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In S2 Episode One, Rob Tiffany VP and Head of IoT Strategy, Ericsson kicks off the season to unveil his thoughts on the status of IoT and why IoT has not yet reached its full potential as predicted 💭.

Sit back, relax and be the first to discover…

  • Rob’s experience working in the early days of IoT ⭐️
  • MOAB Foundation and how the platform is helping to enrich peoples lives ⭐️
  • Why is Digital Twin a crucial part of IoT ⭐️
  • Why IoT hasn’t reached its potential as predicted and can we get there? ⭐️
  • Is the future bright for IoT?⭐️

Follow Rob on LinkedIn and Twitter and visit his website https://robtiffany.com/

To find out more about Ericsson click here

 

Episode Transcript

Tom White
This episode is sponsored by The IoT Jobsite, the world’s only dedicated space for applying for and advertising IoT vacancies across the world. Register now for job alerts, or get in touch via let’s talk at theiotjobsite.com.

Tom White
Welcome to The IoT Podcast Show and more importantly, welcome to season two. We are absolutely delighted that you’re following us on our journey and listening to some of the fantastic guests that we’ve had on the show. Today I’m joined by none other than Rob Tiffany. Rob Tiffany is the Vice President of Ericsson IoT solutions, otherwise known as Dr. Digital Twin. It’s been a long time waiting to get Rob on the show. He’s super busy with various projects. And we’re going to dive into that a little bit more today. And we hope you enjoy the episode. Rob, welcome to the show.

Rob Tiffany
Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here, Tom.

Tom White
Absolutely Rob, no stranger to podcasts. And clearly no stranger to IoT, you know we’ve wanted you show for ages. Thank you so much for giving up your time. Absolutely fantastic, really keen to kick off really just a bit of an introduction, if we can just find out a little bit about you, your background in IoT leading up to your current position working for Ericsson, and how you got in how you got into this crazy world?

Rob Tiffany
Well, let’s see, I was doing IoT back when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth. You know, back in the 1990s. Like, after I got out of the military, my first startup I joined in the Seattle area was doing IoT it was you’ve heard of vending machines. Back way back when you think of the earliest things was, anyway, we were remotely monitoring vending machines. And it was really hard in the 90s, we had to create the weight radios, ourselves wireless modems, firmware that we had to build embedded black boxes, cabling inside of dumb machines to make them smart and to talk to us. And then stuff on a like a Windows 3.1 PC, talking to not talking to a cloud actually pulling vending machines directly over primitive wireless networks, as you can imagine, back then. And so that’s how I got my start being a startup junkie, initially.

Rob Tiffany
And then also getting into the space of, of wireless and embedded development and remote monitoring. To add value for customers. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, a bunch of old guys taught me I was just a kid. But you know, it took me down a path of not only being a startup junkie for a while until I joined Microsoft, but I was the path of wireless, the path of embedded the path of remote monitoring and, you know, ultimately, you know, got into the mobile space. I guess the last startup, less exit I did, I built a mobile mobile device management company in the early 2000s. And sold that like if you think of companies like airwatch, or mobile iron, you know, remotely monitoring your smartphone. And then at Microsoft, after slugging it out for years with Windows Mobile and Windows Phone, I don’t know if anybody remembers that the tiles and everything. You had that thick skin. I think we had a great product, but it was it was tough, for sure. But yeah, spent a bunch of time building Azure, and Windows on the Azure IoT team. And so it was great building this global IoT platform in Azure. And so I was one of the co authors of the architecture for how all that works. got recruited out of there by Hitachi, because the tachi is like, you know what, we need to have our own industrial IoT platform. And so I went there and I created something called the Mata and so got to do that from scratch, which was an amazing experience starting from nothing and building an industrial IoT platform that’s in the leaders quadrant in Gartner’s mq. So that was that was a really great experience for me. And so yeah, all kinds of weird stuff.

Rob Tiffany
I have a foundation called the Moab foundation like Moab, Utah and all that, where I’ve built a, an IoT digital twin platform to give away to nonprofits, NGOs, because I think we can use a lot of this IoT technology to help society not just business. And so if you think about those United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, there’s a lot of use cases across, you know, whether it’s water issues, poverty, climate, where IoT can play a role and make the world a better place. But my day job is I’m at Ericsson, some vice president there. Leading IoT strategy, Ericsson we do the IoT stuff. We do their Ericsson, obviously, we make cellular network equipment that we sell to mobile operators. You can imagine no matter what I’m doing, it’s not nearly as important as 5g. The 5g rollout seems that drumbeat seems to drown out anything else anyone else is doing that they might think is important. You know how hype gets right. Yeah. But yeah, IoT interesting, you know, we have a global connection management platform. So if you’re using cellular for IoT, you know, it helps you automate getting connected. You know, there’s a lot of friction, a lot of things, a lot of headwinds that slow down adoption of the Internet of Things, part of its connectivity, and software and a lot of other things. So we take care of the connectivity. And then we, we also have a connected vehicle cloud system. And you can imagine, primary use case with cellular IoT is when things are outside and moving around. And so working with automotive manufacturers, you know, for connected cars, and so yeah, lots of funds staying busy. Yeah, for sure. Wow.

Tom White
Well, I mean, I mean, it’s really impressive. I mean, you know, you’ve been in this before it was machine to machine right, from real days of actually needing to do this from a vending machine point of view, saying, Hey, we need we need this information. How are we going to do this? Right? Yeah, it’s really fantastic. And one of the one of the things I think, is really impressive for me is the fact that you touched upon, you know, IoT being used for for enrichment of people’s lives for the better of the world. Right. And it could you talk a little bit more just about that. So is this part of what Moab does? And this kind of free to air platform that you’ve developed?

Rob Tiffany
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, like anything in life, you know, things kind of come gradually, I’m a little dense. So it takes a while for me to wake up and realise things are happening. And so, over time, you know, I’ve been doing it for so long for commercial reasons for business. But I found myself on panel discussions and doing events where they’re saying, well, could you talk about how we might use IoT for water issues or poverty. And so I would scramble and study up on things. And then over time, I think a light bulb came on for me, I was like, wow, I mean, what is IoT? It’s remotely knowing the state of something without you being there, it’s measuring things, right? It’s knowing something, having that information come back to you so you can take an action. And so I started looking at, you know, if I look at and the Sustainable Development Goals made it really easy to kind of categorise things for you, so that you’re not just shooting everywhere in the dark. And so it’s like, when you find out both poverty and hunger, which are like SDG, one and two? Well, they’re directly tied to agriculture. As it turns out, most people who are in deep poverty actually work in the agriculture space. And so when you, you can parlay that into going, Okay, well, how can IoT help agriculture, and I know a lot of us talk about precision agriculture, and IoT to increase crop yields, and things like that. And so what I was most since I actually designed, and I still write code, and build stuff, you know, I started building this lightweight IoT platform that’s portable, it can run on a tiny device, instead of having to run in the cloud. When you’re trying to help people who are nonprofits, or NGOs, they don’t have a lot of cash. Yeah, and you know, and so you can’t just show up and say,

Rob Tiffany
Yes, we have this giant cloud IoT platform, and we’re gonna charge you all this money, and it’s gonna be great. It’s like you need to, you need to give it away for free if you can. And so it’s a lightweight, obviously, I’ve spent a lot of time I kind of got really heavy into digital twins back at Hitachi, when we’re building numato. They call them asset avatars. And, and so I know a lot about that. And so the platform has digital twin capabilities built right into it. And so the thinking with the mo app Foundation, it’s like a few things. Step one, it’s just awareness. What are the 17? sustainable development goals? What are the use cases? And this is the hard part, what are all the use cases where it makes sense to use IoT? Because you shouldn’t always try to pound a square peg in a round hole if it doesn’t make sense. And so laying those out, laying out recipes, what are the use cases where IoT can make a difference? What’s the game plan? What’s How do you? How do you exploit that? How, what’s the actionable plan to take care of that? And then to give the people it’s gonna it’s still volunteers. It’s probably like the Peace Corps or anything else, right? It’s like, here’s this free technology. Here’s the recipe. Here’s the plan to take action on whatever this particular use cases if it’s climate or something, and then but ultimately, it still comes down to people.

Rob Tiffany
And so and so yeah, you’re trying to keep costs as low as possible. And You do fundraising and things like that. And so it’s kind of something I’m, it’s on the side, obviously, my day job and all this other kind of stuff. But I’ve got a lot of a lot of friends, probably people, you know, you know, a lot of people from the IoT space and analysts and stuff like that, who I’ve known for years, who are on my advisory board. And so yeah, we’re kind of trying to get that thing taken off. So yeah, it’s kind of exciting stuff. And you really can move the needle with really simple things. You know, a lot of people in IoT spend too much time talking about things like AI and blockchain and all kinds of stuff. They don’t even know what they’re talking about. And customers have no idea what they’re talking about either. It turns out, there’s tremendous value to be had with just the basics of the Internet of Things. And so and then when it comes to making an impact in people’s lives around the world, you find it just the smallest things can move the needle for them in dramatic ways. So that’s kind of where my head’s at, you know? Yeah. So yeah,

Tom White
it’s amazing. I think from, you know, the fact that you say it runs on a device, as opposed to being in the cloud is really special, because from a developing world point of view, young trees that are developing theirs don’t have, you know,they don’t have all of that, right. We had, we have Omar Qaise on from OQ Tech that’s doing hybrid cellular internet connectivity, we were talking around, you know, most of the world doesn’t have access to good quality broadband, right? And we completely forget that, you know, everyone’s harping on 5g, some people can’t even get online.

Tom White
So I think that you’re right, I think that’s so good that you know that you’re doing this in conjunction, giving something back. And that’s really kind of something I’m really passionate about with IoT in general is the fact that, you know, and I said it so many times before, on previous episodes in a conversation that I’ve come from this pay TV world, and at the end of the day, it’s just entertainment. So what you’re doing with it, and the differences, it can make a tremendous and that’s something really to be proud about, in my in my view. So you know, good on you have that, Rob thank you it’s fantastic.

Rob Tiffany
Most places they don’t have, you can’t talk about bandwidth. They don’t even have electricity. Yeah. And some places, right? Yeah. So you need to make sure you have an IoT platform that’s lightweight, and it’s low power, you can power it with batteries and solar, you may have to create your own network, you know, you have to be much more resourceful. But when you’re, you know how it is in life, especially when being in technology. The greatest innovations usually come when you have heavy constraints put upon you. And and things are tough. Makes you have to think more than when things are good and easy and abundant, then you’re like, oh, whatever, you know, yeah.

Tom White
Well, I mean, you know, this from a coding perspective, right, you know, some of the best years of us. But But you know, primitive computers, right? Where you refactor chunks of scene, you’ve got to make sure you’re using clean code, principles, etc, that it’s making the most out of what you have, right? limited, limited functionality.

Rob Tiffany
That’s the the lessons I learned back in the 90s, doing IoT. Everything was much smaller. I think learning from the guys who I learned from who were RF engineers, were doing the tiniest embedded development. I mean, think about the state of technology in the 90s in programming and things like that, it was pretty tough. How you communicated your bit encoded packets you were creating, because we had to pay by the byte, you know, wireless data was horribly expensive back then. And so when you start your journey, and IoT from a place where you had to invent everything from scratch every aspect of the of a solution, right? Then when you fast forward to today, it’s seemingly easy to do IoT. And so I think it kind of gives you kind of a calmness. I don’t know how to explain it, where it’s like, I’ve already done the hardest possible scenario by IoT, whatever we’re doing today is a piece of cake. Yeah,

Tom White
yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s allegedly, yeah. the luxury of bandwidth, right? You know, we were doing stuff, you know, not only a resource constrained device, but paid by, as you say, right. So it’s Yeah, work, it’s gonna be lightweight, it’s gonna it’s gonna it’s gonna be super functional. Right? So so every everything works. You know? Yeah, seamlessly after that, right?

Rob Tiffany
I mean, you do you do embedded development, the stuff that we call embedded development today, compare that to what embedded development burning, ie problems back in the 90s was like, it’s like night and day, you know, you know, some of these little devices, they have the power of a Pentium chip, you know,

Tom White
right. Yeah. You know, what was it something like 100 150 years to get to a gigahertz and then like, two months, or something like that? Yeah, that’s crazy. Yeah, yeah. It’s absolutely yeah. Unbelievable. Absolutely. Rob, I wanna I want to talk to you a little bit more about digital twins, if I may. Yeah. Yeah. So so you’re known as digital Twin Otter stuff that he dates back at Archie right? And I’m very well respected and fought of as you say, you know you’re part of the Gartner quadrant, is it?

Rob Tiffany
Oh, yeah. Oh, well, yeah. lumada is a leader and Magic Quadrant for industrial IoT. But then you’re right, all those other like analyticals, and stuff like that, you know, thought leadership around digital twins and industry from before all that stuff.

Tom White
super basic for people that haven’t worked in digital twin. What is digital twin? Why is it important? And And where’s it going?

Rob Tiffany
Yeah, I’m a big believer of digital twins who actually live at the heart of every IoT platform. A lot of people think it’s about augmented reality, or VR or something like that. And that’s just a view of a digital twin actually, that if you get right down to a digital twin as a data structure, you’re you know, you everyone hears the same definition, it’s, you know, it’s a digital version of a physical object, right? It could be a digital equivalent of a machine or a subsystem or a process or a whole factory and all that kind of stuff. And so I say avatars, right? asset avatars, yes, a giant seven foot blue aliens, you know, and so, but, you know, assets, you know, the, you know, there’s only you know, if you’re working for a giant manufacturer, like Hitachi, they typically think of everything as an asset. And so that kind of is how the, the mindset. And actually in Asia, the idea of the term avatar actually made a lot more sense to people when they think about this concept than twin, believe it or not.

Rob Tiffany
And so the avatar of machine, for instance, you know, there’s a machine it’s got its static properties that don’t change much house, how big is it, all these attributes about it, it’s got dynamic things, like you’re getting sensor values from, you know, temperature, heat, vibration, rpm, on a motor, all kinds of things like that, you know, I overuse when I describe digital twins, I probably do this too often. But I always just explained it, like, as a car, because it’s, it’s important to talk about things that everyone understands. And so when you’re driving your car, you’ve got a an engine, you’ve got a transmission, you’ve got four tires, you know, tires have tire pressure. And so there’s that the basics of knowing about the state of your car. And for the longest time in IoT data is just coming back and showing up in rows and columns and databases, which is fine.

Rob Tiffany
But when you model that same thing, as a digital twin, I think it’s it’s people can wrap their heads around it more easily, they can visualise it better, even if it’s not a visual representation. And so you describe those four tires, you say, yes, it’s got tire pressure, and the pressures measured in psi, pounds per square inch, and what’s and then there’s the actual value. IoT is the plumbing, sending you the the actual data. But you’ve created a data model, from if you think if you’re a database person, you built data structures and things like that think of the digital twin, ultimately, initially, is just that data structure. That saying, here’s what it looks like, here are the dynamic things about it. And the in here, and then what’s great about digital twins, and not a lot of people do this, usually the the twin is just kind of that static view. And then they put analytics over here and you point analytics at the twin, but which is fine. But you can also layer in KPIs and other things into the twin itself.

Rob Tiffany
So if I have the twin of the car, and then it’s got properties for the four tires and tire pressure, just simple pattern matching the I, as a customer, I expect my tires to be pressurised to 32 pounds per square inch, let’s say. And the data type is integer. And but I can also, you know, you talk about what you expect, you know, and so when you just do simple things like KPIs red, yellow, you know, green, you know, when you’re in this range. And so you can set KPIs and attach that to the twin. It’s all a combination of IoT sending data, it’s twins defining what the model looks like. And then it’s software. It’s software, bots, agents, whatever you want to call them. And they’re looking at the real data. They’re looking at what the twins telling you. it expects it to be. And then it makes a decision based on that. And so you know, you hear lots of people love to talk about predictive analytics, or going the next step and doing prescriptive. What once I find this out, what do I do about it? What’s the What do I? How do I take care of this problem afterwards? You can layer that stuff into a twin as well. which I know sounds crazy. Think about a twin I you know if it’s if you’re thinking about it, like a car, think about that owner’s manual that’s in the glove compartment. That’s the digital twin of the car. We’re just making that digital. Think about it like your doctor, your physician. Yeah, you’re the patient. You’re showing up the doctor. What’s the doctor doing? Well, it knows about a human. They I went to medical school, and they know everything about and they, they’re trying to figure out well, you’ve got all these symptoms and they’re trying to figure out well, I think this means that you have this ailment, and then I based on my knowledge, or reference, I look up, I’m, here’s the prescription I’m going to give to you, or I’m going to have you go do this procedure. It’s the same thing if you think about it, in terms that people can understand.

Rob Tiffany
And so that’s what the software IoT and digital twins all working together to bring a lot of this stuff to life. I find and again, you know, digital twins are the Wild West, just like IoT has been the Wild West, you know, people’s like, Where’s the standards, you know? And so, a lot of times, it’s the standards are made by the people who when, you know, typically not by, not by standards, bodies or Consortium, so usually it works the other way around, I apologise to all you consortium people, but you’re always usually in last place. Yeah, it’s just true. That’s just true. You know, big companies are the pioneers of people who make it happen, and then some something sticks. That’s the de facto standard, right? And so I’ve taken many liberties in pushing the envelope of what a digital twin can do over time. And some people like it, you know, in the end, are you driving value for the customer? Right? You know, are they they’ve got all their use cases in mind. They’re trying to save money, make money safety, there’s probably a million IoT use cases. And so you’re really just trying to you’re really just trying to do that in the easiest way possible.

Tom White
I thank you. I think it’s a it’s an amazing overview for people that didn’t particularly understand digital twin 11. The analogy of the car replicating it is is fantastic. And as you say, there’s a million types of use cases. Yeah. And almost limitless amount of replications. It can be made advances in digital twin, right, right. And it’s interesting to say, and it’s almost logical, isn’t it that the enterprise business is gonna set the de facto standard? Because they braced a market, they created it, it’s worked, and therefore you have a benchmark, right? Yeah. And theory and practice are obviously two separate things. So in practice, it’s worked and it’s happened and you and you can theorise about something, you can talk about it? Yeah. Unless it’s actually running in, in, in process, and then you never really know. And that’s clearly that what you have done in the past. And you know, and very successful.

Rob Tiffany
You’ve probably talked to dozens of people in here or just in daily life around it saying, I know what they’re like, well, we’re waiting for all the standards to get here. And then we will start doing IoT. Well, if that’s your mindset, you’re going to miss the whole thing. As it turns out, it is made up of lots of standards that are already standards, there are official standards. The problem is there’s too many of them. Especially in industrial world where you’re dealing with all kinds of weird industrial protocols and data formats, it makes things more complicated. And so the reality is, you need to understand the high level, what am I doing what’s IoT, I have a physical object here, and it can talk to me, you know, I’m competing with a guy with a clipboard, you know, I used to walk somewhere, drive somewhere, fly in a plane to go visit something, a machine, look at a gauge analogue gauge or something and write it down on a clipboard, go back to the office and type it into some computer system, to the system of record. That’s what you’re competing with.

Rob Tiffany
With IoT, we did it with work competing with paper and pencil. As you know, you talk about things like digital transformation, as a company becomes more mature, they went from paper and pencil to maybe now the person’s got a tablet or a smartphone or something like that, and they’re entering it in. And with a magical wireless, the data goes straight from the remote location into the system record. Now with IoT, the machine just talks to us and it sends the data strictly back to the date the system records, that’s really all it is, you know, it’s important to just remember how simple this stuff is, and not make it more complicated than it needs to be. And so if twins help you, that’s great. But you know, you got to go with what works for you for sure.

Tom White
Yeah, totally. And I think that that’s what it is, right? You know, brass tacks, you know, where we’re essentially making it easier where and, you know, reducing that manual input of someone going to have to check that Guedes, right? You know, many, many examples that we’ve had here on the show and people that I talked to, you know, we talked about agrotech and farming and the fact that Yeah, you’re herding cattle when you go to Australia, right? And some of the some of the farms in Australia humongous, right? Yeah. And yeah, Western America. And that’s, that’s a direct benefit of having this information of having these sensors of being able to pick up this information.

Tom White
Absolutely. And, and the twin variant of that and being able to do that from from a physical perspective and run out various iterations and you know, is is absolutely fantastic. I mean, what, in terms of the future, right? So I’m so so curious. Yes, I speak to loads of people in IoT, right, but, but you know, you’ve lived and breathed this for many, many years and also have worked on many successful things. I’m curious to know what you think it looks like in the future, not just from a digital twin perspective, but also, you know, people talk about everything being connected and, you know, fourth industrial revolution and, you know, Klaus Schwab, and, you know, various beings, but, you know, we’re not quite there yet. Right? And, you know, and why is that? And so so I’ve asked you two questions there. Yes. Yeah. Why aren’t we there? And where are we going?

Rob Tiffany
Okay. Luckily, I have the definitive answer. Questions. Good.

Tom White
Well, I’m glad I’m recording it.

Rob Tiffany
Yes, good. Good. Yes, I see the record lights on. I can’t tell you how many videos I’ve been on where they go. I forgot to record. You know, a whole lot of companies, analysts, firms, including the company I worked for, thought we’d be at like 50 billion connected IoT devices by 2020. And we’re barely at a fraction of that IoT has underperformed. It hasn’t made it to where we all thought it would be. I think, you know, you had the smartphone revolution and apps. And that was just like a rocket ship. And it was really obvious. And it just worked. And it was huge success. A lot of people thought it was going to be the same way. But it hasn’t been. And so when you talk about how’s it gonna be in the future, unless something changes dramatically. It’s not going to be the bright future you think it’s going to be because the the past and the present are telling us that?

Rob Tiffany
And so as someone who’s had a front row seat watching this mega trends, you can observe what’s working well, and what’s not? And how do we fix it. And so one of the things I noticed is, IoT is still a very manual process. And I’m just thinking about, you know, when customers want to do IoT, for whatever the use case, whatever value they’re trying to derive. They say I want to do an IoT project, and I use a platform, and I’m gonna do analytics, more times than not, they hire a consulting firm, or a system integrator, something like that. And all these global s eyes. IoT is a consulting project. It’s a consulting gig, a lot of times, even though platform players want to tell you, you can do it yourself. It just depends on your sophistication. what the problem is, is that you’ve probably seen the same numbers, I have 75 80% of IoT projects are failing at the proof of concept phase, they’re never making it to production. Customers are getting fed up. And they’re they have the value they’re looking for, they hire the consulting firm, they like where’s the outcome, then the app, the analytics, that’s going to give me this value that’s that I’m looking for instead, what’s happening is consultants are spending months or years programming devices, and configuring devices and configuring platforms and things like that, that are what I characterise as just low value activity. They are things you have to do in order to get to the good stuff, if you are going to use some advanced analytics to derive some outcome. You can’t do that until you have data coming from machines, right? And all that other stuff.

Rob Tiffany
So there’s a lot of think about it. You know, you’ve done embedded development. There’s there’s there’s hardware, hardware, it’s hard. Embedded developers, short range, networking, edge, gateway, edge, compute stuff, long range networking, cloud, on prem platforms, analytics, there’s so many different pillars, or components to make up an IoT solution with a lot of different skill sets and domain knowledge that you have to have in order to do that. It’s hard to find one person, or anything that knows how to do all that stuff. And so no, this is not new information. complexity is one of the big headwinds to IoT success is just really complex. And so that slows things down dramatically. Another big headwind is security. Turns out, we accidentally created the largest attack surface in the history of computing, by doing IoT, oops, sorry. It’s true. That’s what we did. And and if you look at things like the Mirai botnet A few years ago, and you’re all watching the news, every week now the hack attacks are getting worse and worse. And IoT is a big vulnerability. And so if you’re a decision maker, if you’re a chief information officer or CTO and a company and you’re going I really want to do IoT because I see the value it’s going to provide my company but I’m really worried that I’m gonna get hacked to death and the risk reward part starts to worry me some and maybe it’s not worth doing because the hackers and stuff like that.

Rob Tiffany
So then that the answer the question is, okay, let’s fix it. So I am actually I still write code. I still design things. I’m working I don’t want to call it a secret skunk work project because it’s not totally a secret. But I am working on a separate project right now, around the clock at Ericsson. The project’s code name is thunderstruck, like the AC DC song. And, yeah, yeah. And, and I’m actually single handedly trying to rescue the entire IoT ecosystem from failure. And so I’m working on a system where, like, when you’re doing IoT project on the device side, you’re typically as a developer, you’re writing code to an SDK software development kit that’s been provided to you by Azure IoT Hub, or AWS, or thing works, or PTC, whoever, right. And when you write code to that SDK, you’re permanently connected to that platform for the life of that device, which could be a real problem. If it’s an industrial device, it’s expected to be going for decades in a factory. I’ve got I’m creating something new with a platform, it’s a globally scalable cloud system. It uses something I call a universal device SDK. Imagine a scenario where a semiconductor OEM device OEM, even consultants, if they could use the same SDK, and it’s identical, and it’s really simple across every device they make, knowing that they have a promise that says if you use this single SDK, I’ll connect you to any IoT platform, or any analytics platform, or storage, if that’s what you want, then there’ll be less hesitant because we’re only going to get to these big numbers, if manufacturers of things machines are pre baking, in compute storage, networking, at time of manufacturing, because right now we are all living in an aftermarket car stereo store.

Rob Tiffany
With IoT, we are just getting bare naked devices. And we are having to put software on them and connect to sensors and pull that data together and security and sending that data. So it’s a lot. That’s why we’re doing all this coding, right? So I want to try to blow that away, I want machines at a time of manufacturing, having you know, you call my system, I’ll give you millions of unique identities and security tokens and a URL. And so you’re a manufacturer in Shenzhen. And you build these machines, and then a customer in France buys it. They turn it on the first time in Paris, it wakes up it connects the software calls the URL I give it reaches out and says hey, here I am. Oh, I go Yeah, oh, I see you were made by this company in China. And you were bought by this company in France. And I see they’re using thing works, I’m going to automatically automate connecting you two thing works and registering your million devices and start flowing the telemetry automatically. And so automating the server side, because Luckily, all these IoT platforms, analytics platforms, they’ll have rest API’s. So I can automate that. So anyway, automate the server, the cloud side, streamline the device side. And then along the way, I can break cloud lock in, you probably hear lots of people about worrying about cloud lock in or platform lock in, or having a multi cloud strategy. The other aspect I’m trying to do is help those folks as well. If I can automate connecting you to a particular back end system, I can disconnect you and move you to another one with the mouse click. So I want to make that easy. And then last, but not least security. If I’ve got all these data streams from every device flowing through my system, I can apply security policies to every individual data stream to lock that down, because you know, instead of your customers critical infrastructure getting attacked by a denial of service attack, if you’ve got some system way out on the internet, somewhere on the network far away, and we’re raising the shields for you, and detecting devices attacking and then having rules that can lock those devices down long before it hits your platform. That’s a good thing. So anyway, I know I’m just rambling here, but I’m, I’m trying to fix what I think are the problems in the space. And so we’ll see what happens.

Tom White
Yeah, no, no, absolutely not. Rob, it’s great. I think, I think the main thing that you’re talking about there is the fact that you know, we’re looking at principles of universal connection. Right? And are you trying to say that essentially the reasons for the scale on what we’ve not seen yet we’ve spoken about in various reports over the years is everyone is trying to do something in their own way. The analogy you using it, this is car radio shop, this after sale type approach where Yeah, you’re having a boat on software, etc. But the idea and the premise is that we have this almost like this kind of single sign on mentality whereby we know what’s happening. We know where you’re connecting, we know what’s going through, and that will rapidly increase the amount of the use cases and deployments that are out there. Is that right?

Rob Tiffany
That’s right. You know, You know, we live in a capitalist society, everybody’s playing a winner take all game. Yeah. All right, oh, isn’t

Tom White
it really in general, it’s,

Rob Tiffany
it’s fine with me, because that’s how every trend works. I don’t want to I don’t, I can’t, I can’t tell all these big companies what to do. But I can see when everyone wants to win at the exclusion of their other competitors. And they’re saying, it’s my way or the highway, you got to build it my way. All of a sudden, you’ve got a lot of manual processes, all connecting to individuals, you know, fragmented systems. And so all I’m trying to do I hate to use the word democratise. But almost like what if I gave you one way to do the same thing over and over again, but give you the flexibility to connect to whoever you want to connect to? Obviously, these big platform players cloud players, they wouldn’t it’s not in their best interest to provide that kind of capability, because it makes it easy for the customer to leave them, right? Yeah, they want to win, they want to win. And so if you have some impartial third party, who’s not in it, for the same reasons, that’s really just super has that empathy for the customer. And knows that, what I’m trying to accomplish this, I need to get you to value 10x faster, because these projects are taking too long projects are being cancelled. And so that’s all you do is I sit back and observe, it’s really manual process projects are failing, they’re taking too long, too much money’s being spent in billable hours to consultants. How can I streamline are shortened that dramatically. So you know, the customers getting the value and seeing that and getting excited about it? Because that’s how it because in the end this what I’m working on, I want to lift all boats. I’m really here just trying to help the entire ecosystem, not just one player, in this case, that’s that’s the takeaway.

Tom White
Yeah. And that’s primarily what we look at with IoT, we started to talk by saying the almost limitless about the use cases that are available to enrich and to better people’s lives. You know, there’s an altruistic sense of, you know, maybe the winner shouldn’t take all right, you know, maybe there, maybe there should be some standards. At some point, maybe there should be a charter of how we’re doing this, because at the end of the day, we’re trying to help those that need it through somebody solutions, ultimately, right. Yeah, I mean, being clear, it’s not just about that, but there’s so many other benefits involved that, you know, me coming from an open source, open source background, you know, yeah, yes. You know, this is, this is a way that I’m crying like, why, you know, why are these things kind of peer reviewed? And people are all working together on it? And? And absolutely, and that may be what, and as you say, one of the primary reasons why we are behind, right?

Rob Tiffany
Yeah, people don’t realise it, they hear about the use cases and the value and they’re excited about it, but they don’t realise is there’s a bunch of gladiators in an arena battling it out right now trying to win, yeah, they really don’t care about the whole ecosystem winning, they want to win. And you’re right about open source and that mentality, that’s exactly where my head’s at to, I don’t know, if people realise you can build all this IoT technology 100%, with open source technology, every last aspect of an IoT system can be built with that there’s so much stuff out there today. That’s why IoT started taking off. You know, 10 years ago, you had that perfect storm, connect almost ubiquitous connectivity around the world, lowering cost of microcontrollers, and things like that, and sensors. All of a sudden storage, especially in cloud storage started going towards zero. And then analytics, you know, because, you know, I always say, you know, it’s connects collect, analyse act, you’ve got to analyse that data to drive insights from all that information, right? What used to be only governments or wealthy companies could afford expensive analytics tools. But guess what, anybody can go to apache.org now and download their favourite open source analytics and drive, you obviously have to know how to use it, but derive value that way and derive outcomes. And so you know, what the value, it’s right there for the taking. And that open source mentality is a great way to think about it. But there’s this other battle going on over here that’s slowing things down. Yeah,

Tom White
yeah. So yeah, I get it. I guess my final question to you, Rob today, and this is great, you know, such good, such good conversation, you know, is the future bright then for IoT? If we can get past these issues? Is it bright? Is it boy, are we going to get to where we’ve spoken about over the years?

Rob Tiffany
Yes, we are. But we’re going to have to be very mindful about security. We’ll break through all these barriers that we’re talking about now, so that we get to that value, but we’re gonna there’s bad actors all around the world. Who who don’t have Our best interests in mind. And so we will be successful. But everybody who’s involved in IoT projects in the space, they need to just take on that security first mindset. And if they do that, and they follow a really short list of some basic simple rules, usually you’ll be in good shape. And so I think, you know, it’s just like us doing this podcast right now. Step one is just awareness of what’s going on. And what’s the problem as soon as people click into realising that, and then then they can start making the right decisions because we can’t we’re not going to blindly go into the future and succeed. We’re gonna have to go into the future with our eyes wide open to things and when we do that, though, I think we’re going to be in good shape and it’s going to be an exciting bright future for all of us.

Tom White
Fantastic, Rob Honestly, I’m so pleased that you know you’ve come onto the show and that you’ve you’ve had that you know you’ve had this time to talk to me it’s it’s fantastic. And leaving on the note of security is a personal favourite for mine. You know, I talk about secure by design principles all the time by people. Yeah, this isn’t a gold plating exercise. It’s think about it to start with and your insights treaty. Fantastic. So we really, really appreciate it. Robin, thank you so much. Once again.

Rob Tiffany
Thanks for having me. It’s been great talking to you.

Tom White
Please get involved in the episode as usual guys, Like Comment, Share, use the hashtag the IoT podcast, really want to promote the podcast and the stories especially some of the fantastic guests that we’ve had Rob on today, out there to people who may not have heard of the show yet. We look forward to joining you on the next episode.

The IoT Podcast Team

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