This week, UnaBiz Deputy CTO Yadia Colindres joins us to discuss massive IoT and the use cases it enables. She speaks to what massive IoT actually is, how it can be used to maximize ROI, and some of the key considerations companies should keep in mind to ensure the success of their massive IoT deployments.
Yadia also shares her perspective on taking an IoT project from idea to reality, as well as some of the challenges she’s encountered scaling massive IoT after deployments and how early technology choices can play into those challenges. Speaking more generally, Yadia speaks to her expectations for the industry post-pandemic and how we’ll see IoT continue to change as we approach a return to “normal.”
Interested in connecting with Yadia? Reach out to her on Linkedin!
About UnaBiz: UnaBiz is the first proven massive IoT service provider based in Singapore, Taiwan and Japan. The company specialises in providing affordable, well-designed solutions that are energy-efficient, highly scalable and simple to deploy at a fraction of conventional cost. UnaBiz envisions a closely connected world powered by simple technology. By uniting people and technology, UnaBiz aims to create an impact on a massive scale, to help every person and every organisation on the planet live smarter, simpler.
The company’s mission is to accelerate data-driven business efficiency for its clients and partners with agility and ingenuity. Today, it provides a diversified range of expertise from product design to manufacturing capabilities, tapping on to a wide range of skills and resources from the IoT ecosystem to power business growth.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:03) Intro to Yadia
(01:51) Intro to Unabiz
(02:51) What is massive IoT?
(04:04) Can you share some use cases?
(05:45) What is middleware?
(07:37) What are your strategies for ensuring success for massive IoT deployments?
(09:46) What is your approach to MVPs? What types of ROI are companies typically looking to achieve?
(11:40) How do you approach partnerships in the IoT space?
(12:37) What are some of the common challenges you’ve seen in massive IoT deployments?
(14:37) Do any specific technologies make it harder to scale a solution after deployment?
(15:15) What major changes have you see as a result of the pandemic?
– [Narrator] 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, does your business waste hours searching for assets like equipment or vehicles, and pay full-time employees just to manually enter location and status data? You can get real-time location and status updates for assets, indoors and outdoors at the lowest cost possible with Leverege’s end-to-end IoT solutions. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com. That’s Iotchangeseverything.com. So without further I do, please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All podcast. All right, welcome Yadia to the IoT For All podcast, how are you doing today?
– [Yadia] Thank you so much, Ryan. I’m doing very well, how about yourself?
– [Ryan] Not too bad, I appreciate you taking the time to do this. This will be a great conversation.
– [Yadia] Same, looking forward to it.
– [Ryan] Let’s start off by having you give a quick introduction about yourself to our audience, so any background information, any history, how you ended up where you are now. Just anything you think could be relevant and interesting for our audience to learn more about you.
– [Yadia] Yeah, sure. So my name is Yadia, I’m originally from Honduras. I moved to Taiwan 12 years ago. I’ve been doing IoT for six years. Originally started as an R&D engineer, moved up and co-founded my own company focusing in IoT for sustainability, climate change, we wanted to focus on cold chain. Then I met the amazing team at UnaBiz, and I couldn’t help myself but want to join something that were doing massive IoT. We’re focusing on doing things at larger scale, and making things very simple and very closely to what people wanna do in terms of technology.
– [Ryan] Awesome, so let’s talk more about UnaBiz for a second. Just give our audience a quick overview of kind of what you all are doing, kind of the role you play in IoT, what your offering is in the market, that kind of thing.
– [Yadia] Yeah sure, so UnaBiz, we focus on creating massive IoT. Our philosophy’s like connecting people with simple technology, we wanna make it easy for people to understand and we wanna solve problems with this technology. We want to unite with technology and create an impact at a massive scale to help every person everywhere on the planet to live simple and live smarter. What we do is we’re able to create, we’re able to solve whatever problem you may be having and solve that through IoT, that being like you need to be able to track some kegs. We’re able to design from zero all the way to like an end total solution, the device, the site manufacturing, the middleware platform, even we might help you give you some tips on what’s your input from look like?
– [Ryan] Very cool, so when you mentioned a second ago massive IoT, you talk to our audience a little bit more about what that actually means? It’s a relatively, at least from my side, I’ve started to see it used more lately and I’ve kind of heard it a bit more often than I’ve ever heard it before. So when you all talk about massive IoT, what do you mean by that exactly?
– [Yadia] So we have to first start off looking at IoT by itself. When we first talk about IoT, everybody wants to do a proof of concept or POC, but many projects, which start with IoT, it end up in with it is the POC graveyard, you don’t see many projects actually be in live and use and actually sold and functioning in the real world. UnaBiz, we’re very proud to have almost over a million devices connective, actively functioning and actively being used by our customers, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Europe. So here we talk about customers have customers with 50K devices, 850K devices in different regions around the world. So we’re talking about quantity that we take to deploy and have an active project and with that comes its own challenges you know.
– [Ryan] Right, absolutely. So let’s talk about some deployments and things you have in the field, where all those devices, what they’re all being used for right now. So if you wanna share, if you wouldn’t mind any use cases or applications of the technology kind of out in the market and right now that you feel comfortable sharing, you don’t have to give any company names or partner names if you don’t want to, but just kind of the application of the technology so that the use cases can be explored a little bit more.
– [Yadia] So one of my favorite use cases has been in Japan, we have this gas metering project, but it’s just way more than just gas metering. We’re focusing on being able to provide an efficient way to monitoring this gas pipes that is all deployed all around Japan. We’re talking about Tokyo, we’re talking about Fukuoka and we’re able to give them a more efficient way of monitoring this, we’re able to reduce the carbon emissions because we’re reducing TAV-in-TAV people to manually go check on of these rooftops. What is the green gas usage that you’re having, and also we’re able to give them a prevent inform in the case where we’re having earthquakes, you can immediately remote it, shut off those gas meters to make it safe for people. What I love about this is that we’re able to use and leverage different radio frequencies to solve our customer’s problems, because as you know, IoT, there is no single network that could be able to be used for all types of use cases. So here we leverage the Sigfox network and also the LTE network to have a wide mass deployment and we’re able to deploy over 900 CAE units just in Japan.
– [Ryan] Gotcha, that’s awesome. Well congrats on all of that, sounds like a lot of great things going on on your end, for sure.
– [Yadia] Yeah, thank you so much.
– [Ryan] So when, as expand on the massive IoT point for a second, you mentioned also the focus on the middleware component of IoT, which is actually not something we talk a lot about. So I think it’d be good if you wanna just, if you wouldn’t mind mentioning kind of what middleware actually is for those who may not understand what the middleware component is for IoT and then how it plays a role in kind of the success of massive IoT.
– [Yadia] Yeah, sure. So what would define middleware it’s more of like that software layer that sits right in between when you have the device and what you have as your end application, that being visualization dashboard, maybe Google sheets, that’s what we have, we sit right in the middle for it. What we saw when we we’re building this massive deals and cases is that, when you have thousands of devices, you cannot use those traditional platforms, which is just like my devices, and I’m trying to send the data through this. There comes a lot of complications with it like what if I want to have a heterogeneous fleet of devices, are there’s different radio frequencies, there’s different frameworks that I need to manage. What about my configuration of your devices, like you might want to configure it on a more granular level. And of course, then comes to the business continuity, the core of ITI itself, it’s like how do I ensure that all the data that I’m getting, I maintain it alive and if anything happens on the endpoint, if there’s any crashes, any maintenance that I need to know, how do I push the data and say to be able to ensure my data pipeline is running 24/7. We saw that like something that needed to be solved, and we thought like, “Hey, you know what,” “we’re pretty good at doing massive IoT.” And we see this need in the market for it. We believe that we have the experience and knowledge to be able to do something that could be adopted by our market. And right now this is something we’re currently having a lot of customers adopt.
– [Ryan] That’s fantastic and when you’re working with customers, what is the general approach you all take to helping ensure success with a massive IoT deployment? So, if we can talk all the way through the early stages of conversation all the way to scale, where are the key points along the way and what kind of advice and tips do you have for those out there, better trying to get an understanding of how to be successful when they’re kind of approaching a massive IoT deployment?
– [Yadia] So one of the things that we look for and we always ask our customers is what is the problem that you’re trying to solve? We ask a lot of whys, because by understanding what are their pain points, we’re able to understand what will be those things that they’re looking forward to have the solution which they’re having. Sometimes it may be as easy as I need something, which I can choose, put it on a cake, and within two minutes I can move to my next cake. Those little things are like how fast we need to maintain this, because some people, they may not be the ones deploying these devices, they actually hire third-party providers for this. Other times it’s like, I need to have a constant data stream and be able to control what’s happening with my device. And then we have to think about the approach of what is the radio frequency you want to use that would allow us to do that. And a lot of these cases, we also ask our customers, when you have the device, what will be the operations which you do, like I will put the device, what will be the next steps, what happens inside your company, what happens inside your company, and then we start iterating quite a lot in terms of like, what would the shape of the device would look like? How do we adapt it to whatever asset that we’re trying to solve and of course, any device behavior and configuration, that will help solve any problems of our customers, ensure. Overall, we try to go above and beyond to think about more than just what the customer is asking. And of course we think about is that our philosophy is less is more, it doesn’t have to be like an over complicated solution to be able to solve the problem that customers have.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I think it’s important to mention because there are so many different options when it comes to building an IoT solution. Sometimes it can be very overwhelming for companies that are not really clear on how IoT works, how the different connectivity options work, how different hardware works, to the point where it just is overwhelming and they just kind of shy away from adopting IoT. So being able to kind of approach it from the less is more kind of mindset, I think these all pays off very well for companies when they’re looking to find the right fit. So when you talk with companies and you kind of have these conversations, is there a common ROI that companies are looking to reach, usually looking to kind of measure success around when you all work with them?
– [Yadia] I think this is like a very interesting point. I think one of them would be in terms of how can we help improve their productivity, right? How can this product make them be more efficient than they previously were? Because usually the customers that we get, they’re already ready to know what they want to achieve, that they have a clear problem they want to solve. Another thing is when it comes to costs, some customers are very cost-sensitive. So we have to keep that in mind in terms of like how we’re able to maximize by giving them, maybe it doesn’t need to be a super complicated solution, but a very efficient solution, here where we come in, where we build a custom design IoT solution, we don’t do like off the shelf solutions because it won’t really achieve their ROI in terms of what they’re looking for. And then of course, a lot of customers we have, they might want to be looking for can our solution that we’re providing, help them create new revenue sources? We have some customers where they see the solutions like, “Hey, actually I could start reselling these” “to my customers and I could start working” “in different ways or expand to different markets.”
– [Ryan] Right, that makes a lot of sense. How do you all approach the partner side of things like bringing a full-scale even custom solution at times is not always the easiest thing for an organization to do. So how do you approach working with partners and kind of the overall, this philosophy that the IoT ecosystem is very partnership-driven?
– [Yadia] I think first, we have to look at historically what us at UnaBiz had been doing. We first started with the Sigfox ecosystem, UnaBiz ourselves, we are Singapore and Taiwan, Sigfox operators, we have established very good relationship with with partners all across the 72 countries in the world. This has shown us and help us understand that across different countries, people have different needs that need to be met. And like I said, these also adopts to like, what are the challenges and what are the things they’re looking for when they want to adopt IoT.
– [Ryan] Gotcha, that makes a lot of sense. And now we’re talking about the other side that we’ve talked about the successful deployments and how they work and your advice on that side. But what about when it comes to challenges? What kind of challenges have you seen with the massive IoT deployments? Just like, I don’t know, across the board, is there any area that kind of sticks out to you?
– [Yadia] I think you’ll be quite surprised, but you won’t believe that many customers when they think about IoT, sometimes they don’t think about how am I going to install these thousands of devices onto the asset. And this all comes to what is my total cost of ownership? What is it gonna add up once when I’m installing this solution, right? Because the more you have to maintain, it comes to, what am I gonna spending on this device? I think, which this comes to like, how can we make the device as simple as easy to adopt. One of the cases we have in, for Japan use case, how we were able to deploy this device and make it very efficient, very fast, you use zip ties, then it can be installed in under two minutes. So what the installer needs to do, just you put the zip ties on the gas pipe, you open an app scan and you’re ready to go, it’s installed, you’re ensured that this pipe is running.
– [Ryan] Yeah, so the ease of deployment side is probably one of the key factors that if you can solve that, you can make adoption a bit more easy. We’ve seen that with people with just Velcro even, like putting a sticky, one side of the Velcro on the device and then the other side on the asset and just attaching it, and you’re good to go. So I think the ease of deployment is definitely something that companies should focus on in order to help with the increase or I guess to help increase adoption.
– [Yadia] Yeah correct and even like the speed of adoption is super important when we do in massive IoT right? We want to be able to sure the more the adopted, it’s gonna take them less time to have to invest in people, especially where they run COVID tests, like human resource capital, you cannot have thousands of people in one spot. You could have to segregate how you’re putting people on the way.
– [Ryan] Right, that makes a lot of sense, and on the scalability side, have you run into any challenges with any of the technologies in IoT, making it harder for certain types of use cases to scale?
– [Yadia] So well, like I said, our philosophy is a lot about less is more, so whenever you’re working with less, you have a more faster data to be able to be pushed reliably. Right now we are talking about 12 bytes of data, so it’s super easy to scale that up, but having a system that is able to eat all the data and give you some, enrich the data and give it to our customer, that’s where we are champion in right now.
– [Ryan] Okay, that makes a lot of sense. And one of the last questions I had for you before we wrap up is around the pandemic. So I know where you’re located and where I’m located, the pandemic, like we’re coming out of the pandemic has been a very different approach. We’re probably seeing similar and also some different things happening in the industries that we work in, as it relates to the effect the pandemic has had. But I’m curious from your side, how has the pandemic really affected massive IoT and deployments that you’re involved in, or maybe that you’ve just seen, kind of get started and installed and back to getting started again hopefully soon. So what have you seen major changes over the last year and a half?
– [Yadia] I think one of the things we have seen that’s impacted not just IoT, but the general cases that we’re having here has been, at least here in Taiwan, we have seen about, we’re working with the Taiwan government for measuring water metering because not just where we’re having the pandemic, more people are at home, they may be consuming more water and in Taiwan, we haven’t had much rain, which is impacting how much water we have in for people. Another thing we have seen is that the type of use cases people are looking to solve, it’s a little bit more driven for cost efficiency. And we have also some customers, because they buy, one of our big customers, they want to have more orders, but as the supply chains affected globally, there’s a component shortage happening. So even though we want to support everyone an order a week, we might not be able to deliver it because of the long lead time that’s happening.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it’s been crazy to see. Do you feel like there’s any new use cases that have been spawned up or what do you think the future of… Or how do you think the future of IoT has been affected by the pandemic as well? Let’s say, you know the chip shortage and all those kinds of things get solved. Do you feel like anything has kind of changed for maybe the better for you from the pandemic on your side? Have you guys seen anything like that?
– [Yadia] I think right now, we’re seeing a lot of people getting more creative on what they’re looking for. We have seen a lot of use cases increase in demand and facility management, especially huge demand in Singapore and Japan for this. They’re more careful, like, what does the environment look like for people.
– [Ryan] Sure.
– [Yadia] When it comes to components by itself, I think people are starting to think more of like, let’s put less components inside and try to make this work more, which perfectly aligns with what we do. We wanna make this as simple as possible but as powerful enough to be able to solve our customer’s problems.
– [Ryan] Right, and that makes a lot of sense. It’s been very interesting ’cause we’ve seen kind of a new focus on the medical side and then also in office buildings. So being able to track where people are and when they’re coming and going, the occupancy of certain rooms, things that we knew about and people were doing, but it really wasn’t a priority. But coming out of the pandemic over here, we’ve seen a huge shift in companies focusing on those things in order to get back to business as it was before.
– [Yadia] Oh yeah, absolutely.
– [Ryan] So I’m curious if you also feel that and see that as well.
– [Yadia] Absolutely, we have seen a lot of clients especially in Singapore, asking for them, wanting to monitor indoor air quality for offices, all those facility buildings, we’ve even seen it in campuses where they need to know is this area good for people ’cause you know with COVID, you get a little bit more worried about people coughing, too many people in the room, how does this affect the environment for everybody and ensuring that it’s a safe environment has been seen as a top priority for those people who do those facility management cases.
– [Ryan] Yeah, for sure. Yeah I’m very interested to see kind of how things continue to change over time, especially regionally around the world, because we’ve all kind of rolled out of the pandemic in a very different manner, different regulations, different processes, and also some of us are kind of going backwards now, like we’re starting to explore, putting mask back on here, things like that. So I’m curious to see in the IoT space, how it continues to be affected and as you kind of grow out of it, what happens and what changes and hopefully it’s changes for the better, but I guess we’ll kind of all see together.
– [Yadia] Yeah and I also feel like we’re gonna see a lot of cases in airports ’cause you know, people do wanna travel a lot of business, a lot of tourism, economy truly depends on this. I can see airports being like one of the hotspots for the next few years to get that digital transformation going on.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. I think the hospitals are gonna be two big spaces for sure.
– [Yadia] Oh yeah, but you know with hospitals when it comes there, a lot of regulations which you needs to take care of.
– [Ryan] I agree, yeah.
– [Yadia] So there’s a higher entry barrier for…
– [Ryan] Yeah, definitely and I think just generally we were talking about a second ago, I’m very curious to see how commercial real estate does coming back out of this, especially like office buildings and things like that. If they’re gonna start just naturally installing and having IoT solutions as part of the building to help ensure safety so that companies will not be worried about the safety, the health of their individuals when the side going back from being remote only or remote first type companies and getting back into office buildings, I’m curious to see how that goes.
– [Yadia] I think so too, I feel like works-based management is getting some attraction, but it’s still a little bit slow, especially ’cause with people not being vaccinated, not having that herd immunity still impacting how much people you can have in an office.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, well this conversation has been fantastic. We haven’t really talked and covered and asked of IoT in this way yet, so I really appreciate your time. I did wanna ask the last question as we wrap up, are there any kind of new and exciting things coming out of UnaBiz in the coming weeks or months that we should be on the lookout for and if anybody has questions, how can they best reach out to follow up?
– [Yadia] Yeah sure, so one of the things we’re super excited about has been one of the features we have in our unit connect, it’s our IoT middleware platform, which is to be able to provide you a globally sourced geolocation tracking specifically if you have wifi based trackers. So what gives you an advantage is unlike GPS trackers, which are super power hungry, wifi gives you that flexibility when it comes to battery consumption, but you need to have that data to be enriched, to give you more accuracy. And this is something which we’re tackling and solving without a unit connect platform. And we’re specifically creating more features coming up, this new quarter is for the asset management and also we have some for the utility management. If you do want to reach us up, please follow us. You can go to our website at unabiz.com and you can also follow us @UnaBiz on LinkedIn or Twitter.
– [Ryan] Fantastic, well yeah, this has been a great conversation. Thanks so much for taking the time to kind of chat about, this sounds like you all have a lot of great and exciting things going on. Hopefully you guys start to come out of the pandemic more than we, kind of get up to where we are hopefully soon. I know you’re excited about that and it sounds like, the deployments you have and the momentum you have going on is fantastic. So, congrats on all the success you all are having. And we look forward to hopefully staying in touch and continuing to see how things roll out.
– [Yadia] Thank you so much Ryan. Hopefully let’s stay in touch and we’ll keep you updated with any other massive deals that we have.
– [Ryan] Sounds good. 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 Ryan@iotforall.com and we’ll do everything we can to get them as a future guest. Other than that, thanks again for listening and we’ll see you next time.