In this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, Lucas Hanson, Senior Product Manager at Cisco DNA Spaces at Cisco, and Troy Davis, VP Sales North America at EnOcean, join us to talk about the partnership that led to DNA Spaces and some of the challenges and benefits of using IoT-enabled location analysis for space utilization. Lucas and Troy discuss some of the obstacles to collecting data and hardware challenges that come with these types of deployments, as well as the public perception of IoT versus its reality as a technology.

Lucas Hanson is a Senior Product Manager for Cisco DNA Spaces. Lucas and his team are responsible for Indoor IoT Services, Cisco DNA Spaces Partner Ecosystem, Cisco platform integrations, and Open Roaming. His primary focus is working with partners to deliver scalable, high-ROI business outcomes. Lucas has spent over three years at Cisco. In addition to his current role, he has also held positions in business strategy and as a product manager for edge compute products. Before joining Cisco, Lucas spent two years as a Clinical Technology Manager at Kaiser Permanente and six years in the U.S. Army. He has an MBA from the University of San Francisco and a BS in Philosophy from the United States Military Academy.

Troy Davis is VP of Sales for EnOcean North America, working together with a variety of customer types and wireless IoT projects since 2008. He is tasked with expanding the footprint of EnOcean in the America’s and around the globe by working together with innovative partners. His many years of experience as a commercial contractor helps guide the conversations around deployments within the built environment and working through difficult problems unique to installations within structures.

Interested in connecting with Lucas or Troy? Reach out on Linkedin!

About EnOcean GmbH: EnOcean GmbH is the pioneer of energy harvesting. Headquartered in Oberhaching, near Munich, the company delivers valuable data for the Internet of Things (IoT) with its resource-saving technology. For 20 years, EnOcean produces maintenance-free wireless switches and sensors, which gain their energy from the surrounding – from movement, light or temperature. The combination of miniaturized energy converters, ultra-low-power electronics and robust radio technology based on open standards (EnOcean, Zigbee and Bluetooth®) forms the foundation for digitized buildings, services, and production processes in the IoT. The self-powered solutions are used in building automation, smart homes, LED lighting control, and industrial applications and thus help to optimize the CO2-footprint of buildings. As an innovation driver, EnOcean is a strong partner for more than 350 leading product manufacturers and has already succeeded more than a million buildings worldwide with energy harvesting solutions.

About Cisco DNA Spaces: The Cisco DNA Spaces platform which is an indoor location and IoT Services cloud. We have different types of IoT Devices, many different 3rd party partner applications, a next-gen API framework, and a use-case first product strategy.

Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:

(00:59) Intro to Lucas Hanson and Troy Davis

(02:52) Intro to the DNA Spaces side of Cisco

(04:30) Intro to EnOcean

(06:27) What are EnOcean and Cisco bringing to market together?

(09:58) EnOcean and Cisco Use Cases

(18:09) What challenges do you encounter in capturing data?

(27:41) What challenges are there on the hardware side – specifically relating to the use of batteries?

(34:20) Other challenges customers face when implementing or building IoT solutions

(35:49) How does the public perception of IoT differ from reality?

(39:36) Why is now the right time to adopt IoT?


Transcript:

– You are listening to the IoT For All Media Network.

– [Ryan] Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All 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. Before we get started, if any of you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor, Leverage IoT Solutions Development platform, which provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com, that’s iotchangeseverything.com. So without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All podcast. Welcome Lucas and Troy to the IoT For All show. Thanks for being here this week.

– Thanks for having us-

– Great to be here.

– Yeah, it’s exciting. We haven’t had too many episodes where we’ve had multiple guests, especially from two different companies working on, or working together. So it’s gonna be really exciting to talk about that. And I wanted to kick off this episode by having you both give a quick introduction about yourself. Talk a little bit more about just your background experience, the role you play at the company you’re with, that kind of thing. And Troy, we can start with you.

– [Troy] Sure, yeah, thanks Ryan. So my background ultimately, many, many years ago was in commercial construction, automation projects, different things like that. And then I moved into sensors and controls and different things around the 2006 timeline. And I’ve been working with that EnOcean since approximately 2008, which is quite a while now as I do the math. And so we’ve been providing these devices and sensors and different things to the marketplace over many years, and it’s fun to see it growing and expanding and really becoming part of this larger IoT that’s now part of the everyday discussion.

– Fantastic, Lucas?

– [Lucas] Hey, so I’ve been at Cisco now for about four years. Previous to that, I was in the military for around six years. So I started in the military, I got out, eventually found my way to Cisco and I’ve been on the DNA Spaces team now for about two and a half years. And during this time, my focus has really been on creating a robust and successful partner ecosystem so both on partners that have applications, they consume different types of telemetry or location via the DNA Spaces platform. And then recently, and how we began engaging within EnOcean, is on the device side. So building out a very robust ecosystem there on the side.

– [Ryan] Talk a little bit more about the DNA Spaces side of Cisco. Obviously Cisco is a very large organization, many people are probably familiar with it, but the DNA Spaces, particularly as it relates to IoT and the role you all play in IoT, talk to us a little bit more about what that encompasses to make it just a little bit more drilled down for audience.

– [Lucas] Sure, yeah. So Cisco DNA Spaces, you can think about it at the 30,000 foot view as a platform that simplifies the process around, getting data from the premise and this could be around access points. It could be video collaboration points, and recently IoT devices is getting this into a cloud and then out to different types of applications. DNA Spaces itself has some native applications that deliver outcomes to users, but we do focus primarily on very specific, on partners that deliver very specific use cases. So if you look at healthcare, here’s a very specific asset management use case for this specific persona who is a nurse and how do you like get her the data she needs in a simple, scalable, manageable way. And that’s where the Spaces platform fits in, is to make all of the, everything we’ve done around IoT and location services to make it more accessible, easier to consume, and just ultimately deliver more value for customers.

– [Ryan] Fantastic, and Troy, on the EnOcean side, you guys have some really exciting things going on, especially in the energy harvesting space, even just browsing your website, there are some really cool technologies and applications that you have on your site. Could you talk a little bit more to our audience about EnOcean and kind of the role you all play in IoT?

– [Troy] Sure, yeah, so we do have quite a lot of exciting things going on and energy harvesting is not new for us. We’ve been doing energy harvesting, EnOcean’s been doing it over 20 years now. And it was originally brought up because battery life in wireless devices was challenging over the years. It’s getting better and it’s sort of always improved, but it’s still at the end of the day, requires someone to go out and change a battery on a device. And so the harvesting devices, they’re really great because they literally use energy from the space and this isn’t the science fiction of finding Wi-Fi signals that we’re trying to capture the energy from or whatever, this is using proven technologies that are like solar. For example, we use the lights, the commercial electric lights and the space to power sensors and various different devices. Our light switches, and different customer service buttons, and other things are powered by simply the press of your finger. So if you press a light switch, for example, you move it about two millimeters. And that two millimeters of motion is enough for us to generate a wireless signal, to send you a Wi-Fi access point and get it into DNA Spaces or other applications that are out there. And there’s no nothing to die in that device as far as a battery or electronic storage or anything there that… So, yeah, it’s a really great solution to create this long-term solution for a building.

– [Ryan] Absolutely. Now let’s talk a little bit about what you all have going on together. Obviously, that’s one of the main points of this conversation, is bringing the conversation to how EnOcean and Cisco are working together. Talk to me a little bit about the background behind that, like, who initiated the conversation, which side was looking for what? How did you all come together partner up and what is it that you’re actually bringing to market collectively?

– [Lucas] Sure, I can start here and Troy will hop in. We have began to build out a device ecosystem of some of the top tier IoT device vendors and companies out there within spaces and within the ecosystem we’re building.

– Right.

– [Lucas] A lot of this is to, as Troy mentioned is to create long-term very viable, scalable solutions for buildings and in other verticals and to provide these devices for our application partners as well. Troy, I think we went out, we were kind of out there hunting for a device vendors, think this is how it came up and you all were kind of top of the list and that began a, let’s say a courtship. And I think since then, we’ve been very successful on bringing you all into the program and into the family and vice versa. So that’s how it started. And EnOcean was definitely the leader, a leader there that we want to work with.

– [Troy] Yeah, and I appreciate that Lucas. And I’ll add to it that, one of the larger bottlenecks for a sensor manufacturer like EnOcean, regardless of whether you’re wired or wireless or battery or self powered or whatever, one of the most difficult pieces of this, is being able to bring the data from the sensor itself, cost-effectively back to the analytics dashboard or the software package that you want view this data. And so a lot of our customers were like, “Man, that’s the coolest self-powered thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a “. All you have to do now is just put in a whole infrastructure to collect that data and get it out of the building.

– Okay.

– [Troy] And they just go, “Ah, man, that’s too, that sounds hard and expensive and we’ve got to get IT involved and we’ve got to have all these other things.” So one of the nice parts about our relationship with Cisco is Cisco has a Bluetooth radio in their access points. In certain access points, we’d have to drill down onto each model to see what it is. But in terms of, a lot of the newer models have the Bluetooth radio. So we can actually deploy, EnOcean has two different types of systems or three, technically, we have Bluetooth and EnOcean and ZigBee sensors. And so the Bluetooth sensors are able to natively communicate with the Cisco access points and pull that data right into DNA Spaces and then get it out from there.

– Okay.

– [Troy] So there’s no infrastructure to be installed in order to collect this. It’s all utilizing the existing Wi-Fi access point infrastructure within the space. So it’s really, really eliminates that major bottleneck and capital expense and outlay and occupant disruption that would typically occur.

– [Ryan] Very cool. Before we kind of transition to some other topics here, I wanted to see if you both could just talk a little bit more about other solution deployments you have out in the market. The reason we’re doing this is, one of the focuses of the show is to just make known what IoT can potentially do for different industries, different applications, solve different problems. So when we have guests on the show, what I’d like to do is get them to just talk through a couple of different, very prominent kind of trending, maybe use cases that they’re seeing out there in the market that they’re actively involved in, just so that those listening can get a better sense of what IoT can actually do and potentially explore adopting it for their business. So, Lucas, do you want to start by just talking about any other use cases we haven’t covered yet, and then Troy kind of throw it back to you to touch on anything EnOcean has gotten involved in or focused on.

– [Lucas] Yeah, sure, so we see, and I’ll just kind of throw out four very fundamental use cases that serve at the base of a lot of what customers ask for. And again, there’s certainly nuances and variations as you go across personas.

– Right, right.

– [Lucas] So there’s this large set of use cases around asset tracking and management, right? And we see it across, B to C verticals like health, or I’m sorry, like a hospitality retail, there’s use cases there, certainly in healthcare, that’s where that one significant and the enterprise workspace. So there’s a lot there, environmental monitoring. This is all the way from, hey, is this vaccine refrigerator? Is it within the specs to, are my employees comfortable? Is this room comfortable to what’s the air quality? So there’s a whole slew of use cases there. Space occupancy, even before COVID, the whole concept of space utilization, real estate utilization, space occupancy, was, we were starting to see that real strongly. And then COVID came in and no one was there. So no one really talked about it, they didn’t want it. Now that people are returning back to the offices, we see huge demand for, is this conference room being used? Hot desking, facilities managers saying, “Well, can I shut down these buildings or do I need to lease new ones?” These are all things that we can do through partners like through EnOcean devices, through IoT, right? These are all like business outcomes that we can achieve at scale. So this is, I think I said four, and then the fourth one is really around some navigation type use cases and engagement type use cases. So those are the four core ones that we see at a fundamental level with definitely some variations as you go across the different industries.

– [Ryan] Yeah, Troy, before you jump in, it’s very interesting to talk with a lot of the guests I’ve had recently about how COVID is not just only impacted their business but the businesses of their markets and their clients to see use cases that were discussed and worked on, but not prioritized. Come to basically make its way to the top of the priority list for a lot of organizations, especially in, in different spaces, just because of the pandemic. So it’s always fascinating to learn a little bit more about what drove that and what you’re seeing. So I appreciate you shedding some insights there. And Troy, on your side within EnOcean, talk a little bit more about some of the focus use cases you all have been working on, or some of the deployments you have out there that could shed some light on, not just obviously what EnOcean’s doing, but what’s possible with the technology.

– [Troy] Okay, so I’ll echo a little bit about what Lucas has seen, and it’s an interesting thing to have a hardware manufacturer and software partner in the same call because, or in the same recording, because one of the things that we do is we go out there and we try to find places where we can deploy our hardware and we need a place to send that data. So it’s great to have Lucas and DNA Spaces and their applications that we can send this data to. But as far as use cases go, we see the same thing with, we have a little solar powered accelerometer, for example, so you can put this on Ivic Tower, you can put it on any type of car to that you’ve got within different spaces so you have a big shipping distribution place. You can drop that on and begin to get some asset location information out of that. And you just, as you move that cart or that device around, it’s simply using the lights and the space to power itself. So, and it’s communicating back with the access points across the board. So there’s the asset tracking side of it. And then the, one of the bigger keys that we’re seeing right now is a lot of corporations are really looking at what to do with their commercial real estate. Do we need this much? Do we have too much, do we not have enough? Exactly what Lucas mentioned. And so with the different self-powered occupancy sensors and different things that we offer, when we can begin to provide that data back to the facility manager or the person, that real estate asset manager for that corporation to say, you know what? You have 500,000 square feet of office space and 50% of your workforce is working from home. So you have, 80% of your offices are empty right now. And so when I’m signing the next lease, you don’t need this much space. Or, in terms of other things, I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the fastest growing tech economy in the country here. And those groups, those offices right now are complaining that their conference rooms are overcrowded. They can’t book a conference room, there’s not enough space. And the information that we’re able to provide through the data from those sensors allows those groups to make different decisions there. So it’s feeding into these different decision points. And then of course, we can begin to get into controlling those things as well. So it’s always nice to have the experience side and the data side providing information and different things, but when it comes time to really translating the return on investment for your outlay and X dollar amount for a sensor and controller, how do you then monetize that in terms of, did it pay for itself or not? And you can meet those in terms of real estate cost per square foot and different things and yeah, we were able to cut back on our lease, but that’s over time and the next lease cycle, whatever. But we can actually turn things off or reduce their power consumption when nobody’s in the space. And so we can turn the lights off or we can set back the air conditioning or the heating systems and different ways, and really give more teeth to the data. So the data can actually then do something about it and reduce the cost associated with operating in that space. So that’s kind of our three main things. And there’s a fourth one that we do a tremendous amount of business in which is K-12 schools. K-12 schools, they wanna know what are the schedules with the lights? Are their kids in here, are there not kids in here? What’s the CO2 levels? Are we bringing in enough fresh air to keep the students at a point where they’ve got their O2 levels or their oxygen levels are enough to stay engaged. and that type of thing? So there’s all sorts of really kind of fascinating details we can bring in through these type of interactions.

– [Ryan] Yeah, that’s great. As we kind of transitioned there’s something you mentioned, which actually leads really well into the next part of the conversation, which I wanna talk to you about some challenges that you all have seen just from your own perspectives here. And Troy, one of the things you were talking about was the data collection piece. Can you talk a little bit more about when you engage with customers and work with clients, what challenges do you find when it comes to capturing data now versus kind of how it’s been done in the past and why now is the right time to be exploring these opportunities, these IoT deployments? Regardless of industry, but kind of across the board there’s value because the ability to capture data and do more with data is better than it’s ever been. And I’d love to see if you could talk a little bit more about the challenges that you’ve seen and why now is such a good time to be thinking about adopting IoT.

– [Troy] One of the main challenges that we’ve seen over the years is originally, we would produce data. We kind of do it in the same way we’ve always done it or similar way where we broadcast wireless data out to the space. And the original path for us many years ago was headed towards some of these, a little bit more proprietary solutions where you’d get a very large HVC manufacturer, for example, to pull the data in. So you’re getting temperature, you’re getting humidity, you’re getting occupancy data. And then that would allow them to use, maybe like a backnet system or some other building automation type system to make decisions within the space. Typically, those networks were either already in place and you simply, you had to add a gateway to it, but there’s 25 different protocols that are possible there. And so you have to get the right gateway for the right network, and maybe, two buildings side by side would have totally different networks, even if they were built in the same year.

– Right.

– And it gets really, really complex to keep track of all that and the system integrators just get frustrated because there’s no consistency among the building automation group. So switching over to becoming sort of these things in the IoT, becoming the things in the internet of things, we’re able to provide data in a manner which is through the Bluetooth, in this case, through the Bluetooth platform that comes across to Lucas and DNA Spaces in a very clear and very consistent manner, so that the data can be ingested into all sorts of different applications. Lucas and his team have a whole bunch of third party applications. They also have all sorts of different methods with which they can do it and it’s all based on consistent data coming in. So the consistency associated with the current model is just light years better than it was in the past. And the fact that we don’t have to deploy a physical gateway into the space, allows us to work with a system integrator or a customer building owner or facility manager that can then say, “Okay, wait.” So I just literally stick these things onto carts or onto the wall, or onto a ceiling and then they communicate with my Wi-Fi access points and I don’t have to do any other disrupting things That’s been really, really great for us and we’ve seen some pretty cool deployments because of that. Because you don’t wanna go in and open ceiling tiles and do other things in a space where people are all working every single day. And some of these facilities run 24/7 and so it gets really difficult to disrupt those tenants, not to mention the capital outlay associated.

– Yeah, and Lucas go ahead please.

– [Lucas] Yeah, I was just gonna say the magical thing here is that, I can be a workplace manager and I have some, I want an IoT solution, I call up EnOcean, I get their devices, I stick them on something and it works right. That’s is magical, right, that’s cool.

– [Ryan] Well to me, that probably brings in a really good question that I wanted to ask you anyways, which is the challenges that you’ve seen kind of on the full scale of bringing a solution to life and deploying it. So bringing that use case to life from the device to the gateway to the platform, to the application development side, all the way, getting it to the market. And the data is just one piece, the hardware is one piece, but then you have the connectivity, the application layer and all those kinds of things. So from your all side, obviously, being able to collect that data in such a seamless way, probably relieves tons of headaches that you have when you’re talking to potential customers about adopting these solutions, but just like across the full spectrum from the device all the way down to the user interface. What other challenges have you all seen in production and bringing these solutions to market and at the same time, why is now the time that IoT adoption is very well suited and is solving a lot of the problems we’ve seen in the past, like for instance, what Troy was mentioning around the ability to collect meaningful data in a very seamless way.

– [Lucas] I can start with one and then Troy, you can . There’s a lot to talk about here.

– Sure.

– [Lucas] And there’s a legacy of like friction and difficulty in how this has been previously done. But one thing I’ll bring up that may not be super apparent, is there’s typically like two parties within the customer. Your networking folks and they are responsible for the access points, the switches, the hardware that whole piece. And then you have another kind of set of parties who are almost the consumers of the outcomes and the applications, right? So this could be real estate. It could be your chief experience officer, it could be marketing, whoever that is. Now, I think as we bring these worlds together, one of the challenges is bringing these two worlds together. It is being able to articulate the value proposition and to articulate the value of the system, to both the folks that typically work in the network and that are consuming it in the line of business, because for this to be done, they need to work together internally.

– Right.

– Right. What we’re trying to do in spaces is build that bridge between the two parties and then to help them work together and for it all to come together.

– Sure

– [Lucas] That’s not a technical challenge, it’s not a kind of an application challenge. It’s more of a soft challenge that we see often.

– go on, Troy.

– [Troy] It’s a soft challenge, but it’s a very, very real challenge.

– True.

– [Troy] I appreciate you mentioning this topic, Lucas, because one of the things that, let’s just say, I bring you a third-party gateway that I have to then deploy into your space to collect this data, and I still have to get that information out of the building. So I still need to get it to the cloud somehow. So that means that I’ve got to talk to the IT department, the networking folks, the different things, and try to argue my case to get onto their network. And they’re gonna bring up all sorts of security requirements and all sorts of, okay, so this gateway that you’re bringing in, I need to see all the security certificates, I need to see all these different things so that we know that someone can’t use this gateway to bypass the security implementation that we’ve put into our entire network, that we invest in some cases, tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars into the security aspect. And now you’re gonna bring in a third party gateway that might open a door to some sort of nefarious act. And so utilizing the access points is a great solution here because all the security is handled by a trusted resource already.

– Sure.

– [Troy] So the Cisco system can easily say, “We’ve got the security handled. It’s within your specifications, corporate, X corporation, whatever. And there’s no new security certificates that have to happen, there’s none of the sort of discussion of like, ‘Well, we don’t know this company, we have no idea who they are.'” And of course, Cisco is a very trusted name in the industry and takes their security very seriously. So we are able to leverage that and push the data out to the cloud, compromising on the security or putting even the question into the mind of the facility manager or the person making the decision that security is potentially an issue, a new issue they have to then Yeah, so that’s a really, really great feature of this whole thing.

– [Ryan] Yeah, security is a very interesting topic because obviously, a lot of people out there are not as familiar with all the different IoT technologies, how security plays a role. And a lot of times, they err on the side of just not adopting now, and they have these security concerns. So we talk a lot about security on here. That is one of the key decision makers for a lot of organizations out there. Another one of those key decision for adopting IoT is cost. And Troy, I’d love if you to kind of expand a little bit more on, now that we’ve talked about security more on the battery side of things where we’ve had many discussions about on the hardware side, the battery life is oftentimes a very big piece of discussion or a company on whether or not they’d like that the hardware fits the use case. And then the battery life often ties in very closely to the cost, which is usually one of the biggest decision makers for a company adopting IoT. So I’d love if you could talk just briefly about that battery life versus cost debate, if you will, and what you’re all seeing on your end and your overall approach there.

– [Troy] So as a consumer, if you’re looking at consumer level devices, the smoke detector beeps at 3:00 a.m. about it. we fumble around find a nine-volt battery, change it out, either throw away or recycle the nine-volt battery that came out of it. And a few weeks later, we do the other one down the hall that does the same thing, right? And we don’t really think much about it. It’s just sort of part of life and it’s irritating and whatever, but every year and a half or whatever, you have to do that. So as a commercial organization, when you have batteries dying throughout your space, you’ve got the first battery that comes with the sensor or the device that’s in the field, and that’s cheap. It’s 30 cents, it was put in the factory, it’s got that little plastic film thing that you peel off to activate it. And so 30 cents, you get your first battery great, inexpensive solution. That second battery where you’re already deployed in the space, you’re on the ceiling. You’ve got occupied spaces, so there’s people in there. Someone then has to either tell you that it died, or the system, the IoT system has to tell you that it’s about to die and then you have to drive a truck to the building. And you have to take the ladder inside, and you have to set the ladder up, and you have to pull the battery out, put the new battery in assuming your person has the right battery. And then now as responsible corporations, a lot of them have sustainability departments and other things. This battery becomes waste and it’s hazardous waste, and that counts against their sustainability goals. And the cost associated with that with changing one single battery, a 30-cent battery can be in the upwards of 150 to $170 range, depending on what your prevailing wages are. If it’s unions set up or what the maintenance schedule looks like there. And then you have to decide, okay, so this one died, but I’m here. Do I just change all the rest of them, even though they’re still showing good? But I don’t know how long they’re gonna be good for. So there’s a whole bunch of challenges that come in with batteries. And we’re not anti battery, so we do use batteries in some of our devices. There are devices that we have out there that utilize backup batteries and other things. We always try to use the energy harvesting first, and we use the energy harvesting to extend the battery life if we do have a battery. So for example, our occupancy sensors, when they need to work overnight in the dark, they run just fine for a few days on the energy that they’ve collected from the lights, but then they need to maybe switch over to a backup battery, depending on what you’ve gathered first, windows or how often the room is used for that kind of stuff. But really the challenge comes into just the dollar amounts of initial battery device cost versus life cycle costs. So if you have to change that battery every two years and it’s a 10-year cycle that you’re looking at, you’ve got five battery changes at a 100 something dollars each. It’s the math, it kind of gets a little bit ridiculous once you start to really take that whole life cycle into account. And that’s what our whole company was founded on was the life-cycle aspect of it because we’re a German company and you have to pay for recycling of batteries early on when you put a battery device out there. And so a lot of companies were looking for an alternative to batteries. So this is where we’ve been able to do this. I’ve got installations where I’m pushing 10 years and the device’s never had a battery.

– [Ryan] Wow, wow. And Lucas on your side, what have you all seen from just the evolution of batteries and devices and how they fit in to different solutions from a decision-making standpoint? Obviously, they all affect the cost. The cost of hardware costs the batteries, the longterm kind of effect of potentially having to change those out. These are all just costs and things that we were talking about and Troy’s kind of talking about here. But on your side, when you talk with customers and engage with clients, what have you seen as some of the biggest trends associated with that and from a discussion standpoint?

– [Lucas] I think Troy said it really well, it’s the math. And we alluded to this or brought it up, but if you look at IoT and how it’s been in the past, the math just adds up to cost too much, and this comes in the form of a truck roll for batteries, a cable pole for a gateway, onboarding new vendors for sensors. It just explodes, right?

– Yeah.

– [Lucas] So when we are in discussion with customers, the total cost of ownership always comes up. And that is where this piece of, just specifically around the battery issue fits in along with all these other kind of issues right?

– Sure.

– [Lucas] And all these other costs. So this is certainly a trend that we see and EnOcean was absolutely ahead of the curve here as we talked to the customers.

– [Ryan] I guess, when you’re talking about ROI with customers, is there any other areas aside from kind of the hardware component, and the battery life, and just the general cost of the solution that really play a role in their decision-making process that maybe we haven’t talked about yet?

– [Lucas] I would say that we hit on the cost of the gateway, everything associated with that, the support, no batteries. I would say that after you get away from the services and the hardware, it quickly becomes an ROI discussion, as you get into the applications and you talk to the customers and the users that are actually gonna consume that data or controlling pieces of billing infrastructure from what that data is. So it quickly turns into, if I vent the HVAC, based on this environmental monitoring, how much money will that save me? It becomes like, what we talked about with real estate utilization. If I can shut down a building, that’s gonna save me a ton of money. And typically, if we can marry these two pieces together, there’s a very compelling case for basically this partnership between us and the notion, with regards to going to market together and the joint value proposition.

– [Ryan] Absolutely, that’s great. I appreciate you both sharing your own takes on that side of things. Because there are very important topic, especially a lot of our listeners are trying to better understand how hardware’s evolved, how, the battery life plays a role or the lack there of needing for a battery, and then how this kind of it ties into the overall ROI and value in order to decide on whether or not adopting IoT makes sense for them. So I appreciate that. I wanted to, as we wrap up here, just transition to some more general topics. And this is something I actually asked somebody, a couple episodes ago, and Troy, I wanted to propose it to you is when you think of IoT or you engage with your external customers and you talk about and try to sell, either hardware or a solution to them, what is it that IoT really means or what are you hearing IoT is how IoT is interpreted or understood by the public out there? ‘Cause right now, I feel like there’s a lot of use of IoT as kind of more of a buzzword. But what do you think that needs to change or what would the people really have to understand when you’re thinking about IoT as something to adopt into your business?

– [Troy] So I view, I’m with you on the IoT as a buzzword type thing. It kind of reminds me a few years ago when everything was going green, right? You need to go green, you need to go green. What does that really mean? And pretty soon everyone was going green and everything that you saw had some mechanism associated with it of going green. And so it sort of lost its kind of identity in that process. And I see very similar with IoT is everything’s now IoT, right?

– If you ever

– Sure.

– [Troy] Don’t call her that indicates with an access point it’s IoT, all of a sudden. And so I think for those that really are tasked with understanding their buildings and understanding the costs associated with operating their buildings, what their people are doing, where the people are congregating or using the space, all of those things, if you’re involved in any of that or tracking some of your assets within the building and knowing where those things are, I think you can really benefit from the true IoT, which is really providing data from your buildings, basically allowing your buildings to talk to you,

– Right

– Right.

– [Troy] And say, “This is how we’re being used. This is the experience that people are having within our space. This is what’s happening here.” And I think if IoT could stay focused on that and be more interested in tracking down how the building is being used, then I think that would be, that’s the direction that I would like to see IoT stay. And one of the key things here is we can produce all the data we want as a hardware provider. I can give you a million data points in your building and it’s completely useless if I don’t have something like, Cisco DNA Spaces to send it to.

– Right.

– And then Cisco DNA Spaces becomes significantly more valuable if there’s more data available. So without any data, Cisco DNA Spaces is beautiful, but without any data, it doesn’t do a whole lot. But when you combine the two together, you really get a really, really powerful tool that allows your facility owners or your building managers or any of the people associated with making a decision about a business and a facility. It really gives them all the tools that they would need to be able to understand really what their building is doing and allowing their building to talk to them.

– [Ryan] Now, Lucas, let me throw it back to you and just get you to expand on that and answer the question as to, for building owners and facility managers out there, why is now kind of the better time than ever, if you will, to adopt IoT and be able to deploy these solutions, whether it’s for themselves or for their own customers?

– [Lucas] I think the ROI, that our ROI case is becoming very, very clear, like especially in light of, we look at smart buildings, especially in light of the events of the past year, right?

– Right.

– [Lucas] It’s much easier to make a case to say, “I need to do like these three, I need to achieve these three or four outcomes because I will save this many million dollars-

– Right

– [Lucas] Of development. I think that is an easier case to make. I also think that technology and shame a plug for Spaces, I think we’ve reached a point with the product where we can lower the cost of doing that, from our platform perspective. And working with like EnOcean, we can achieve these outcomes together. I will say one thing back to the previous question. I do think that there is this within this realm of IoT, there is a lot of shiny object syndrome, if you will,

– Sure.

– [Lucas] Right? There’s a lot of cool stuff you can do, super, super cool stuff. It can cost a lot of money, it may be difficult to scale, but what I always come back to customers is like, there is very simple things you can do that will save you a lot of money or make you a lot of money. And that should always be, I think the first focus is how do we do something simple, scalable, high ROI, and there’s plenty of use cases that you can start there?

– [Ryan] And now to kind of wrap up here. What’s the best way for listeners out there who are looking to explore what those use cases are, those to better understand those kind of quick ways to get up and running? What’s the best way to kind of find that out and through both channels, through Cisco, as well as through EnOcean? How can our audience follow-up questions to learn more on that side of things?

– [Lucas] Let me start. You can come to the dnaspaces.cisco.com that just tells you all about the DNA Spaces. We do have some different types of starter kits that we’re providing to customers to help them experience it. Troy, I don’t wanna put us on the spot here, but I think we wanna come out with something EnOcean starter kit. I think that that’s something that we wanna do pretty soon. So you can actually experience EnOcean and DNA Spaces together in a very easy way for a set of use cases. So that’s generally, we really want our customers to get their hands on it, to use it. We want people using it and we will do whatever we can to make that possible.

– [Ryan] Fantastic, and Troy what about with EnOcean.

– [Troy] So can reach out to or go to enocean.com, which is E-N then the word enocean.com and going into our applications there or our referenced cases and it shows you a whole list of different things that we can do. And yes, Lucas, I’m all for us having those starter kits available. We do have a couple of options for starter kits already, so we can just pair up and get those available through DNA Spaces without any trouble at all. So I’m happy to do that. And if anyone has any questions, if you’ve stuck with us for this recording, which I really appreciate, the best email address to reach our team is [email protected] And that’ll get right through to me and to some of my other team members that can respond. And we are happy to answer any of your questions, even if they’re just as simple as I wanna try to do something in IoT and I really don’t know what it is, what can I do? And we’re happy to go through that and invest that time into those discussions.

– [Ryan] Fantastic. Last question I have for both of you, just for more my sake even is what kind of stuff’s going on on both sides, Cisco and EnOcean that’s exciting, maybe coming out in the next six months that myself, our team, and our audience should be paying attention to or looking out for?

– [Lucas] So on the DNA Spaces side, we are working hard to expand the different use cases that we can address. And this is all the way from higher levels of accuracy on the location side, to different types of sensors coming in through our IoT services framework. I would kind of be on the lookout over the next, I’d say, three to four months to see what we’re doing there. And we’re doing a lot with the smart buildings now. So a lot of energy going into the different types of sensors and different applications in smart buildings and EnOcean being one of the primary partners there.

– [Ryan] Fantastic, and Troy.

– [Troy] So on the Bluetooth side where we’re, EnOcean is actively working very, very closely with Bluetooth directly, so that we can have an energy harvesting component of Bluetooth. ‘Cause right now what we use is called Bluetooth Low Energy. So we’re working with them to have this Bluetooth energy harvesting communication structure, which allows us to increase our life between charges even further, because we can limit the amount of communication that has to happen. And it’s been really great to see Bluetooth support from this because they’ve been actively working with us and other Bluetooth devices too, to try and reduce or eliminate the batteries as much as possible. But if we see that energy harvesting coming out, it’ll be compatible with BLE, so Bluetooth Low Energy. So we’re not reinventing the wheel or coming out with something new, but it just allows us to have some flexibility within the device so that we can provide data to the Cisco access points and other things that would come in a format that would really extend our, or what we call our bridge time between light and dark. And if we do use batteries that would extend the battery life quite a bit. So, yeah, so that’s our kind of something we’re working on actively trying to make happen.

– [Ryan] Fantastic. Well, I appreciate both of your time. This has been a great conversation, get diving into use cases, diving into the hardware, diving into battery life. All the different things you all are seeing for your two different kind of lenses has been very insightful, and I think our audience is gonna truly appreciate it. Very cool what you have going on, collectively together. And I really appreciate your time again and we’d love to have you back, maybe later on this year, just talk a little more about kinda the evolution of the companies and what you have going on in the market, and just see how things roll out, especially on the commercial real estate side, as we’re hopefully getting toward the end of the pandemic. That’s obviously a big topic for a lot of people is what’s gonna happen in commercial real estate? And I think IoT is obviously playing a very large role in what’s going on there. So we’d love to have you all back and thanks again.

– All right, thanks for having us, Ryan. I appreciate it.

– Thanks, Ryan.

– Absolutely.

– All right, everyone. 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 ryanatiotforall.com, 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.

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IoT For All
IoT For All
IoT For All is creating resources to enable companies of all sizes to leverage IoT. From technical deep-dives, to IoT ecosystem overviews, to evergreen resources, IoT For All is the best place to keep up with what's going on in IoT.
IoT For All is creating resources to enable companies of all sizes to leverage IoT. From technical deep-dives, to IoT ecosystem overviews, to evergreen resources, IoT For All is the best place to keep up with what's going on in IoT.