Removing the connectivity roadblock
to unleash global IoT disruption – exclusive interview with Nick Earle, CEO and Chairman at Eseye extracted from our IoT Special Report.
We’ve been talking about IoT disruption for a decade, why hasn’t it happened yet?
It’s certainly taken longer than many predicted. In 2011, industry experts said there would be 50bn connected devices by 2020. In fact, there are 11bn – a pretty big miss.
Companies have found IoT device design more complicated than they expected, which has slowed progress. And the big roadblock has been connectivity.
Why is connectivity such a problem?
Connecting a device isn’t a problem per se. Smartphones are connected devices and they have done fine. The problem is that the business case of many IoT devices requires that they work everywhere.
Because there is a lack of interoperability between network operators, no network has more than 90% global coverage, even with roaming arrangements. You don’t want a connected lawn mower which is returned in 10% of cases, or a connected health monitoring device that misses 10% of emergencies. That kills the business case.
This means a trade-off for companies deploying IoT. Either they accept 90% connectivity. Or they stitch solutions together, so products work across different networks – which is a distraction from their core business.
What’s the solution to the IoT connectivity problem?
The Holy Grail is to seamlessly connect to the best network, based on where your device is in the world. Once you enable this, you start to see big backend savings because you can manufacture one product worldwide without needing different SIMs, production lines, service contracts, etc. But more importantly, a big barrier lifts to global IoT deployments, which suddenly makes much more ambitious IoT projects possible.
This problem is common in technology. All technologies start off proprietary. But after a time, users demand interoperability. Once this happens, adoption takes off.
So how is Eseye solving this?
We have established arrangements with many of the mobile network operators (MNOs) worldwide allowing our embedded SIMs to use their networks. Then, we have developed a cloud-based platform which manages orchestration between these MNOs. So the SIM connects to our platform which connects it to the best network wherever it is in the world.
More recently, we’ve teamed up with Thales and AWS to create Intelligent Cloud Connect. This is the world’s first module which provides a complete connectivity solution – you integrate it into the device, and it handles data capture, connectivity, and uploading data straight to the AWS cloud. So for those looking for simplicity, the module can just be integrated into any device, and that’s the whole connectivity challenge solved.
So, what does removing this connectivity barrier mean for the IoT industry?
Put simply, it means IoT can unleash it’s potential.
Companies selling connected devices can become truly global. And global companies can become data-driven by deploying IoT throughout their value chain and in so doing transform their customer’s experience of their product.
With this roadblock removed, we will start to see the movement from early adopters to the mainstream. That’s when we will see the real winners of the IoT revolution.
We can guess at some of this. But true disruption, by its nature, will come from places we haven’t even dreamed of. The people who invented the internet could never have predicted Uber and Netflix. Likewise, we can only guess at what IoT entrepreneurs will come up with once they have access to data from trillions of devices capturing rich data on every aspect of our lives and businesses.
But it’s likely to be an even bigger wave of innovation than the internet unleashed.