100's of M2M / IoT blog posts.

  • Is there value in the data gathered by wearables?

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Jun 20, 2018

    Hello and thanks for reading (or watching),

    One of the hottest trends in both consumer goods and technology is the smart wearables (namely smartwatches) that gather different biometric data.  These devices allow you to know about your heart rate, how you are sleeping and in some cases, more advanced metrics like your blood oxygen level.  In addition, there are a ton of other home-based devices that let you gather information like your blood pressure.

    Once you have gathered the data, it is brought to a cloud-based software engine that does it magic by putting the data into a format that you can see……you can see how you are doing now, how you have done over time and it often even offers suggestions to improve your readings.

     

    This all sounds wonderful….but does it actually make a difference in your overall health?

     

    I think it does, and here are a few reasons why:

     

    1) Trend data can be useful

    Taking your blood pressure or looking at your heart rate once gives some indication as to how you are doing now, but if you took it daily under similar conditions for a month, it would show a better baseline as to how you are doing.  This trend can show how a new exercise program, medication or even stress from a new job is helping/hurting your health.

     

    2) Data can be shared

    Most of the software programs allow you to share data with a loved one or with your doctor.  This allows them to keep a closer eye on your health, alerting them of changes that may need to be addressed.

     

    3) Doctor’s offices are the worst place to get an accurate reading

    Even if we are healthy, many of us feel a bit uptight at the doctors office, so the readings from your Blood Pressure and Heart rate are sure to be elevated.  This may give the medical professional the idea that you potentially have hypertension when you may in fact be fine.

    4) Insurance companies seem to believe in them

    Insurance companies are the “Moneyball” of the business world, meaning that they are far more data driven than anyone else.  Insurance companies are starting to offer reduced rates for members who use wearables, so they much also believe in the power of the data.


    The Bottom Line
    Gathering all of the data is only useful in two cases….if you are consistent enough to gather the data each day for at least a month or two to get a good baseline and if you are willing to act on that data.  So, if you have an elevated Blood Pressure, the data will only help if you are willing to change your lifestyle to lower it.  If you are, this data can be life-saving, but if you are not, you might as well not use a wearable at all……
     
  • Novotech Recruits New Sales Director

    by Olivia Hobbs | Jun 14, 2018
    Ottawa, ON, June 7st , 2018  Novotech Technologies, a leading distributor of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) / Internet of Things (IoT) products, services and solutions, is pleased to announce the recent appointment of Chris M. Walsh to the position of Senior Sales Director effective June 1st 2018.

    Chris brings a long track record of success in the cellular industry.  With over 15 years of Sales, Marketing and Business Development experience, Walsh will be a great addition to Novotech’s growing sales team. In his new role at Novotech, Walsh will work closely with our Reseller Channel and vendor partners to help drive new IoT-based business sales.

    “This is an important hire for our company”, says Alex Aubie, Vice President of Sales and Channels at Novotech. “Chris brings incredible market   knowledge and sales expertise to Novotech. His experience in the industry will support Novotech’s commitment to grow its reseller base through knowledgeable salespeople who are focused on our channel strategy”, says Aubie.

    For the past three years in his role as Sales Director at FreeWave Technologies, Walsh was successful in increasing both his sales  and  the number of channel partners in his territory.

    Prior to his time at Freewave, Walsh was key member of the Wireless solutions sales team at GetWireless, CalAmp and MultiTech systems performing roles ranging from Account Management to Channel Development Manager to Area Sales Manager.

    “The world of M2M/IoT offers an unparalleled level of growth, not seen during my years in the business”, says Walsh. “Novotech has always been a leader in delivering M2M/IoT products and solutions to this market. I look forward to being part of such a strong, dedicated and accomplished group.” 

    To contact Chris, please visit his LinkedIn profile

    About Novotech Technologies:
    Through strategic partnerships with many of the world’s most advanced Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturers, Novotech Technologies is a leading distributor of IoT products, services and solutions. Established in 2001, Novotech is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, with offices throughout Canada and the United States. Visit us @ www.novotech.com | Follow us on Twitter @NovotechM2M
     
  • IoT, gambling and the Supreme Court

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Jun 13, 2018
    Hello and thanks for reading (sorry, no video on this one).

    Recently, the US Supreme Court struck down a previous federal law that prohibited sports gambling.  In a landmark ruling, the court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which barred state-authorized sports gambling in every other state besides Nevada.

    What implications will this have on sports?  A lot, I am sure, but I am only looking at one angle here.  IoT was already starting to play a big role in sports anyways (we have covered this before on a few previous blog posts about how it was changing sports like Basketball, Golf and Tennis).

    I am wondering if it will change things a bit more now……let me explain.

    IoT is about information and more importantly, what you can do with that information to make educated decisions.  Sports tends to produce a lot of data, ranging from simple math (like how many touchdowns a quarterback threw) to the more complex (some of the stats now are probably Ph.D level math).  Smart gamblers use this data, in conjunction with their own experience, to formulate their bets.

    One of the expected types of bets that is expected to become commonplace (especially among millennials) is the “in-game bet”.  Now, most wagers are placed on something that has to do with the final score (whether it be the game winner or some variation on a team winning by a certain number of points).  In-game wagering has more of a “right now” kind of feel….will a player make this shot, will a team score so many points in this half/quarter, things like that.

    Gamblers may look for a new way to gain an edge, especially on in-game bets, and I think IoT can play a big role in this.  Think about it….knowing that a baseball pitcher’s curveball is not moving as much as earlier in the game may be an indication that he is about to get hit hard and lose the game…..a quarterback’s spirals not spinning as tightly may indicate that their shoulder injury is worse than expected…..and, a change in temperature at a game may favour a team that plays more of its games in a cold environment as opposed to a team that plays in California.  

    I think you get the picture…will these pieces of information truly make someone a better gambler?  I doubt it, but in the hands of some of the more expert ones, I think it will help.  As part of making the game more attractive to viewers, I think we will see more IoT-based stats emerge.
  • An important IoT question…..should you build, buy or integrate?

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Jun 06, 2018
    Thanks for watching (or reading),

    Ok, you’ve decided to add the power of IoT to your products or services.  You are looking forward to real-time communication, increased productivity for your team and a bunch of billing flexibility to differentiate your business.

    So, let’s get started.

    Hold up for a second…..you need to decide if you are going to Build, Buy or Integrate first?  Yes, there are three different ways to connect your solution and each have their own pros and cons.

    Here is a quick overview:

    Build 
    This is where you decide that you need to build a brand new device for connectivity.

    The breakdown:
    • Pros - You get the lowest per unit cost, maximum flexibility and a unique device that none of your competitors have
    • Cons - It will be a costly venture (in terms of Engineering cost and certifications), there will also be on-going testing/design work and it may take you up to 24 months to get to market
    • Ideal for - Those who are familiar with the process of building electronic equipment, have plenty of resources (or are willing to work with a design house) and those doing a lot of units per year (think a minimum of 5000 as a starting point)

    Buy 
    This is where you buy a product that is already certified and ready to go

    The breakdown:
    • Pros - You get to market quickly, have little (or none) certification costs and can integrate quickly into existing software programs
    • Cons - This convenience comes with a cost, as this is the highest price per unit and you also are using a product that your competitors can buy (reducing any advantage)
    • Ideal for - Those looking to get to market quickly, those who are not doing a lot of units per year or those who either don’t have the internal expertise (or can’t spare it) to build or Integrate.

    Integrate 
    This is where you add IoT connectivity directly onto your systemboard, usually in the form of a cellular module or an embedded modem.

    The breakdown:
    • Pros - You don’t have to redesign a brand new product, you get a very low cost per unit for connectivity and it does not take up a lot of space (so can go into most products)
    • Cons - Like the build option, this work does require certain expertise, can take much longer to get to market and depending on how long your product is in the field, it may require you to redesign before your product is end of life.
  • “Your Data may be used against you in a court of law….”

    by Larry Bellehumeur | May 24, 2018

    Hello and thanks for reading/watching….


    I think most of us spent a fair amount of time (maybe too much, actually) watching TV cop shows growing up.  Regardless of the show, one phrase was drilled into our heads on just about every one….”You have the right to remain silent”.  Whether it was from also watching the same shows or from advice, most criminals know to do just that.

     

    However, what if your devices don’t follow the same rules?

     

    Two recent cases caught my attention in the news:

    -  The first one was when the police legally obtained data from a suspect’s pacemaker
        to disprove their alibi

    -   In the 2nd case, a suspect’s Fitbit’s data was used as evidence against a husband in      the trial for murdering his wife.

    Kind of makes you wonder….what else has the potential to “rat you out”?  Maybe your Nest/Ring device, maybe your new smart washing machine (that might tell the police you did laundry right after a crime) or even your new smart Garage door opener?

     

    You might ask….”Don’t I have the right against self-incrimination?”  So far, the courts have looked at these devices as being closer related to a telephone or computer, where usage records have long been used against defendants…..but perhaps this will go to the Supreme Court of most countries for a final determination.

     

    The Bottom Line

    So, will knowing this slow down the “smartening” of our society?  Considering the minuscule response to the privacy concerns at Facebook, I think that most people just consider this to be part of the new way of life….

     

    Thanks for reading, check out more of our video blog posts on our web page and on our YouTube channel….

    Youtube: Novotech Knows
    Blog: Novotech Blog
    Twitter: @NovotechM2M
    LinkedIn: Novotech Company 
    Facebook: Novotech Technologies

  • IoT Made Simple: Cellular Modem Basics

    by Larry Bellehumeur | May 16, 2018

    Hello and thanks for reading/watching. 

    To view a video version of this, click here

    Watch on Youtube

    As a company who has sold IoT products long before we knew of the term “IoT”, it comes as second nature to the team at Novotech.  However, many of our channel partners and most of our customers are still relatively new to IoT….what it is, what it can do and how it can change your business.  As such, we decided to come out with our new education series, “IoT Made Simple” 

    In this series, we look at some of the common IoT hardware/software products, some of the key applications/markets and most importantly, how it can help your organization. 

     

    This week, we look at Cellular modems. 

    To simplify, we have divided modem deployments into 4 types: 

    Mobile: where modems are deployed in vehicles and into mobile offices) 

    Temporary: Where modems are used to provide communications for temporary applications) 

    Permanent:  (where modems are used as a permanent method of Internet access” 

    Backup: where modems are used to back up an existing landline connection.

    Mobile is kind of like it sounds….it usually provides high-speed connectivity (often combined with GPS location data) for a remote team.  This can include things such as Police cars, transit buses or trains. 

    Temporary applications are ones that are there and they are not!  This may be a very quick one (like a Pop-up store) or a bit longer (like construction of a home).  The idea is that the connectivity is quick to set up and is there as long as it is needed. 

    Permanent is designed to provide always-on connectivity using cellular modems, often in place of traditional landline connections.  It may be because the cellular connection was more cost effective, quicker to set up, flexible in placement or maybe it is just the preferred method.  The application list is wide here….ranging from communication for a machine to an environmental site to an office at a national park. 

    Backup is an application that has exploded with the growth of Internet based services like Point of Sale and E-Commerce and it involves using a cellular modem as a failover in the event that a main line is not available.  Just about any business can use this….retail, government, finance, Data centres and much more. 

     

    So, what are the business gains to using a cellular modem: 

    The actual gains for your business can be as unique as your business is, but here are some common ones: 

    Lower cost, more flexible and quicker installations 

    More Flexible rate plans 

    Can be used in a mobile or rugged environment 

    Allows for a single setup across a region, country or even the world 

    Allows you to manage all devices on a single screen 


    Hope you found this useful….watch for more “IoT made simple” posts soon! 


    As always, let Novotech know how we can assist you with any of your M2M & IoT needs!  Check us out at www.novotech.com and follow us on Twitter @NovotechM2M and Linked in. You can also follow me on Twitter @LBNovotechM2M.
  • My (overly) Connected Life - "I have a problem..."

    by Larry Bellehumeur | May 10, 2018

    Video Blog Post - My (overly) Connected Life introduction

    Click to watch

     

    Hello and thanks for reading/watching,

     

    Yes, I may have a problem.  While doing some routine router maintenance at home, I shockingly discovered that I had over 40 devices vying for Internet access!  So, you can say that I have my life is (overly) Connected....so, I decided to make a series of blogs about it to both make fun of myself and to provide some insight.

     

    Among the devices were a slew of personal computing devices (iPads, iPhones and PCs), a number of automation devices (like smart plugs), various consumer electronics (PS4’s, smart cameras, etc) and a bunch of appliances that aren’t needed to be smart (like a stove and crockpot). Still, 40 is a lot....

     

    Is my house just crazy or is this where most houses are heading towards?  Manufacturers are now seeing the value of IoT more than ever before, so you’ll see wireless technology enabling Internet access on just about anything with a system board in it soon enough.  This is for both consumer and business devices, with WiFi/Bluetooth dominating consumer and many business devices offering cellular capability as well.

     

    I hope to do a number of blogs about “My (overly) Connected Life” where I discuss some of the products that are emerging in the world of IoT (including a quick review if I own it, which is likely), a bit about how the technology behind the product works and get a bit of advice as to whether they are worth buying…and hopefully do it in an informative and slightly humorous way.

     

  • **UPDATED** Top 10 Business Reasons to Deploy an IoT Solution

    by Larry Bellehumeur | May 04, 2018

    Watch our new Vlog post on youtube!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iDKAcd4_ao

    Top 10 Reasons to Deploy an IoT Solution

    As someone who grew up in the 1980’s, I was a fan of David Letterman.  One of his favourite bits was his nightly Top 10 list.  The list was usually topical in nature and it brought some laughter to justify staying up that late.  Well, I can’t say that mine will make you laugh, but instead, I do hope to bring some value to your business or organization. 

    I think one of the issues that we have in the IoT space is that we tend to talk too much about technology and not what the actual benefits are.  We use phrases like, “Imagine what you can do with the data you receive!”.  Well, most of us aren’t children and we don’t want to have to imagine.  We need to do a better job in explaining it, in ways that actually make sense to most business owners.

    In honour of Mr. Letterman, here are 10 ways that an IoT solution can help your business:

    10) Reduces your Energy usage

    Nothing drives me nuts more than wasting energy.  It isn’t all about the cost but just it is a waste of valuable resources.  For businesses, it is mostly about the cost.  Things like reduced lighting after-hours, reducing the output of key systems when not in use and not having to drive to a service call are all benefits of IoT Solutions…and they all reduce your Energy usage.

    9) Brings new billing options and flexibility

    It seems that no one wants to build a product and just sell it as a one-time thing anymore.  Businesses are moving towards service and recurring revenue models. One way to do this is to be able to gather information real-time.  When you have this info, you’re able to bill per use, per cycle, per month or however you want to do it.

    8) Improves Safety

    We all know that you are supposed to touch a door during a fire to know if it is safe to open it.  IoT solutions do that, and then some….your team can be warned of potentially dangerous issues before they get there, reducing injuries and costs.

    7) Allows you to spot Trends much earlier

    Want to know why some things sell better than others in your location?  Want to know why your team is not as productive as before?  IoT solutions allow you to not only gather info from the field, but also to make business decisions with it.  You’ll spot trends that you can act on much sooner than before and maybe before your competitors.

    6) Improves the Life Cycle of your Valued Assets

    My wife seems to wear out the brakes on her car much faster than I do on mine, even factoring in the extra distance driven.  One ride with her will show why….she has a heavier braking foot.  Knowing things like this about your equipment usage (and being able to see ideas on how to fix it) will make all of your machinery last longer, making your investments even better.

    5) Reduces Downtime

    Wonder how productive a printing shop is when their machines go down?  Not very.  IoT Solutions help you spot trends (things overheating, alerts to unscheduled maintenance, etc).  You can now make minor repairs before major ones shut you down.

    4) Makes your Products and Services better

    Ever wonder if the engineering changes you made to your product actually helped?  IoT solutions allow you to gather usage data and to spot trends that allow you to gain valuable insights into your customers’ usage and behaviours.

    3) Improves Employee Productivity

    Imagine a school was unexpectedly closed one day….you can bet the guys who pick up the garbage and stock the vending machines wish they knew before they went there for their scheduled stops.  Alert your team to changes, give them the best information and let them access key data remotely – all this will make them more productive.

    2) Reduces Waste and Theft

    Restaurants are usually pretty good at controlling waste, but even they are not immune to spoilage.  Spotting trends, keeping an eye on the temperature of a key fridge and alerts to issues with food during delivery are just a few IoT solutions that cut down on waste.  Not using perishables in your business?  Well, the same solution concepts can also be used to reduce unwanted theft, both internal and external.

    And, the #1 reason….It improves your Customer Service levels

    Let’s face it, in the day of quick manufacturing and Google in everyone’s hand, products and knowledge can be copied faster than ever before.  What differentiates your business is your level of service.  IoT solutions give you amazing tools to help….knowing an outage happens before you get calls, repair issues over the air (and not dispatching a truck) and improved products that meet the customer needs better are just a few of the ways that IoT can help your business.

  • IoT and Climate Change Video Blog Post

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Apr 18, 2018

    Hello and thanks for watching (or reading, if you so desire)

    Filmed out in stunning Kananaskis Country (just west of Calgary, Alberta), this video blog post talks about how IoT can help to slow down the short and long-term effects of climate change.


    Click to watch our new Vlog!
    YouTube-logo

    As with many other applications, IoT can help all of those who may take action to reduce the effects of climate change, including:

      • Municipalities, regions and states
      • Manufacturers
      • Solution providers
      • Government agencies
      • Consumers

    IoT allows for information that was previously not accessible to be gathered in real-time, including:

      • Key environmental levels
      • Usage data of key systems
      • Power usage and draw of key areas
      • Location of vital assets
      • Unwanted downtime

    By allowing this data to be gathered, engineers are able to make systems more reliable, more effective and to reduce unnecessary power usage.  This also allows for systems to run more effectively and can be remotely turned off when not in use…..both of which increase productivity, reduces costs and greenhouse gases.

    The Bottom Line

    No single solution can solve the issues today we are experiencing with climate change.  IoT offers the ability to enhance all solutions to make them more effective, which is good for the bottom line and the environment.

    Stay connected! Follow Novotech on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) or follow me personally (@LBNovotechM2M).  We’re also very active on LinkedIn so follow our company page too

  • When you are the product, you can’t expect privacy…

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Mar 22, 2018

    facebook privacy

    **As a disclosure, I have been a Facebook shareholder since just after it went public**

    I think we all have grown accustom to a certain level of service... you don’t want your food served cold, you expect the dry cleaner to remove the stain and you expect delivery guys not to drag mud into your house.  The thinking is simple… you are the customer and since you are paying for a service/product, you have a right to expect a certain standard of service.  This includes privacy of your transaction as well.

    But, what if you are not the customer?

    The majority of the most popular social media / gaming platforms are free to use.  Some of them, such as games like FarmVille or Roblox, use the possibility that you will use real dollars to buy virtual items as a way to turn a profit.  In other cases, such as Angry Birds, the company is hoping to create a brand for merchandise sales.  Either way, you are the customer and it is reasonable to expect some privacy.

    However, is it reasonable to expect the same when you are the product?

    I am going to take the less popular view and say that you don’t have a right to expect any privacy on these sites.

    My reasoning

    As far as I am aware, no one has ever signed up to Facebook under the threat of a gun, knife or prosecution… they choose to do so on their own.  To my knowledge, Facebook has never had an upgraded model which prevented any kind of advertisements (as many other services have)… you accepted that there were going to be ads based on your likes and wants.

    When you post pictures/status updates of your home, your children, your relationships or anything else, it is reasonable to think that Facebook is using this information to better get to know you.  It doesn’t do this because it likes you, it does this to be able to narrow down the focus for targeted advertisements.  So, if you don’t want Facebook to know something about you, don’t post it.

    However, having said that, there are limitations to this.  I do believe that Facebook is very much at fault in the Cambridge Analytica scandal given that they allowed data to be taken at a much bigger scale than anyone could have reasonably agreed to as well as its methods for accessing it.  But, to revert to my argument, the fact that your data was available to be taken was your choice in the first place.

    The Bottom Line

    While Facebook definitely dropped the ball (and has to answer) for its inability to prevent this kind of action, it still doesn’t change the fact that it is not reasonable to expect privacy in a model that you are the product, not the customer.  If you don’t want advertisers to send you ads about the latest dog food, stop posting pictures of your dog.  Or, you can join the #DeleteFacebook movement and just live your life in person…

  • Why technology is causing some salespeople to lose their ‘dogfighting skills’

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Mar 19, 2018

    Lazy person

    Yes, I need help.  I am quoting Top Gun for about the 500th time in one of my blogs.  However, in my defense, this reference is actually justified, at least in my narrowly-focused mind.

    In the movie, they mentioned how the idea of Top Gun was created to bring back the notion of having pilots rely less on their technology and more on their own skill set.  By focusing more on their skills, they were able to use the technology advances on their planes as an advantage to their opponents whose planes were technologically inferior.

    The same holds true for salespeople in their use of technology.  What brought this blog on was the sheer amount of automated calls/emails that I have been getting lately trying to get me to either buy more of what I have already purchased or to buy new stuff.  It seems that we have gotten way too lazy in the field of Sales, relying way too much on technology rather than old fashioned sales skills.

    Sales sure has changed from the days of "Mad Men".  In those days, salespeople did not have access to tools that we take for granted today, such as email, cellular phones and even fax machines.  All sales were done on the phone or in most cases, in person.  While this definitely helped to improve the close rate (as well as the personal nature of relationships), it definitely limited the amount of customer contact that the average salesperson could have in one day.  It also made it impossible to reach people when they were traveling, at least compared to today.

    Advances like cell phones, availability of email while mobile and online presentation skills such as Webex were intended to make our salespeople more productive. However, have we gone too far past them being used as a tool and instead caused salespeople to forget why most customers choose to deal with them in the first place?

    The need to balance old-school methods vs. the use of technology

    Like everything else in life, moderation is usually the best method.  The reality of sales is that all the emails in the world cannot nearly add up to how effective it is to sit down face to face with your customers.  Customers simply feel more comfortable dealing with a live face than words on a 4" screen.

    However, it does not mean that we have to go back to the old days of handwritten memos and rotary style phones (anyone under 25, please ask your grandparent about them).  We need to use technology to enhance our ability to get back to customers.

    Some examples:

    * Email is a great way to get messaging out to a large number of people.However, I am not sure if I ever replied to something that started out "Dear Sir/Madame" unless it was from the government.  If you take the time to personalize an email, it will be much more effective.

    * Online tools like Webex and GotoMeeting can be very effective, but only for certain applications.  Ideas like training can be good, but they often come across as boring monologues if there is no interaction.

    * M2M can help here as well.A lot of great information can be derived from customers’ equipment.  In fact, systems can be used to automatically detect that a customer's equipment is having issues and make the repair without any user interaction.  However, this is where the personal side comes in....a quick phone call to the customer to let them know what happened, how you detected it and what fixed it goes a long way to customer retention.

    Bottom Line

    I don't think anyone really wants to go back to the days of Mad Men....well, unless you are at a Halloween party.  Technology has enabled companies to do so much more with less, but we can't do that at the cost of sacrificing the ability to better serve our customers.  Technology needs to be used as an aid, not as a method to replace dog-fighting skills.

  • Top 10 Company Departments for Prime IoT Gains

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Feb 26, 2018

    Business People


    Based on the huge popularity of my last post, Top 10 business reasons to deploy an IoT Solution, we decided to do another Top 10 list…

    Traditionally, “SCADA” solutions (what we used to call IoT many years ago) were deployed by the Operations team and there was little, if any, distribution of the valuable data that came from these solutions to other departments.  In contrast to days gone by, today’s IoT solutions are now often linked to a company’s billing, CRM or other platform to maximize its value.

    If you’re still skeptical and still asking, “What’s really in it for me?” or “How does all of this data help my department day to day?”, please keep reading because without a doubt, IoT can help your entire company.

    Here are the Top Ten 10 occupational departments where IoT helps create numerous business advantages:

    1. Sales / Pricing

    Having been involved in Sales for the better part of two decades, this one is near to my heart.  Salespeople are always looking for an edge….what angle or approach can they use to differentiate their product?  IoT solutions give Sales real-time information when they need it….are my client’s systems working when I am about to meet them in person, are they using our products as expected and can we use their utilization data to find a more compelling billing method?

    2. Marketing / Merchandising

    The other department that is close to my heart is Marketing since it goes hand in hand with Sales.  Marketing teams want to know “why”…why is a product preferred, why are customers not buying as often as expected, why is certain product placements working more than others.  The problem is that these questions are often next to impossible to get accurate and honest answers to.  IoT lets you get hard facts….you get better understanding to a products use, why customers are making the decisions they are and real-time feedback as to the effectiveness of your work.

    3. Customer Service

    Many of us, including myself, started out in “CS”.  It is a thankless, tiring and often frustrating job.  What usually makes it frustrating is a lack of information….not knowing when a key system is down, not knowing when a repair person is arriving and not having the ability to fix things remotely.  IoT gives that information….you know what is going on, often before the customer does.  This allows CS to fix things quickly and on the first call (sometimes, even before the customer calls!).

    4. Operations / Quality Assurance

    Another one of the thankless jobs in a company is Operations.  When things are running perfectly, everyone takes you for granted….and you are the first one yelled at when they are not.  IoT has been heavily adopted in the “Ops” space because information has shown to be vital to their success.  Today’s IoT solutions take what you already had and make it better…..better sensor data, better tracking, better reporting and better awareness of uptime brings Ops to a whole new level.

    5. Engineering / Design

    I’ve always joked that getting customer usage data from a Salesperson is like trying to ask a 2-year-old to describe something….tough to make out real info from gibberish.  Engineers are expected to make products faster, lighter and more efficient, but often don’t know exactly what the customers may want or how they use products.  IoT allows you to get real-time usage data that makes their job easier.

    6. Product Development

    “Design a product that our customers want” is often heard from management down to product teams.  However, people’s usage of your products may change….they may use it less, meaning that you can use a less powerful battery, they may use it in colder temperatures than you suggest which may hurt some parts or they may now be using it on battery power when you recommend wall plugs.  Either way, better usage data = better products.

    7. Finance

    You base the return on investment on an expensive purchase lasting five years….what if it is 90% worn out in three years?  Finance departments rely on accurate data for everything, and IoT helps you better insight as to how productive your spending is.  In addition, it helps you change your billing models for customers, such as a move from an outright purchase by a customer to a monthly recurring revenue.

    8. Executive

    Executives are supposed to see all and know all, but they are only as good as the people who work with them and the information they provide.  Bosses are always concerned about macro things such as worker safety, productivity and improving the company’s image.  IoT solutions do all of those things, meaning that your company can do more with less.

    9. Field Service

    The customer says “something is making a funny noise” and you have to go fix it.  Doesn’t it always seem that the part you need is not one you have in the truck?  Getting things like error codes, sensor readings and run time before you go will help you better diagnose the problem….by letting you fix it remotely, by knowing what parts to bring and by knowing if there is a likelihood of a dangerous situation that can cause injury.

    10. IT / Tech

    Doesn’t IoT just make IT’s job harder…..by adding more devices to manage?  Well, it does increase the workload in that way, but it also allows for a more efficient network.  Smart IT companies use IoT solutions to understand work environments (such as when a high temperature may result in equipment damage) to make quick adjustments (like turning on a UPS remotely during a power failure) and to detect major issues (such as a vibration alert that lets you know of an earthquake at a remote location).

  • Autonomous Cars: why we need to be fair in judging them

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Jan 29, 2018

    Driverless Car
    (Image courtesy Institutional Investor)

    After more than 20 years in the M2M/IoT space, you tend to get a lot of good stories to pass along.  One that comes to mind is when I was part of a deal that sold an in-car Field Service solution to a trucking company.  The Operations Director was definitely not in our court and had a ton of "what if" scenarios to prevent us from succeeding.  One of his main concerns was about Security, and rightly so.  He grilled us on exactly how secure the overall solution was, the chances for information theft, etc.

    After a long presentation, he said, "I just don't see how secure this really is", to which one of the IT guys (who was definitely in our favour) responded, "Probably a lot more sure than us leaving papers with credit cards in a clipboard on the front seat of the car with the window open while our worker is in McDonald's".  Well, that made everyone laugh and reminded everyone that the solution we were proposing was light-years ahead of what they were using now and that it did not add any undue security risk compared to what they had now.

    The same comes to mind when it comes to autonomous cars...we need to treat them on a level playing field.

    No solution, even automation of cars, will prevent accidents

    While I have never actually been in a car without a driver, I have been on many shuttle trains that are driver-less.  The trains seemed to run well, always stopped very precisely and I don't recall ever having a serious delay that would not also have affected a train with a driver operating it.

    So, the concerns are always, "what if?"....what if a pedestrian walks out? .....what if there is a power failure? ....what if there is no Internet connectivity?

    I don't want to not say that these things are important, they most certainly are.  But, two can play the “what if?” game, this time, talking about drivers and their cars.  What if the driver has a heart attack? ...what if the driver is talking on the phone?...what if the driver is a bit hung-over and has slow reaction time?

    The fact is that we need to stop assuming that every driver has the reaction time of a ninja, the driving skills of a Formula 1 driver and that they’re paying attention as closely as I do when my wife talks (ok, that is not a high bar to achieve, but you get the point).

    The fact is that for every one driver like this, there are millions of:

    • 18 year girls who try to sneak a text in
    • 80 year old men who mix up the gas and the brake pedals regularly
    • Soccer Moms who need to figure out how the frog got out of the tank while driving (wish this was not a true story)
    • Middle age salespeople who started their presentation (on their laptop, on the front seat) to be on time....and, I am not admitting that I ever did this, by the way.

    The Bottom Line

    When we are comparing the driving skills/performance of an autonomous car, we need to compare it more to the average driver, driving under normal circumstances and not what the ideal driver may do on their best day.  Inevitably, there are going to be issues in the future with driver-less cars, but it does not mean that we are worse off by using them. 

  • Living in a world of data, but without facts...

    by Larry Bellehumeur | Jan 04, 2018

    Big Data Confusion

    Quick....how many posts do you think Facebook did per hour on average back in 2015?  How many recipes, pictures of desserts and rants about Game of Thrones were posted?

    If you are like me, you may be startled when you hear that it was up to 250 million per hour!

    But, maybe I shouldn't be...there are over a billion active monthly users....and Instagram isn't too far behind, often hitting 100 million likes in an hour.  Poor Vine....it seems small at only a million videos being played per day.

    So, why does this matter?

    It means that the world produces a ton of data.  One report had us creating 2.5 Quintillion bytes of data each day.  To put that in perspective.....it would fill 10 Million Blu-Ray discs, and if you stacked them up, it would be the height of 4 Eiffel Towers.....each day!  (Thanks to VCloud news for that).

    Even if this is a bit off, it still means that the world is drowning in data.  And, we have not yet seen the world of IoT fully kicking in.  I can imagine that once it does, these numbers will go from huge to not even making sense at all.

    All of this data....but not a lot of facts?

    I first wanted to thank the New York Times for their great Op-Ed, "The Age of Post-Truth in politics" for the idea behind this blog. It was written back in 2016, but it's still relevant.

    The article touched on how we are being drowned in data so badly that it causes people to not agree as to what is factual anymore.  As well, it talked about how we are producing data at a speed that is so much faster than we are actually able to make sense of it:

    One of my favourite quotes from the article:

    "It is possible to live in a world of data but no facts. Think of how we employ weather forecasts: We understand that it is not a fact that it will be 75 degrees on Thursday, and that figure will fluctuate all the time. Weather forecasting works in a similar way to sentiment analysis, bringing data from a wide range of sensory devices, and converting this into a constantly evolving narrative about the near future."

    So, what does this mean?  If we are able to gather such incredibly accurate data, how are we still unable to make more sense of it?  Why aren't we better at forecasting things like: the day to day weather, election results and the path of the latest hurricane?

    The Bottom Line

    The world of Big Data was supposed to make things simpler.  With more (and better) data, we were supposed to be able to make better decisions, have society come to a better agreement on things and to improve day to day life.  Instead, have all we done is allow people to better dig in to their point by allowing them to just search out the data that best proves their argument? 

    Facebook built one of the first Billion-dollar businesses by using data effectively.  We need to start to use the data that we get now in more effective ways before the real onslaught of data from IoT comes in.....