- Industrial IoT (IIoT) monitoring and control technology development is happening at nearly all levels of the economy from large industrial vendors and tech startups to local incubators seeking to export solutions designed for local problems.
- While there is an understandable focus on what is possible with IIoT monitoring and control, there also needs to be a clearer connection between much of this technology development and the business value it brings it IIoT buyers.
At a tech meetup in Austin, Texas, I recently had the chance to hear Digi.City founder Chelsea Collier and Pecan Street CIO Bert Haskell discuss his group’s focus on developing IoT technology R&D and disseminating that technology into the broader ecosystem.
By way of background, Pecan Street is a non-profit, funded by a combination of grants and a commercial revenue stream to “advance research and innovation in water and energy.” During the hour-long conversation, Mr. Haskell discussed a variety of topics related to how his team approaches technology development and how Pecan Street seeks to share (evangelize) its technology on a global basis; and though not directly, he also touched on some key challenges facing IoT-related technology commercialization.
What is exciting about Pecan Street is that it seems to be working on ‘nuts and bolts’-type solutions that will enable IoT to help fundamentally transform water and energy distribution systems. However, what became clear in the course of our discussion is that requirements for smart water and energy systems seem to vary greatly in the U.S. compared to some higher-profile early adopters in foreign countries (due to several factors such as the geographic and demographic diversity of our country as well as the vast differences in local infrastructure). This can be problematic because mass commercialization somewhat obviously depends on a solution or application’s ability to solve either a very big or pervasive problem. So, at about 39:20 of the video, I asked a question about whether there are few “baseline” use cases on which municipalities can find common ground.
As was the case throughout the talk, the answers given were thoughtful and constructive. But, I don’t think they hit on one very basic tenet of what makes technology attractive to businesses: efficiency. As with most technology adoptions, the ability to automate – a.k.a. reduce OpEx – is where IoT use cases are finding the most traction in the smart cities realm and beyond. (Think of remote meter reading, optimizing trash collection routes, reducing unnecessary truck rolls, etc.). So, at the risk of answering my own question, the initial common ground can likely be found in helping businesses, municipalities and/or utilities save money. That is THE language of all CEOs and CFOs, and is even something CIOs and CTOs understand.
Now, to be fair, Pecan Street’s mission isn’t to get rich by saving businesses money. It is to invent and commercialize technology that will help spur the innovations which will support a variety of smart cities use cases ranging from business automation to conservancy to improved quality of life. However, as the Pecan Streets of the world set off to enable the smart cities movements in their own communities, I think the ability to tie what they are doing to the business value they are adding will be important. At this stage of the game, that business value lies in reducing the dollars, cents, euros and yen related to OpEx.
Pecan Street CIO Discussing IoT Technology Development
Source: RCR Wireless News