In episode 96 of the IoT For All Podcast, Matt Hatton of Transforma Insights joins us to talk about the IoT landscape of 2020 and 2021. Matt shares some forecasts for the IoT space for early 2021, including the role of hyperscalers on the landscape, and some of the biggest challenges coming for companies looking to start their IoT journeys.
Matt Hatton is a respected commentator and technology industry expert with more than 20 years’ experience at the cutting edge of technology research and consulting. He is a thought-leader in Digital Transformation and the Internet of Things. He is widely quoted in trade publications and a frequent speaker at conferences. His podcast, The Wireless Noodle is a weekly guide to the impact of disruptive technologies on business. In 2020 Matt co-wrote a book ‘The Internet of Things Myth’.
Interested in connecting with Matt? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
About Transforma Insights: Transforma Insights is a research firm focused on the world of IoT, AI and Digital Transformation (DX). Led by seasoned technology industry analysts we provide advice, recommendations and decision support tools for organizations seeking to understand how new technologies will change the markets in which they operate.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:28) Intro to Matt
(02:18) Intro to Transforma Insights
(07:16) How do you view the IoT market opportunity, currently?
(10:31) How do you see hyperscalers having an impact on IoT?
(11:38) How would you describe the connectivity landscape?
(17:20) How do you view the current landscape for hardware?
(19:12) What do you see as the biggest challenges facing companies starting their IoT journey?
(21:44) Do you have any best practices or advice you can share with companies getting started in IoT?
(27:21) How have you seen COVID affect things in the IoT space?
(30:05) What are your predictions for next year?
– [Ken] You are listening to the IoT For All Media Network.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the IoT for our podcast on the IoT For All Media Network. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon one of the Co-Creators of IoT For All. Now, before we jump into this episode, please don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform or join our newsletter at IoTforall.com/newsletter to catch all the newest episodes as soon as they come out. So without further ado please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All Podcast. Welcome Matt to the IoT For All show thanks for joining me here today.
– [Matt] My pleasure being here.
– [Ryan] It’s great to have you. You wanna start off by just giving a quick introduction about yourself talking a little bit about your background experience and a little bit more about you for our audience sake?
– [Matt] Yeah, absolutely. My heritage is a telecoms guy really. I’ve been mostly as a technology industry analyst a little bit time working as a mobile operator but mostly as an analyst and in the last 15 years pretty much entirely focused on IoT actually. So that’s my background, but most interestingly I guess I founded a company called Machina Research back in 2011, which I sold to Gartner in 2016. So we managed to establish that as a pretty strong IoT analyst firm. I’m now back with the new firm Transformer insights which keep talking November.
– [Ryan] So tell me a little more about Transformer what do you all do? Is it kind of different from the firm you started and then sold to Gartner or is it kind of a different approach?
– [Matt] Similar sort of a shift. The focus area is kinda IoT plus the interesting thing was back in the day towards the latter days of Machina Research we tended to find ourselves having conversations with people about the intersection of IoT with a bunch of other technologies. Things like data exchange or AI or blockchain we figured you know what, it’s pretty much the same people who are interested in these topics. And they got questions about how all these things interact with each other, and we figured what to really deliver value, we actually have to be looking at all of these across the board. So when we were sitting down working out what we wanted to do with transforming size we figured actually we need to be looking at a broader range of disruptive technologies. I mean IoT is home, right? IoT is where we come from, that’s where we’ve always earned our crust but I think it’s increasingly important to understand all these other technologies the AIs and the distributed ledgers and the edge computings and all these other various different areas. So that’s one variation, slightly different focus on coverage areas. In terms of everything else it’s broadly the same. We’re doing some very very detailed market forecasts, our IoT ones are just out as all of a few weeks ago or the latest greatest additional levels of granularity routers of as of earlier in September. And we’re publishing also a whole load of reports looking at best practice. We technically and commercial best practices effectively what we do on the on the qualitative side of things. And a little bit more aimed to the… Perhaps at the enterprise user rather than the vendor community but that mean when we have a book.
– [Ryan] So how do most people engage with your company? Is it on kind of the services side from a consulting standpoint, or is it more from the content and the reporting and the analysis that you do and kinda paying for insights on their side?
– [Matt] Mostly it’s on a subscription basis. We tend to… When I say prefer yeah I guess I’ll say prefer that model. It’s a right once and sell to multiple people type of a model. And I think in terms of scalability, it makes rather more sense than the consulting beast. Now we do the consulting piece, there’s things around white papers and webinars and that sort of marketing into the section. And also strategic consultant around okay, rule run the rule over my company strategy type thing as well. So there is an element of that but I think the greatest value tends to be delivered on the multi-client because anybody who’s a subscriber they gets access to all this wide range of content that we put together and it’s more cost effective way of doing I think.
– [Ryan] That makes sense. Okay. And is there a certain type of company or stage the company’s in that you kinda focus your efforts on, or is it kinda a spread across the board?
– [Matt] It’s quite a mix, really there’s two main groups of clients, so one is the technology vendors and that they’re not even vendors large and small. The big guys tend to want to know how do they match up against their competitors or how the market dynamics working out these types of things? And the smaller companies are often looking to understand what how do we get a foothold in this space? How do we start competing with the big boys? What are we doing there? So we’ve worked with a massive array of different size and shapes of vendors in the IoT space. In terms of the adopters tends to be at a bigger sort of fortune 500 end of the spectrum. People who are in the sort of Chief Digital Operator Chief Digital Officer or certainly within an innovation business unit say that sort of thing. I mean, there’s no consistency with job titles as you can probably imagine but it’s that sort of role because those are the organizations that have time to sit and think about okay, what do we wanna do about some of these disruptive technologies or even doing the horizon scanning for which the disruptive technologies that we need to be worried about because we’re an established organization and SMB tends not to have either the bandwidth or necessarily the concerns about it because well maybe they should, but it tends not to be where we are.
– [Ryan] Gotcha. Okay. So now if we talk a little bit more about kind of the work you all done and your kinda overview of the market, I’d love to get a sense of how you just view the general IoT market opportunity. So I understand you’ve done recent research. That includes a lot of forecasting around that. So how would you just kinda to our audience explain your all’s view of the market opportunity that lies within IoT?
– [Matt] I think it’s safe to say it’s a big opportunity. If you want numbers we’re talking 25 billion connected devices, over a trillion dollars in revenue by 2030. Thing with IoT though is, it’s not a market. It’s not one market certainly it lots of different fragmented markets that happen to use a set of technologies that look some water like, right? And anybody addressing the space has to have that realization and address it in a rather more piecemeal approach than this idea of it’s an umbrella of IoT might suggest. Same thing applies with… We talk a lot about digital transformation or the industry talks a lot about digital transformation. That’s another sort of semi nonsense term because it incorporates a whole load of different disruptive technologies all the ways you’re doing different things for different people, but it’s kind of useful for us to think about it in that way and talk about it in that way. But in terms of how the market is developing yeah a lot of opportunity, what we’ve got at the moment is you saw probably in the first, just go back maybe 10 years, right? 2010 to 2015, that kind of appeared lots of technology innovation suddenly can get the concept of IoT or the opportunity of IoT came onto a lot of companies radars. Now we had industrial monitoring systems and telematics and so on for decades before that but it was kind of that decade where there was a lot of interest and a lot of new technologies we got the platformization of the space and there were also new access technologies came around and so on. And then in the latter half of the 2010s things went a bit quiet. It was a bit of a struggle to deliver or more of the focus was on delivery. I sometimes refer to it as the first IoT winter. The AI they talk about winters in AI a lot where it takes a while for the market or just say ecosystem to catch up with the technology developments that have come before. And I think that’s probably a reasonable way of thinking about it. We’ve got all these great technologies and then it takes a little while for the businesses who are implementing it to actually get to grips with it. So things went a little bit quiet necessarily so no it’s not a criticism, but it things did go a little quieter and now they’re starting to really ramp up again. We’ve got some really interesting stuff coming through or the low power wide area technologies really coming on stream hyper conductivity, sorry, the hyperscalers are really starting to get interesting space. So there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening.
– [Ryan] So how do you see hyperscalers kinda having an impact on IoT?
– [Matt] I would say if there’s one thing that defines what’s gonna happen with IoT in the next five to 10 years, it’s the impact of AWS and Microsoft and I’ve kinda described as they almost have to decide how far into this they want to go, how deep into it they wanna get. For them they effectively own the cloud space and with everything moving out of the cloud and towards the edge with more automation and AI and so on, it’s much more incumbent on them to push into that space, which puts them more into the firing line of actually owning more of IoT and being responsible for supporting a lot more of it. So I feel like there… That’s more or less where the action’s at and how they see to seek to capitalize it.
– [Ryan] Yeah. That makes a lot of sense One of the other things you mentioned in your statement a second ago was around the kind of the value that LPWAN technologies are playing in the growth of IoT. So I wanted to kinda chat a little bit about that for a second and talk all about just the general landscape on the connectivity side. So we have these LPWAN technologies we have 5G, we have private networks, we have just a wide variety of different connectivity technologies that are in the market today. How do you kinda just generally describe that overall connectivity landscape and the implications that has for IoT because we talk a lot about connectivity here and we are big believers in what LPWAN technologies are going to enable, not just in the Applications but oftentimes the connectivity is inexpensive which if you tie that with cheaper devices then that allows a larger deployments and larger adoption and more connected devices out in the field which is overall to stuff IoT as an industry. So how do you… Or I guess I’d love to get your thoughts on kinda how the connectivity landscape is shaping out and kinda what you see happening over the next couple of years and just the general implications those different technologies or new technologies are gonna have on the industry?
– [Matt] Yeah. I think if I had to pick one word it’s patchwork I think about it in terms of if we went back to 2010 again. 2010 you seek a SIM card in something that’s probably got a to G modem in it. You send it out anywhere in the world and it works. Now, limited capability, limited functionality it’s probably pretty expensive, but it would work. What we’ve got now is much more of as I said patchwork of different technologies being available. You’ve got 2G and 3G switch off which has already happened. You’ve got 5G coming in at different rates. You’ve got the new what we would now term MMTC technologies that LTM and narrow band IoT coming in with very varying approaches and strategies for rollout, some companies deciding not even to deploy MBOT and going for law, you have all sorts of strategic decisions on this. Which means that for the first time in probably 2025 late years, we’re reaching for our coverage maps. And we’re talking about roaming agreements and this is slightly frustrating if I’m perfectly honest but I guess it’s a stage that has to be gone through in order to deliver the additional functionality. This is not being done for no reason. This is being done to… As the trade-off is you get a whole lot more additional functionality and capability. It’s gonna be connecting these devices using Narrowband IoT, and then it is connecting 2G eventually, but you’ve still got to get through that phase of network deployment, network optimization and all of these various things that we sort of took for granted with the legacy technologies. So I see there is a lot more tools not useful tools, but yeah it’s a challenging environment and there’s a lot of complexity for anybody who’s having to make those decisions about which technologies to adopt at the moment. So big gap in the market for anyone who can remove that complexity.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I think that’s a good statement just across the board in IoT, right? Like the complexities associated with IoT solutions because there’s so many different components to make a solution successful and the knowledge and expertise you need to have to handle and make decisions around each component individually. To put them together is not always something that each firm or company has, which is also the reason why companies are hesitant to get involved in the IoT spaces. They think they have to understand hardware, they have to understand connectivity, they understand the cloud, they have to understand what happens to the data and how it gets displayed on to the end user so it’s a lot of different moving pieces. So as the connectivity I think you know more options I think is a good thing like you said but I think finding people who really understand and can match the connectivity with the Applications is gonna be vitally important not just to save on costs but also to have deployments be successful.
– [Matt] Yeah, I think so. But the good news is, generally speaking things are getting better. This scenario with the conductivity landscape is a short term thing. We’ve got almost a perfect storm of dumping of 2G and 3G networks, arrival of 5G low power technologies, the growth of private networks, all of these stuffs suddenly happening all at one time. But that’s not the general trend. The general trend is towards more easy to use tools. The platform, the arrival of all of these various IoT platforms in the early 2010s was a perfect example. Prior to that there was an awful lot of custom build, and it can only be good news for most organizations that these tools help to simplify the process and make significantly cheaper, the process of doing all these things. Anyone can hire Accenture to go build them an IoT app of their choice. And we’ll always be a solution to driving out this complexity. But fortunately I think that’s getting a little closer to the end user in terms of the actual products.
– [Ryan] Well, how you view the hardware landscape to as a connector as it relates to connectivity. So I usually when we talk to companies, it seems like the hardware is usually the most difficult part not just from a cost perspective and finding hardware that fits in to ensure that they have the ROI they’re looking for, but also just from the maturity of the technology as you kinda mentioned a lot of these solutions have been built kind of from scratch and are custom but obviously there are a lot of turnkey devices out there. How do you kinda see the current hardware landscape and kind of the evolution of it going forward in order to kinda help contribute or help IoT reach a more mature level and really grow adoptions?
– [Matt] I don’t think I’ve gotten much of an answer for you to be perfectly honest. I don’t see the just cards on the table. I don’t think the hardware landscape has changed that much in the last few years. And so I would say there’s not a lot to be said on it. If I’m perfectly honest, obviously the technology has changed and they are updating they’re adding new capabilities as they go. But in terms of anything that’s really moved the goalposts, I haven’t seen really an awful lot in the last few years, not compared to how the connectivity providers have really changed their approach or the ERP CRM vendors, for instance, having a lot of people adapting what they do to more readily address the IoT opportunity but the hardware space not so much in my opinion.
– [Ryan] Sure. And so I guess one question I kinda have sort of relates is, hardware we’ve seen as a challenge for a lot of companies, but in your experience, working with a variety of different organizations of all shapes and sizes where have you seen the biggest challenges lie for those organizations in either the early planning stages of, you know on their IoT journey, or if you engage with the company and they’ve already attempted to go down the IoT path and maybe haven’t been successful, are there any kind of common areas you’re seeing a lot of companies hit roadblocks in?
– [Matt] Yeah, and in sort internal really. A lot of it is to do with not thinking through, you know, that’s unfair. A lot of it’s to do with having a technological roadmap but not a commercial roadmap for six days. So these things tend to get run by the it department and the it department thinks about the technology but doesn’t really give that much thought to what would they do if this proof of concept works out? What are you gonna do in terms of the how you adapted internal processes within the organization or the, how the finance department might be affected or the other human resources or the company culture and these very other things that are internal are much more the sticking point than technology really. And I think that’s probably nothing new and nothing too surprising. If I had a dollar for every time somebody had said the big challenge is not the technology, it’s the commercial issues, well, I’d have several dollars. But, you know it’s a pretty common thing to be set. But it doesn’t equally apply here. And we see that as frequently the stumbling block, you know, not having these two paths which are overlapping and sort of stocking off each other to allow for success. And I mean, there’s a, there’s a whole host of other ones. We run a webinar, which looked at some strategies for success for implementation of IoT based on some real world examples that we’ve seen. And then there was a whole bunch of interesting examples there. I mean, I’ve summarized a little bit but if anybody’s interested I can
– [Ryan] Okay, great. So I wanted to kind of then go from the challenges side of what you’ve seen to more of the kind of advice best practices, that kind of thing. So I assume, obviously, you’ve you not just analyzed but also been involved in hundreds of real-world IoT deployments at some connection or another, and what have you kind of learn from that experience that you would be willing to share with our audience on kind of best practices and kind of advice for getting started, or if you’ve already started things you should be thinking about making sure you’re really devoting your time to in order to ensure the best chance.
– [Matt] Yeah, I think one piece of advice will be learned from what other people have done. Pretty obvious one I would say but it’s not often when the people take on board, you know running numerous proofs of concept, just to test the waters for something that you may not actually want to ever do, it wastes a lot of time. And there are numerous examples of pretty much every company deploying any kind of… Every type of company deploying any type of IoT that you might choose to mention. So there’s certainly that as a recommendation I think we’ve got, well, I come back to this idea of making sure you’ve put in place both the commercial and the technical teams in order to to work through your requirements. It’s very useful to have involvement from somebody senior somebody within the C level or some C level executive would be ideal. And it’s typically best if it’s not IoT who’s in charge of this stuff because fundamentally IoT is not an IT problem. IoT is a business process problem, or it’s a new product issue or it’s about having streamlining some kind of a process within your organization for cost savings or whatever, which puts it in the realm of the product manager or Chief Product Officer or CTO, or even CFO. And those tend to be better people to drive these kinds of initiatives than CIO or the IT department more broadly.
– [Ryan] That makes a lot of sense. How have you seen kind of the education or the availability of kind of, you know, knowledge share of impact. How the internal teams have been able to, I guess, better understand IoT to make the process easier and I guess be less risk adverse to kinda go down the IoT path, because one of the things we need in the past before we started IoT for all was the most content out there was very intense. It was very engineered engineer focused. It was very technical, kind of like you alluded to earlier as a lot of the thought process is very technical. It’s not really around necessarily the business case it’s not necessarily around the intended end user. And kinda thinking from that standpoint backwards it’s all focused around technology. So when we started IoT for all our big focus was let’s write content that anyone can understand. So the people out there that are not in IoT, but maybe you want that IoT could help their business but they’re not technical could understand the value of IoT how it applies to their business, and then what they can do, they can start adopting it, then just generally help the market. And, you know, the IoT space in general just kind of grow but how have you seen just the general availability of that expertise and knowledge And then the impact it’s had on organizations that you speak to you? Like, are you coming into conversations with customers and they’re pretty well informed and understanding of what IoT is, the technologies around IoT what they can do, and or they kind of coming into it like really kind of clueless and leaning on you all to really guide them down that path.
– [Matt] Oh it’s a wide mix, but I think there is… What you flag up is one of the big challenges which is the technologists, the vendor community predominantly talking the language of the potential user. Now, I’m probably immune to it. ‘Cause when I sit in a room and have a conversation with a technology vendor, I probably want them to talk to me about technology. I mean, in as broader sense as we possibly can. But I had a really interesting conversation with a company Stream Analyze the other week. I’ve got no connection with them. Other than that, it was a very interesting conversation, and they do data flow management. One of their slides was, “If you’re a product manager “this is how it affects your product.” I’m putting it in those kinds of terms. Thinking about what the role of the person is that they’re talking to and counting what their product does in the context of what that person does. It seems like a no brainer, but a lot of companies don’t do it. And I think thinking very carefully about what the audience is, is a critical thing.
– [Ryan] I totally agree with you. I wanna transition, just kind of as a wrapping up here and ask you a question kind of about, it’s really relevant to the times right now and see from your angle, because a lot of the guests that had on the podcast have a very, you know like basically the question is how’s COVID affecting things and they have a viewpoint from their own organization but I think you guys have, you know access to a wide variety of industries. A wide variety of company types. So I’m kind of curious to hear your take on how you’ve seen COVID affects things in the IoT space across industries, rather than just focused on one and kind of how you see it changing things going into 2021.
– [Matt] Yeah, I think if I could describe it in four words it’s demand up supply down. So there’s a lot of Applications in IoT where there is increasing demand, offshoring of manufacturing, increasing automation in manufacturing, building automation is that there’s a whole load of extra demand, that the pent up demand. There are exceptions. I mean, demand for connected cars is vomited, connected public transport also gone down. There is a lot of public transport providers that are replacing their buses anytime soon because there’s just not a shortfall in revenue and so on. So there are some exceptions but generally there’s, you know there’s a whole load of potential upside but the challenge has been getting out there and deploying. You know, one of the things we’ve seen is a big drop off in smart meter roll outs because getting access to people’s homes to install smart meters, it’s just challenging in this environment. Everybody we speak to on the supply side is pretty bullish. It seems like the pipeline is strong. The challenge is always one of the logistics of actually getting to the client and delivering the product that’s required. Let’s do pluses and minuses. I mean, certainly the IoT space is in a much healthier position than pretty much any other technology area you could choose to mention, you know. You wouldn’t want to be in retail at the moment or aviation or even automotive. There’s some pretty challenging times in all of those spaces. I think we’re in a pretty good space at the moment, just because of it’s so helpful in addressing a lot of the challenges that the COVID throws up.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I totally agree. So to removing COVID from it, the last question I have before we wrap up is just what are your general predictions and thoughts going into next year? And what do you expect to see? What are you hoping to see happen next year to really contribute to the overall growth?
– [Matt] I think we’re expecting a rebound. I think the… That downturn we saw which was supply driven will actually be overcomed. It’s a matter of timing. I think more than anything else, people getting to grips with how they address the market in this new normal. And I think they’re more or less getting to it. On a personal standpoint, the big frustration is not being able to go to in-person events, frankly. And I’d be hopeful that some of those would start up but then we get the opportunity to do things like this the podcasting and the webinars and so forth. So there’s some positives to take out a bit. But yeah, I think from the standpoint of the overall IoT I feel pretty bullish about what’s 2021 got in store. Keeping fingers crossed that it’s some kind of control commit got over COVID 19.
– [Ryan] I totally agree with you. I’m very bullish. I think it’s been a very exciting year. You know, I think that the industry made it through the bulk of the wave of COVID pretty well. And I think the overall idea of what IoT brings to organizations should help companies not just out of a pandemic, but also be able to remain sustainable through a pandemic if it were to ever happen again. So I think the technology is something that a lot of companies are going to be looking into and hopefully spending their time on, you know, adopting it in some fashion or other. But I really appreciate your time. I think your insights have been super valuable. I don’t get the chance to speak to many individuals in your position. And I think it’s one of the most valuable conversation you could possibly have because you’re looking at this from so many different angles that are incredibly valuable. I’d love to find some time next year like to regroup and talk again with you to see how you know, how these predictions came about and hopefully they came true. And I know you’re a big content guy yourself. So I wanted to ask you just give a little bit more information to not only me, but also our audience on two items. One is the book that you wrote “The Internet of Things Myth” and then also your podcast. So I think they’re both is from what I’ve seen, seemed very fantastic pieces of content that our audience, we get a lot of value of. And I’d love for you to just kind of just quickly plug those just so our audience knows where they can get more information.
– [Matt] Yeah, absolutely. “The Internet of Things Myth” was published back in April, if I remember rightly. A book I wrote with a guy called William Webb, who was the CTO of New Ord which was the technology that while we bought and turned into Narrowband IoT. So he knows a thing or two about IoT as well. And the starting point of that book was okay back in 2010. Some people, not me, were predicting 50 billion connected devices by 2020. We hadn’t gone there. So why hadn’t we got that? And we go through technical issues and commercial issues many of which I’ve talked about on the podcast here today, and that’s available on Amazon paperback or Kindle. the podcast yet wireless noodle and the website is wirelessnoodle.com. I take a look at the news that’s happening in the out there delve into some of the new technologies. I look at some of the research that we published from transforming insights. And it’s just me. I maybe I’ll expand it to have some interviews in future, but it’s just me talking thinking about what’s what’s going on in the space. So yeah, that’s why this wirelessnoodle.com. One other one that I plug second to November, if we’re going out before the 2nd of November, we transformed me size has a webinar on forecasting, the IoT opportunity if you want to check out the transport insights.com website that’s got details on it.
– [Ryan] Perfect. I really appreciate your time again thanks so much. I’m sharing a lot of that information it was great. Let’s, you know, when this gets out to our audience and we’ll do everything we can to kind of promote not just the content you guys produce but also into the webinars or anything you have going on. I think our audience would find a lot of value in it just like I did this conversation. So thanks again.
– [Matt] Well, it’s my pleasure.
– [Ryan] Thanks again for joining us this week on the IoT for all podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please leave us a rating or review and be sure to subscribe to our podcast on whichever platform you’re listening to us on. Also, if you have a guest you’d like to see on the show please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do everything we can to get them as a featured guest. Other than that, thanks again for listening. And we’ll see you next time.