ΙΕΕΕ-Powered IoT Implementation and User-Adoption for Win-Win Value Extraction
The Internet of Things (IoT) has now been around for at least a decade. A wide community of technologists and futurists have schematically envisioned a world where direct machine to machine communications will disrupt many of the human to human routine interactions. However, in order to get there IoT practitioners have to incrementally introduce IoT in the socioeconomic conditions they currently face. This article focuses on ideas for gradually overcoming business issues for SMEs in order to move from the technology-creation side to the one of real economy’s using a paradigm of a Greek case.
As an introductory note, any new or late comer in the field has to understand that what makes the IoT a real game-changer is its potentiality in interoperable, vendor-agnostic, cross-domain and cross-border manipulation of data acquired by those “things”. That said the use of widely adopted standards should be preferred when compared to rapidly developed proprietary solutions. IEEE for instance is a highly skilled community with many IoT standards, working groups and useful material to follow and embed in any company’s commercial solution portfolio. Moreover, in-depth understanding of areas like Big Data (BD) and Cloud Computing (CC) are a pre-requisite in order to unveil the full potential of IoT especially in cross-domain areas and business models. Thirdly, it is proposed for an SME to focus on a market-niche and partner with relevant actors for launching the IoT product/ service. Such a commercial value proposition sources its activities from extended multi-organisational boundaries thus requiring to build a trusted partnership approach.
Building cross-cutting IoT business models-Reflections from an SME
Management-wise the IoT era comes along with a mind-set shift from shareholders to stakeholders. The resources needed for successful and sustainable IoT implementations often reside outside the company due to IoT technology’s distinctiveness. As a result, resources needed to build common ground among all inter-connected players like original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), research and technology development (RTD) organisations, technology offerors (CC, BD, 3rd party app developers) and relevant business and end-user alliances. Last, a well-described national IoT Action Plan would outstandingly support the under development bridging ties for such ecosystem creation liaised with similar global initiatives.
Unfortunately, organisational re-engineering is not the main barrier for delivering at last a long-lasting IoT deployment. In a constantly changing market landscape with conflicting interests it is necessary to start building the partnership approach with the fellows that are able to understand the added value the proposed niche intervention has on their products and services, market-share and viability. Again not an easy task since it is common that the IoT proposer may confront with this partner dominant position in the market value-chain and well-established business relationships that precede any technological skill or offer. In that case, end-users (market) changing behaviours’ justification is a critical to have claim coupled with a similar, engaged, partnering expertise (marketing).
Furthermore, SME-related day-to-day challenges involve continuous technology development and alignment with the adopted and emerging standards. And when we talk about IoT there is a wilderness of them out there. This means that a lot of in-house spending occurs for immature technologies and setting up a system-wise learning curve. Fast but well-analysed take up and agile engineering development is a must combined with the vital need to move out of lab to real-life prototypes, demos and pilots. Doing so, the rest of the community may be timely motivated, co-form a business case that enable the SME to follow a lean approach focusing only on activities that add value to the marketable IoT solution.
Constrained locality embrace globalism: building the 1st Greek IoT Campus
Among others, IoT facilitates the creation of the Digital Single Market (DSM) in EU. However, inequalities among west-north and central-east Member States (MS) are expected to grow hence their share in EU Data market economy will relatively follow. Currently initiated project-based synergies may not be enough to cover the existing gap neither in IoT uptake nor supply. Alternatively, focus on national priorities and regional strengths aligned to MSs’ “competitive-diamonds” integrating various heterogeneous infrastructures may be an appropriate strategy for an EU level-playing field for IoT. Such a case is described in the paragraphs below just before its scale to relevant key local domains.
Future Intelligence (FINT1) is a Greek SME founded in 2009 in Athens. Since 2014, the company offers a generic, flexible and low-cost IoT platform for connecting any object (sensor/ actuator) on the internet using IEEE and other well-adopted industry standards. Having been around as long as the Greek crisis had anyone can add more layers of barriers (capital, trust, uncertainty) to the previous discussed reflections. However, FINT’s RnD intensive orientation enabled it to overcome the valley of death and continue optimising its innovative solutions for Smart Cities and Smart Agriculture. The company located its headquarters in Attica’s Technology and Scientific Park within Greece’s biggest Scientific and Research Center, NCSR Demokritos (NCSR DEMO) campus.
Luckily, apart from being the property owner NCSR DEMO surrounds a plethora of RTD Institutes (e.g. Telecom, Environmental, Chemical, Radio, Nanotechnology and more) and spin-offs and essentially the culture of innovation. NCSR DEMO was contacted for joining forces and extend the existing FINT’s partnership portfolio as described above.
The two organisations decided to transform the campus to the first IoT park in Greece aiming to attract additional interest (business cases, products, services) from proximate organisations and authorities. FINT’s plan started from replacing the campus lighting infrastructure with remotely-controlled and contextually adaptive LEDs to reduce energy and costs. Via a single-sign in the administration platform, NCSR DEMO’ operators can also interact with microclimate sensors and irrigation actuators profiles set-up to optimise the campus’ landscape watering. The win-win cooperation just kicked off and the target is to rationalise the park’s input resources where possible. Consequently, partners will extend the pilot’s impact to additional campus’ operations and needs’ fulfilment that will be then validated and launched as business propositions for emerging markets (security monitoring, waste collection).
Summing up, rapid real-life IoT pilots are vital for pushing technology even further, partially removing some of the barriers identified above. Yet, the unveiling of positive side-effects for the local community and the ability to access, create, correlate and consume content and find additional ways to monetise it is also a critical success factor. Local solutions that address global needs offered through cross-domain business models for the 4th Industrial era pave the way for decentralised, sustainable and inclusive progress. Let us then orchestrate our IoT forces accordingly!
Figure 1. ΙΕΕΕ-powered IoT interventions in Demokritos campus: Left, smart LED posts. Middle, FINT’s cross-domain (Smart Cities/ Agriculture) IoT solutions for fast market deployment. Right: Basic FINoT AgriNode © Future Intelligence.
- Advancing the Internet of Things in Europe, Staff Working Document. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/staff-working-document-advancing-internet-things-europe
- Mid-Term Review on the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy: A Connected Digital Single Market for All, Staff Working Document. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/document.cfm?doc_id=44542
- AIOTI Recommendations for future collaborative work in the context of the Internet of Things Focus Area in Horizon 2020. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/aioti-recommendations-future-collaborative-work-context-internet-things-focus-area-horizon-2020
Harris Moysiadis is the Business Development Manager of Future Intelligence, an IoT original equipment and solution provider (http://www.f-in.gr/). His research interests focus on the business implications of ICTs, mapping their intervention in Business Process cycle within Smart Cities, Smart Agriculture and more. His aim is to effectively combine ICTs' transformative power on Collaborative Social Capital forces and deliver smart and novel, win-win business models. Harris graduated from Athens University of Economics and Business (BSc in Business Administration) and holds an MSc in Information Systems: Business IT from Manchester Business School, UK. He is also FINT’s Project Manager for INCOVER project, http://incover-project.eu/, which supports part of FINT’s work in Smart Farming.
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