Internet of Good Things
Ian Robson, Owner of the Internet of Good Things and MD for That Media Thing, talks about the Internet of Good Things and the current IoT culture in the UK.
The Internet of Good Things was founded in 2014 and, in the same year, the Internet of Good Things conference was held as part of Bath Digital Festival. Bristol and Bath are both highly pertinent areas for growth in technology and creative ideas around this space, specifically the Internet of Things. The idea around inserting the word good into our activities was not necessarily about good in just the traditional sense; it was about things that made you feel that IoT would impact people in a positive way.
For a lot of people the VC funding route is not necessarily the right route, which is something we discussed during a session with Peter Jaco, Founder and CEO of Puckily. Obviously there are other financial routes such as angel investors, communities and crowdfunding that an SME could take. Some of these options do take longer making the non-traditional financial route more frustrating, but I think the actual way in which you can connect with the right people has become a little easier.
Scaling an IoT product
The idea of having to produce lots and lots of hardware products before you can actually get to critical mass is something of the old days. You no longer have to show the market is going to invest in your product by selling 10,000 units before you can start scaling. A good example of this is UK company Shufdy, who signed a deal with the Bristol tourism board to place iBeacons all over the city. The idea that one city was being connected and providing augmented reality information to tourists all thanks to a company that didn’t invest very much money into themselves is a great story.
I think Shudfy was an opportunity to present a small company as a much larger entity, giving people the belief that there is money to be had if you can take a business idea to the next level. There is definitely a fear that IoT is a high investment area of business, particularly if you adopt the thinking that you are going to be hardware driven to get some sort of scale.
The consumer space has an opportunity to start to bring newer companies to bear, but it’s going to be consumer perception that needs to be overcome before they become a success. Predominantly, it’s a revision to the upgrade cycle, previously the upgrade cycle was up to two years for your laptop and mobile phones, whereas the upgrade cycle for Internet of things devices is as short as three months in some cases. I think people are in too much fear about putting their money into something that within a few months will be outdated. I think companies need to recognise this consumer antipathy and it stems from this quick upgrade cycle. While the agility and innovativeness of those small companies comes in part because they don’t have the shareholder restrictions or the corporate strategy narrowing their vision.
I think what’s really interesting about the Internet of Things is that it’s an iterative process. You get people coming out with a software development platform that could then potentially plug into a Raspberry Pi platform creating a rudimentary product you could potentially use to show the thinking behind what you’re trying to achieve. Then somebody else would come along and take that to the next level for you. It seems that while there are visionaries within this mindset, they’re also very open to the input of others. That’s what I really enjoy about this particular business sector, that it’s not very precious. There are a lot of people trying to make a lot of money out of IoT, but there’s not that much selfishness within this sector like you would find in others.