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IoT In Action: 5 Questions with Laura Borgstede, Chief Energizing Officer of Calysto Communications

Q1: How would you describe the current state of IoT?

I’ll take a page from Steve Levy’s playbook and say we’re in the third inning. We’ve established a rhythm to the market, we have standards (for some technologies, at least). We know who has a hot bat and who might deliver consistently. At the same time, it’s still early and it’s anybody’s game. It’s still hard for companies to get into IoT in ways that are going to deliver real ROI. We’re still worried about how all these “Things” will be connected. But we’re also looking ahead to things like 5G and wondering what access to that much speed and bandwidth will enable.

Q2: You supported some of the earliest winners in the IoT space (RACO Wireless). How have things evolved over the past few years?

Well, not too terribly much, and a lot, all at the same time. While the MVNOs, like RacoWireless,have been through a lot of M&A, not all parts of the IoT ecosystem have been. So you see a lot of conflicting coverage nowadays. Yes, the semiconductors and what technology we’ll use to connect these “things” have gone through their maturing process. But has the growth outlived the hype? Not yet.

According to the Vodafone IoT Barometer only 34% of enterprises have embraced IoT. And, according to James Brehm and Associates, there are “103.9 million connections in the US and that is growing by 25% driven by connected cars, fleets, supply chain, asset tracking and remote monitoring and control.” I would say it’s still very much a growing industry, and because of that, vendors and service providers need to do ongoing due diligence to make sure their messages to the market are consistent and unique. We still hear quite a bit of hype. But end customers are screaming for a better understanding of how IoT solutions can help them solve their key pain points.

Q3: What are the most common questions that clients ask?

Well, I have two businesses in IoT. Calysto Communications™ is about the present and the IoT Futurists™ are all about the future.

So, in order to accelerate sales and marketing results, companies are asking Calysto about how to grow their perception and brand in IoT. And how to win deals. These companies are concerned that they have missed the game, when the game is still in the early innings. I don’t think anyone has missed the game yet in getting their product or solution out there (except maybe at the semiconductor level, but I’ve learned over the years in the IoT to never say never to a smart company with a great idea about how to improve things by orders of magnitude.) At Calysto, we work with emerging startups and IoT ventures within established companies focused on security, location, IoT solutions “in-a-box” and others with new market-specific services. If you’re solving a real-world problem using a connected product or service, there are plenty of innings left. You just have to nail down your value proposition to the market and back it with a strong content marketing and media and analyst relations effort.

My other business, IoT Futurists™, is focused on society once the game is over and IoT is fully established. Meaning products are everywhere and the networks are fully deployed. What is happening in education? How will jobs change? The global economy? These shifts are already happening and we need to make sure we’re educating both the IT director and the consumer on what’s coming.

Q4: What is the dumbest thing that you have heard in the market lately?

There are really no dumb questions in a market like IoT – that’s where the innovation happens. Someone asks: “I wonder if I can do this” and they go off and do it. But from a marketing perspective, one question we get asked a LOT that makes us scratch our heads a little is: “Should I call this a Connected Device?” Yes, you should. Unlike many other technologies, IoT is still growing. The the innovation cycle is nowhere near over, and therefore neither is the hype cycle. You just have to know who to talk to in order to influence sales. I believe there were about 10 teams (and less than 100 people) when we started talking about the IoT and now there are hundreds—maybe even thousands. Well, if you really want to be successful in IoT you need to take cues from and work with those original people—they truly get the very underpinnings of this market and what potential it holds.

Q5: What does the next year look like for the industry?

I think we work on getting through the third inning and possibly the fourth. . There’s a lot of work to be done educating more people (inside and outside of the IoT industry). Answering the technology and business arguments (Will LoRa continue to be a competitive offering? Will asset tracking continue to be the primary use case? What will happen to M&A up the stack?) More and more people—in both the enterprise and consumer markets—are beginning to see how IoT impacts their everyday lives. And thanks to marketing, they’re understanding that it’s the IoT that’s causing that impact—the easier we make for people to understand the real possibilities for IoT, the easier it will be to compete in this market.

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