notifications while near the beacon.  They’re most frequently used in marketing to offer targeted bargains, and primarily have been used by the biggest retailers and sites such as major-league ballparks, but, as you’ll see, not always.

At the Re-Work Internet of Things Summit I met two young entrepreneurs, Justin Mann and Ben Smith  of Beacons in Space, a Boston startup that would allow new apps to leverage existing installed iBeacons — typically installed by large retailers and closed to others —  instead of having to add more beacons in a given space. This would be done through a subscription model with a simple API on top of a beacon rental marketplace. It would allow smaller developers can scale their developments and projects without having to invest in a redundant iBeacon array.

But I was particularly interested in how some clever developers are applying iBeacons outside retail settings.

One is at the Zoom Torino Biopark in Cumiana, Italy. iBeacons around the zoo trigger an app including an interactive map that helps visitors move around the park by giving their exact location and showing where other attractions are located.

“As visitors discover the six different habitat environments of the park, they will be able to unlock specific details, facts and suggestions throughout their journey thanks to hidden Bluetooth transmitting beacons, which trigger relevant content on a visitor’s smartphone based on their location.

“Users will also benefit from alerts on their mobile device informing them of special events during their visit, like meeting animals or presentations. By engaging with the app, visiting certain locations within the park and answering quiz questions, visitors can also earn promotional items and discount coupons for use within the park.”

installing iBeacon on Bucharest trolley to guide visually-impaired

Best of all,  Romania is using them in a very clever system, The Smart Public Transport (SPT) solution, to give visually-impaired riders audio clues through their smartphone about Bucharest’s bus system, a joint project of the Smart Public Transport project and Romania’s RATB trolley buses. Onyx Beacon, a Romanian company, is installing 500 Beacons on the city’s most heavily used public transportation vehicles (the project, incidentally, was funded by Vodafone under its “Mobile for Good” program, encouraging use of technology for social programs and to solve specific problems of those with special personal needs).

All of these projects show the utility — provided there are privacy and security provisions built in, and the systems are opt-in, of iBeacons for giving hyper-localized information and offers. If the Beacons in Space concept takes off, to eliminate the need to deploy more iBeacons for every new app, the concept might really become an important part of the IoT, whether for retail or civic uses.

Sensors remain critical to spread of Internet of Things

What happens with sensor design, cost, and security remains front-and-center with the Internet of Things, no matter how much we focus on advanced analytical tools and the growing power of mobile devices.

That’s because, on one hand, truly realizing the IoT’s full potential will require that at least some sensors get to the low-power, tiny size and cheap costs needed to realize Kris Pister’s dream of “smart dust” sensors that can be strewn widely.

On the other hand, there’s the chance that low-end sensors that don’t include adequate security firmware can’t keep up with the changing nature of security risks and may give hackers access to the entire network, with potentially disastrous effects.

That’s why several reports on sensors caught my eye.

PWC released a report, Sensing the Future of the Internet of Things, zeroing in on sensor sales as a proxy for increased corporate investment in the IoT, and concluding that by that measure, “the IoT movement is underway.” Based on its 2014 survey of 1,500 business and technology leaders worldwide, there was one eye-popping finding: the US lags behind the entire rest of the world in planned spending on sensors this year: 26% of Asian and almost as many from South America (percentage not given)  followed closely by Africa, with 18%.  The surprising laggards? Europe with 8% and North America, dead last at only 7%.  Hello?????

Equally interesting was the company’s listing of the industry segments leading the deployment of sensors and examples of the sensors they’re using:

  • Energy & Mining: 33%. “Sensors continuously monitor and detect dangerous carbon monoxide levels in mines to improve workplace safety.”
  • Power and Utilities: 32%.  Instead of the old one-way metering, “Internet-connected smart meters measure power usage every 15 minutes and provide feedback to the power consumer, sometimes automatically adjusting the system’s parameters.”
  • Automotive: 31%.  “Sensors and beacons embedded in the road working together with car-based sensors are used for hands-free driving, traffic pattern optimization and accident avoidance.”
  • Industrial: 25%. “A manufacturing plant distributes plant monitoring and optimization tasks across several remote, interconnected control points. Specialists once needed to maintain, service and optimize distributed plant operations are no longer required to be physically present at the plant location, providing economies of scale.”
  • Hospitality: 22%. “Electronic doorbells silently scan hotel rooms with infrared sensors to detect body heat, so the staff can clean when guests have left the room.”
  • Health Care: 20%. “EKG sensors work together with patients’ smartphones to monitor and transmit patient physical environment and vital signs to a central cloud-based system.”
  • Retail: 20%. “Product and shelf sensors collect data throughout the entire supply chain—from dock to shelf. Predictive analytics applications process this data and optimize the supply chain.”
  • Entertainment: 18%. “In the gaming world, companies use tracking sensors to transfer the movements of users onto the screen and into the action.”
  • Technology: 17%. “Hardware manufacturers continue to innovate by embedding sensors to measure performance and predict maintenance needs before they happen.”
  • Financial Services: 13%. “Telematics allows devices installed in the car to transmit data to drivers and insurers. Applications like stolen vehicle recovery, automatic crash notification, and vehicle data recording can minimize both direct and indirect costs while providing effective risk management.”

The surprises there were that health care penetration was so low, especially because m-health can be so helpful in diagnosis and treatment, while the examples of telematics seemed off the mark in the financial services category. Why not examples such as ApplePay?

More compelling were the relatively high rates of sensor deployment in high-stakes fields such as energy, utilities, and automotive: those are such huge industries, and the benefits of real-time data are so compelling that they show the IoT is really maturing.

Finally, the percentage of companies investing in sensors grew slightly, from 17% to 20%, with 25%of what PWC labels “Top Performers” are investing in them compared to 18% the previous year. Surprisingly, most companies don’t get it about sensors’ importance: only “14% of respondents said sensors would be of the highest strategic importance to their organizations in the next 3–5 years, as compared to other emerging technologies.”

Most important, 54% of those “Top Performers” said they’d invest in sensors this year.


 

Sensors’ promise as the size decreases — radically — and functionality increases was highlighted by The Guardian.  It focused on PragmaticIC Printing, a British firm that prints tiny, hairlike sensors on plastics. CEO Scott White’s hope is that:

” the ultra-thin microcircuits will soon feature on wine bottles to tell when a Chablis is at the perfect temperature and on medication blister packs to alert a doctor if an elderly patient has not taken their pills.

“With something which is slimmer than a human hair and very flexible, you can embed that in objects in a way that is not apparent to the user until it is called upon to do something. But also the cost is dramatically lower than with conventional silicon so it allows it to be put in products and packaging that would never justify the cost of a piece of normal electronics,” said White.

 

These uses certainly meet my test of real innovation: what can you do that you couldn’t do before. Or, as White puts it, “It is the combination of those factors [price and size] which allows us to start thinking about doing things with this which wouldn’t even be conceivable with conventional silicon based electronics.”

Another article that really caught my eye regarded a new category of “hearable” — and perhaps even, more radically, “disappearables” –sensors which the headline boldly predicted “As Sensors Shrink, Wearables Will Dis-appear.” But they were barely here in the first place, LOL!  The article mentioned significant breakthroughs in reducing sensors’ size and energy requirements, as well as harvesting ambient energy produced by sources such as bodily movement:

“Andrew Sheehy of Generator Research calculates that, for example, the heat in a human eyeball could power a 5 milliwatt transmitter – more than enough, he says, to power a connection from a smart contact lens to a smartphone or other controlling device.”

 The same article mentioned some cutting-edge research such as a Google/Novartis collaboration to measure glucose levels in tears via a contact lense, and an edible embedded microchip — the size of a grain of sand — and powered by stomach juices, which would transmit data by Bluetooth.
Elsewhere, a sampling of sensor design breakthroughs in recent months show the potential for radical reductions in costs and energy needs as well as increased sensitivity and data yield:

HOWEVER, as I said above, here’s what worries me. Are developers paying enough attention to security and privacy? That could be a real downfall for the IoT, since many sensors tend to be in place for years, and the nature of security challenges can change dramatically during that time.  Reducing price can’t be at the expense of security.

Let me know what steps you’re taking to boost sensor security, and I’ll mention them in a future post!

Outside the (Shoe) Box Internet of Things Thinking!

Posted on 30th March 2015 in design, Internet of Things, retail, strategy, wearables

Could someone please forward this to Carrie Bradshaw? I don’t think she reads this blog, but she’d definitely be interested!

I’ve got to confess that I’m usually oblivious to the world of fashion — or appalled by it (there’s a current ad by Gucci in one of my wife’s magazines that frankly scares me: not sure which looks more weird: the emaciated, heavily-made-up model or the dress!), but this one caught my eye as a way women can have a more versatile wardrobe that takes up less space and saves them money!  Neat, huh?

Equally important, it may be the precursor of a wide range of mass-customized Internet of Things devices of all types that are more personal, create new revenue streams, and provide valuable feedback to the manufacturer on customer tastes.

Ishuu, a Lithuanian startup, is creating a new line of très stylish women’s shoes, Volvorii, that include a strip of e-ink material (similar to a Kindle screen) that can be customized by the owner simply by opening an app on her phone! The requisite electronics are housed in the heels.

As of this writing, the Volvorii Indegogo campaign has raised $34,000 of its $50,000 target, with 14 days to go. If I didn’t send every spare dollar to Loyola University – Maryland for my son’s tuition, I think I’d drop a few on this one: it really intrigues me!

If Ishuu is smart, I’d suggest that they throw open the API for the shoes, and allow bright young fashion design students to submit new designs for the insert.

As for those IoT-based products that are more personal, create new revenue streams, and provide valuable feedback to the manufacturer on customer tastes, here are a few more exciting examples to get you noodling about how you might redesign your own products to capitalize on this potential:

What I love about this as a consumer is that we will no longer have to make difficult binary choices between products: instead of either/or, it will be this/and this (in the case of the Watch and these shoes, I love that there will be so many choices that you’ll be able to change your choice on the fly depending on your mood or other factors.  I’m going to choose toe-tapping Mickey when I’m with my grandchildren, the Utility to keep track of biz during the day, and the Simple for more dignified evening wear.

These fall into my What Can You Do Now That You Couldn’t Do Before category. It’s going to take us a while to ditch our old, more limited mindsets, but the rest will be better for everyone.

Disney MagicBands: as important symbolically for IoT as substantively!

(I’ve been meaning to write about this particular IoT device for a long time — my apologies for the delay)

I have no objective evidence for this, but I suspect that many C-level executives first learned about e-commerce when they placed personal orders during the Christmas season of 1995. Thus, Amazon deserves a disproportionate share of credit for launching the e-commerce era.

Magic Bands play a number of roles at Disney parks

Similarly, I suspect that many C-level executives’ first direct experience with the Internet of Things has come, or may come this holiday season, with their family’s first visit to Disneyworld since Disney began the beta testing of its MagicBands, which are arguably the most high-profile public IoT devices so far.

IMHO, Disney deserves a lot of credit for such a public IoT project, especially many of the initial reviews were decidedly mixed due to technical and management glitches — risking irritating customers. 

The project reportedly cost north of $1 billion.

The major lesson to decision makers in other industries to be gained from the MagicBand is my favorite IoT “Essential Truth“: who else can use this data?

Disney uses the band data, either by itself, or aggregated with other visitors, to improve almost every aspect of park operations, marketing, and the customer experience — illustrating the versatility of IoT devices:

  • control logistics, speeding entry to the park and individual rides
  • coordinate outside transportation
  • balance demand for various rides
  • add new functionality to existing technology such as the Disney app
  • control mechanical systems, such as hotel door locks
  • add a social component (and avoid the stresses of families getting
  • handle and speed in-park financial transactions
  • personalize the park experience and improve customer satisfaction
  • harvest and analyze big data on customer preferences.

The bands, which work because they have RFID chips inside, are worn on your wrist throughout your stay at the parks. When you book the trip, Disney lets you choose your favorite color, and the band comes in a presentation box with your name on it.

Before leaving, you can program it in conjunction with the My Disney Experience app and web page, entering key choices such as hotels, your favorite rides (FastPass+), dinner reservations, etc., and your credit card info so that they can be used to pay for meals and merchandise.

Disney warns visitors not to pack the bracelets in their luggage, because they are even used to board the transportation from the Orlando airport.

Putting aside the programming involved, this had to be a tremendous logistical challenge, changing the hotel locks, installing readers at each ride, putting readers in the restaurants and shops, which probably accounts for many of the glitches that customers reported during the pilot phase.

My future son-in-law, Greg Jueneman, who knows EVERYTHING about Disneyland, weighs in from a customer standpoint:

“I think they take the spontaneity out of a Disney World vacation. Everything has to be planned in advance and a schedule has to be followed. As a technology they are cool, I’m sure Disney had lots of plans for them but so far the only real thing that they do is open your hotel room without a “key” and allow you to pay for things without your cards (I’m sure Disney loves that! – some blogs Ifollow have said that spending with Magic Bands is up 40%, that’s impressive!).”

As you can imagine, there are also important data privacy and security issues: on one hand, it would probably be very cool to have Mickey come up to you and say “happy 5th birthday, Jeremy,” but that could also creep parents out, and you’d be worried about someone running up a tab on your credit card if you mislaid the band.

From my reading of the most recent media coverage, it appears that most of the beta test problems have been worked out, and that Disney is fully-committed to universal use of the bands in the future.

If you’re visiting Disney this holiday season, think about possible IoT strategy lessons for your company from the MagicBand:

  • marketing: how it can personalize the customer experience and increase sales?
  • transactions: how can it streamline transactions (have to think that Apple looked carefully at this in designing Apple Pay)?
  • operations: how can real-time data from many users help streamline operations and reduce congestion?

Maybe you can write off the family vacation as research! Have fun.

 

Egburt: key tool to make IoT pay off NOW

Posted on 31st October 2014 in data, energy, Internet of Things, maintenance, management, retail

As I’ve remarked before, writing the Managing the Internet of Things Revolution e-guide to IoT strategy for SAP was an eye-opener for me, shifting my attention from the eye-popping opportunities for radical reinvention through the IoT (products as services, user-customizable products, seamless smart phone-car integration, etc.) to very practical ways the IoT could begin optimizing companies’ current operations TODAY (BTW: much-deserved shout-out to SAP’s Mahira Kalim: it was dialogue with her that led to this insight!).

Egburt

In that vein, I was blown away at this week’s IoT Global Summit by the roll-out of Egburt by Camgian.

Egburt stresses two crucial, inter-related obstacles to widespread IoT solution deployment by mainstream businesses:

  • low cost-of-ownership sensing (by using very little energy, thereby extending battery life)
  • reducing potentially huge cloud-computing costs (because of the sheer volume of 24/7 sensor data) by allowing “fog computing,” where the processing would be done right at the collection process, with only the small amount of really relevant data being passed on to a central location.

The highlight of the product launch was a live demo of Egburt in real-time use at a chain of dollar stores in the south, monitoring a wide range of factors, from floor traffic to freezer operation (Camgian pointed out the system paid for itself in the first month of operation when it recorded failure of a freezer when the store was unoccupied, in time for immediate repairs to avoid loss of frozen foods).

Think about it: the very volume of Big Data possible with constant monitoring by a whole range of sensors can also be the IoT’s undoing. Since all that’s of interest in many cases is data that deviates from the norm, doesn’t it make sense to process that data at the collection point, then only pass on the deviations?

The company has targeted three IoT segments:

  • retail to reduce heating and lighting, and maximize sales through tracking foot traffic patterns to optimize product placement.
  • infrastructure: with sensors at key points such as bridges that will detect flooding and stress.
  • smart cities: optimizing emergency response.

In a sponsored white paper by ABI Research, “Evolution of the Internet of Things: from connected to intelligent devices,” they documented the benefits of going beyond first-generation, “connected,” IoT devices that were just sensors collecting and passing on data, to a second generation of “intelligent ones” such as Egburt the combine sensors and processing and offer not only lower operating costs but also — critically — more data security:

  • “Communication Latency: Handling more processing at the network’s edge reduces latency from the device’s actions. Use cases that are highly time-sensitive and require immediate analysis of, or response to, the collected sensor data are, in general, unfeasible under cloud- centric IoT architectures, especially if the data are sent over long distances.
  • “Data Security: By and large, sensitive and business-critical operational data are safer when encrypted adequately on the endpoint level. Unintelligent devices transmitting frequent and badly secured payloads to the cloud are generally more vulnerable to hacking and interception by unauthorized parties. Additionally, many enterprises may need to secure and control their machine data on the edge level for compliance reasons.
  • “Total Cost of Ownership: Perhaps most significantly, the paradigm shift can reduce the IoT systems’ total cost of ownership, or TCO. Intelligent devices are usually more expensive than less sophisticated alternatives, but their TCO over a long service life can be substantially lower.”

IMHO, for the IoT to be widely deployed, especially in SMEs, devices such as Egburt that reduce the cost of collecting and processing data are a critical component.


(PROMINENT DISCLAIMER: I actually won a FitBit in Camgian’s drawing at the conference. That has no impact on this review. Had I won the iPhone 6 that they also gave away, I would have totally been in the bag, LOL…)

Live Blogging from IoT Global Summit

I’ll be live-blogging for the next two days from the 2nd Internet of Things Global Summit.

  • Edith Ramirez, FTC chair:
    • potential for astounding benefits to society, transforming every activity
    • risks: very technology that allows this can also gather info for companies and your next employer
    • possible consumer loss of confidence in connected devices if they don’t think privacy w
    • 3 challenges:
      • adverse uses
      • security of the data
      • collection of the data
    • key steps companies should take:
      • security front and center
      • deidentify data
      • transparent policies
    • data will provide “startlingly complete pictures of us” — sensors can already identify our moods, even progression of neurological diseases
    • how will the data be used? will TV habits be shared with potential employers? Will it paint picture of you that others will see, but you won’t
    • will it exacerbate current socio-economic disparities?
    • potential for data breaches such as Target grows as more data is collected
    • FTC found some companies don’t take even most basic protections. Small size and cheap cost of some sensors may inhibit data protections
    • steps:
      • build security in from beginning
      • security risk assessment
      • test security measures before launch
      • implement defense and depth approach
      • encryption, especially for health data.
    • FTC action against TrendNet
    • follow principle of “data minimization,” only what’s needed, and dispose of it afterwards.
  • she’s skeptical of belief that there should be no limits on collection of data (because of possible benefits)
    • de-identified data: need dual approach — commit to not re-identify data
    • clear and simple notice to consumers about possible use of data.
    • Apple touting that it doesn’t sell data from Health App — critical to building consumer trust
    • transparency: major FTC priority. FTC review of mobile apps showed broad and vague standards on data collection & use.
  • Ilkka Lakaniemi, chair, FIWARE Future Internet PPP, EU perspective on IoT:
    • lot easier to start IoT businesses in Silicon Valley because of redundant regulations in EU
    • Open Standard Platform + Sustainable Innovation Ecosystem. “Synergy Platform”
  • Mark Bartolomeo,   vp of integrated solutions, Verizon:
    • Bakken Shale area visit: “landscape of IoT” solutions — pipeline monitoring, water monitoring, etc.
    • concerned about rapid urbanization: 30% of city congestion caused by drivers looking for parking. $120B wasted in time and fuel yearly.
    • cars: “seamless nodes” of system.
    • market drivers & barriers:
      • increased operational efficiency, new revenue streams, better service, comply with regulators, build competitive edge
      • fragmented ecosystem, complex development, significant back end obstacles
    • they want integrated systems.
    • need to remove barriers: aging infrastructure, congestion, public safety, economics
    • remove complexity
    • economies of scale: common services
    • trend to car sharing, smart grid
    • yea: highlighting intellistreets — one of my 1st fav IoT devices!!
    • Verizon working primarily on parking & traffic congestion on the East Coast, and water management in CA.

Smart Cities:

  • Nigel Cameron: nation-state receding, cities and corporations on ascendency
  • Sokwoo Rhee, NIST: Cyber-Physical Systems — emphasis on systems dynamics, data fed back into system, makes it autonomous.  Did Smart America Challenge with White House. Fragmentation on device level. Demonstrate tangible effects through collaborations. Examples: health care systems, transactive energy management, smart emergency response, water distribution, air quality. 24 projects.  Round Two is application of the projects to actual cities. Now 26 teams.
  • Joseph Bradley, VP, IoT Practice, Cisco Consulting: value isn’t in the devices, but the connections. Intersection of people, data, process, and things. Increase City of Nice’s parking revenue 40-60% without raising taxes through smart parking. They project $19 trillion in value over 10 years from combo of public and private innovations. Smart street lighting: reduces crime, property values increase, free wi-fi from the connected street lights. Barcelona is Exhibit A for benefits. Need: comprehensive strategy (privacy is a contextual issue: depends on the benefits you receive), scalability, apps, data analytics, transparency, powerful network foundation, IoT catalyst for breaking down silos, IoT must address people and process.
  • Ron Sege, chair and ceo of Echelon Corp: got started with smart buildings, 25 yrs. old. Why now with IoT: ubiquitous communications, low cost, hyper-competition, cloud. They do outdoor & indoor lighting and building systems. Challenges: move to one infrastructure/multiple use cases, will IT learn about OT & visa-versa?, reliability: critical infrastructure can’t fail & must respond instantly.
  • Christopher Wolf, Future of Privacy Forum: flexible, use-based privacy standards. Industry-wide approach to privacy: auto industry last week told NISTA about uniform privacy standards for connected cars (neat: will have to blog that…).
  • Peter Marx, chief innovation officer, City of LA:  big program to reduce street lights with LEDs: changed whole look of city at night & saves lot of money. 6 rail lines being built there. Adding smart meters for water & power. EV chargers on street lights. Held hackathon for young people to come up with ideas to improve city. Procurement cycles are sooo arcane that he suggests entrepreneurs don’t do business with city — he just tries to enable them.

Outside the City:

  • Darrin Mylet, Adaptrum: Using “TV white space spectrum” in non-urban areas. Spectrum access critical:need mix of spectrum types. Where do we need spectrum? Most need in non-line-of-sight areas such as trees, etc. Examples: not only rural, but also some urban areas (San Jose); Singapore; Africa; redwood forests;
  • Arturo Kuigami, World Bank: examples in developing nations: (he’s from Peru); most of global migration is to smaller cities; look at cities as ecosystems; “maker movement” is important — different business models: they partnered with Intel and MIT on “FabLabs” in Barcelona this year. MoMo — water access point monitoring in Tanzania.  Miroculus: created by a global ad hoc team — cheap way to make cancer diagnosis: have identified 3-4 types of cancers it can diagnose. Spirometer to measure COPD, made by a 15-year old! “IoT can be a global level playing field.”
  • Chris Rezendes, INEX Advisors: Profitable sustainability: by instrumenting the physical world, we can create huge opportunities for a wide range of people outside our companies. Focusing on doing a better job of instrumenting and monitoring our groundwater supplies: very little being done in SW US right now (INEX investing in a startup that is starting this monitoring). If we have better data on groundwater, we can do a better job of managing it. “Embrace complexity upfront” to be successful.
  • Shudong Chen, Chinese Academy of Sciences: talking about the Chinese food security crisis because of milk production without a food production license.  Government launched “Wuxi Food Science & Technology Park.”

Smart Homes:

  • Tobin Richardson, Zigbee Alliance: critical role of open, global standards. Zigbee LCD lights now down to $15.
  • Cees Links, GreenPeak Technologies: Leader in Zigbee-based smart home devices. Smart home waay more complex than wi-fi.  1m chips a week, vs. 1 million for whole year of 2011. “Not scratching the surface.” Small data — many small packets.
  • Todd Green, CEO PubNub: data stream network.
  • no killer app for the smart home..  Controlling by your phone not really that great a method.
  • FTC agrees with me: a few adverse stories (TrendNet baby cam example) can be really bad for an industry in its infancy.
  • always hole in security. For example, you can tell if no one’s home because volume of wi-fi data drops.W
  • FTC: consumer ed critical part of their work. Working now on best practices for home data protection.
  • mitigation after a security breach? Always be open, communicate (but most hunker down!).

DAY TWO

Beyond Cost Savings: Forging a Path to Revenue Generation

  • Eric Openshaw: (had tech problems during his preso: very important one — check the Deloitte The Internet of Things white paper for details) cost savings through IoT not enough for sustainable advantage: need to produce new revenue to do that. Defined ecosystem shaping up, which creates clarity, breaks down silos.
    • areas: smart grid, health care, home automation, cars, industrial automation
    • study the GE jet model for health care: what if doctors were paid to keep us healthy.
    • need comprehensive understanding of the change issues
    • be very specific: singular asset class, etc. — so you get early victories
    • companies will have overarching, finite roadmap
    • security & privacy dichotomy: differentiate between personal health care data and data from your washing machine. Most of us will share all sorts of information if there’s something in return
    • get focused on customer and product life cycle — that’s where the money will be. Focus on operating metric level. This is most far-reaching tech change he’s seen.

Managing Spectrum Needs

  • Julius Knapp, Chief, FCC Office of Engineering & Technology: new opportunity to combine licensed and unlicensed space. Described a number of FCC actions to reconsider role of various types of spectrum. “Hard to predict I0T’s long-term spectrum needs” because industry is new: they’ll watch developments in the field.
  • Prof. H. Nwana, exec. director of Dynamic Spectrum Alliance: most spectrum usually not used in most places at most time.  His group working to use changes to spectrum to end digital divide: (used incredible map showing how much of world, including US, China, India, W. Europe, could be fitted into Africa).
  • Carla Rath, VP for Wireless Policy, Verizon: “in my world, the network is assumed.”  Need for more spectrum — because of growth in mobile demand. Praises US govt. for trying to make more spectrum available. Don’t want to pigeonhole IoT in certain part of spectrum: allow flexibility.  Tension between flexibility and desire for global standards when it comes to IoT.
  • Philip Marnick, group director of spectrum policy, Ofcom UK:  no single solution.  Market determines best use. Some applications become critical (public safety, etc.) — must make sure people using those are aware of chance of interference.
  • Hazem Moakkit, vp of spectrum development for 03b (UK satellite provider for underserved areas of developing world): “digital divide widened by IoT if all are not on board.” Fair allocation of spectrum vital.
  • interesting question: referred to executive of a major farm equipment manufacturer whose products are now sensor-laden (must be John Deere…) and is frustrated because the equipment won’t work in countries such as Germany due to different bands.

Architecting the IoT: Sensing, Networking & Analytics: 

  • Tom Davenport: IoT highly unpredictable. “Great things about standards is there’s so many to choose from” — LOL.  Will IoT revolution be more top down or bottom up?
  • Gary Butler, CEO, Camgian: announcing an edge system for IoT. Driven by sensor info. Need new networking architecture to combine sensing and analytics to optimize business processes, manage risk. Systems now built from legacy equipment, not scalable. They’re announcing new platform: Egburt. Applicable to smart cities, retailing, ifrastructure (I’ll blog more about this soon!!). “Intelligence out of chaos.” Anomaly detection. Real-time analysis at the device level. Focus on edge computing. Must strengthen the ROI.
  • Xiaolin Lu, Texas Instruments fellow & director of IoT Lab: Working in wearables, smart manufacturing, smart cities, smart manufacturing, health care, automotive. TI claims it has all IoT building blocks: nodes, gateway/bridge or router/cloud.  Power needs are really critical, with real emphasis on energy harvesting from your body heat, vibration, etc. Challenges: sensing and data analytics, robust connectivity, power, security, complexity, consolidation of infrastructure and data. Big advocates for standards. They work on smart grid.
  • Steve Halliday, president, RAIN RFID: very involved in standards. 4 BILLION RFID tags shipped last year. Don’t always want IP devices. Power not an issue w/ RFID because they get their power from the reader. Think RFID will be underpinning of IoT for long time. Lot of confusion in many areas about IoT, especially in manufacturing.
  • Sky Mathews, IBM CTO: IBM was one of earliest in the field, with Smarter Planet. Lot of early ones were RFID. A variety of patterns emerging for where and how data is processed. What APIs do you want to expose to the world? “That’s where the real leaps of magnitude will occur” — so design that in from beginning.

‘People’ Side of the IoT: meeting consumer expectations:

  • Mark Eichorn, asst. director, Consumer Protection Bureau, FTC: companies that have made traditional appliances & now web-enable them aren’t always ready to deal with data theft. Security and privacy: a lot don’t have privacy policies at all. At their workshop, talk about people being able to hack your insulin readings.
  • Daniel Castro, sr. analyst, Center for Data Innovation: thinks that privacy issue has been misconstrued: what people really care about is keeping data from government intrusion. Can car be designed so a cop could pull it over automatically (wow: that’s a thought!). Chance for more liability with misuse of #IoT data.
  • Linda Sherry, director of national priorities, Consumer Action: “convenience, expectations and trust.” “What is the IoT doing beside working?” Connecting everything may disenfranchise those who aren’t connected. Need to register those who collect data – hmm. Hadn’t heard that one before. Even human rights risks, stalking, etc. — these issues must be thought about. Can algorithms really be trusted on issues such as insurance coverage? How do you define particularly sensitive personal data? “Hobbling the unconnected” when most are connected? “Saving consumers from themselves.” “Document the harms.” Make sure groups with less $ can really participate in multi-stakeholder negotiations.
  • Stephen Pattison, vp of public affairs, ARM Holdings: disagrees with Linda about slowing things down: we want to speed up IoT as instrument of transformation. We need business model for it. Talks about how smart phone didn’t explode until providers started subsidizing purchase. He suspects that one model might be that a company would provide you whole range of smart appliances in return for your data. “Getting data right matters.” “Freak events” drive concerns about data security & privacy: they generate concern and, sometimes, “heavy-handed” regulation.
    Industry must work together on framework for data that creates confidence by public. Concerns about data are holding back investment in the field. They’re working with AMD on a framework: consumers own their own data — must start with that (if they do, people will cooperate); not all data equally sensitive — need chain of custody to keep data anomyzed; security must be right at the edge; simplify terms and conditions.
    Sometimes thinks that, in talking about IoT, it’s like talking about cars in 1900, but we managed to create a set of standards that allowed it to grow: “rules of the road,” etc.
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Why It’s So Hard to Predict Internet of Things’ Full Impact: “Collective Blindness”

I’ve been trying to come up with a layman’s analogy to use in explaining to skeptical executives about how dramatic the Internet of Things’ impact will be on every aspect of business and our lives, and why, if anything, it will be even more dramatic than experts’ predictions so far (see Postscapes‘ roundup of the projections).

See whether you thing “Collective Blindness” does justice to the potential for change?

 

What if there was a universal malady known as Collective Blindness, whose symptoms were that we humans simply could not see much of what was in the world?

Even worse, because everyone suffered from the condition, we wouldn’t even be aware of it as a problem, so no one would research how to end it. Instead, for millennia we’d just come up with coping mechanisms to work around the problem.

Collective Blindness would be a stupendous obstacle to full realization of a whole range of human activities (but, of course, we couldn’t quantify the problem’s impact because we weren’t even aware that it existed).

Collective Blindness has been a reality, because vast areas of our daily reality have been unknowable in the past, to the extent that we have just accepted it as a condition of reality.

Consider how Collective Blindness has limited our business horizons.

We couldn’t tell when a key piece of machinery was going to fail because of metal fatigue.

We couldn’t tell how efficiently an entire assembly line was operating, or how to fully optimize its performance.

We couldn’t tell whether a delivery truck would be stuck in traffic.

We couldn’t tell exactly when we’d need a parts shipment from a supplier, nor would the supplier know exactly when to do a new production run to be read.

We couldn’t tell how customers actually used our products.

That’s all changing now. Collective Blindness is ending, …. and will be eradified by the Internet of Things.

What do you think? Useful analogy?