Eseye took two awards home at Juniper Research’s 2022 Future Digital Smart Cities and IoT Innovation Awards. The Infinity IoT Platform™ was awarded the ‘Best IoT Security Platform’ and Eseye’s CEO, Nick Earle, was recognised by the analysts as a ‘Mover and Shaker’ in the IoT industry. In this interview, Juniper Research ask Nick about the current state of the IoT market and find out how Eseye’s IoT platform stands out from the competition.
What major trends are you seeing in the IoT market today?
There are three major trends I’m seeing in the IoT industry today.
The first is the breaking of the proprietary network operator lock. What I mean by this is that the movement to eSIM (embedded SIM) and the eUICC (embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card) standard is, for the first time in over 40 years, breaking the lock between an operator SIM and which network it connects to. This is giving users much more choice and is driving increased demand for MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator)-type solutions that can agnostically switch connectivity between operators.
The second trend that we’re seeing is what we call multi-RAT (Radio Access Type), which is no longer just about cellular. Increasingly, it’s about cellular and private networks. It’s going to be about low-power networks such as LoRa (Long Range Wide Area), as well as low earth-orbiting satellites and multi-RAT. That is, in the future, connectivity won’t be siloed by radio access type.
The third big trend, something that we at Eseye have been talking about for a long time, is that it’s all about the device. IoT success is driven by how well the device is designed and optimised for the use case. This is the number one reason why IoT projects fail – all the analyst data says that – and so the first place to start is not the connectivity, it’s the device design. Again, that is one of the key messages that Eseye pushes out to the market and that’s why we are experts in the device field.
What are the key challenges facing the current IoT market?
Building on the theme of the three major trends that we’re seeing in the market today, the key challenges facing the current IoT market are really the change management processes to adopt those trends, and use them to their advantage to deliver business outcomes for their industry.
It really starts right at the early stage of the process when you get into the innovation, or the phase where you start thinking about creating something that will disrupt a market, change the customer experience, and lower costs. This means that you need to start talking to the types of companies that can take advantage of these future trends so that you can build the right solution that is future-protected.
If, for example, you decide to use an MNO’s SIM card and then in the future you are deploying devices in a country where regulators forbid permanent roaming, or a local operator does not accept roaming from the home operator, your device will then be switched off. Often this is with just a few hours’ notice, which is totally outside your control.
As a result, you need to future-proof your IoT solutions. For each of the aforementioned trends, you need to do this for the connectivity, the connectivity type (connectivity RAT component) and the device. IoT devices are going to be deployed for 10 or more years, and you don’t want to have to keep going back and reconfiguring them because then your business case goes out of the window.
How do you see the IoT market evolving in the future?
With regard to how we see the IoT market evolving in the future, you need to look at it in terms of what Geoffrey Moore calls the ‘bowling pins’. When you ‘cross the chasm’, to quote from his famous book, then you actually cross the chasm by knocking down each bowling pin one by one. In other words, certain industries and markets change first, then eventually you get into what he calls ‘Main Street’ where the whole market moves. So, things are always slower than you think, but certain vertical markets are an indicator of the changes that are going to be applied to the whole industry going forward.
Now, to use Moore’s analogy, I believe areas such as healthcare and remote patient monitoring are a leading bowling pin. I also think, EV (Electric Vehicle) charging points are another one. This vertical is witnessing huge adoption right now and it highlights the need for global products to work the first time. This is another indicator that the EV charging industry is leading the way.
The business and home convergence around energy management is another bowling pin. The trends that we are now seeing are where consumers are in charge of who they buy and sell power to in their homes. That power can come from a utility provider, or it could come from the battery in their car or their solar panel. This is another big disruption area, where you will see a lot of interoperability.
Clearly, the whole area of tracking and supply chain optimisation – getting data on exactly where a product is, and at what stage on the supply chain – reduces inefficiencies. There are certain industries that are leading the way, and that’s what a lot of the case studies on our IoT Leaders Podcast cover. That is, those bowling pin industries that are pioneering and setting the momentum for IoT adoption in this new world that we are going into.
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How is Eseye positioning itself to evolve with the market?
The company that I run, Eseye, is positioning itself to evolve with the IoT market in multiple ways. One of the most radical ways in which we are doing this is to say that actually, it’s not about connectivity, but rather about the device. This really is swimming against the tide in the market, as very few companies that say that they are in the IoT business will actually admit that they have every deep device knowledge in terms of firmware, the ability to optimise modems, the ability to design IoT devices, power management and making a device work anywhere in the world. For years, the market has believed that hardware doesn’t matter anymore, as Marc Andreessen famously said that ‘software is eating the world’.
When we went through the movement from on-site box computers to the cloud, people didn’t have to worry about hardware anymore. Hardware is now seen as something that is in the cloud, making it infinite, on-demand and pay-as-you-use. This lulled us into a false sense of security, along comes IoT and the huge opportunities that it provides to ‘smart connect’ everything. Suddenly, it all becomes about the device again as there is no one generic IoT device. There is a generic design for a smartphone and a limited number of OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), meaning that smartphones are all pre-packaged, pre-configured and certified. This means that consumers can simply just buy a smartphone.
Conversely, IoT devices are designed rather than bought. There is no one size fits all. The big problem is that companies wanting to deploy connected devices can’t afford firmware engineers or hardware designers, whereas the companies that design products do not have knowledge of the connectivity. Therefore, there is a huge gap in the market for people who understand how to do global, multi-RAT connectivity and help customers design and optimise devices. We believe we are solving this challenge with our new on-device connectivity solution, AnyNet SMARTconnect™. Instead of hiring costly connectivity engineers, you can install adaptable connectivity intelligence and optimisation straight on to any device.
One of the ways that Eseye is positioning itself for the future is almost like an IoT project company, that helps customers start from the beginning of the journey: from idea to implementation. It’s all about the device, it starts with the device and what experience you are trying to deliver. That is the key to success, especially in large, complex global projects.
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What makes Eseye’s IoT platform different from others in the market?
We’ve taken the aforementioned philosophies and applied them to the functionality of our Infinity IoT Platform™.
Infinity is ‘mission control’ for all IoT connectivity – both now and in the future. When technology choices change, Infinity can adapt to handle a variety of connectivity types, such as satellite, LoRa and Private 5G/LTE networks.
Infinity can also connect to multiple operators in a model that is very similar to the Star Alliance model in the airline industry, allowing passengers to fly on competing airlines with global connectivity. Today’s roaming model for cellular connectivity doesn’t work like that, as the large tier 1 operators pick a sub-set of vendors who allow you to roam onto their networks. There are a series of roaming agreements, which change on the basis of commercial disputes or regulatory intervention.
Through the Infinity IoT Platform™, Eseye offers a series of interconnections enabling the localisation of connections (so the SIM appears the same as the local or home operator) onto 16 large operators via OTA (Over the Air) updates. We can optimise a device’s connection dynamically, using a cloud-native, AI-based rules engine. In order to guarantee continued connectivity, we use the Star Alliance approach – which we call the AnyNet Federation – a key feature that differentiates the Infinity IoT Platform.
Learn more about Eseye’s award-winning IoT Platform, Infinity.
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