Mobile Breakfast Series: Internet of Things

Mobile Breakfast Series: Internet of Things

Internet of Things: Exploring the next big thing in mobile

We hosted our first Mobile Breakfast Series of the year at Columbia Tower Club last week and the topic was Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is the hottest thing in the mobile industry right now with investment pouring in from all sides. Our expert panel took a deeper look into the opportunities, the hype, and the challenges in the evolving mobile segment. Mobile Breakfast Series works to bring you the current thoughts, expert brains, and probing questions about the main issues of the day.

Internet of Things (IoT) has been hailed as the next big thing in the mobile industry. As connections from objects and things interconnect with existing and new end points, the networked effect can provide tremendous opportunities; reshape existing processes, user experiences, and expectations. But, really, how real is IoT and what will it take to reach the billions of dollars promised. Will it fundamentally alter how we do things? We are starting to see signs of tremendous progress. GE is investing $4B+ into its version of IoT – the industrial Internet and it is making the difference in operations and machine learning. Connected consumers’ gadgets are enabling us to lead healthier lives, work more efficiently, and manage our time more effectively.





We had a superstar panel discussing the IoT evolution from different angles.

Bobby Morrison, President, Verizon PNW has his ears to the ground as he works with his customers big and small on using mobile to solve real-world problem that improves productivity and financial performance. Verizon is one the top digital operators in the world who understands the implications of the 4th wave and is investing appropriately.

Tim Moss, SVP, Ericsson was one the key guys behind the analysis that led to the 50 Billion connected devices paper in 2011. He has 20+ years of experience in the industry and worked across many verticals so has a real deep understanding how mobile can be incorporated in various industries.

Chris Murphy, Director, Brand Communications and Digital Marketing, adidas US is close to the consumers as to what matters most. Companies like adidas don’t introduce technology in their products for the sake of technology. Each mistake can be costly if it is not well thought out. It doesn’t mean that are constantly tinkering at the edges. His team has been introducing new concepts and new ways to engage the consumer throughout their

Shankar Chandran, VP, Samsung Catalyst Fund is part of the new investment group at Samsung in Silicon Valley who is looking to invest in cutting edge startups and technologies in both hardware and software that can give Samsung and its ecosystem an edge. His areas of interest are IoT, cloud, security, mHealth, and next-generation user interfaces. Samsung is one of the top 3 important players in the mobile and technology ecosystem.

From wearables to automobiles to industrial automation, the use cases are endless and we are just trying to make sense of what such a connected world will mean to productivity, human behavior, safety, privacy, and the society at large.

As we stand today, here are some of the forecasts:

In 2011, Ericsson forecasted 50 Billion Connected Devices by 2020

In 2012, Cisco agreed with the forecast and said they too expect the same number of connected devices and in 2013 came out with a paper talking about a $14.4 Trillion economy powered by IoE

In 2013, GE came out with their research and paper on the Industrial Internet powered by sensors and calculated that we could see $10-15 trillion dollar impact on the GDP in the next 20 years.

So, these are massive numbers. It does feel like we are entering a new phase of technology growth due to connected sensors, what I call the “Golden Age of Mobile” and I was seen that in my work in both developing and developed nations that the use cases are everywhere. In many instances, developing countries are not waiting but leapfrogging some of the developed nations. So, very exciting times ahead.

The salient point of discussions were:

  • Verizon had 1.3TB of traffic during the super bowl. That was easily matched by Seattle Victory parade couple days later. #goHawks
  • Verizon has worked with some venues to help fans find parking quickly through mobile. The less time they spend on parking, the more they spend in the stadium and average spend goes up
  • The current crop of wearables is pretty “meh,” we need a lot more accuracy, better design and aesthetics, and algorithms that help make sense of the data in practical terms. Just knowing the heart rate might not help if doesn’t come with a personal digital assistant that helps you manage high heart rate or abnormal conditions? Connecting the dots through algorithms is the key for broader adoption.
  • Connected Home – there is debate about how this evolves. Do we need a central hub to control various entities in the house like what AT&T Digital Life is all about or we will just integrate best of the breed solutions like Nest in the house. How do they talk to each other or will consumers be forced to manage different devices using different interfaces and apps? Will there be algorithms that unify this complexity in easy to use single interfaces? Who owns the control points? Who owns the data? Who controls the security? Many questions. No clear answers today but they all point to opportunities for the ecosystem. Algorithms can help tie data coming from security camera, thermostat and water heater together to provide a better view to the consumer on actionable information in the case of exceptions.
  • Retail – Retailers are starting to use as a way to understand their customers better and engage with them inside and outside the stores
  • Industrial Automation – every airplane flight generates Petabytes of data but we don’t have the capability to truly analyze all of it at the speed we need to. Wind turbines collect data every 40ms. This points to a growing problem of managing data and picking the needles in massive haystacks.
  • Connected Cars: 60M cars sold last year, 14M were connected. Next year, we will probably have 50% connected so we are getting to a point where pretty much every car coming out of the plant will be connected.
  • Microsoft should be focusing more on IoT. It lost out on the smartphone wave but shouldn’t miss the IoT wave or it will be really out of the game.
  • Battery life is pretty poor on today’s devices. Without significant improvement there is no mass-market.
  • The privacy/security angle on the data of IoT is one of the critical issues that might derail or slow IoT. Either due to regulations or some major incidents, we might see a big shift in perception of privacy of IoT data or how security is managed at various levels of the IoT stack.
  • Mobile security is a Lego-block building problem. One has to secure every layer of the stack to be able to provide comprehensive security and it is challenging when there are multitude of players involved.
  • Samsung’s focus is on two key areas: core sensor technologies to help improve the performance and algorithms that helps make sense of the data so if you have something cutting-edge, you can get an audience with them.
  • One of the biggest things that is holding back IoT is the fragmentation and lack of standards that appeal to folks outside the mobile industry. While there have been efforts from the likes of Qualcomm and Google to harmonize things, IoT is still quite fragmented and is likely to remain so for sometime. There was a call for action for key leaders in the industry to come to the table to help create standards quickly.
  • Verizon has been talking about some of its solutions in health and public safety via its “powerful answers” campaign.
  • Ericsson has been investing heavily into software as they transition to become a digital player assisting the operators and others. The importance is highlighted by the fact that Ericsson now invests 50% of its R&D budget on software.
  • Verizon has seen 200-300% growth in the space every year in the last few years and it is likely to continue. Investment profile stays aggressive.
  • adidas helps not only its target demographics of high-school kids but also professional athletes with connected apparel and analysis of data to help prepare better athletes and agile sports teams. In 2012, they ran an experiment with the two soccer teams in Philadelphia where both sides wore connected things and people in the stands could look at the player heart rates and their speeds etc. From the consumer point of view, the focus is always on adding value to the product and a service to the consumer.
  • Mobile operators like Verizon and AT&T are focused on services that go beyond connectivity to move up the stack and offer more complete solutions (as outlined in our 4th wave paper series).

I really enjoyed the discussion and we covered quite a bit of ground. As usual, the audience were well informed and did their homework.

Given the importance of the topic, we are expanding our Mobile Breakfast Series on IoT and going back to London this summer and in partnership with Telefonica hosting a session on IoT on June 17th. Hope our friends and colleagues in western Europe can join us.

We will also more details on our annual summit Mobile Future Forward in September. Stay tuned for more details.

Thanks and see you around.