100's of M2M / IoT blog posts.

Why the IoT Club is the easiest club to join in the world…

by Larry Bellehumeur   |  Aug 05, 2015  

This past week, I had the pleasure of attending DistribuTECH in San Diego.  Well, to be honest, I am not sure if I get a lot of pleasure from trade shows any more, but being in San Diego in the middle of winter is a good way to spend some time.  For those of you who do not know, DistribuTECH focuses on the Utility sector, ranging from Power Generation, to distribution to products that increase conservation at the home.  Every company there had one thing in common...they all are IoT companies.  Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit.  I mean, there were companies selling work gloves for line workers, and they did not claim to be IoT companies, but it sure seems that everyone else did. 

Companies who one would not even closely relate to the world of M2M had some sort of reference to how they are now in it.  And, it was not just M2M/IoT, there were plenty of references to "cloud", "data collection" and "Mobile".  Yes, Big Data was alive in San Diego!

So, are they all lying?  Not at all, actually....

Many companies are starting to move towards the Big Data / IoT space for a variety of reasons:

They were already "kind of" in it anyways

The Utility space is one that is ripe with data.  The transmission networks that they run are simply extraordinary.....in size, in complexity and in the amount of data that they generate.  Unlike many uses of Big Data, there isn't a ton of useless information when you are running something as vital as the electrical grid that we all depend on for all aspects of our lives.  So, many of the companies that are now "IoT" companies did things such as sensors, transmission line monitoring and connectivity, so it is not a stretch to move from making hardware to finding a way to "sell the data"......and, speaking of hardware...

No one is satisfied with selling hardware anymore

Want to make your company sound "old-school" in 2015?  Say that you build hardware.  No one wants to admit that anymore.  Everyone is trying to become a solution company, ranging from handset manufacturers to PC makers and even car companies.  Making hardware is just not sexy anymore, even if it may be very profitable. 

Hard to move the need on a large company's share price some times

Ok, you're Honeywell.  You've developed a great new solution for monitoring the power grid and you know that it will be a big success at a show such as DistribuTECH.  You show it off, and every utility smiles – it is a winner.  Does this move the share price 5%?  For a company the size of Honeywell, not likely.  It would have to generate many billions of dollars in sales in year one to have any real impact, I would think.  And, by year 2 or 3, another massive Industrial company is going to be breathing down your neck with their version, cutting into sales (and even heavier into margins). 

However, tell the world that you are moving into data....that is sexy.  Tell the world that you are going to start to move from the unpredictable nature of one-time hardware sales (with some service revenue) into a model that provides 5, 8 or even 10 year contracts with Utilities (who also have stable cash flows) and now you have something.  Are you selling anything different?  Probably not, but when an old, stable Industrial company reinvents itself into a data company, well that sure has the potential to move the stock price if done right.

It's all that the customers were talking about anyways

In a previous blog, I compared Big Data to teenage sex (hopefully in a funny, non-offensive way).  One of the points was that everyone feels like everyone else is doing it, and this includes Utility companies.  Much like other companies, they are fearful that they are missing out.  So, from what I saw at the show, it wasn't just big vendors who wanted to talk about Big Data / IoT, it was the Utility companies as well.

The Bottom Line

Many thanks to the organizers of DistribuTECH and the City of San Diego for putting on a good show.  I also love the idea that people are talking more about an industry I have spent much of the past two decades working in.  I just hope that it isn't a fad....I mean, has anyone used the term "Y2K" in the past decade?