It seems hard to believe that it was already six years ago when Ericsson made headlines with the claim that we will have 50 billion connected devices by 2020. For many years it has been stated that this was an unrealistic- even laughable- number.
Six years on, and Gartner* (like most analysts,) state that while we will not be hitting that magical prediction of 50 billion devices, they do believe that we will see 20 billion connected devices by 2020. While it is less than half of the original figure, it cannot be disputed that 20 billion connected devices is still an impressive amount – nearly three devices for every man, woman and child on earth.
Closer to home here in Australia, there are estimates that by 2020 we will have between 30-50 million connected devices – a more modest two devices for every Australian.
So is it too late to get involved? Have you missed the wave? Simple answer – No.
According to the Gartner report, as of 2015 there were 4.9 billion connected devices, meaning that if the trends and prediction are true, growth in this area is going be rapid – tripling in the next four years. The more important question to ask is yourself is “why should I get involved?”
What follows is some points for consideration on whether you should get involved in this particular industry, which is on the cusp of exploding.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
This is a conversation I have with many people every day – it is very important to get to market as quickly as you can. Don’t waste time on building something if you are just going to be another one of hundreds of existing products. Tracking applications are a perfect example of this. Tracking (or Telematics) is an oversaturated marketplace, however, if you have a unique spin on your offering there is still room for a new player.
There is no need to build a new product from scratch – there are many good quality devices available on the market that will offer a good base to work from. Most manufacturers will work with you to put your IP onto their devices (obviously you need to ensure you work with reputable manufacturers and have all the necessary protection in place for your IP).
Don’t waste time and money designing your own hardware just because you can. It will cost you a lot of money and delay how quickly you can get to market.
We truly live in a global world today. The solution you create here in Australia may soon be wanted by people all over the world. This is why, when choosing your partners, it is very important to ensure they are able to support any global ambitions you may have. Choosing the right hardware (with the right global frequencies) is a clear example of how you need to think beyond the shores in which you currently operate. Large global opportunities have fallen over because the hardware partner was using localised modules which would never stand up to international standards.
Australia is still a relatively small market, but we are still creating amazing products and systems which are being sold all over the world. It’s not too late to be a part of it all – just make sure you plan for it.
Crowdfunding – A Great way to Test the Waters
Do you want to deploy overseas but are not sure how different markets will perceive your product? Try crowdfunding – probably one of the best testing grounds in the world.
Essentially crowdfunding allows you to sell your wares in advance of completion of the production units, allowing you to raise the final capital needed to complete the project.
Since sites such as Indiegogo, Kickstarter and GoFundMe are global forums, crowdfunding also allows you to test the water in multiple countries around the world. You can even take pre-orders and gain valuable feedback on how your product or service is viewed, and which markets you should enter.
You do not need to be an expert at every part of the products eco-system. Truth be told, the most important part of a successful M2M/IoT product is having a product or service that can enhance people lives, help business become more efficient, stop wastage or save them time and money.
If you can get this formula right, then you will have a sales channel who will be willing to pay for what you are selling. The rest of the picture (Hardware/Network Communications/Platform etc.) can be outsourced to a number of highly qualified, affordable and established vendors already operating in the market.
When it comes down to it, you should get involved in an industry because it truly excites you.
It is invigorating working with people who are creating new and interesting products every day, while marvelling at what can be achieved with modern technology.
Having said that, there have been past attempts which have resulted in some epic failures. There are certain areas (“child safety phones”, pet trackers” etc.) that pop up in the marketplace again and again – yet no one has been able to get the formula right for those.
Unlike Field of Dreams, just because you build it, it does not mean people will come.
Do you have some ideas on how you can bring something new to the table in IoT? I’d love to hear what you think, Let us know on Twitter @M2MOneAU, on LinkedIn at M2M One or visit our website at www.m2mone.com.au.
Sales Manager – M2M One