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Articles by Steve Hilton

Steve Hilton

Steve Hilton is the founder and Managing Director of MachNation, an insight services firm covering the future of the Internet of things (IoT). Prior to founding MachNation, Steve has worked as lead analyst for Analysys Mason's Enterprise research program until December 2013. He has also held senior positions at Yankee Group, Lucent Technologies, TDS and Cambridge Strategic Management Group (CSMG). Steve’s primary areas of specialization, which focus on large and small enterprises, include IoT, fixed and mobile communications services, M2M, cloud services, and sales channels. He has 20 years' experience in technology and communications marketing, with an IoT specialization for 7 years. Steve holds a degree in economics from the University of Chicago and a Master's degree in marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
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Looking backward and forward in the Internet of Things

Looking back and moving forward in IoT: What were the most exciting happenings over the past several months and what can we expect in 2014?

The end of one year and the beginning of the next is a good time to reflect. 2013 has seen some amazing changes in the Internet of Things world and this year promises even more. To see the vision of a connected world materialize is an exciting thing. The realization of a truly scaled Internet of Things (IoT) is a bit like living in a world of science fiction. It’s not surprising that IoT is met with euphoria, scepticism and hesitancy – often all in the same breath.

Over the past several months, I’ve written on various topics including energy management, smart homes, security solutions, connected cars, analytics and more. I’ve written about the transition from an M2M to an IoT world and illustrated some of the differences. And I’ve written about the security concerns that can thwart the inevitable development of an Internet of Things. Read more…

Changing IoT business models

Making IoT technology work is relatively simple compared to making IoT business models work.

Equally challenging: Making IoT technology and business models work.

Who sells, who buys and who uses an Internet of Things (IoT) solution? Making IoT technology work is challenging. The same applies to making IoT business models work. I believe one of the most curious and exciting aspects of the Internet of Things is the proliferation of creative business models (sometimes called commercial models) we have seen across the ecosystem. I wrote briefly about the issue of changing business models in this blog posting.

I wish it were easy to lump all the business models into neat categories. But in fact, it’s difficult to definitively categorize IoT business models. In this blog I’ll review the three most common models and present some examples. But keep in mind that there are variations for each of these models – that’s what makes our jobs more exciting! Read more…

Smart applications and the power of analytics in the IoT value chain

In the IoT world, the analysis of data allows companies to improve business processes or foster innovation.

In the IoT world, the analysis of data allows companies to improve business processes or foster innovation.

As we move from an M2M world to the Internet of Things (IoT) we will increasingly see the value of aggregating and analyzing data from various devices – some machines, some personal devices like smartphones. The aggregation and systematic use of these data is one of the M2M-to-IoT transitions we described in a prior blog post entitled Progression from M2M to the Internet of Things: an introductory blog.

According to Wikipedia, “analytics is the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. Especially valuable in areas rich with recorded information, analytics relies on the simultaneous application of statistics, computer programming and operations research to quantify performance.” By using various predictive models and statistical techniques, analytics can help optimize decisions. Read more…

How is your refrigerator feeling today? Opportunities in IoT for smart homes

With 1.8 billion households worldwide in 2012, there are many growth opportunities in the smart home sector.

With 1.8 billion households worldwide in 2012, there are many growth opportunities in the smart home sector.

Do you want your appliances connected to a WiFi or other network in your home? Do you want a video-based security and surveillance solution that can identify the people who live in your home or are possible intruders? Do you want a system that monitors for broken water pipes when you’re away on vacation?

There are myriad solutions that enable the smart home and there is no end in the creativity shown by product and service vendors in offering these types of solutions. With 1.8 billion households worldwide in 2012, there are many growth opportunities in this sector. But the trick is finding target segments for these solutions, creating easy-to-use solutions and offering solutions at prices that are reasonable enough to attract the target segments. Read more…

Lighting up the world: what’s happening in energy management

Today in an era of climate change and expensive energy production resources, we look for new ways to manage electricity.

Today in an era of climate change and expensive energy production resources, we look for new ways to manage electricity.

Energy conservation and management has been around as long as humans have used energy sources. In summer months, pioneers chopped enough wood for fireplaces and cooking hearths to last all winter. Mill owners would engage in peak production when water levels were high enough to power their water-fed mills. And today in an era of climate change and expensive energy production resources, we look for new ways to manage electricity. As we move to an Internet of Things (IoT) world, we will see greater adoption of energy management solutions.

There are various types of energy management applications. All of these applications are in use today, although some have found higher levels of adoption than others. Read more…

What to expect from security and surveillance monitoring solutions in an IoT world

Some amount of security and surveillance is necessary in today’s world

Some amount of security and surveillance is necessary in today’s world (Photo: Bosch)

Security – precautions taken to guard against crime, attack, sabotage, espionage, etc.

Security and surveillance has become a common facet of business. There are dangers in the world: some are personal dangers, others are dangers or risks associated with assets. While there has been much recent debate about the appropriate use and amount of surveillance, it is fair to say that some amount of security and surveillance is necessary in today’s world.

Security and surveillance solutions include everything from the most simple home monitoring systems and burglar alarms, to high-definition, motion-detecting cameras and retina scanning security solutions. Various forms of connectivity – both fixed-line and wireless – enable a basic type of M2M security solutions. However, when data from the solutions are aggregated and analyzed to predict behavior or thwart crimes, and we are able to access these data on common platforms and devices – including mobile devices – we have entered the world of the Internet of Things (IoT). I described this type of change from an M2M to an IoT world in a prior blog post entitled Progression from M2M to the Internet of Things: an introductory blog. Read more…

Connected cars: what’s in store

Not yet Connetced Car

Consumers have traditionally relied on bringing their own devices to remain connected while in their cars.

The passenger automobile is one of the venues where there is tremendous opportunity for adding connectivity.  You can use your mobile feature phone in the car, but that feels a little like retrofitting an old rotary-dial phone into your 21st-century home. In both, the developed and emerging worlds, it’s common for commuters to spend 1-2 hours per day driving in their automobiles to work. Isn’t it odd that new automobiles with all their computer componentry are not ubiquitously connected? What does the world of connected cars have in store for us? Read more…

How the Internet of Things changes M2M connectivity business models

Connectivity is necessary, but not sufficient for the Internet of Things (IoT). As I discussed in an earlier blog posting, connectivity is one of the elements of an IoT solution: it’s the part that provides LAN and/or WAN communications between the hardware layer (equipment) and the application layer. See Figure 1.

M2M and IoT supply chain

Figure 1: Same layers, two worlds: M2M and IoT supply chains in comparison [Source: Analysys Mason, 2012]

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IoT and Predictive Maintenance

I’ve often wondered why I need to change my automobile’s motor oil every 3,500 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. Maybe I’m one of the few people left in the world who still enjoys changing his own oil. But it’s often concerned me that maybe a mileage- or time-based maintenance schedule wastes lots of valuable resources like oil; aluminium and metals for fabricating the new oil filter; plastic for making the new jug of oil; and energy for the recycling facility that takes my dirty motor oil, strips all the impurities from it and recycles it.

Maybe I don’t really need to change the oil that often. Maybe the metrics which determine when I should change the oil – in this case either vehicle mileage or time – aren’t the best predictors of my car’s optimal maintenance schedule. What if there were sensors on my red 1966 Ford Mustang convertible (V8, 289 cubic inch engine, 2-barrel carburettor, for those curious) that would tell me when I need to change the oil. And what if those sensors were collecting data from the oil filter, the valves, the pistons and the exhaust to find anomalies that are better predictors of when I should change my oil to prevent deterioration of my car.

Predictive maintenance is one such IoT/M2M solution that helps lower operating and capital costs by facilitating proactive servicing and repair of assets, while allowing the more efficient use of repair resources – both human labor and replacement products. See Fig. 1.

Figure 1: Traditional maintenance scheduling versus predictive maintenance for assets [Source: Analysys Mason, 2013]

Figure 1: Traditional maintenance scheduling versus predictive maintenance for assets [Source: Analysys Mason, 2013]

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Securing the Internet-of-things world

Like all hardware, applications and services in the communications and IT world, the Internet of things (IoT) must be secure. Think about all those billions of devices connected in 10 year. Now think about all the rich, personal data collected on those devices, flying over networks, stored on virtualized servers, and accessed by various end-users of the data. We need to consider the security implications of IoT devices and the systems surrounding them. I postulate that the risks are greatest where sensor data are combined with customer information are stored in large volumes on enterprise servers (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Security risk level for a simple Internet-of-things architecture [Source: Analysys Mason, 2012]


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