In episode 07 of the Let’s Connect! Podcast, Jeremy Prince, recently named CEO of Sigfox Group, joins us to talk about how 2020 changed IoT, what effect the pandemic has had on the industry, and why it looks like we might be on the edge of a nascent boom time in IoT.

Jeremy Prince joined the Sigfox corporate office, headquartered in France, as Chief Strategy Officer in 2018. In this role, he worked closely with Ludovic Le Moan, CEO and co-founder of Sigfox on key initiatives and the company strategy.  As part of the Sigfox Executive Committee, he was in charge of Sigfox Spain, Sigfox Germany and Sigfox USA. In order to strengthen and accelerate the business in the U.S., Jeremy was appointed to President of Sigfox USA in 2019, while remaining on the Sigfox Corporate Executive Committee.  Recently, he was promoted again and named CEO of the Sigfox Group. 

Interested in connecting with Jeremyon how 2020 changed IoT? Reach out on Linkedin!

Sigfox is the 0G network pioneer and the world’s leading Internet of Things (IoT) service provider. Sigfox offers a unique combination of ultra-low cost and ultra-low power technologies supported by a global network, enabling businesses to gain visibility and track their assets worldwide. With more than 17 million connected devices and 60 million messages sent a day, Sigfox helps its customers to extract crucial data at the lowest total cost and to accelerate their digital transformation in key areas such as Asset Tracking and Supply Chain. ISO 9001 certified and surrounded by a large ecosystem of partners and IoT key players, Sigfox was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Toulouse, France, with offices in Boston, Dallas, Dubai, Madrid, Paris, Sao Paulo, Singapore and Tokyo. Follow Sigfox on Twitter!

Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:

1:15 Jeremy Prince introduction
1:44 Sigfox Introduction
5:22 Logistics and Supply Chain
6:00 COVID impact and vaccination supply
7:30 Michelin Container tracking case study
8:45 Building Management, Commercial Facilities
11:07 State of the IoT Industry Analysis
12:06 French Insurance Company case study
13:40 Air quality
15:40 The Phoenix Fund Project in Puerto Rico
19:10 Cannabis and Agriculture IoT
20:30 Final Thoughts with Jeremy Prince on how 2020 changed IoT


Transcript:

- [Ken] This is the IoT For All Media Network. Hello friends in IoT. Welcome to Let's Connect, the newest podcast in the IoT For All Media Network. I am Ken Briodagh Editorial Director for IoT For All and your host. If you enjoy this episode, please remember to like subscribe, rate, review, and comment at all your favorite podcasting platforms. And to keep up with all the IoT insights you need, visit IoT for all.com. Before we get into our episode, the IoT market will surpass $1 trillion in the next few years. Is your business ready to capitalize on this new and growing trend, use leverage is powerful IoT solutions development platform to efficiently create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. Help your customers increase operational efficiency improve customer experience, or even unlock new revenue streams with IoT. To learn more, go to IoT changes everything.com that's IoT changes everything.com. Now let's connect. My guest today is Jeremy Prince of Sigfox. And we're gonna be talking about, well a lot of things today. We're gonna get pretty broad, but first Jeremy welcome to the show.

- [Jeremy] Thank you very much. Thank you for having me always a pleasure.

- [Ken] The pleasure is mine. It's always great to talk to you and I am glad to bring you into our newest show here, but before we jump in in case some of the listeners aren't familiar with you or with Sigfox somehow, because I don't know maybe they're new to the IoT. Can you give us a little bit of your background and sort of what home base is for Sigfox?

- [Jeremy] Okay, so usual joke, as you can hear, I'm a pure Texan. So more seriously. I moved to the US from Europe where I was with Sigfox in France. I moved to the US about a year and a half and Sigfox for people that aren't aware of who we are and what we do. So it's a company that was founded 10 years ago in France. A network and a technology for IoT based on an old technology. So how to do new with old bits that use radio technology. We like to see it as the basis of all the networks. And, you know, you've got 3G, 4G, 5G well, we are zero G because we like to see ourselves as simple, robust and frugal. And for a lot of IoT use cases, that brings a lot of benefits.

- [Ken] So it's been a couple of years since we talked we were realizing earlier, and since then there's been a lot that's been going on with Sigfox. And of course, I don't know if you've noticed but the last like 10 to 12 months have been very unusual. So let's take the temperature. Let's see what's been going on. The last really big news I heard from Sigfox was that the platform had gone from close to open and that it's sort of widely available for folks to access your bandwidth and connectivity. What else has been going on?

- [Jeremy] So first of all, one of the huge benefits of Sigfox for our customers is that we are a really international solution. So it doesn't depend on roaming, on SIM cards, et cetera. It's one cloud and your assets can be in France in Britain or in Texas, it will be talking in the same way to the same cloud and you'll access the data in exactly in the same way. And the number of countries has been growing and we're now in over 70 countries.

- [Ken] What has the last year been like for Sigfox? I mean, IoT in general saw some pretty big acceleration. I mean, after the first two or three months where everybody just sort of stopped to figure out what was going on it seemed like everybody sort of realized, oh we need a lot of help to do all this remote work. We need all this automation to happen. We need a lot of remote monitoring more supply chain granularity in our data collection. All of which requires a lot of connectivity of a lot of different kinds. So in Sigfox there's a piece of that connectivity, puzzle, web. I don't know what we call it. Let's call it a mosaic, a Mandela of connectivity . How has it been for Sigfox over the last year? Have you seen acceleration? Have you seen, what's been the effect?

- [Jeremy] I think you're spot on for all your tilling this whole crisis is gonna be in a way a great accelerator for the first months. I would say, I see a bit longer than you did. I would say until the end of the summer until July, August things were rather on pause mode because either existing customers had other things to cope with or new potential customers didn't think it was right to weigh the time to start investing in digitalization and things like that. So things did slightly pause until August since then I think we're getting to the other side of the scope where as you said, people realize now that IoT is key to improve many things that have been hit or really focused on during this pandemic. I mean, logistics is one. I like to say that we ran out of toilet paper. I mean the first power in the world and everyone was in a frenzy to get to stack up toilet paper that says a lot about how you could improve logistics.

- [Ken] Sure.

- [Jeremy] And I'm saying on probably this funny note or at least it wants to be funny , but on the other end.

- [Ken] Well, I tell you what I personally cannot wait until they stock the toilet paper back up because my rags are starting to run out .

- [Jeremy] But if you look at the other end and on a more serious note although toilet paper is still very serious, but when I track today, because like everyone I'm tracking the vaccine campaigns, et cetera. And one thing that really strikes me is I see the numbers and I see in the different States, the percentage of the vaccines that are actually should be available that are being used. And this percentage is pretty low. And you're talking about vaccines that got to be at a very steady temperature, et cetera.

- [Ken] Yeah very low it's the Pfizer one it's cryogenically cold I believe.

- [Jeremy] Exactly, and I'm thinking here so a bit too early for Sigfox. We're not at that scale yet in the US but that would have been a grim use case for Sigfox because our technology is particularly irrelevant for that for tracking, improving the ETA and making sure that they stayed at the right temperature all along knowing that you're gonna get so many doses that day or that hour in that center, you can line up the people today is sort of, they're doing their best but it's still a bit of a mess. And I think there's a lot to do there.

- [Ken] Both of the major pharmaceutical companies are complaining that they've got warehousing problems where they've got supply. They just can't get it to where it needs to go.

- [Jeremy] Hopefully it'll improve and we'll get on vaccines too. But no no, seriously, when we look at what we do with Michelin. So Sigfox in France signed with Michelin Truck Containers and it illustrates my point just by tracking the container they've improved drastically the ETA. So knowing when it's going to arrive and they've improved the transit time by I think one to two days, and it seems like not that much but in fact, it's tens of millions of dollars.

- [Ken] Well, sure that's huge. The scale alone of one to two days per container, I mean is gigantic. That means that a ship is potentially weeks ahead of schedule or at least ahead of where it would have been previously.

- [Jeremy] Exactly and it means that they don't have to be because that was really for tire. So big tires, not the tire that you and I put on on your car or my car, oh, I don't know about your car but mine I pretty reasonable . Now but tires are worth a lot of money. So having to produce less because you've got less in transit is a lot of money. So it's really big. And so logistics is an easy one to spot. And everyone says, yes, of course but I think it's interesting to see that this whole pandemic I believe it's gonna change quite a few things. I think from the way we use our offices is gonna change. A lot of people are still at home, are working from home. So companies are starting to realize, well why should I pay that much for that much space when I've realized that people can work from home maybe not all the time, because it's good to be together but it will change the mix. And there IoT can also bring a lot there to give visibility. We've got a solution. It's a company in Europe a startup that's built a solution and there are others to monitor space occupancy. So you can know in real time how many people are there all the meeting rooms used, et cetera. And in fact, you realize pretty quickly that you're renting or owning a lot of space that you don't need.

- [Ken] Well, yeah, and I think that generally speaking and I wanna get into this. I'm pretty optimistic about the future as enabled by IoT technology. But I think in the very short term the commercial real estate market is in a lot of trouble. I think that there's a real potential for a problem, not unavoidable. I think it can be mitigated or potentially avoided, but if not acted upon quickly I think that a lot of companies are just gonna go, well I guess we can be fully remote. And it's not like many employees are gonna complain about that, or they're going to just rent a conference room when they need one or you know, a small space for a couple of desks and do modular offices and things like that. I don't think you're gonna see nearly as many companies having 5, 10,000 square feet where everybody's at a cubicle or something. I think that those big empty buildings are going to have to be rethought. And one of the ways to do that is going to be with IoT technologies, not just for efficiency for running the building and visibility into what's going on but also for non-traditional and modular uses. Maybe your whole building is not subdivided in the way that they always have been. Maybe it's one big space that individual companies can schedule desks in when they want them. And it's just sort of a big shared use space. It turns out WeWork was right just too early and bad at it you know .

- [Jeremy] I wouldn't say anything because we were in a WeWork space in Boston. I wouldn't like them to kick me out to your point and that's something that's interesting also because you know, analysts have written a lot about IoT and still do, and they saw it too soon, too big a few years ago now really we see it taking off. I mean, now it's the big players that are moving in that are going down the digitalization path. It's not no longer just the small tech savvy innovative companies. Now we go in big guns so it's really happy now, so later than they expected, but I think it might even be bigger than what they expect and it's already expected to be huge. Exactly what you were talking about because who would have thought of Facebook when internet started no one would have foreseen and that huge company generating billions of dollars. An example with what you were saying you could have some startup that's using IoT to do a sort of Uber of use your space real time alerts. I'm making them, probably a bad idea but you see what way I'm going. In France I know that there's an insurance company. They built a device, a Sigfox enabled device that you put in your car so your car, a rental car or something like that. And in fact, you don't subscribe for a yearly insurance. You've got a sort of an app. And when you start the car it basically starts your insurance based on the data you get from that or device. And that device is gonna monitor that you've driven for, I don't know 10 minutes, two miles. And on your app, you're gonna get, okay you've been billed for 5 cents. I don't know I'm making the numbers up. So you're only insured for actually your usage. Once again, I don't know if that will be the big thing of tomorrow but there are things that are gonna come that we don't force it.

- [Ken] Right the sort of unintended unexpected consequences of IoT technology are potentially huge. And it's sort of the case that I've been making for years about not letting the power of edge networking make us forsake those sort of big data in the cloud thing. Because I think a lot of that big data and analysis is what's gonna give us insight into these sort of unexpected cases that we can't predict. But I have so many questions about that insurance thing that we don't have time to talk about, like what happens if somebody hits my parked car? Who covers that? Like I have , who.

- [Jeremy] I do not know of the contract.

- [Ken] Jeremy I want a full dossier by the end of the day, I need to know everything .

- [Jeremy] It's on its way. No, but I'm talking about the future. But even today we were talking about logistics. We were talking about space occupancy. I think also one of the consequences of COVID people wanna be safe. And we've just implemented air quality monitoring in two universities. And I think that's gonna be big also. And if you are listening to that in schools or in universities, please reach out to us. It's basically a sensors to measure the CO2 levels in the different rooms and like that, you know if the air is being renewed. So from a COVID point of view and from unfortunately for all your listeners in California when you've got a lot of pollution through fires and things like that, it's important. And I think that's a very easy to understand and before use case but it can make a big difference when all those schools and universities are trying to get students back in class.

- [Ken] Sure, and I wanna go down this rabbit hole too, but I think that the idea of air quality monitoring which is been a really hard nut to crack as a general rule there's a lot of pseudoscience involved in it in certain places. But when done well, I think it can be really really powerful because as you say, CO2, carbon monoxide, radon, all the stuff that you get, your sort of house and buildings inspected for can be automatically sensed now with sort of airborne infectious agents like COVID and things like that. You've got to have very particular filtration systems and your HVAC systems. And if you've calibrated your sensors properly I expect you could sense that those are working properly. And that's connected.

- [Jeremy] Like mission over because he needs to do something about the system, that's going all hopefully wrong. Yeah, it makes a difference. And we already do it in universities like that but we also do it at city level in California in one or two cities where we measure the pollution. And there the consequence I don't know if they do that in California but I definitely know that they do it in Europe. When you reach a certain level of pollution really came becomes dangerous or they can't deny that it's dangerous . They reduce the traffic.

- [Ken] Yeah, so let's talk about the Phoenix fund project because I am, as we're getting near the end of time I don't wanna leave this one out. Cause I think it's really, really interesting this sort of partnership that you worked on in Puerto Rico. So can you tell us all a little bit about how that works and what it would not.

- [Jeremy] Yes of course so we have signed an exclusivity with a company that now called Sigfox Puerto Rico. So I expect everyone to be aware because you are in the US but if there are any people outside of the US listening Puerto Rico is actually part of the US since status that's a little bit different from other States but it's part of the US. It's an Island and we signed an exclusivity with them. So they are deploying the Sigfox network in Puerto Rico and working with all the local players to deploy some solutions. We were very excited because they are from Puerto Rico. They know the ecosystem well. Plus for us, it's US deploying a nationwide network takes time today we're around a third of the population covered around 5% of the territory. So we're in the main cities, main ports, main airports but there in Puerto Rico, we're gonna actually have full coverage of the Island and it's interesting to see what you can do when you got full coverage. So we're excited because they're great guys. They're a great company. They know a lot about the Puerto Rico economy and the right people there. And plus it's gotta be a bit like those when you visit one house and you get a feeling of what the real estate is gonna be like. In French because I know you like my French, we call it . So no, no really exciting and great guys. And they're also news to come soon because they're not gonna limit themselves to Puerto Rico. And then be moving to some other area in the Caribbean.

- [Ken] What kind of use cases are they putting in place? Is it a sort of environmental monitoring? What are they looking into?

- [Jeremy] Well, they're looking into the full scope of what Sigfox can do. So they're looking at working with the municipalities. So they've been a bit late in that deployment. They've not achieved a hundred percent coverage yet because COVID slowed things down. Just one thing that I didn't mention, they've also got a group that does internet ISP cable, internet survey also approach their B2B customers with a full suite of services. So to give you an example, and I don't wanna give away because I don't know what's confidential and what isn't but I know that they were going to some network of not really shops where people go and coming with. We'll provide you internet capacity, IPTV for the people that are waiting, plus IoT solutions for the air quality, for your stock management, for the temperature, ex cetera. So they've got an interesting approach there also. And they're working with the municipalities they're working also in the agriculture we're getting traction and that's quite funny for a European. And it's not true in every state of course but around the cannabis agriculture, because we are robust, easy to deploy and inexpensive, it's ideal to tackle the legal constraints around cannabis tracking, et cetera.

- [Ken] Yeah, I think that actually cannabis is going to be a really a growing market for IoT over the next, you know, it might take 10 years or so before it's actually starting to happen but agriculture is huge. They need implementation. If only to eliminate waste, waste is such a big problem. So there's a recent article up on IoT for all.com that you can read about some food, wastage issues being ameliorated with IoT technology. I think that the cannabis marketplace and the growers and as that becomes more accessible and legalized throughout the world, it's going to be a place where it makes a lot of sense to have IoT implementation. So that's gonna be an interesting one. And I've had, again, several conversations over the last two years with some folks in that space, that marketplace specifically, and how they can start looking into IoT implementations. So there's some fun opportunities there. Unfortunately, we are just about out of time. And I wanna give you the floor for a moment. If there's anything we haven't talked about yet that you really want the listeners to be thinking about over the next couple of months, as we hopefully pull into the backside of COVID and start moving forward.

- [Jeremy] No I think we've touched base on a lot of it. And I think these are exciting times and I like to quote Winston Churchill although there's a lot of doubt, did he really say that not too sure, but I like it so I'll quote him anyway . Saying that the pessimistic sees the difficulties in every opportunity and the optimists sees the opportunity in every difficulty. And I think we're going through tough times but it's gonna change a lot of things and hopefully a lot of them better.

- [Ken] Yeah, I think you're probably right. That's a wonderful Churchill quote and like all Churchill quotes is probably apocryphal . My favorite Churchill quote will not be said in the air sorry, listeners you're gonna have to meet up with me in person to hear this one. Thank you so much Jeremy Prince of Sigfox for taking some time to chat with me today about all of this it's always a pleasure to have you. And I think the listeners are glad we did it.

- [Jeremy] Thank you for having me, as you said always a pleasure and I enjoy it.

- [Ken] Thanks again to all of you listening out there. I hope you've enjoyed our discussion. And if you have, please make sure you like and subscribe so you don't miss out on any of our episodes. We post every week and I hope you'll leave us a rating review and comment on your favorite podcasting platform. If you'd like to suggest a guest please click on the link in the description. And we also have a great sister podcast on our network called the IoT for all podcasts. So make sure you check that out.

- [Ryan] Hey, Ken, let me jump in real quick and introduce your audience to another awesome show on the IoT for all media network. The show that started all the IoT for all podcasts where I bring on experts from around the world to showcase successful digital transformation across industries. We talk about use cases in IoT solutions available in the market and provide an opportunity for those companies to share a device to help the world better understand and adopt IoT. So if you're out there listening and haven't checked it out be sure to go check out the IoT for all podcast available everywhere.

- [Ken] Thank you, Ryan. Now get back to your show and thank you all for joining us on this episode of let's connect. I've been Ken Briodagh Editorial Director of IoT for all, and your host. Our music is Sneaking on September by Otis McDonald. And this has been a production of the IoT for all media networks. Take care of yourselves. You were listening to the IoT for all media network.
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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.