Business Development in the Internet of Things: A Matter of Vertical Cooperation

Hi my friends,

Last February 2017, we published a new magazine article in the prestigious IEEE Communications Magazine journal. This journal publication has an impact factor of 10.435, being positioned in the top list of most influential journals in the telecom area.

We are very proud to have got a business-related paper published in a journal aimed at a technical and highly-specialized engineering audience. This audience is, indeed, showing a growing interest in better understanding the needs of businesses to steer their research and innovation actions and thus be able to maximize impact. The European Commission, providing big amounts of money to conduct research and innovation actions, is claiming for such connection between research, development, innovation, and business opportunities. Conducting R&D and Innovation is about having impact.

The summary and take-away message of the paper is the following:

Smart and connected devices can improve industrial processes, and generate new and better services. While this premise is well understood within the ICT industry, there is a challenge in extending this knowledge to vertical industries. The potential of the Internet of Things lies in the interaction among industries working together toward value co-creation. Firms need to look beyond their internal business models and explore cooperative perspectives to define new business opportunities. In this article, we look into the relevance of vertical cooperation in the area of IoT and highlight the need to develop new value networks that leverage this cooperation and enable the creation of new business models. To lead our discussions, we use the examples of two major building blocks of smart cities: intelligent transport systems and health and well being services based on connected devices and solutions

You can have full access to the pre-edit version in this link.

You can have access to the final edited version in this link also.

Thanks!

Jesus

 

Random Thoughts on: Selling Technology

I have recently attended a crash-course on “Selling Technology”, organized by the Catalan Agency of Competitiveness (ACCIO), in Barcelona. From my position at CTTC as head of the M2M Communications Department, this is always a nice skill to include in the personal continuous improvement cycle.

The course was pretty interesting, and I decided to write down some of the key ideas that I took home; of course, I also share them with you.

The opening of the session was brilliant: “We are all selling, all the time, in our daily lives; when we were born and cried to get breastfeed, and we got it, we closed our first sale.”

Above all the ideas that were presented in the course, I would like to highlight these:

  • Sales have to be “Customer-oriented”; “product-oriented” selling goes nowhere nowadays. Technology is a means to solve the problems of costumers, not an end by itself.
  • Attitude is a multiplier. This applies to selling and, indeed, to everything we do in life.
  • Selling (as almost everything) needs to be organized, systematized, professionalized, and measured; nothing can be improved if it is not measured.
  • When selling, always look for a win-win situation.
  • In selling, all is about trust.

STOP! This last one is the one that I like the most. Trust. My experience as a seller – we all sell something, no matter what is your job – tells me that trust is above all. And when it comes to trust, today I have learned about the Halo Effect.

The Halo Effect consists in a cognitive bias that we have towards a person, company, product, or whatever, influenced by a previous experience based on a single “feature” of that person, company, or product. For example: we tend to perceive a person as “intelligent” because once showed to be “intelligent”; and not only that; we automatically assume that this person will have “all the features” that we subconsciously link to all “intelligent people”. The human brain can be wonderful sometimes, for good and for bad.

So, when it comes to selling and trust, it is pretty convenient to build a positive Halo Effect around you, your company, or your product. But above all, about you.

Mobile World Congress 2017 (#MWC17): My take away messages.

This edition of the Mobile World Congress is over for me already, even though the show still goes on tomorrow.

It seems that this year all the numbers around the event have increased since previous editions ever since 2005 (12 years ago already);

  • greatest economic impact into the city of Barcelona,
  • largest number of accredited press,
  • greatest number of attendees (more than 100,000),
  • largest exhibition area with close to 115.000 squared meters, and
  • greatest number of exhibiting companies (more than 2,000).

I have been there for 3 full days, walking around, playing with demos, and talking to people here and everywhere. Even though I have done my best, I have not managed to visit every inch of the exhibition area.

Therefore, if you are reading this, please do not treat my thoughts as absolute claims or indisputable statements. What I write hereafter are just some random thoughts that I take back home right now after an exhausting, even though extremely interesting, last day at MWC:

  • Everything tends to be called 5G. Everything. What is true, however, is that 5G will have an impact into everything.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is everywhere. Everywhere. Not sure if it still makes sense to have a dedicated area for the IoT, being the great majority of booths talking about the IoT in one way or another. The IoT is here, and everywhere.
  • Connectivity of the future: 5G New Radio,  millimeter wavesNB-IoT, Sigfox, Lora, WiFi. These terms have been omnipresent. I am not saying there are no other interesting solutions, but I have found them everywhere in this edition of the MWC.
  • The IoT, comprising both sensors and actuators, will need to co-exist with human-based broadband and media content. Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Slicing seems to be the keys to solve the co-existence among data flows with extremely different needs in massively crowded networks.
  • Missioncritical applications together with strong human-machine interaction about to explode. Ultra-low latency and ultra-high reliability seem to drive the key requirements for communication networks of the future, enabling tons of innovative applications not feasible in the past.
  • Not sure if this is just because of the nice marketing power of Virtual Reality or because of the true potential behind it, but this year VR has been all around the place. Some demos have been really impressive. If the economic impact and business opportunity is close to the “wow” effect it generates, get ready for a great revolution.
  • Key vertical markets/applications that will drive the future of the mobile industry: Connected car, Industry 4.0, Smart Grids, Smart Cities, e-Health, and in a smaller scale, smart homes.
  • The value of data. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data…call it as you wish; technically, there are differences among these terms; roughly and inaccurately speaking, they refer to the same idea: getting value out of data. This is the future…well, indeed, this is the present already. Cloud platforms, IoT platforms, and mobile Apps to store, manage, and process data have been key players into this edition of the MWC.
  • Other stuff of interest: tons of new phones with bigger screens, smart watches, smart earphones, smart wearables, smart glasses, smart cameras, smart drones, … and many more interesting new technologies that will, most probably, play a highly relevant role in the very near future.

My last thought: in this edition of the Mobile World Congress, I have the feeling that it is becoming pretty evident, and generally accepted, that generating value is the key concept, not technology (by itself) anymore.

 

The IoT: are we there yet?

The concepts of the Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Everything (IoE), Industry 4.0, autonomous driving, smart cities, eHealth, and relatives, have become ubiquitous in our daily lives.

The IoT Solutions World Congress and the Smart City Expo World Congress were celebrated in Barcelona by the end of last year again. These events evidenced the facts that there is a non-stoppable growing interest from the industry and from the users into all these concepts of connecting things and getting value out of gathered data, and that technology is getting mature enough to provide real and cost-effective solutions.

However, the IoT is still not present in our daily lives. Why?

From my view, the success of the IoT will come from at least three different fronts:

  1. Societal acceptance,
  2. Capability of getting value out of it, and
  3. Availability of technology to leverage its potential.

Let’s elaborate them a little bit.

First, the IoT needs society to accept it; that’s a fact. The 4th Industrial revolution brought by the Internet of Things will change our daily lives forever. This will imply destruction of jobs where involving a human being brings no added-value. At the same time, new jobs with remarkable added-value brought by the human factor will be created. These new jobs will require highly skilled people, which is good on one side; however, we will need to face the challenge of relocating non-skilled labor.Otherwise, technology will not be accepted by society and may fail in achieving all expectations. In addition, the acceptance of the IoT by society must be driven by ease of use of technology and, above all, trusted security and privacy mechanisms. If we cannot put secure and private communications into place, people may be reluctant to connect their homes, cars, or health-monitoring devices to the Internet, thus failing to push this fourth wave of innovation. The IoT is about enabling transparency, and transparency is not always what we want.

Second, it is essential that we manage to find ways of monetizing the IoT and actually getting value of connecting things. Indeed, it is not just about connecting all things, but just connecting those things which can bring some value by being connected. We can see out in the press and professional social networks lots of news informing of new start-ups attracting funding from venture capitalists and business angels. Also, big tech companies are acquiring small-sized start-ups which are growing rapidly to provide IoT solutions. However, it is still not clear what the business models may be behind all this buzz. It is clear that the market is huge and the opportunity is unique; however, still ways of understanding the IoT ecosystem and value chain model creation are to be further understood. We have seen already in the past good technology hypes which have ended in nothing due to the lack of a clear value generation model. The IoT will not be the same, but still some efforts are required to ensure this. The best is yet to come.

Last, but definitely not least, technology must be ready and put into order to make the IoT and the 4th Industrial Revolution a real thing. One of the key domains of technology relevant to the IoT is connectivity. Today, connectivity technologies are still
not ready to provide efficient Machine-Type Communications (MTC). These are radically different from Human-Type Communications (HTC) and need a redesign of communication networks, sometimes, bringing into play new disruptive paradigms. Efforts are clearly being done, but still more work is necessary to enable applications where reliability and extreme low delay are necessary, or those where zero-power
operation enabling perpetual operation of devices is sought, or those where tiny low-cost embedded sensors need to be able to transmit real-time video monitoring data.
The near-future will bring a new generation of communication networks (5G) which will coexist with a plethora of Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies as well as short-range communication technologies (Zigbee, WiFi, Bluetooh, LiFi, RFID, etc.).
However, still changes will be necessary after 5G is defined to cope with the rapidly evolving needs of new IoT applications being created and envisioned every
day. Concepts like the tactile internet, where data can be transmitted with zero-latency and jitter from one end to another, are non-trivial to achieve. Therefore, further research, development and innovation actions are required. In all this process, it is necessary to ensure that standards come to a certain common agreement; otherwise, the current unspecified arena may lead to nothing good. As I heard recently in the LPWA event
2016, also in Barcelona: “noise does not help anyone”.

So, to wrap up: The IoT: are we there yet? I would say that we are on the right way to make it happen, but still many challenges need to be solved before the IoT becomes really omnipresent.What do you think?

 

IoT Networks Event and Smart City Expo

Hi,

Next Wednesday, November 16th, I will be opening, chairing and conducting the IoT Networks Event in Barcelona. Among others, we will hold a panel to discuss about Private or Public IoT Networks?

I always try to be updated on my tech readings, but I usually also try to read even more updated information when I am about to discuss with the top reputed experts in the area; as it will happen in a couple of days. Very excited about it, by the way! Along my search for latest news about the topic, I have come across this very nice read which I highly recommend to those interested in the topic. I will come back by the end of the week with the take away messages that I can take from the discussion on Wednesday.

In addition to this highly interesting event, this week, I will also attend the Smart City Expo in Barcelona. This event turns Barcelona into a Smart City hot spot for 3 days. Exhibitors and a set of talks from reputed experts in the area will be running for 3 days. This will set the technology focus in Barcelona, once again. Of course, CTTC cannot miss this opportunity, and we will have a booth there. I will take the opportunity to talk to users, experts, techies, entrepreneurs and even politicians; these events are really nice to share knowdledge with people and always, always learn.

Hope to see you around!

Jesus

Goodbye, ALOHA

Hi all,

I am very proud to announce that our paper “Goodbye, ALOHA” has been published in the IEEE Access Journal. This is an open-access paper, which means that it is for FREE. You can access the full paper clicking here.

In this paper we discuss why it is now time to go away from ALOHA-based communication protocols (used in LTE, WiFi, Zigbee, Lora, Sigfox, RFID, etc.), and instead shift to something more advanced. The era of DQ is coming.

This is the full abstract:

The vision of the Internet of Things (IoT) to interconnect and Internet-connect everyday people, objects, and machines poses new challenges in the design of wireless communication networks. The design of medium access control (MAC) protocols has been traditionally an intense area of research due to their high impact on the overall performance of wireless communications. The majority of research activities in this field deal with different variations of protocols somehow based on ALOHA, either with or without listen before talk, i.e., carrier sensing multiple access. These protocols operate well under low traffic loads and low number of simultaneous devices. However, they suffer from congestion as the traffic load and the number of devices increase. For this reason, unless revisited, the MAC layer can become a bottleneck for the success of the IoT. In this paper, we provide an overview of the existing MAC solutions for the IoT, describing current limitations and envisioned challenges for the near future. Motivated by those, we identify a family of simple algorithms based on distributed queueing (DQ), which can operate for an infinite number of devices generating any traffic load and pattern. A description of the DQ mechanism is provided and most relevant existing studies of DQ applied in different scenarios are described in this paper. In addition, we provide a novel performance evaluation of DQ when applied for the IoT. Finally, a description of the very first demo of DQ for its use in the IoT is also included in this paper.

Enjoy!

Jesus

Cellular Networks for the Smart Grid

Hello World,

Our latest paper “Cellular Communications for Smart Grid Neighborhood Area Networks: A Survey“, published at the prestigious IEEE Access Journal, has been already made available for the audience. Access is open and free. You can reach the paper in this link: http://goo.gl/QroAgM

This is the result of a joint work with ABB, in Sweden. Putting together ICT and the grid together is quite a tough challenge, but we are getting there.

The abstract of the paper is as follows:

This paper surveys the literature related to the evolution of cellular communications as a key enabling technology for fundamental operations of smart grid Neighborhood Area Networks (NANs). The latest releases of the LTE standard, representing the recent advancements in cellular technology, offer significant benefits to the modernization of the aging power distribution grid compared to other communication technologies. However, since LTE was not originally designed for smart grid applications, important challenges remain unsolved before it can efficiently support advanced NAN functionalities. This survey identifies the limitations of LTE and provides a comprehensive review of the most relevant proposed architectural and protocol enhancements for the communication infrastructure associated with smart grid NANs that can be found in the literature to date. As Device-to-Device (D2D) communications in LTE standards are a promising technology for reducing delay and boost reliability, this paper dwells on the potential gains that can be achieved by enabling direct communication using cellular networks, and also discusses in detail LTE-D2D applicability in representative NAN use cases in the power distribution grid. We conclude by stating open issues and providing research directions for future research in the field. This paper constitutes the first comprehensive survey of proposed LTE-enhancement and D2D solutions for smart grid NANs.

Hope you enjoy the read.

Best,

Jesus