IoT continues to grow amidst an uncertain economy, and one reason is LoRaWAN, which is unifying a once fragmented market. Wienke Giezeman, CEO and Co-Founder of The Things Industries, joins Ryan Chacon on the IoT For All Podcast to discuss the current state of the IoT market and the role of LoRaWAN in enabling increased adoption. They explore investment in IoT, impact of the economy on IoT, emerging IoT use cases, and all the things The Things Industries has going on!
Interested in connecting with Wienke? Reach out on LinkedIn!
About The Things Industries
The Things Industries helps customers scale their LoRaWAN solutions to hundreds of thousands of sensors. They just celebrated their 1 millionth connected device.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(04:36) Investment in IoT
(12:48) Emerging use cases in IoT
(19:48) Learn more and follow up
– [Ryan] Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All Podcast, I’m Ryan Chacon. And on today’s episode, we’re going to talk about the IoT industry as a whole, and how LoRaWAN is playing a role in increasing adoption, and helping battle investor pessimism that is happening around the industry. With me today will be Wienke Giezeman the CEO and co-founder of The Things Industries. Please feel free to like this video by giving it a thumbs up. Subscribe to our channel if you have not done so already, and hit that bell icon so you get latest episodes as soon as they are out. But other than that, enjoy the episode.
– [Ryan] Welcome Wienke, back to the IoT For All Podcast. Thanks for being here again.
– [Wienke] Thanks for having me again.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it’s great to have you.
– [Wienke] Great, yeah.
– [Ryan] Lot of exciting things going on on your end it sounds like. Why don’t you give our audience a quick introduction about yourself and the company, just in case, you know, people are not as familiar.
– [Wienke] Sure, sure. My name is Wienke Giezeman, CEO and co-founder of The Things Industries, and we help companies around the world in scaling the LoRaWAN solutions through our manage LoRaWAN network management software. LoRaWAN is a technology that allows you to connect telemetry sensors that last on a battery for very long, over a network that you can build yourself. So the key features are the long range, and the long livity of the battery. And for that you need a specific piece of middleware, a realtime system called the LoRaWAN Network server, and we’re a world leading company providing that on-premise and as a managed service.
– [Ryan] Fantastic, fantastic. So I know today we wanna talk about a lot of different things, but I wanted to jump into, right away, talking about, kind of, how you all right now are seeing the market, what kind of, you know, what are the current market conditions that you’re seeing play out as we start 2023 in this first quarter? But yeah, just, just kind of give us a high level from your vantage point of, of what you see going on.
– [Wienke] Yeah, so what we see, with regards to the center applications and LoRaWAN is that it’s solving a lot of different problems. So our platform supports customers in Chile to put sensors in mines and for instance, monitor conveyor belts and the bearings of these conveyor belts. Or we help an agriculture technology company in Australia to track 10,000 cows and basically everything in between. So what you see is that actually these, all these different niches that IoT serves, they are starting to figure out how to do digital transformation through IoT. And that’s really the tide that’s rising. So, and, what you see is that all these different niches together form the IoT market, and actually they need a lot of flexibility. So we help them with LoRaWAN technology, but you also have a lot of other technologies out there that also see this kind of growth. So I think we’re past the hype and where you now see that some customers are having very, very strong business cases. And that’s really, really, really interesting to see and that’s really excites me. So we just announced that we have 1 million connected devices on our platforms from literally anywhere in the world, and we have customers across every continent. And if you look at a single device and if you know how hard it is to make a connected device basically work in a business case, you have to install it, you have to provision it, you have to buy it, and then you, like, a conservative estimation would be is that the total cost of ownership of one device is already $200. So that means basically that we have 1 million connected devices, but the- let’s say the combined effort to put that in the market is already 200 million. And we calculated that every business case needs to have around of four to five x return on investments over four to five years in the lifetime of these systems. So yeah, we reasoned, and that the accumulated efficiency and benefits that these IoT solutions that we support generate is around the billing. So what we can be in the IoT market is very optimistic about the digital transformation and the efficiency and the business cases that it can support. It’s just very fragmented across the world, but yeah, and we are very, very optimistic towards the future on this.
– [Ryan] So, one of the things we mentioned before we started recording was around investment in the space. And it sounded like you’ve, kind of, noticed a little bit of, kind of, pessimism from investors. What do you think’s kind of led to that viewpoint from those who are looking to, kind of, put money into the industry? And then, I guess, how did- that seems to kind of counter, or I guess it’s kind of the opposite of what we’re talking about here, with seeing a lot of growth, seeing a lot of adoption but tell me about what do you think’s, kind of, contributing to that pessimism?
– [Wienke] Yeah, so it’s a bit of a paradox, right? So I think we’re optimistic around like the benefits that IoT has for end users in the enterprise world, specifically for LoRaWAN right? If you look at the other side, from the investment, or technology investment community, they would love to see IoT companies do significant value grabs into that value that the end user’s generating. And I think the paradox is that the end users that succeed are very optimistic and are very happy with the benefits that these systems deliver. On the other side I think what the investors are disappointed in how IoT companies are able to tap into that value, and it’s not like what they probably would love to see in other technology, which are let’s say purely SaaS and don’t have anything to do with hardware. And I think that that’s bit of it is this trough of disillusionment, also from an investment perspective. And I think that’s a bit of a winter but if I’m looking forward and I see that these IoT successes, they really approve the value, in the end, I think what you will see is that more and more IoT end users, enterprises like smart buildings, smart cities, smart metering, that kind, they will also generate the economies of scale to make sure that, at least in the head, IoT companies could generate also more value. I can only speak for our company
– [Ryan] Of course.
– [Wienke] And I see we’re growing 60% year on year and it’s going in the right direction. But I think that’s a bit of the perspective that the investment community has on IoT but I think also the things I see with regards to the end user value, and in the end, like, the money has to come from there, right? ‘Cause there has to be an efficiency or business case transformation or digital transformation that delivers that money, and in the end, that will be able, that- if you just provide the right services and provide to address the larger market. Yeah, we’ll get there.
– [Ryan] Do you, how much do you think the current market conditions in, kind of, being in limbo, seeing which way are we, you know, are we going into a recession, are we not, kind of, around just the general global economy is factoring into that investment, kind of, perspective? Do you think they’re kind of just waiting to see what direction a lot of the, kind of, global economy goes into, especially obviously in the states where we’re talking about, potentially, recession? Or, do you think it has more to do with just the, to your point earlier, which is looking more for kind of that recurring SaaS revenue, and obviously with IoT, it takes a little bit of time to, kind of, get there.
– [Wienke] Yeah, so I think what you now see is that IoT, maybe, was used to be sold on a promise that it can generate some business model transformation, or that it can be very disruptive. Yes, we’ve seen cases where that that happens, but I see in 95% of the time that it’s creating a bottom line efficiency. And actually that capability is very aligned with the current need of companies, right? They are really, really looking at healthy business metrics and also making sure they are watching their bottom line, where maybe in 2021 and 2022, they only looked at the top line and just pour as much as money in and then just make sure that you grow faster than your competitor. And all the use cases I see around, for instance, smart metering or facility management, it actually is able to reduce the operational expenses of a building of a city, of a utility company. And there’s always money for that. The thing that’s critical and I think for the next 12 months, is that once the IoT, kind of, product or the solution that you’re working with is still not up to level of maturity that’s really repeatable and has almost a return of investment, At least of a hundred percent within six months, Then then maybe you’ll have a tough time, but if you have proven this, this, kind of, yeah, I invest this and my operational expense is lowered by this, and already on that business case I make my money back on the IoT spent within six months, then it doesn’t really matter if it’s a recession, because if it contributes to optimizing your bottom line, it’s actually a better argument in a recession.
– [Ryan] Yeah. It’s interesting you mentioned that, because it’s kinda like we saw during the pandemic, we, towards, after, kind of, things started to, kind of, move through the pandemic, and people started to realize kind of what was happening. We started to see IoT solutions, kind of, rise to the top of priority list, because it was enabling companies to do more with less, and do that more with less remotely, and, you know, so they would be able to be increased efficiency and increase the way they monitor things and handle things without having to physically be in person. And just when you think about IoT as a whole, being able to be, or being a thing, you know, solutions that focus on increasing that efficiency within organizations, which should, assuming that, you know, you build a solution correctly from a expense standpoint, or cost standpoint, should be something that contributes to bottom line growth and allowing you to do more with less resources if you do it right. And that’s why I think no matter- I’m not saying IoT’s recession proof by any means, but it is something that I think we’ll see move more higher into the priority list of organizations, to help companies do more without- with less people or less resources. But I do think a big contributor to that is going to be seeing more successes and more use cases that are rolled out in industries that they either are in or connected to, and use that as an encouragement to kind of feel comfortable adopting.
– [Wienke] Yeah, and, exactly, and I think one of the strong motivators I think always is, for everybody, is that if you see your competitors succeed with a solution, right, then that’s a strong motivator, what we see in the market. So I think that’s always, it’s always good to make sure that we share successes, and yeah. Besides if it’s, of course, like a competitive, in a sensitive and a competitive way, But yeah, we have a lot of customers that love to share their story and also be known as this innovative company that is taking the lead here and also not only, let’s, like, show I have a, like, a shiny sensor or I have something that is new, but actually really driving that business case.
– [Ryan] For sure.
– [Ryan] Yeah. I think that-
– [Wienke] But yeah.
– [Ryan] I think to your point, like, being able to show and really focus around the business case of a solution is very critical for organizations to really kind of get over that hump of adopt, or, the kind of the hesitation of adoption. What, where do you see the what- or I guess which use cases do you see, kind of, leading the way or do you see, have you seen, I guess, over the last number of months, new use cases kind of rise to the top of your customers and, just from your own industry perspectives, list of things that they’re focused on doing or where do you kind of see that going throughout the year just compared to what we’ve seen in the past?
– [Wienke] Yeah, so I get that question a lot. So one of the things that we’re gonna launch in a few weeks is a is a business case library, where we list around a hundred of these different business cases. But if you look at what’s really strong now is just, it’s all about performance, right? There’s, in this time of recession or at least doubts about, around recession, it’s, there’s no room to play around, right? Too much, and so what you- one, like, very strong performing use cases is, for instance, food compliancy through cold chain monitoring, you put a few LoRaWAN sensors in your operations, and we’ve seen quick service restaurants reducing, through a few sensors, their cost with one FTE and that’s just a magical business case. And once that works in one restaurant, you wanna scale that as fast as possible across your entire, let’s say, group of franchisees. And one of the interesting things is this is this typical use case, where you come for the compliancy and for the efficiency, and all of a sudden, you see they have all around a lot of data that you could use, for instance, a franchise quality assurance, like all kinds of other, like, side effects that come with this solution that just makes it so strong. We’re partnering with a leading company in the UK called Conexon on large smart water metering deals. So, so that’s, LoRaWAN is perfect for that, right? You don’t have a active power source at a water meter and working with experienced operators to build these, let’s say, dedicated networks that’s just amazing. And the effects, and the kind of, yeah, almost magic they do with that data, and the value that generates from that is unbelievable from-
– [Ryan] Oh, absolutely.
– [Wienke] Of course the basics of water metering, but also like water leakage, Kind of, infrastructure planning. It’s, amazing, so yeah, that these are two key things that we really see strong growth in
– [Ryan] Fantastic. And this for audience who may not be as up to date and understanding, kind of, how LoRaWAN is contributing to growth and adoption in different areas, what is it about LoRaWAN technologies that really enables it to be something that companies should consider when it comes to certain use cases and such?
– [Wienke] Yeah, so, so with regard to LoRaWAN, it’s here and now, and then if you are systems integrator or you have a product development team in your corporate or enterprise, We have a, we have partnerships with around 300 to 400 device makers, and they have tested and provisioned and integrated around 1500 device profiles with our LoRaWAN management platform. And the, this means that what it actually is capable of to do, is to address the inherent in the- to address the fragmented market that’s out there. And you think like, okay why would you need so many different devices? You would be amazed in how many different ways you could measure temperature. You would be amazed in how much- how many ways meters, gas meters, water meters, are basically how do your things work. So, one of the challenges of Internet of Things is that it it’s addressing a physically fragmented market. And what LoRaWAN is doing is it’s solving that fragmentation by having this massive device maker ecosystem, and basically normalizing it to, like, simple payloads. And it is something we announce at our conference, what we’re doing together with Microsoft and the digital twin device language. Basically what it allows you to do is to harmonize the data models and make it very easy to understand for ERP systems, But actually address the fragmented market. So if I would say what’s really special about LoRaWAN right now is that it’s able to solve a lot of different problems with the same ecosystem and the same core platform.
– [Ryan] Gotcha. Fantastic. Yeah, that’s, that’s a great overview. I’m actually speaking with the head of the LoRa Alliance later today, to talk, kind of, about a similar kind of focus area, just talking about, like, you know, their views on the market as well. But it’s, but yeah, sounds like a lot of great things are going on. How, I guess to, to break away from this for a second, what’s the latest on, kind of, other things going on over at the company? I know you’re, you know, you have your events and things like that, but what’s kind of on the agenda? What should we be looking out for, kind of, in the coming months?
– [Wienke] Yeah, yeah, so we have, I have a super focus on product leadership and operational excellence for this LoRaWAN network management infrastructure. So the middleware you need to operate LoRaWAN networks that you put in place in buildings and in cities and in farms, et cetera. And so, so we’ll be coming up with more and more tools for systems integrators and device makers to make sure that, basically, they don’t have to worry about LoRaWAN. And then we make sure that everything is pre-integrated for many solutions that you can build with it. So that’s for us going forward and pushing this growth all around the world. And we have our yearly flagship event, which is always in September in Amsterdam. There, we have basically a large LoRaWAN conference with developers and systems integrators and product managers all across the world where the latest and greatest is shared. So that’s gonna be the, this year, 21st and 22nd of September. And yeah, the listeners and the viewers of this show will have access to a discount code, which I, I’ll provide to you-
– [Ryan] Fantastic.
– [Wienke] After the show, but- so yeah, that’s going on and yeah heads down and grow this market, yeah.
– [Ryan] Fantastic, well I really appreciate you taking the time to jump on here today. For audience who wants to learn more about what’s going on with you all and just kind of pay attention to the events and the other things coming out, what’s the best way they can do that?
– [Wienke] Yeah, so best way is, I mean, I love LinkedIn nowadays, so us and our team are always available there. Or you go to www.thethingsindustries.com and there you will basically have the entire tool to get started with LoRaWAN and build your first solution. We have all kinds of educational tools and documentation to, what we call, get you from zero to one, so to start the integration efforts and get going with your first solution. And then we have a complete set of tools to scale you from one to a million. So basically it’s, yeah, it’s a very extensive toolkit to get you going and be successful with LoRaWAN
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Okay, thank you so much again for taking the time. It’s always a pleasure to have you on and look forward to talking again hopefully soon and doing a lot of more things together.
– [Wienke] Perfect. And the same. Thanks for having me.
– [Ryan] All right everyone, thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT for All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel, and be sure to hit the bell notification so you get the latest episodes as soon as they become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching, and we’ll see you next time.