07 December 2021
Digital Twins, the Metaverse, and Connected Ecosystems
IoT Leaders with Nick Earle, CEO of Eseye and Tony Shakib, GM/Partner at Microsoft Azure IoT
07 December 2021
IoT Leaders with Nick Earle, CEO of Eseye and Tony Shakib, GM/Partner at Microsoft Azure IoT
The first level is to visualise the data. The second is to contextualise the data. Third is to simulate the data to project the best outcome.
The fourth level of IoT maturity is to execute the data autonomously.
In this episode, Nick interviews Tony Shakib, GM/Partner at Microsoft Azure IoT, about how IoT can bring different technologies together on behalf of customers for a huge increase in productivity across many industries like transportation and healthcare.
Join us as we discuss:
Join us on the IoT Leaders Podcast and share your stories about IoT, digital transformation and innovation with host, Nick Earle.Contact us
You’re listening to IoT Leaders, a podcast from Eseye that shares real IoT stories from the field about digital transformation, swings and misses, lessons learned and innovation strategies that work. In each episode, you’ll hear our conversations with top digitization leaders on how IoT is changing the world for the better. Let IoT leaders be your guide to IoT digital transformation and innovation. Let’s get into the show.
Nick Earle (00:35):
Welcome to the IoT Leaders podcast with me, your host, Nick Earle, CEO of Eseye. Now in this episode that you’re about to hear, I was delighted and indeed honoured to be joined by the head of IoT for Azure globally, Tony Shakib. Tony and I have known each other for many years, which in fact, he refers to in the broadcast, but what he was doing is giving Microsoft’s vision for IoT and the business implications and the business opportunities for customers. I really think you’re going to enjoy it. And for those of you who always wondered about what a digital twin was or the metaverse, well, this is the podcast for you because he actually very effectively simplifies that and talks about Microsoft’s digital twin strategy, but also what the metaverse is going to be for industry going forward and why it’s much more than Second Life, which is what you might think it is so far.
Nick Earle (01:36):
And we finished the podcast by just giving a vision of how all the different technologies in industry will come together and eventually, collaborate on behalf of customers, which will produce a huge increase in productivity, particularly between companies that are collaborating across things like supply chain, et cetera. So, a lot in the episode, a lot of great content and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. So with that, let me hand you over to my conversation with Tony Shakib, the GM of Microsoft Azure for IoT.
Nick Earle (02:16):
So Tony, thanks again for joining us. We’ve done quite a few of these podcasts and one thing that the listeners always like is to actually learn a little bit more about the person before they go into the subject matter. So, just for the people who don’t know you, I think a lot of people do, you’re the GM of Microsoft Azure IoT. So it’s a big player in the IoT industry. We’re delighted to have you on the show, but you haven’t always been that. So, what’s the quick potted history of Tony from university onwards.
Tony Shakib (02:51):
So first of all, Nick, thank you so much for having me on this show. I really enjoy the series that you put together. It’s very informative and really honoured to be here today. In terms of my background, I spent the first 18 years after college at Nortel, Bell-Northern Research, which at the time was like the Bell Labs of Canada. A lot of innovation and I got to learn nationwide networks like how to put together are things that connects the components together and had a lot of fun there. Then I was CEOs of three different companies, here in Bay area, one of them still around, one we took public and the last one I sold it, of which Cisco was an investor. It was a fascinating company in the area of home automation and home control. That kind of got me into IoT. Then I spent eight years at Cisco, four years running emerging markets out of UK where Nick, you and I, had the great opportunity to work together.
Tony Shakib (03:52):
And then the last four years really leading the IoT practice for Cisco. And it was a fascinating job because, we really need to learn industries. We really needed to understand what are the business problems that these industries are trying to solve and then apply technology towards solving it. So, that got me into this industry learning mode and IoT. I’ve now been with Microsoft for five years, it’s been an incredible journey and trying to do the same thing, really applying Cloud technologies to solve business problems and accelerate value delivery. So that’s my background. And again, thanks for having me here today.
Nick Earle (04:39):
In terms of full disclosure, we did work together at Cisco and actually looking at your LinkedIn profile, we graduated around about the same time. Of course, a lot of our viewers will be thinking, “well, these guys look are far too young too have had this much experience.” But seriously, based on what you just said, you had a tremendous experience and it is interestingly the synergies between networking and IoT, because of course, IoT represents an extension of the network to the Edge. And when I started off, part of my career, but middle of it was, we were extending from mainframe to client server to PCs, to Cloud, and then it was phones. And now of course the big extension is the IT/OT Edge.
Nick Earle (05:24):
And on that point, I was looking at the Gartner and the famous Magic Quadrant. And there’s a lot of hyperscale cloud plays out there, but Microsoft, I think I’ve got this right, you’ve been the leader in the Magic Quadrant now in this for three years in the run. So first of all, congratulations back to you. What is it that you’re doing? Those guys are tough. They push you hard. We get interviewed by Gartner. What are you doing that has kept you in that leadership position? What would you explain the value proposition, why you are winning that award each year?
Tony Shakib (06:00):
Yeah. Good question, Nick. So first of all, we’re very honoured and humbled to be in the number one spot for industrial IoT. The number one hyperscale cloud provider, and yes, they are tough. This is not an easy position to gain. They really come, look at your technology, look at your ecosystem, look at your customers, talk to them. And they make that determination. And honestly, it’s a combination of all those three factors. We have heavily invested in IoT and because we believe it’s the biggest source of data that will come into the cloud. Most of the estimations that we’ve looked at, only about 30% of the data is the CRM and the digital data, 70% of it will be the non, what we call, observational data that comes from sensors and high capacity sensors like cameras.
Tony Shakib (06:56):
So, it’s an area of that we really believe in, and we’ve heavily invested in three major areas. One is our technology stack or tech stack that the whole IoT portfolio is one of the most comprehensive in the world, right? Both on the Cloud site, through IoT hub, which is our gateway into the Cloud. We really believe in the Edge with IoT Edge, where a lot of the magic happens on the Edge and a lot of the things will actually run at the Edge, then the orchestration between the Edge and the Cloud. We also have heavily invested in digital twins, which is how do you create these ontologies and this knowledge data graph, semantics graph that can help you build these highly complex IT/OT solutions simulated and drive it. So, the technology is pretty complete. Our strategy to go to market is through partners.
Tony Shakib (07:57):
We’ve heavily invested in our ecosystem and that’s really another area that we’re doing very well. Having over 5,000 IoT partners in different technologies, geographies, it really helps. And then lastly, we have a super focus on different industries. Even though we have all this technology, it’s just not going to come together by itself. So we put a lot of care into understanding, the industrial IoT manufacturing, both discreet and process, the energy sector, healthcare, transportation, and then trying to really provide a guidance on how our technology should be applied and built through our partners or collection of partners to go to market. So, it’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of heavy lifting, but it’s yielding results. That’s how it manifested itself through the Gartner report and we’re very happy about it.
Nick Earle (08:52):
Yeah. You mentioned four areas, maybe I’ll just pick two to unpack because I’m sure it’s peaked the interest of listeners and viewers on social media where they get the video feed. The first one is the IT/OT Edge, IT is expanding rapidly to the Edge, but in some cases it’s brand new devices. It’s brand new. There’s nothing there already. Okay. It’s filling a vacuum. But in other cases, in fact, in the majority of cases, it’s bumping into something which is legacy equipment, which isn’t smart. In fact, it’s the opposite of smart. In the factory environment, it can be 20-30 years old. These things are going back to the old SCADA days and it’s assets that are very expensive. They probably completely depreciated, but they’re not part of this information model.
Nick Earle (09:46):
So, you mentioned the phrase, the IT/OT Edge. What’s your view on what the potential is for enterprise customers to bring the operation’s technology side of this into their IoT and the whole issue of, like you said, it’s all about the data. In fact, the data is actually more valuable than the asset, but at the Edge, you’ve got a tremendous amount of legacy asset. So that must be a big area that you talk to customers about.
Tony Shakib (10:14):
Yeah, it absolutely is. And to be quite honest with you, Nick, originally when we started this whole IoT journey and it was actually before me, Sam George has been the leader of this group driving it. A lot of our focus was on the Greenfield. And then, how do we create standardization? We were one of the founders of OPC UA, how do we do that in a much more effective way. Even though we’re having really good traction and success, the fact of the matter is that 80-90% of the opportunity and the data is coming from legacy Brownfield devices that have been there for a long time. The refresh cycle in a lot of these factories are 30-40 years. Once they install, like you said, SCADA system, they’ve lived there for a long time, so you can’t ignore that.
Tony Shakib (11:06):
That’s why we shifted our strategy or augmented our strategy about three to four years ago to also go after the legacy devices, which meant that we had to heavily think about their characteristics, the way they generate the data, what’s the most cost effective way to do the conversion, where do you do it and then all the protocol conversions that’s involved and some of them are on very constrained battery operated devices, some of them are not. So, that’s where we built a lot of technology to effectively be able to handle both Greenfield and Brownfield. And, some of the examples are like you go to a big retailer where they have hundreds of security cameras already there for certain functions. They’re not going to go yank them out. So, instead of doing that, then we’re putting an Edge device that has enough GPU power that can make those ordinary security cameras smart, augment them to do inventory management, theft management, shrinkage without having to change anything in the store.
Tony Shakib (12:19):
You just put this other Edge device and that’s where you’ll have the brain, the AI machine learning functionality without disrupting what’s already in the store. Sometimes we do it there, sometimes we with the operators through the 5G Edge, and sometimes we can process it back in the Cloud. It really depends on the application. So, those are that hybrid architecture that we’ve needed to develop. And then the way that we could do the conversion of both Greenfield and Brownfield devices to accommodate whatever is the customer scenario.
Nick Earle (12:56):
Yeah. And I remember, well in our Cisco days, but if we were talking to people from Ericsson, Nortel, whoever. We would all as an industry, talk about the fact that 80% of processing is moving to the Edge, 80% of data is moving to the Edge. It’s not getting back all to the centre and so when you describe that, we used to say, didn’t we, it’s not, that it’s a data centre – what we’ve now got is centres of data. So, the data centre is actually exploding into pieces and to being distributed, but you do still need a common architecture. Don’t you? What you described is an architecture problem because it’s a data architecture, it’s a process, it’s governance, it’s a security issue. The consequences are far broader and complex than an aggregation device for that video content at the Edge.
Tony Shakib (13:48):
Yeah. Nick, that is an excellent point that a lot of people don’t understand. Just because you have to process the data at the Edge, because there’s just too much data being generated, or you don’t have the uplink to absorb the data or various reasons, they need to be air gapped because of certain conditions. It doesn’t mean that you don’t need a central nerve centre to manage these Edge devices. You still need to make sure that these things are healthy. They’re secure, they’re having the right framework, they’re functioning properly and doing their job, but centrally managed, and that’s what we do in our architecture. We can manage the data wherever it needs to be managed, but centrally keep track of everything in the Cloud and provide the global view of the most efficient way to run your business. So, that’s what we call a hybrid intelligent Edge, intelligent Cloud architecture.
Nick Earle (14:52):
Yeah. Because it’s so complex, both companies, yourself to a much greater degree than us, but certainly we actually, our first engagement is service is led. So to speak, giving advice and architecture advice and whatever, because if you just do the technology, but you don’t do that piece, the project fails. Which kind of brings me onto the second big question is that – that’s what you’ve done so far and you’ve got the leadership, but I know having visited you guys up there pre COVID days. In fact, I was up there, I don’t really recall – I came to one of your IoT summits and I think its February 2019, and then we read in the press a week after I got back to London, that the first outbreak in the US was not far away from your offices.
Tony Shakib (15:39):
Nick Earle (15:40):
That’s my last trip to the US, I still haven’t been back yet. I know from that one and your recent ones, which have been virtual, that you’re not standing still. In fact, you are working on a lot of new stuff now, because over and above everything that you’ve talked about, there’s a whole bunch of things that you are now talking about, you, the company. Sometimes people scratch their heads and one of the purposes of this IoT Leaders podcast is to try and demystify some of the things that’s going on and break it down and talk, make it real. And so, the one that I heard about for the first time in 2019 at your event, was digital twins. And I know that you’re making a big deal. Microsoft makes much more of it in my view of that than any other company. You really believe in it. So, maybe for the listeners, can you simplify digital twins? What is it and what’s it used for and what are the benefits?
Tony Shakib (16:35):
Yeah, that’s a great question. We stumbled into digital twins through our smart buildings practice. And what we learned is that when you’re building a house, the first thing that you need to do, you need to bring the architect and you need to start thinking about where everything’s going to go, the floors, the walls, and all the way down to the thermostat devices, chairs, and things like that. It’s sometimes hard to think about how are you going to digitize your business before knowing how this product is built? Where do you put things, what’s the best way to do it? And that’s the fascinating job that an architect has. If you think about digital twins, it’s like the job of that architect, right? That you have to go and create a semantics graph.
Tony Shakib (17:30):
It’s kind of a knowledge graph, but it’s more on the data schema and data semantics of creating the relationship between the actual devices, the people and the environment. So, it’s that context that’s super important. And when you have that context, the beauty of it is two things. One is that before you actually go build a product, think of it as an engine, you can do a lot of simulation to figure out what is the best way to build that engine rather than building it 50 times and doing trial and error. You can try to figure out what is the best placement of things to create that environment, right? So you get to the optimum position faster. Then the second value is that once you’ve built it and this thing is up and running, it’s not like everything’s static, things change all the time.
Tony Shakib (18:23):
So without disrupting your business, then you can always run active simulations and AI modules, AI algorithms to figure out how do I keep running this thing better and better to improve the efficiency and the capability, right? So those are the two things – that’s really what we’re doing, is that we’re providing a service for our customers, that they can model their business and then they can have that ontology, whether it’s a mall, whether it’s an airport, whether it’s a hospital that they can keep track of how it’s functioning. They have real time visibility of its performance, and they can keep tweaking it without bringing it down.
Tony Shakib (19:06):
By the way, the core concept of digital twins started with NASA with Apollo 11, when they sent the first one to outer space, they couldn’t tinker with it anymore. So, they had a replica of it and they can try things on it to figure out, “Hey, what is the best thing to do?” And then they sent the commands to the one that was actually in space. That’s where it all started back in the 60s and now just getting perfective and better and better.
Nick Earle (19:32):
The vision I’ve got in my mind, Tony, when you’re describing that is I was thinking about the house and the architect is that when I bought my last house, even as recently, not that many years ago, you basically got a brochure and a floor plan, but you had no idea what the house was… You had to go and visit the house. And then just occasionally people, it started to be, you could go to a website and you could get a camera and you could see someone else walking around the house. But what you’re describing is where you could actually almost like enter the house or the architect or the builders I could say, “Well, would this work if I was to put a door here, would this work if I to do this?” And so an ongoing basis, try out your home improvements, try out changes to the house without actually doing it in the house and making a mistake and having to undo it.
Nick Earle (20:24):
And it actually is enabled by all these technologies. And it sounds so familiar, or similar rather, to an announcement that we’ve all seen recently, which is Facebook and Facebook renaming the company, Meta and lots of comments is, did they do that for other reasons, but we won’t go there. But the idea of the metaverse and it’s always seemed a bit futuristic. I remember when Second Life came out, I, along with many others, went in there and after about 10 minutes, I got bored and I was thinking, tell me why I would do this. And then it started coming into the gaming industry and people found ways to make money, buy digital tokens and whatever. But I know that’s something else that the idea of metaverse is something that Microsoft is also taking very seriously. The digital twins is one example, isn’t it. But you believe that it will enter our lives and it will change a lot of things, right?
Tony Shakib (21:30):
Yeah. Absolutely. We believe in metaverse in a big way and Satya and Sam George, and many other leaders at Microsoft have been talking about it for a while. I think about nine months ago, we discussed it and we’re active, we are working on it. So, first of all, the whole concept of metaverse to make it very simple, we have this previous concept that we call reality as a service, and it’s basically bringing compute to every environment. And when you bring compute and intelligence into an environment, it can help create really amazing things. That is the simplest form of what I think about, when I talk about metaverse. If you think about the metaverse itself, it really is like three different domains that we separate out.
Tony Shakib (22:22):
There’s a consumer metaverse, which I think is where Facebook is mostly focused on. There’s the enterprise metaverse and then there’s the industrial metaverse. So we’re focused on the latter two, not so much on the first one. And you’ve seen like recently at Ignite, which is our big event, we talked a lot with our teams on the enterprise metaverse, the kind of things that we could do in collaboration using avatars and other forms of virtual reality to make engagements a lot more engaging and interesting. And we’re obviously in the IoT site, are heavily focused on the industrial IoT side of the metaverse. And basically, metaverse is comprised of lot of different technologies. And when we talk about metaverse is like, how do we compose our stack together in a lot more seamless fashion that we can bring those virtual ideas to reality.
Tony Shakib (23:27):
And as you said, so it’s not futuristic. It’s something that people can take value out of it right away. The way we’re kind of like thinking about it is that IoT is the foundational layer to bring all the data, it’s the ingest layer of the observational data. We have to be in touch with the real world, that’s what IoT brings forward. The next layer is digital twins that will start making sense of that data of how do we put it in the context of the environment that they live in. The next layer is the synapse, which is our analytics engine that says, “Okay, all the data’s coming in and I’ve got it into the right synapse but what is that data really telling me in terms of the business values that we want to deliver, whether it’s inventory reduction or OEE optimization or asset uptime.
Tony Shakib (24:22):
So, that’s the next layer. And then from there, we have another set of technologies like Bonzi, that is machine reinforcement learning. And then we have our AR/VR capabilities and many other things that once you compose the whole stack together, you can see that we can get that physical data, start modelling it, visualizing the data that’s been contextualized and then imagine what are the best outcomes and quickly get up to those outcomes that people are looking for. So, it is like the two worlds of the actual physical world that we live in, the virtual world that we want to live in and connecting them together and making it real. That’s what we’re trying to do with metaverse.
Nick Earle (25:11):
The image I have in my mind and I’d like to, in a minute, go on and ask you about the individual technologies like 5G and others, but the image I had in my mind was when everything becomes connected, so let’s just take 5G, inside of factory, millions of sensors, everything will be connected, private LTE networks, but your four layer model that you described, is that if you could do that, and if you could do that between companies, not just within a company, then you could actually start modelling to use a word, or it’s much more than modelling its scenario testing, it’s seeing the effects of things, it’s almost like complex weather patterns almost, millions of things and actually trying to map it, and say, if this changes over here, does it change over there?
Nick Earle (25:59):
So the idea of supply chain collaboration between companies, the ability of companies to do that between each other, that then becomes something you physically can’t do without this. You can’t, the only way you can do, is the companies collaborate. You can’t model it, am I right? What you seem to be painting is a world where what if we could model collaboration between companies and dynamic collaboration and that’s tremendously powerful.
Tony Shakib (26:29):
Yeah. In our IoT journey, we’ve always talked about three phases of maturity. One is the connected products, right? That you effectively connect an elevator and whether it’s up or not. The other one is what we call connected environment, which digital twins brings forward. And then the third stage of maturity is what we call connected ecosystems that not only you running your own operations, you’re extending it to the people upstream and downstream. When we introduced metaverse, we had a great video that I encourage all of your viewers to go see on YouTube. And we did it with AB InBev. And then the best story that I can tell is that AB InBev, company has been around for 150 years, they make beer and the person that sits at the centre, is the brew master.
Tony Shakib (27:23):
And most of them are actually ladies, interestingly enough, that the way it started. And then they have a very big challenge. Because they have to produce the same tasting beer in 170 countries around the world, right? So they’re sitting in the middle, but they’re in a middle of a very complex supply chain, all the way from the way they get the barley, which field it comes from, the rain and all the stuff, to when it comes to the factory, to the whole operations and to the distribution, and then the way they deliver it, there’s a million variables along this path that always is constantly changing and they have to be in control of it to manage this thing. So, the same quality comes out reliably and consistently day after day in 170 countries, it’s not an easy thing to do.
Nick Earle (28:16):
Not easy. No.
Tony Shakib (28:17):
No. And almost like every process manufacturing company that you go to, they have the same challenge-
Nick Earle (28:24):
Same challenge consistently, variables that they’re in control of, variables that they’re not in control of, events that they predict, events that they don’t predict. That’s I guess that was why it has the weather analogy and that’s a weather in your case is a really good one. If you have storms where the hops and the barley are grown, it has a huge effect downstream eight months later.
Tony Shakib (28:47):
Exactly. Look at the problems that we have now around the world with the supply chain and supply chain diversification and chip shortages and all that stuff. So, to be able to manage all of that, first of all, you need to visualize the data to understand what kind of state you’re in. Honestly, a lot of people are running their business blind, it’s still with Excel spreadsheets. I don’t know what are the issues. Second is, contextualizing the data. So it’s not the individual pieces of the data, but putting it all together in the context of their business. Third is simulating the data to see which one is going to give them the best outcome. And fourth is actually executing on that data to the point that is being done autonomously. So, it’s the computers making those decisions and either augmenting human decision making, or they’re doing it on their own. Those are collective levels of maturity that we all need to go through. And any business that’s at the fourth level, they’re going to be incredibly more successful than their competition.
Nick Earle (29:49):
That’s quite a journey for people and it raises IoT from the project, product, individual product layer in the company to the executive suite layer. And I think very few companies in our experience have really grasped that. It’s still in many cases a project. And one of the reasons it’s a project is that people are, which brings me to the fourth big question, one of the reasons it’s a project is that it’s still, frankly too damn complicated. The reason, I got a balloon behind my head is some of our imagery is around, rising above the complexity and giving you the view of what’s happening. So, actually if we can flip from the overall view, and then down into some of the more basic technology components. We are, as I say, cellular and we have a bunch of customers for the Fortune 10 2000 customers.
Nick Earle (30:56):
But, there’s a lot of other technologies out there when you were telling your story, I was thinking of satellites. I was thinking of satellites and I was listening to a podcast by Danny Fortson, who’s the technology writer for the Sunday Times. And he interviewed a company called Planet that photographs the world twice a day, quite amazing from shoebox sized satellites. And, that idea of monitoring the crops, you have to use satellite. And then obviously cellular, we understand about 820 cellular companies out there, but then you’ve got other technologies which are really LP1 low power battery device optimized. And I noticed in my research that you are, I think you’ve joined the board of LoRaWAN, if I’ve got that right. Maybe you can just explain a little bit about what that’s all about and how you see these pieces fitting together. Because it is complex for people, you have the vision and you have all these technologies and some of them seem to compete and yet others, they have to be complimentary on behalf of the customer.
Tony Shakib (32:02):
Yeah, no, that’s a good question. You’re are absolutely right. I did very happy to join the board of LoRa. It’s a great set of companies. And, the reason that I did it is, first of all, from a Microsoft point of view, we’re really agnostic to the way that the data comes in. Our goal is to be able to ingest the data and do incredible things with it in the cloud and be the world’s computer, right. And we work with all technologies, whether it’s narrow band IoT with many of our cellular operators, whether it’s 5G, whether it’s just physical layer coming in, it doesn’t matter, but LoRa is yet another channel to connect hundreds of millions of what we call highly constrained devices. Devices that as you said, are battery operated that need a long range to be able to get through them, that are in difficult areas like in a building, in the basement or whatever.
Tony Shakib (33:03):
And LoRa just seems to be a very good technology to be able to get to these things. It has somewhere reliably 10 mile range. Some of these things can be on a battery operated device for five to seven years. And it just solves a big problem. So, that’s why we’re really excited about it. And there’s just many applications where there’s an enterprise in the middle of nowhere, but they don’t have any kind of other connectivity. And then they can put this gateway in there, they get the range, they have visibility of the devices. They can reliably manage them.
Tony Shakib (33:42):
And that’s yet another way that we can add the services that we have on Azure, and our IoT cloud to these devices. That’s why we joined. We’re really excited about it. And for utility market, there’s a lot of good traction around it. For logistics market, like you have a ship out on the sea, it’s got a lot of different containers. Things need to be monitored. It’s a great way. And then they could have a satellite back haul for a lot of the logistics, cool chain tracking. It’s great. And also in healthcare and agriculture in particular, it’s got wide applicability. So, we’re pretty excited about it. And yet, it’s another technology to add to our portfolio. And I think at Microsoft, we can really help with some of our capabilities like plug and play to make it easy for these lower devices to just connect to the network seamlessly and work. That’s why we joined.
Nick Earle (34:45):
Yeah. And that’s probably a good way to try and wrap a bow around this to finish, because as I said, at the beginning, you and I have been around the technology industry for a few years. And one thing that we’ve always seen, it’s always been the case is that the industry tends to talk about itself a lot. And doesn’t talk about how they solve problems enough. And so, you get debates about world. What about LoRa versus Sigfox versus private LT versus public versus satellite, we get asked questions about that. But really from a user point of view, they don’t want us to compete. What they actually want is the business outcome. In fact, we design hardware. We’ve designed over 200 hardware devices for our customers. And what we basically say to them is, “Look, you’re a meter company, you mentioned, utilities or you’re at Costa selling coffee.
Nick Earle (35:38):
You don’t want to have to go back and design hardware, in the same way, you don’t want to have to be an expert on all of the different radio access network technologies. And I still think it’s a challenge for all of us to actually translate it from inside out to outside in. In other words, let’s talk about what the business benefits and the roadmap of how you get there. And we’ve got people who can work out the technology pieces and they’ll change over time. But I think we are maturing as an industry. It’s just that you’re seeing the maturing in IoT right now, we were talking about this in the 80s, we were talking about it in the 90s, the first decade of the 2000s. And now we’re talking about it in IoT, but we will make it all interoperable.
Nick Earle (36:25):
Technology always starts off as proprietary, user demand causes the introduction of interoperability in some forms of standards. And then adoption goes through an inflection point and that’s always been the rule for technology. And our feeling is that’s where we are right now. And we are seeing, as you said, we are seeing now some great case studies of people who have punched through all of that and are getting returns or business outcomes in orders of magnitude greater. In the case you just talked about, the idea of ushering in the era of massive IoT, so not just IoT, but getting the sensors down and pricing. So, it can actually be attached to a thing, maybe a printable battery. So, then you can start putting sensors on food supply chain, vaccines, plough sensors into the soil so they can measure the water content. So, you know where to turn the waters on things like that.
Nick Earle (37:29):
We seem to be getting to that area where these solutions are now coming. And so, that’s a whole another podcast are on its own to talk about some of the case studies that we’re both seeing.
Tony Shakib (37:40):
Nick Earle (37:40):
But I’ve got an eye on the clock and I want to be respectful of your time. So I’m going draw it to a close here. Thanks very much for demystifying it, which is what we’re trying to do. I think a lot of people would’ve learned an awful lot about architectural models, digital twins, maybe metaverse really is a thing. And there is something behind what Zuckerberg is saying, not just renaming the company and the idea of virtually modeling an enterprise in a multicompany collaborative environment by business process is enough to blow anyone’s head.
Nick Earle (38:17):
Maybe in a few years, we’ll take that for granted. And we’ll be talking about the AI and ML on top of it and all the things we can do. But in the meantime, Tony, thanks again. I really appreciate it. And, for you, the listeners, thank you for listening or watching. This has been the IoT leaders podcast. And if you want to reach out, well, that’s a question for you, Tony. If people want to message you at all or ask you questions, is there some, what’s the best way of doing it, if they want to ask?
Tony Shakib (38:48):
Yeah. I think LinkedIn is probably the easiest way and a lot of people do reach out and I really welcome that. Please do. And Nick, thank you so much for having me here, really enjoyed our conversation.
Nick Earle (39:01):
Great. All right, thanks again. And if you want to ask me a question, you do LinkedIn as well. Nick Earle, E-A-R-L-E or email@example.com. Thank you for listening and I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did. Thank you very much.
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