- What We Do
- Client Login
But Did It Work? Podcast Episode 3: COVID, Cruise Ships, and Autonomous Vehicles: IoT Futurists on Tech Transformation and Accelerators
Written by: Admin
Chuck Martin, New York Times Bestselling author, futurist and columnist, and Greg Jones, Chief Technology Officer at Kajeet, join host Dominic Marcellino for a conversation about tech trends, accelerators, and the adoption curve. Bringing their decades of combined experience in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, Greg, Chuck, and Dominic share their advice for small and mid-sized organizations looking to jump into the wild world of IoT innovation and bring a solution to market in 2022 and beyond. Chock-full of insights and soundbites, this is an episode you won’t want to miss.
Chuck Martin, a New York Times Business Bestselling author, futurist and columnist, is Editorial Director at Informa Tech, home of AI Business and IoT World Today. Martin has been a leader in emerging digital technologies for more than two decades. He is considered one of the foremost Internet of Things (IoT) experts in the world and his latest book is titled “Digital Transformation 3.0” (The New Business-to-Consumer Connections of The Internet of Things). He hosts a worldwide podcast titled “The Voices of the Internet of Things with Chuck Martin,” where he converses with top executives from the companies driving the Internet of Things. He is author of Net Future, Mobile Influence (The New Power of the Consumer), The Third Screen and eight other business books. He is a frequent keynote speaker internationally. Chuck was the Editor of the MediaPost AI & IoT Daily, the largest AI and IoT daily publication in the world, where he wrote the well-read daily column “Connected Thinking” for the AI & IoT Daily, sent to more than 100,000 subscribers. He has been named #1 in Internet of Things Top 10 Influencers by IT Chronicles, the Top 10 of “100 Top IoT Influencers” by Rise Global, and in the “Top 100 IoT Influencers” by Postscapes.
Greg is responsible for technology strategy, product development, and innovation. Prior to Kajeet, Greg was the CIO, Global Products and Services at Laureate Education, the world’s largest higher education company. Prior to Laureate, he served as the CTO for Inovalon, an industry leader in Healthcare Information Technology, and previously as the Vice President of Enterprise Applications at Sprint Nextel.
Greg earned his B.S. in Information Systems from James Madison University, and his M.S. Management Information Systems from American University. Greg has significant international experience, having performed work in over 20 countries. He also lived in Spain for three years where he became fluent in Spanish.
Dominic Marcellino is the director of strategy and business development at Kajeet. In this role, Dominic is responsible for expanding and strengthening Kajeet’s partnerships with system integrators, device manufacturers and solution providers, leading strategy for product and sales teams and refining customer experience. An expert in product, business development and sales with extensive expertise in bringing low-power IoT applications to market, Dominic’s strategic guidance strengthens Kajeet’s market position as a premier mobile virtual network operator for global enterprises.
Kajeet is a managed IoT connectivity provider working to enable connections for good. Founded in 2003, the company provides optimized IoT connectivity, software and hardware solutions that deliver safe, reliable, and controlled internet connectivity to nearly 3,000 businesses, schools and districts, state and local governments, and IoT solution providers. Kajeet is the only managed IoT connectivity services provider in the industry to offer a scalable IoT management platform, Sentinel®, that includes complete visibility into real-time data usage, policy control management, custom content filters for added security and multi-network flexibility. Whether to enable digital access that ensures student success, empower companies to connect and control devices in the field, or offer support and a platform to launch a complex mobile solution, Kajeet is trusted by many to make powerful and flexible wireless solutions easy. Kajeet is available for hybrid and multi-network access across all major North American wireless networks, globally in 168 other countries, and on multiple licensed and unlicensed networks. Kajeet holds 39 U.S. patents in mobile technologies. To learn more, visit kajeet.com and follow us on Twitter.
0:00:00.0 Chuck Martin (CM): And that’s just kind of how technology is. The beginning stuff before scale is just bumpy as a road, and as long as you can, as a business, you can understand that you actually can get through that and get to where you’re trying to go.
0:00:31.4 Dominic Marcellino (DM): Welcome to But Did It Work: Stories of IoT Creativity and Success. I’m your host, Dominic Marcelino, and the Director of Enterprise Strategy at Kajeet Incorporated. We’re a leading provider of managed IoT solutions, and But Did It Work was created by Kajeet. Chuck and Greg, thanks for being here with us today. I’ll start with you Chuck. I got a question, sort of a background question, for you that I hope can kick off our conversation. So you’re a futurist and you think about trends in business, in your writings, and in your work. How did you end up focusing on the Internet of Things, and why is it interesting to you?
0:01:08.5 CM: Well, it actually was obvious, kind of blatantly obvious, but we were dealing with mobile or portable… I mean looking at technology, you got the net, then you had mobile and then you have now the connections of everything which is really what is being called IoT, which is the world’s worst phrase. But there’s no way to change it because everyone knows kind of what it is, so that and now artificial intelligence is coming under that realm as well, so it’s basically become the all-encompassing emerging tech category, if you will, and I’ve always followed emerging tech.
0:01:43.0 DM: Right, right. And maybe the same thing to you, Greg. My answer is very odd, I just got hired into a company that was in the space and then I learned it, but… Yeah, Greg, you’ve had kind of a wide background from telecoms to healthcare, and you’ve been with Kajeet for a little bit now. What was it about Kajeet and the Internet of Things that got you excited and what’s still interesting for you today?
0:02:05.5 Greg Jones (GJ): Yeah, I think coming to Kajeet, I was excited for two main reasons. Number one was the fact that it was a mid-sized company, really poised to grow, and that interests me because I’ve been in very large companies. Sometimes it’s difficult to kind of turn the ship, so to speak and really adopt new technologies quickly, and so that was enticing to me. And then also just the mission and the inevitability of some of the things that where Kajeet is headed in terms of bridging the digital divide first in education, and then in healthcare and, you know, other places where folks are just not able to get the kind of service, support, care, whatever it is, any other way than through technology. And so I think we’re really at a point in time that’s pretty amazing.
0:02:58.5 DM: Definitely. You know, our COO, Greg, he talks about the fact that when we got into education of the very founding of Kajeet, it was clear that it was inevitable that connectivity beyond just making phone calls was part of what mobile telephony would become and where we’re focused, I think in the future is where are these inevitable trends. And Chuck, you mentioned it too, that there’s inevitability in more connected devices with more capabilities, and that actually also opens up both opportunities and what probably we’ll talk about later as potential pitfalls. But what do you see coming up next year, maybe the year beyond that, you’re particularly excited about? Chuck, you talked about AI, but is there anything specifically about that that really gets you excited?
0:03:42.1 CM: What interests me is the evolution of the market, where typically a big company say a Toyota or Google or some of the massive companies, they come out with these mega pronouncements, typically at CES, “We’re gonna do this… Da, da, da.” And then the following year, it takes then a whole year for reality to hit. Then the next year, it’s like, “We’re actually… ” They don’t talk about what they said in the previous year, all of a sudden, their mission is totally different and now it’s down and practical. And I think Greg makes a good point about it being a mid-sized company. If you went to one of these mega companies and you’re an individual, you can’t really do anything really, you can’t affect stock price, for example. But when you’re in a medium-sized company, you actually, you can move, you can change directions, you can pivot, you can modify. In the bigger company it takes them a much longer time. So what I’m seeing in the market is that reality hits, it takes a while, but one at a time each company is facing reality. Which I think is fantastic, ’cause then you’ve got the vision, which they laid out the previous year, and now you’ve got the, hitting the streets with what they’re really gonna be able to do.
0:04:51.0 DM: Yeah. And I think with larger companies, and this isn’t just new to the Internet of Things or machine-to-machine communication, whatever you wanna call it, is the innovation eventually changes in its frequency and its scope. And often you see acquisition is the way to “innovate” for them. And where with a start-up or maybe a mid-sized company with resources that still has a bit of the start-up mentality, you can actually do a lot of that innovating and certainly look to big companies to say, “Oh, well, this is where they wanna go? Let’s actually go there and meet them on the way.” They certainly aren’t talking about trends just because they see something in particular there, and it’s a good way to have a guide post. Greg, what about you for us or just IoT in general, and where do you see maybe some cool things coming in 2022? We’re working on a big analytics initiative, but what sort of strikes you as particularly noteworthy?
0:05:48.7 GJ: Yeah, I could talk about some of the cool things that I think are gonna happen like for instance, trends in 5G. As 5G becomes more widely available and the bandwidth gets wider and we start talking about edge computing, all that kind of stuff, but really I’ll talk about probably more practically what I think is probably exciting to the population in general is COVID really drove an acceleration of certain things. Right? One of those is, nobody wants to go to a hospital. I recently had some surgery and no one in my family could even come back. It was kind of odd, you’re in the hospital and you’re there alone because nobody wants to let you come in, ’cause they’re afraid you’re gonna get COVID or you’re taking up beds or whatever, so the fact that healthcare right now, given the pandemic, it is forced to be outside of the hospital, I think is really in… I don’t wanna sound sadistic, but in a lot of ways, it is going to in the long run, really drive better healthcare for everyone because you’re gonna get cheaper, more covered patients that are in compliance, because the technology is gonna become cheap and it’s gonna become available and the insurance companies and the federal government, everyone’s gonna be incented to push that remote patient monitoring, all of those things out to the end points.
0:07:04.5 GJ: And I think one of the big things that’s gonna happen is a lot of the under-insured or underprivileged people or people that are not in coverage are suddenly going to be getting devices and getting… We saw students suddenly, who are just getting massive amounts of devices because they have to do remote learning, I think we’re gonna see the same thing in healthcare as just lots of technology is gonna be pushed out to patients that didn’t have that kind of monitoring before, and I think it’s gonna… In the long run, not only improve healthcare in general, but I think it’s also gonna reduce the cost of our government, what we spend because it’s mostly hospital-based, and I think it’s gonna bend the curve.
0:07:38.9 CM: What’s interesting about that is, a great example of that is COVID testing. These days, all of a sudden, remember you had to go somewhere and drive somewhere and do a drive through whatever, and wait two days, and now you’ve got Abbot 15-Minute kits that you can buy at CVS or the supermarket, in our case. You just go pick up this kit and you test yourself. Same thing with self check-out, we’re pushing everything out to the consumer, so this connectivity, it’s a total… It’s actually a total transformation that’s going on that we don’t realize right in front of our eyes where just like when the net came along, we started self-service, we’re now pushing self-service beyond the extreme, and what that does on the back end is that means a mass amount of data is gonna be coming in, behavioral change and all kinds of things.
0:08:25.1 CM: When you look at things like Royal Caribbean Wearables for passengers on the ships, the consumer or the traveler thinks it’s for them, the reality is, it’s letting the people re-create logistics on the ship in terms of what should we wear based on traffic patterns, because now they can see where all the consumers are going, so basically we’re pushing this technology out to the consumer, and I’m not saying that’s bad, I think it’s kind of interesting, then we’re using that data that’s coming back from sensors and travel and all that to basically rejigger how we operate at businesses, and that’s kind of an amazing trend.
0:09:03.8 GJ: Yeah, you’re getting me excited when you talk about all the data and the intelligence driven from that, Chuck, because that’s certainly something that I get excited about is how we’ve become more intelligent, not just as the people that are consuming, but as businesses get more and more… And I think there’s a little bit of a worry sometimes that people say, Oh my gosh, you’re getting too much information on me, but depending on what the use case is, to be able to optimize that, it just means lower costs, it means more efficiency, it means that you’re able to get choices in things that you didn’t have before, so I tend to get more excited about it than scared about it, but definitely I think the intelligence that’s gonna come from all these devices and all the data is just gonna be life-changing.
0:09:45.6 CM: Yeah, the problem is the transition, because the first… It’s like the first chat bots, they’re dreadful, people hate them because I mean, you’re yelling agent, speak to an agent, speak to an agent. And then they get improved over time, and eventually it’ll be that they will be better than talking to humans, but you’re dealing with a consumer who has to live through that transition, which is painful, and that’s just kind of how technology is, the beginning of stuff before scale is just bumpy as a road, and as long as you can… As a business, you can understand that, you actually can get through that and get to where you’re trying to go. And the data behind the scenes is everything, where in companies, some companies are just not doing it right, and they’re not doing it right now, they’re scaling and not doing it right, so it’s gonna give them some big issues to correct down the road.
0:10:36.3 GJ: Yeah, Chuck I’ll give you…
0:10:36.8 DM: I think… Oh, go ahead.
0:10:38.0 GJ: Sorry, Dominic, I was just gonna say, I’ll give you one example of something that I think people would probably, in your example, be very kind of skittish about, and then suddenly they’re very excited about, and we have one of our customers, named Sestra, who provides kind of liquid dispensing and lots of… But alcohol is really kind of where… Is kind of their sweet spot. And you were talking about Royal Caribbean or whatever, you’ve got these wearables, if you’re a cruise ship passenger, and you can just walk up and scan your wrist band, and there’s facial recognition to say, Yep, that’s Greg Jones and he’s over 21 and he just scanned his wrist band, and now he can just put his glass underneath the thing and pour himself a Vodka Tonic or whatever, and then walk away instead of having to walk up to a bar and stand at the bar, and wait for a bartender and all that other stuff, and they give them a card and to just be able on a cruise ship like that, to just walk up and get a drink, I mean, it just makes it so much easier for the consumer.
0:11:32.6 GJ And I think it’s gonna be those kind of use cases, Chuck where people go, this technology is great, as opposed to some of those cases, like you said, where it’s marginal and it’s like, Hey, I can see the company is trying to cut costs here, and that doesn’t feel good for me, but I think there are a lot of use cases where it not only helps them to cut costs, but it also makes a consumer say, Wow, this is an amazing experience, it’s much better than the alternative of dealing with a person.
0:11:54.8 CM: I love that. We’ve gotta create the scale – the skittish to excited scale.
0:12:01.3 DM: Yeah, you guys both bring up an excellent point and maybe something that we should dig in a little bit, and one of the things I wanted to talk about was barriers to adoption, and we’ve actually really touched on two major, I think, elements of the Internet of Things, which overlap but are quite different, one is sort of the consumer and individual interaction with Internet of Things devices or services that come from the data that exists. We just talked about whether or not somebody could verify their identity and then purchase something, but the other side of this is also just the use of the Internet of Things by businesses either for themselves or in the products that they’re offering that don’t have this immediate direct to consumer implications to it, and I think that the barriers to adoption are different.
0:12:48.9 DM: And what you actually have to be able to prove in order for there to be wide-scale adoption is also a little bit different. I think that when we talk about, say education or healthcare necessity, literally Public Safety necessity required changes to reimbursement codes, budgets made available to purchase equipment for people to be educated, it had to happen. People then got comfortable with or probably will get comfortable with this, and it will continue. And we were just talking about some new evolutions of how that gets played out in other areas, but maybe thinking about the business side of IoT adoption, anything from manufacturing to remote sensing, or just to provisioning and use of IoT in other settings. What do you think is holding back adoption there, if anything?
0:13:32.8 CM: People. It’s always people. It’s not the technology, it’s never the technology, the technology is fine. It always comes along, it’s faster than… Develops faster than people can absorb it. And the technology often involves change, and people are… They’re great with change as long as it’s not in their department.
0:13:53.9 DM: Somebody else’s change.
0:13:55.6 CM: Yeah, yeah, I’m all for digital transformation, just not here. Do it over there first. And so a lot of it is education, and there are always leading-edge people where someone wants the new thing no matter what, and sometimes it’s the wrong thing, but they still… They’re advanced out there. And then there’re other people who will never… It’ll be passive resistance. And Greg, you guys must deal with this all the time, because you got your champions in there and then you got the quiet un-champions, kind of under the covers, quiet bad-mouthing stuff, “Oh, that’s never gonna work. Didn’t work before. It’s not gonna work now.” That kind of stuff. And it’s always been like that. The only thing is right now, the technology is much more… IoT stuff is more sophisticated than things have ever been, technologically. We’ve got more connectivity capability, we got more processing power, we’ve got a higher speed, higher bandwidth. So there’s just a lot changing that basically a lot of people get steamrolled.
0:14:58.0 DM: Yeah, and I think actually trust comes in too. So the company I worked at before, we did asset tracking and monitoring and did a lot of work with manufacturing facilities and hospitals and we would go in, somebody wanted to buy our products, and we’d go in and we would install them, and we would tell people when we were doing it, what we were doing and the workers never believed us. They always thought that we were doing something… We weren’t monitoring the carts that were actually making the process more efficient, we were definitely monitoring them. And so it wasn’t even passive resistance, it was very active sabotage that we had to deal with, where the individual beacons would be unplugged, and they would continuously be unplugged, and you’d have to go back over and over again. And then you basically had to add sensing to figure out if your system was online to be able to provide the service in the first place. But I think you’re totally right, Chuck, that’s a huge impediment, and impediment has to be turned into… they had to become champions themselves, or I suppose if you’re really just replacing them, maybe not, but I think that a successful company is one that figures out how to make that transition and bring people along for the ride.
0:16:01.6 CM: A lot of small wins.
0:16:03.7 GJ: Yeah, it’s funny, I had a… I used to have a boss who said, “Don’t be a lion, be a hyena.” And it’s just kind of a funny story. He said the lions are the ones that have to run out into the pack of wildebeest and gets trampled and all of that to try to bring it down, make the kill. But the hyenas are the smart ones because they wait until after it’s all been done and the dust is settled and the lions have had a little bit, and they move away, and then they come in risk-free, grab all the scraps. And I feel like, Chuck, that you’re right, there are more hyenas than lions, and if we don’t have those champions out there that are willing to take that bet, spend the money, and really do the difficult part of making it all work and shake out all the bugs and all that kind of stuff, that’s an impediment. And I see that probably one of the things that exacerbates that is, the IoT market is somewhat dispersed, you don’t… And this is one the things I think we try to do well at Kajeet, and some of the value that we bring to customers is, whether it’s the device, whether it’s the type of connectivity, are you in-building, are you mobile?
0:17:10.4 GJ: All those kind of things from, what the device is, the applications, the security, there’s just so many components of it. So to go and pair all of those things together and make the entire solution work is daunting. And I think that’s probably one of the impediments, and the reason why people don’t wanna be the lions is because they don’t wanna get out there and do all of that. They want somebody to come along with the easy button and say, “Hey, here’s an out-of-the-box solution that can do that for you.” So.
0:17:34.9 CM: Yeah, this is tough stuff.
0:17:36.4 DM: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Well, speaking of tough stuff, one of the things that I wanted to ask you, Chuck, I’ve been looking at this industry for a long time, and I think I can come up with some of the things that I would say here. But in particular, just sort of think about the last couple of years. What’s a company or a solution or maybe a technology approach that you were surprised didn’t work? And maybe just a little bit about what happened and what your thoughts are there.
0:18:04.0 CM: Well, I’ll tell you one that, it didn’t surprise me but it surprised them.
0:18:07.3 DM: Okay, sure.
0:18:09.1 CM: Autonomous vehicles with people in them. If you look at this industry a few years ago, by now, there would be no people driving cars anywhere on Earth, because we would all have these self-driving inexpensive vehicles. And the reality is what autonomous vehicles are used for is to deliver things with no people in them, little robotic type things, which is way more practical, which I thought that was more practical, that and trucking is much more practical than trying to get an individual to say, “I don’t wanna drive. I want this car to drive me.” People just don’t think like that. Aside from the fear factor and all that other things, it’s just… It’s an industry in search of a market, and there’s no market. And if anyone ever figured… If anyone ever told someone what the price of one of these cars would be, they’d be mortified.
0:19:06.5 CM: It’s not even in the universe of what cars cost today. People just aren’t gonna buy them, obviously. I’m looking all the ride-sharing companies that were gonna have all their… Get rid of all their drivers. The drivers will laugh about that. [chuckle] I mean, talk to an Uber driver about them being replaced by an autonomous vehicle, and they’ll just laugh their head off.
0:19:29.7 GJ: Yeah, Chuck, I love that example because… As a futurist myself, I think about all the things that should have come to pass that haven’t yet, and that’s a perfect example, and I have my own theory about that, which is until you build lanes that are designed specifically for autonomous vehicles, where they have predictable behavior, they know when the car… They can talk to the car in front of them and say, “Hey, I’m about to break in milliseconds, so you need to break,” and there’s predictable patterns, until we have the infrastructure to do something like that, and you start intermingling the autonomous vehicles with humans that are very unpredictable, I think, you’re gonna have safety issues and a lot of concern, how do they integrate together?
0:20:11.7 GJ: And so I think, honestly, it’s a… Like you said, it’s a great thing that will happen one day, but I feel like there’s gotta be some kind of paradigm shift there in terms of how they’re gonna operate and be safe, and I feel like perhaps having the fast lanes or whatever that you do with the toll roads and stuff like that, having that kind of thing for autonomous, where there’s an experience that’s very predictable, I think until you have something like that, it’s gonna be really hard. You’re not gonna be able to bend that cost curve until you have that predictability. All it takes is two deaths, and then suddenly nobody wants to invest, so.
0:20:44.4 CM: Well, here’s a wild idea, since the idea of creating that kind of an infrastructure, as you know, would be really challenging, to understate the case, I mean, even just creating heated sidewalks in Vail, Colorado or Beaver Creek is not an inexpensive proposition, but if you look at the air instead of the ground, it’s relatively easy, there are no roads in the air other than what the airlines are doing. You could actually recreate a new traffic pattern in the air that’s 1,000 feet above or 2,000 feet or whatever. It’s not magic to make something get off the ground, that’s been figured out a long time ago.
0:21:23.8 GJ: So Chuck, why aren’t we seeing all those Amazon drones dropping off my packages? That was promised two years ago? Is it a landing solution problem or?
0:21:33.9 CM: Yeah, because the industry is not yet there. They’re still trying to figure this stuff on the ground by basically re-paving the cow paths and all that stuff, and re-doing what we already have on Earth as opposed to figuring out a different three-dimensional kind of viewpoint of what we have, because that could change everything if all of a sudden you’re dealing with restructuring the air space, because it doesn’t exist right now, there’s no… You could create virtual… Invisible, but there would be roads essentially in the air, and there can be paths that Company A has this lane, Company B owns this lane, Company C owns this lane, and the vehicles are not allowed technologically to go outside of those lanes, and they know the timing, and moving things and moving people is just a matter of detail.
0:22:25.8 GJ: Yeah, I think that’s fascinating, and I would say much like the cellular companies had to buy spectrum that says, “Okay, you can only operate… First responders operate in this spectrum, and cellular carriers in this one, and TV providers in this one, and demolition crews in this one.” Everybody has their own different spectrum, it’s all licensed and the government uses it to make billions and billions of dollars, like you said, why not license those paths, let the government regulate them to the extent that they can sell them, make a ton of tax payer dollars, what do you think Amazon would pay for unlimited delivery lanes to whatever so they wouldn’t have to pay the drivers and all? So I feel like that’s, technologically, you’re right, it’s not a huge problem to solve, but the logistics of how do you divvy that up and regulate it, I think that’s probably the bigger issue.
0:23:13.1 CM: That’s where the money is, not building the vehicles, but owning the lanes.
0:23:17.2 DM: Yeah, no, that’s exactly right.
0:23:19.0 CM: And the companies are all focused on building the vehicles, they’re missing the point.
0:23:21.4 DM: Right, they’ve gotta figure out a way to get some regulatory capture and own those lanes, that’d be the thing we need to go do. Maybe a similar question then, I’ll start with you, Greg, thinking of the last several years, what’s some technology or a solution that you’re actually surprised worked out, and maybe what your thoughts are about how that might have come to pass?
0:23:43.8 GJ: Yeah, I would say, not that I’m surprised necessarily, but I think the adoption has shocked me, I think Amazon has done this really well, is how easily they have integrated certain products together, whether it’s your Alexa device that plays music and can answer questions and all that kind of stuff, that’s connected to the light bulbs, so you can turn your lights on and off, to your Amazon shopping cart. My mother is 83 years old, and that woman in her house will talk to her Alexa all day long like her little digital assistant. She’s turning on and off lights, she’s turning up and down the temperature in her house, she’s re-ordering puppy pee pads, it’s just amazing, she’s putting on her favorite songs, turning on and off the TV. It’s just amazing how easy that experience is, and I think that adoptive technology where you can just plug something in and it’s connected and you can just start using it right away, they’ve got a secret sauce there. And so I’m not surprised necessarily, but I just think that they’ve done it so well that it is just… Every market that they’ve touched just seems like it folds right in. So from ordering grocery… Whatever. So I think they’ve done a really good job with the ecosystem of making it very easy, and I think that’s accelerated their adoption.
0:25:02.9 CM: If you think back at the beginning of Alexa or Siri or any of the early things, it was…
0:25:10.8 CM: No. Sorry, my Siri’s just…
0:25:17.4 DM: That’s perfect, we’re keeping it.
0:25:18.6 GJ: Perfect. Well thought.
0:25:20.5 DM: They’re listening all the time.
0:25:21.8 CJ: Sorry, I’ve got Google and Siri and Alexa all here in my office, and they’re always eavesdropping on what I’m saying. Anyway, but at the beginning of those things, they were really kind of pathetic early on, and then they just got better and better and better. And you think about Amazon, when Amazon first started people said, “Well, they’re just selling books online, anybody could do that,” yeah, but they did. Anybody never wants to… Alexa but Amazon did, and then they launch it and then the market helps them perfect it, as opposed to trying to… There have been robotic things that I’m sure you know about that spend 50, 60, 70 million dollars and never got off the ground. There was one in Boston, and it was a great product, but they wanted to perfect it. And it was, I don’t know, 5 or 6, 700 dollars.
0:26:12.5 CM: So, of course, nobody bought it. And you’ve got this cheap-o thing that you can get from Amazon, that wasn’t great, but then it got better and it got better, and then they added light bulbs, then they added door bells, then they… Just one more thing after another, and all of a sudden there’s a platform. And at the beginning, people don’t see that, and that’s where, if you’re looking ahead, you can see when… You know that Amazon is gonna have something that moves around the house with the screen and audio and video. You know that’s coming, it’s just a matter of when and what it looks like, what’s the detail. And they know that. Anyone can figure that out, they just don’t have it to sell yet. So basically, they do a lot of things that are almost lost leaders, just to get in the market, and then they get in the market and then they perfect it, fine-tune it and grow it.
0:27:05.5 DM: You probably don’t actually know what a perfect product market fit is in IoT when you’re building new products and new solutions, and maybe even finding problems to go solve. But that getting started and being flexible enough to iterate… You mentioned it with chat bots, you just mentioned it with their growth of different products at Amazon. How important is that to being successful in IoT? Obviously, you have to start with something. But yeah, what role does that play in being successful, and maybe any other tidbits that you’ve taken from your work?
0:27:34.8 CM: Getting into the market is everything. This idea of planning things to death and then launching is gone as an idea, as a concept. You can’t do that anymore, because someone will already be in the market and selling something that you’re still perfecting behind the scenes, and you’ll be saying, “Oh yeah, but theirs isn’t as good as ours.” Yeah, but theirs is out there and yours isn’t. So it’s basically… It’s still back to the old “Launch and Learn” kind of approach to things. And for enterprise, you need to deal with basically testing, obviously a lot of proof of concept kinds of things, but get a lot of things. Like Walmart, if you talk to a technology company that makes something, they’ll say, “Oh yeah, and Walmart’s testing it.” That’s because Walmart is testing virtually everything because they can’t afford not to. And same thing with the Amazons of the world, the mega companies, they have to test everything because you never know which one is gonna actually work. And it may not be the best thing that ends up taking off. It could just be a thing that’s good enough, because a lot… For a lot of these products in this market place, good enough is in fact good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect anymore.
0:28:47.4 DM: And not least because part of what it is to figure out how to get better is you need data to compare against hypotheses to then figure out how to make things better in the first place. Or what is it that actually people want, sometimes they can’t express it very well.
0:29:00.6 CM: That was the whole Steve Jobs thing.
0:29:02.6 DM: Right, right. Yeah.
0:29:03.1 CM: Find something people don’t know they need.
0:29:05.9 DM: [chuckle] Exactly.
0:29:07.2 CM: I’ll give you another example in publishing. In IoT World Today, we thought we’re getting a lot of… Seeing a lot of information about new products in the market. We said, “Let’s launch an IoT new products roundup and see if anybody cares.” We had no idea. We put together, literally in one day, just all the new product roundups that we had, ’cause we’re a media company, we just get a flood of information all the time. We didn’t dress it up, we didn’t put photos, we just slammed it out there basically, and the readership was stratospheric instantly. And people said, “Well, you should have photos in this.” Well, yeah, of course, we should. We didn’t. We didn’t know if it was gonna be a product. Next time we launched another week later, we had graphics and all kinds of things, and now we have companies saying, “How do I get in this thing?” And it is… It’s free, they just send us stuff, but it’s useful information. And there’s an example where we launched it to see if the market would like it, and if they didn’t, that would’ve been the first and last version. But now it’s one of the leading categories of what we write.
0:30:09.7 GJ: There’s gotta be a tolerance for failure, Dominic. It’s one of the things I’ve learned in working in pretty innovative companies is, you’re gonna throw away half the ideas that… They’re not gonna make it off the cutting room floor, and you just have to be prepared to make those investments. It’s just fail fast and fail small. That’s how you do it.
0:30:29.6 CM: Totally, totally, totally agree. You’ve gotta do that. And that’s tough because sometimes someone has ownership of the thing, whatever the thing is, where there are 10 people working on something, “Well, some of this is mine,” and that’s the one that fails. Then you go, “Oh, dang.” You don’t want it to fail, but you’ve gotta move on.
0:30:47.6 DM: Yeah, no, you definitely have to have a short memory. What is it, the Ted Lasso line about being a goldfish, like you have to actually have a 10-second memory and definitely try to separate yourself emotionally from the things…
0:30:58.0 CM: It’s like football. That last pass you didn’t catch, you better catch the next one. [chuckle]
0:31:03.1 DM: That’s right, that’s right, exactly. It’s a really interesting point, and so I’m gonna put you on the spot because this is where that’s difficult to do. So Chuck, if you had to actually start an IoT company today, what would you focus on and why would you focus there?
0:31:18.8 CM: Well, the first thing I’d do is not call it an IoT company.
0:31:21.1 DM: Fair enough.
0:31:23.4 CM: I’d pick a market segment that is blatantly obvious, that needs direction, if you will. And it could almost be any segment. It could be retail, there’s so much you can do in retail, manufacturing, real-time monitoring of things. That’s still not big enough. That should be really big because a half percent payback in manufacturing is… Could be a billion dollars, it’s just so big. I’d probably look at something that I was talking about, in the air, basically. Moving things in the air logistically, what does that look like? And aggregate… I’d aggregate a lot of companies to create that kind of an entity, so it’s not one business, it’s actually an entity.
0:32:09.9 DM: Right, right.
0:32:13.7 CM: ‘Cause creating one… Creating a company is difficult.
0:32:15.2 DM: Sure, exactly.
0:32:16.1 CM: Creating an entity, it’s a lot easier by aggregating a lot of the brain power that’s already in the market, basically building an ecosystem.
0:32:22.7 DM: No, that’s… It’s fascinating. And definitely see a lot of power there. But what about you, Greg? If you had to leave Kajeet, and you had to go out and do something and be the leader, what would you… What do you think you’d try to do?
0:32:33.4 CM: I’d go take his job.
0:32:34.6 DM: There you go. And we hire Chuck. Yeah, so Greg, you’re out, Chuck’s in, and then now, Greg, you gotta go figure something else out.
0:32:39.6 GJ: Well, the first thing I’d do is I’d go ask Chuck for his advice. [laughter] So, this isn’t necessarily with the company that I would start, but in the area that I really, really thought was gonna take off, they kinda died on the vine, and I’m not exactly sure why, is… I don’t know if you remember, a few years back when Nintendo launched Pokémon Go, I think was the app. And their valuation went up literally overnight by hundreds of billions of dollars, and they became a behemoth again, and it was because they were using geolocation services to create virtual Pokémon or whatever, and people were out running around trying to collect all of these things. And I really thought that was gonna translate into something like coupons and experiences that people would have via opting in to some kind of geolocation service.
0:33:34.2 GJ: So, let’s say you are in a mall, and you’re walking by, and it says, “You know what, you just walked past JC Penny, we’re gonna give you 25% off any one item if you walk into the store” or you can even just walk around in a particular area and find deals on things that are like special coupon codes to increase foot traffic, say in retail, just as an example, but I really thought that the geolocation stuff was gonna create a new trend, and that companies were gonna find out a way to monetize that by allowing people to opt in and there would be some incentive for them to get out there in space and take advantage of those kinds of things. So I was really surprised that died on the vine, I’m not sure it’s a company now that would take off, but I really thought there was a business case for that at some point, I just never saw it happen.
0:34:27.4 CM: So if Greg did that, I would create another company that created holographic images so that with his geolocation material, instead of using mobile phones, which have been shown to not be that effective at doing it, just have an image just pop-up holographically right there, that actually brings people to the thing. Whatever it is you’re promoting or marketing, then you got two companies right there, back to back.
0:34:51.3 GJ: You have the Google Glass, you put on your glasses, you walk around the mall, people are popping up and saying, “Hey, over here, come here, I got 25% off on this,” yeah. I think there’s gonna be incredible things coming, Dominic, down the road, and in all honesty, I think one thing that’s really held back that I feel like has been long since coming and has not evolved at all in the last decade, is the experience on airlines, because of the bandwidth on an airline, my son was coming to me the other day, he’s like, “Oh, I gotta take this long trip, and it’s gonna suck because I can’t watch Netflix and I can’t do this, I’ll have to download content and I can’t do Amazon shopping or watch TikTok”, all these things that he can’t do on a plane ’cause he’s trapped, and I thought, “Wow, you could do this anywhere terrestrial” and so I really feel like the airlines are just so far behind on what they can offer in terms of services, and so as soon… Maybe it’s a Starlink or whoever it is, when you can get high bandwidth in the air in all honesty, I do think that the airlines are gonna have a new tremendous revenue stream of added services that they just can’t provide today.
0:35:57.9 CM: That’s interesting, my JetBlue screen, that I flew over the weekend, my screen was broken and everybody on the plane that worked there at JetBlue tried to fix it, every single person, even the pilot, they couldn’t fix it. I ended up tapping into their system and I tapped into my DVR at home, ’cause I was trying to watch a football game live, so I had to watch it off my DVR, switched up to the airplane onto my laptop. But I was actually in my DVR from my home in Tampa on the plane flying from Boston.
0:36:29.4 GJ: That’s nice. So I have to install my own VPN so that it doesn’t think… So I can bypass all of those things that they don’t let you do and then just tap into your own services from home, that’s a good idea, Chuck.
0:36:41.4 CM: Yeah, this was not my work computer, that wouldn’t let me do that. [chuckle]
0:36:45.3 DM: That’s right, that’s right.
0:36:45.5 CM: This is my totally unsecured computer. [chuckle]
0:36:49.3 DM: Yeah, so just two more questions. One about security, the last couple of weeks have been a nightmare for people that are involved in IT security with the Log4j vulnerability coming out. When you think about security in IoT, I think that actually is another area of real and potentially imagined concern of adoption, what happens when the machines go rogue, what happens when somebody hacks into my home, what happens if the data doesn’t go where it’s supposed to? Maybe starting with you, Greg. What keeps you up at night, when it comes to security and IoT, and what are some of the things that you’re doing to prevent them?
0:37:23.8 GJ: Yeah, that’s a great question, because I think the biggest fear of many, many companies is not that they’re gonna be crowded out, or they’re gonna be out-priced, or they’re gonna… It’s that there’s gonna be a breach and there’s gonna be loss of trust in the market, especially companies that handle massive amounts of information, and they never recover, or it takes a very, very long time to recover from something like that, so I think in the IoT space, especially where you have very sensitive data like health information and things like that. If you’re controlling a device, let’s say that is monitoring somebody’s heartbeat or those kinds of things, it’s terrifying to think what if somebody were to take over that device?
0:38:02.5 GJ: You see it in movies and things like that, the suspenseful thing, and they take over their pacemaker, whatever, but probably not quite as dramatic as that, but I think we are very vulnerable there, and one way to secure against that is really to create a white list or to have a VPN tunnel that folks like Kajeet can provide, where you build from those that can touch the device, either the manufacturer or the company that’s running and operating it through a secure private network connection to a non-addressable IP address on the device, and that’s how you can control, send instructions to, reboot, do diagnostics, etcetera, is through kind of a whitelisted point-to-point connection, and that way you’re never passing that information over the internet, because I think that’s where it’s most vulnerable. And I think you’re gonna see more and more of that happening as certain use cases become more prominent.
0:38:57.8 CM: Yeah, I totally agree. I think that businesses of the future are gonna be looking for, the expectation is that the Kajeets of the world have to guarantee the security because the companies themselves can’t do it, they’re bringing in too much technology from the outside, and there’s gonna be just an expectation and basically a baseline, like, this is what you have to provide if you’re a supplier of any kind of technology to a Fortune 500 business or any business really. And once you get the reputation of being the company that’s secure, you’re basically golden.
0:39:32.7 DM: Yeah. I definitely feel like this has exposed, yet again, the challenges that exist in the market, and it’s all about building trust, especially for younger companies or those that are getting into new markets, that you can either make or ruin your reputation based on how you perform in these sorts of things.
0:39:49.0 CM: Oh, yeah.
0:39:51.0 DM: Alright, the last question is only tangentially related to this conversation, but I always like asking it. Chuck, what’s the last great fiction book that you read?
0:39:58.4 CM: Oh, I don’t read fiction.
0:40:00.1 DM: Ever?
0:40:00.2 CM: No.
0:40:01.9 DM: Alright, how about non, well then what’s something that you’d recommend to listeners?
0:40:04.7 CM: The last one I just read actually I’m quoted in, so I’ll give you this one. [chuckle]
0:40:08.9 DM: Alright.
0:40:09.4 CM: Unsettled Disruption, it’s by someone I worked with in Paris. And it’s quite good. It’s about the disruption that’s going on. Everything today is not just digital transformation, it’s digital disruption. Everything is going, COVID caused a lot of it or accelerated a lot of it, as Greg mentioned. It didn’t cause it. It probably would have happened in 10 years, but now it happened in one. [chuckle] So the basic trend that I’m seeing is just continual transforming of how we conduct business.
0:40:45.9 DM: Yeah. I got you. No, definitely, thanks for that. How about you, Greg? What are you reading?
0:40:51.2 GJ: I tend to probably consume more audio and video these days, honestly, than just breaking out a book, but the last book that I read was a Christmas gift last year, that I ended up going out and buying the second installment of it over the summer, and it was called The Next 100 Years. And it was a guy who was in a think tank with three or four different presidencies that kind of guided national defense and security and all that kind of stuff, and said, here’s what has happened in the history of the world, and why countries and economies and militaries, etcetera, succeed, fail, etcetera. And it kinda took all the history of all of that and then it portrayed that as and based on that, and history likely to repeat itself, here’s what we believe is gonna happen over the next hundred years, and it really had some incredible insights about the reason why certain things have happened and certain countries have merged or fallen, and then it predicted who’s gonna be the big winners going forward, economies and countries and militaries and things like that.
0:42:00.5 GJ: It predicted China, and this book was written quite a few years ago, but it predicted that China was gonna build a Navy. It predicted that Poland was gonna become a manufacturing center and things like that, and some of them are yet to happen, but you can kinda see some of the logic there. I always enjoy that kind of futurist stuff. I tend to geek out on that a little bit.
0:42:22.6 DM: Nice. Well, thanks to both of you for being here today and for chatting with us and helping us make this episode. I appreciate your time and have a great rest of your day.
0:42:32.9 CM: Good stuff, thank you.
0:42:33.1 S3: Thanks, Dom. Perfect.
Tag(s): Blog Posts
Other posts you might be interested inView All Posts
32 min read
But Did It Work? Podcast Episode 6: Sestra Systems: Enabling IoT Connectivity for Smart Beverage DispensingRead More
41 min read
But Did It Work? Podcast Episode 2: Powering City-Wide Connectivity through Private NetworksRead More
13 min read