Greetings from rainy Las Vegas! Yes, you read that right. It does pour every now and then in the desert. Despite the less-than-ideal weather conditions, the IoT For All team braved the unexpected moisture and has boiled down 3.5 days worth of presentations into 7 things you need to know.
7 Takeaways from IoT Evolution West 2017
1) LPWAN is Alive and Well
As a modern day Mark Twain might have quipped, the reports of LPWAN’s death are greatly exaggerated. Despite the predictions of new cellular technologies such as LTE-M and NB-IoT displacing the need for Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs), they are alive and well.
Mark Josephson (CEO of Coris) moderated a panel with John Horn (Former CEO of Ingenu), Dave Kjendal (CTO of Senet), and Dane Witbeck (President of Meshify) to discuss why LPWANs are still the right choice for battery-powered, cost-sensitive IoT applications.
Assuming you don’t need to stream video or audio, enterprises should seriously consider LoRa and RPMA technology for certain Applications. New advancements in over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates, position fixing without GPS, and declining costs for radio modules make them an attractive choice and, unlike, some of the emerging cellular technologies, they’re available now.
2) MulteFire is Getting Hotter
MulteFire is a LTE-based small cell technology that operates in unlicensed shared spectrum at 5GHz (same as WiFi) and delivers LTE performance with WiFi simplicity. It provides enhanced coverage and capacity, mature security, and a robust user experience appropriate for ISPs, mobile operators, cable companies, enterprises, and small businesses.
Mazen Chmaytelli, President of the MulteFire Alliance and Senior Director of Business Development at Qualcomm, discussed how removing the financial barriers of licensed spectrum makes it an excellent choice for many indoor and outdoor neutral host deployments within malls, airports, hospitals, venues, campuses, factories, and warehouses.
The MulteFire Alliance was initiated by Qualcomm and Nokia in late 2015 and has been embraced by Intel, Ericsson, Huawei, Boingo, Comcast, Cisco, CableLabs, Sony, SoftBank, and other industry giants. MulteFire uses Listen-Before-Talk mechanisms, power level management, and channel sensing for WiFi coexistence and supports streaming applications like video and voice. If this new communications technology is not on your product roadmap, you might want to consider it. For more details, go to https://www.multefire.org.
3) IoT Technologies Will Disrupt the Insurance Industry
The ubiquity of IoT presents numerous opportunities for the disruption of business-as-usual within the insurance industry.
Marc Josephson (Coris) moderated a lively panel with Craig Copeland (Swiss Re), Ashok Nare (Kollabio), and Anand Rao (PWC) to discuss the implications of real-time remote monitoring on risk models and premium calculations.
Timing is still uncertain but the applications for security (homeowners/renters insurance), driver behavior (auto insurance), worker’s compensation (business insurance), and fitness (health insurance) are coming. No longer will premiums be calculated on an annual or semi-annual basis; expect near real-time adjustments to costs as relevant behavioral data is available via IoT technologies.
4) Lessons on IoT From Amazon
John Rossman, former Amazon executive and author of the book “The Amazon Way,” hosted a keynote on how to rethink products in a connected world.
He explained that IoT is much more than simply applying technology to reduce costs and increase business intelligence but rather an opportunity to evolve static products into sticky services that create a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with end users. Companies that understand this dynamic and build seamless end-to-end solutions, whether for consumers or businesses, will be the big winners when the smoke clears.
5) Processing and Storage Continues its Relentless March to the Edge
Cloud computing is all the rage these days for good reason but many real-time IoT applications require processing and storage closer to the edge. The advantages of edge computing include decreased communications costs, better security, fewer single points of systemic failure, and faster decision times.
Chris Cellberti of the InField Group led a discussion with Robert Lutz (VP of Business Development at Systech Corporation) and Hiep Pham (VP of Research and Development at Virtium) on how gateway/access point compute and storage solutions can enable applications that aren’t possible with a cloud-based approach.
In many IoT Applications, gateways act as local aggregation points in star topologies and are a natural place to augment processing and storage capabilities – especially for IIoT Applications.
6) Remote Asset Management is a Killer IoT Application
Asset tracking and remote management is one of the hottest IoT areas right now. Numerous sensor, communications, and software companies are working on integrated solutions that permit always-on, two-way communication and precise tracking of nearly any valuable asset – from cars to boats to containers to heavy equipment.
Angel Mercedes from Sierra Wireless hosted a chat with Julie McGowan (GLOBECOMM), Chuck Moseley (Inmarsat), Sudhakar Marthi (ZOHO Corporation), and Dan Harper (Siren Marine) on how the benefits of IoT are changing the way businesses and consumers monitor their fixed and mobile assets.
Satellite communications, inexpensive and precise location, and solar-powered battery recharging are some of the technological advances that are driving this trend across Applications such as theft reduction, inventory management, supply chain optimization, and proactive preventative maintenance.
7) Large-Scale IoT Deployments are Scarce
And finally, this was not mentioned during a particular track or presentation but rather an observation by speaking with attendees, exhibitors, and presenters. Large-scale enterprise implementations of IoT are extremely rare – regardless of the underlying technology – and most revenue for IoT providers is in systems integration.
Impediments to scale include technological immaturity, high recurring communication costs, expensive sensors with custom firmware, and lack of a proven value proposition. The good news for industry players is that we are in the early innings of a larger automation cycle with the majority of SaaS/PaaS revenue still to come. Just batten down the hatches and make sure you have enough financial runway to weather the bumpy ride.