Q1: How would you describe the current state of IoT?
A1: If I am honest, I would describe it as in the doldrums. There was a tremendous amount of activity and innovation in the early 2010s, and much of that seems to have dried up on the technology side. Many of the necessary technology enablers were developed in that period – platforms, connectivity, and so forth. Fast forward to today, and things have not continued to develop much on the technology side. When you look at who is deploying and at the vendors, there is much more focus on delivery. It is more mundane and takes time, but it is, of course, a necessary evil. The one exception to the technology doldrums is how much interesting work there is going on around data management, exchange and trading. If early iterations of IoT was about getting data from devices, the latest developments are around sharing data, leveraging 3rd party data and monetizing it. It is another IoT frontier based on a new set of platforms.
Q2: Where are the successes in IoT right now?
A2: It has been hard for the success stories to match the initial hype, but there are lots of IoT projects that are contributing real value. If you look at the growth in connected vehicles, it is huge, and we’re looking at a world where all new vehicles will be connected. Industrial process management has shown tremendous cost savings. In contrast, smart home has struggled to enjoy the benefits of IoT. Just about everything in IoT is a slow burn as it takes time to swap out or deploy new hardware.
Q3: It has been three years since you (with partner Jim Morrish) sold your former company, Machina Research, to Gartner. What has changed and how is Transforma Insights different?
A3: What has changed from a market research angle is that there is much more focus on peer support and decision tools, putting the power into the hands of the client. The research world has, quite rightly, moved away from the all-knowing analyst as the font of all knowledge to something more collaborative and based on support. What we at Transforma Insights are focusing on is providing a set of tools to help clients to understa
nd the market and to make informed decisions rather than just tell them the answers. From a subject-matter perspective, our old coverage area of IoT has expanded to include dozens of other technology areas. At Transforma Insights we’re describing that as Digital Transformation and it incorporates things like AI, machine learning and distributed ledger. The CIO, or people within innovation business units, will be interested in all of these technologies so it’s critical for us to cover all of them.
Q4: What is the dumbest thing you have seen in the market lately?
A4: I am currently in the process of writing a book which is looking at some of the mistakes in IoT. Things like vendors taking an internal process and technologies and thinking they can take them to market and make a fortune without significant changes. Another is how everyone wants to move up the value chain and there is not room for everyone. For a specific example of a ridiculous product, do you remember the Cayla doll in Germany? Parents were told to destroy the dolls over privacy fears. It was marketed as a children’s toy when it was really a privacy violation platform.
Q5: What excites and interests you most about IoT today?
A5: I am most interested in the service offering landscape and how it plays out. Who is selling what to who and in what format? Most vendors in the IoT value chain struggle to find their right place. It cannot all be left to the systems integrators. There is a shake out coming on the lines between technology creators and offerings. Also, as I mentioned before, data exchanges and trading platforms are very exciting and provide a large new monetization opportunity. Looking further out, the impact of AI will be huge. If IoT is about automating many things, the ultimate goal is giving devices the ability to act autonomously which then requires AI. IoT will be the market adoption driver for AI.