IoT Enables Variety at the Edge: An Interview with Devicify, Part 3

By Special Guest
Joyce Deuley, Senior Analyst and Director of Content, James Brehm & Assoc.
June 01, 2016

Leading up to LiveWorx in Boston June 6-9, James Brehm & Associates sat down with Scott Johnson, CEO, Devicify, to discuss the company’s recent pivot, the challenges happening in IoT, and how it’s going to come together in the future.

(Editor’s note: this is the third in a three-part series. Click here and here for the other parts.)

Deuley: What is one of the most challenging aspects for companies to address as ecosystems and solutions get richer and more sophisticated?
Johnson: It is largely related to security and access at the right time to the right products for the right people. Ecosystems will need to interact with multiple products from multiple sources, that’s one of many things companies struggle with because their solutions can’t play with other solutions around it. Rich ecosystems, however, are starting to appear that have a lot of stakeholders that can benefit from visibility and access to different facets of a product throughout its lifecycle. If we don’t properly address who has access to what, we are going to stifle how these ecosystems operate in a scalable, meaningful way.

Devicify has taken a CRM-centric approach that piggybacks on live business relationships such as who the distributor was, or what territory the maintenance contractor services, in order to use that to segment who should have access and when. If companies can’t efficiently and immediately represent those changes, they’re going to stifle their own opportunity. Ultimately, two separately maintained security systems won’t lead to a very rich, dynamic or secure ecosystem.

Deuley: What is one of the most common stumbling blocks for companies in deploying an IoT solution?
Johnson: The temptation to build it themselves. The technology chain is messy and obscure, and falls well outside the wheelhouse of almost every company. Too many companies are interested in being able to claim that they connected the product and built the entire technology stack themselves, but I think they’re falling into a bit of a trap. We have already experienced the recognition in IT where most companies are moving IT into the Cloud because they don’t generate sufficient advantage by maintaining infrastructure, code, and staff that’s not really specific to them or provides no competitive advantage.

IoT provides that temptation for companies to slide back into the DIY mode, except this time the technology being used is more obscure the consequences for being wrong are much heavier. The challenge is for companies to determine the right part of the chain to outsource so they can then focus their resources on optimizing their unique customer experience, not building everything from the ground up.

What are some of the limiting factors that can lead to frustration and disillusionment with an IoT initiative?
Johnson: IoT solutions will almost never be able to leverage homogenous edge technologies. If companies don’t account for this they will struggle to evolve beyond initial pilots, and they won’t be able to capitalize on near-term legacy opportunities alongside the longer term net new IoT products. I think some of the disillusionment comes from companies choosing the technology that lets them simply ring the bell. These are too often narrow technologies that deliver on the immediate objective, for a given product or app, but the reality of IoT is that the opportunity is broad and systemic. That requires a lot of variety to achieve a critical mass of usefulness. If that’s not believed internally, when customers get a taste of it, they will convey that need for variety and it will be imposed on us by the market. Projects that are built around technologies that are too narrow or require a specific or type of processor or protocol or pathway aren’t built to support the range of use cases the IoT will demand.

Hybridization of hardware companies turning into software companies and software companies incorporating hardware should be an indication that there will be a large need for variety. Narrow solutions that can’t support variety and don’t have a technology platform that can take them to that critical mass of usefulness, will die on the vine. Especially when even that narrow solution set can’t be incorporated back into the business to generate some kind of business value. Easily defining the business logic that leverages remote devices will be a pre-requisite for companies to thrive. That’s because IoT isn’t a just a product design effort, but a business design effort - it tears down the separation between the two. A lot of companies don’t know that and experience failure despite initial success. They can’t scale or generate that critical mass because they don’t realize that IoT really made product and business design the same animal.

Deuley: We’ve discussed some of the core challenges and roadblocks that are currently plaguing the ecosystem, but you can you describe what is working IoT?
Johnson: I think we often focus on the challenges and obstacles, and how we’re going to be able to scale to the ginormous numbers with multi-billion numbers of devices, but I think those numbers are achievable. We underestimate how pervasive the IoT is already. In a few years, we’ll wake up and realize that this was just the Internet the whole time. Just like when we connected all of our people, staff, and businesses to the Internet, we are going to experience something similar, except with larger magnitude, when we connect the devices around us. Most importantly I think there’s a lot of incremental successes, a lot of crazy ideas being thrown against the wall. Most won’t stick but even though these misses are usually pointed at as failures, in their own way they are successes, a natural part of trying to harness this stuff while figuring out new ways of interacting with products around us or how a simple data feed can change how we run our business, how we make personal decisions. Simply exposing ourselves to new possibilities, is one of the best hidden successes of IoT so far. IoT is not about refining your business, but redefining your business—it completely reshuffles the cards for us. Companies will really need to pay attention because there will be those that thrive and there will be those that don’t survive.

Click here to read Part 1 or Part 2.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox. [Free eNews Subscription]

Related Articles

ZEDEDA Certified Edge Computing Associate Certification to Support Growing Uses of Edge Computing

By: Alex Passett    9/6/2023

The new ZCEA certification from ZEDEDA is available through the company's Edge Academy and provides fundamental knowledge about the many benefits of e…

Read More

T-Mobile and Google Cloud Partner to Advance 5G and Edge Compute Possibilities

By: Alex Passett    6/15/2023

T-Mobile and Google Cloud are helping customers embrace next-gen 5G use cases; applications like AR/VR experiences, for example.

Read More

Aptiv PLC Acquires Wind River Systems to Enhance Software-Defined Vehicles

By: Alex Passett    1/5/2023

Dublin-based automotive technology supplier Aptiv PLC has acquired California-based cloud software and intelligent edge company Wind River Systems.

Read More

Driver Safety and Costs Keep Decision Makers Awake

By: Greg Tavarez    12/15/2022

The two things that are top of mind for SMB fleets are driver safety and financial concerns.

Read More

Tomahawk Hosts Microsoft Azure SDK on KxM Body-Worn Edge Processor

By: Stefania Viscusi    11/10/2022

Tomahawk Robotics, a provider of common control solutions, has successfully hosted Microsoft Azure SDK on its KxM edge device.

Read More