Feb 11, 2021

IoT Platforms and Digital Regulation

A couple of recent and seemingly unconnected publications provide food for strategic thought on the topic of IoT platforms. 

Platforms are an important topic for the following reasons. As businesses deploy Internet of Things applications, many will turn to the service provider market for affordable, feature-rich, and well-engineered platforms. Platforms also represent an important topic for the large Cloud-providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, who understand the importance of platform strategies and data. 

The first publication that caught my attention is a short article on the IoT Agenda site. It outlines that issues of IoT technology fragmentation and discusses the trend towards concentration in the IoT platform market [1]. The second is a study by a group of economists with an expertise in platform economics and competition policy. They studied the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) and its regulatory implications for large and dominant digital platforms [2]. 

Jan 8, 2021

2020 in Review: Corporates Adapt Their IoT Business Models

This review of 2020 corporate initiatives in the IoT market builds on a history of tracking strategic industry developments for over a decade. Two sets of corporate events that bookended the start and end of 2020 provide instructive examples of the roadmap and dead ends that characterize today’s IoT market. In the intervening months, organizations in different parts of the industry ecosystem bolstered their IoT strategies. Some developed complementary capabilities through M&A while others addressed go-to-market issues through business reorganization and product-innovation initiatives. For many organizations, however, there remain challenges in balancing short term imperatives with strategic positioning goals. There is a degree of comfort in embracing the familiar. The risk is that this leads to an under-investment in properly integrating new business approaches and complementary technologies.

Nov 13, 2020

Where the IoT Market is Heading

I delivered a presentation some weeks back at an online conference for the managed-services industry. My talk was about the implications of IoT for digital transformation [1]. To prepare for the presentation, I began by looking back over the past decade of market developments, joining a sequence of past and present developments to see into the future of IoT. This exercise provided useful insights into the evolving pattern of customer needs, consequences for where the market is heading and, implications for strategy and business innovation.

May 30, 2020

A Framework for AI and IoT

Early in my career, I had the good fortune to work on several research and innovation projects on the topics of AI and ML. These project used mathematical techniques to model the dynamic behavior of machines and to work out if they were developing faults. This are known as ‘condition monitoring’ and ‘predictive maintenance’ procedures. These projects involved data from real machines, not simulations. They included an industrial scale diesel generator, a gas-turbine used for ship propulsion and, black-box data from military aircraft [1].

In modern terminology, these projects involved the creation of digital twins from IoT data. They began by collecting time series data around events such a change in operating speed. This is important because systems do not provide dynamically rich data under static operating conditions. Think of a lightbulb with a hairline crack in its filament. Unless you have incredible eyesight, it is impossible to tell if the lightbulb is work on not. However, if you gently tap the lightbulb, you will hear the filament vibrate. That is what reveals that the broken is bulb. In addition to the signal processing aspects, this diagnostic and testing process relies on our mental model of how filament lightbulbs work.

Mar 26, 2020

Regulation and Competitive Advantage

A couple of years ago, I was in conversation with a group of technologists and investors at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board. This gathering takes place every January in Washington DC. Think of it as the transportation industry's equivalent of Mobile World Congress. 

Our group was discussing the then emerging market for connected cars. I threw in a question about the impact of regulation on their business strategies. Regulation matters in relation to safety, liability and insurance solutions, and data management. Factors such as these matter more to commercial viability than technical innovations. The need to factor regulation into technology choices and business models was evident even then. The universal response I got from the group was that innovators needed to be given the leeway to develop the technology and novel services. Putting it explicitly, regulators needed to stay well out of the way.

The same issues are apparent as new markets develop on top of the foundations of mobile communications. One example is the sharing of consumer data derived from mobile phones [1]. Another is Facebook's difficulties in launching its Libra currency and payments initiative, ahead of regulatory buy-in.