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The Internet of Things: insight from Bsquare

The Internet of Things (IoT) provides a myriad of challenges and opportunities for businesses of all sizes in just about every industry. Without question, IoT means more than just adding intelligence to devices and connecting them to the Internet, it’s about generating data from those intelligent devices that can be used to improve business outcomes and processes.

Some use cases for which these very solutions can help businesses drive down costs or create new revenue streams include asset utilisation, predictive failure, data-driven diagnostics, device management, condition-based servicing, and asset optimisation.

We spoke to Jerry Chase, CEO of Bsquare, to find out more.

1. What is your perspective on the IoT market?

When we look at the market, we see a lot of vendors talking about their solutions but not the tangible benefits their customers can realise. IoT holds great promise but unless it’s approached as a component of a larger effort to drive business benefits it will likely languish (or perish) as nothing more than an interesting science experiment.

2. What are challenges facing the IoT market?

Currently, nobody buys “IoT” or calls up tech support to say, “my IoT is broken.” The challenge for businesses is understanding why you need this technology, what aspects of it are beneficial to your business and what outcomes will result from deploying it.

Another hurdle vendors face is the misperception and confusion about what IoT is.

For instance, Machine to Machine (M2M) is not IoT. M2M is an important foundational technology that is to IoT what IP is to the Web, but in and of itself is not IoT. Remote management is not IoT as it only leverages M2M but assumes human monitors will make sense of data and then implement any insight. Another common misperception is that data analytics, by itself, is IoT. Market participants, both vendors and customers, need to take a more holistic perspective regarding what IoT can do for them in order to overcome these challenges.

Again, no one is purchasing IoT, they are purchasing business outcomes. As such, we’ve found that focusing on starting conversations with the business problems, not technologies, is key in establishing relationships within various vertical markets. As well, finding ways to close the loop from collecting data, analysing it and baking it into real-time business operations and workflows to achieve specific use cases, will help Bsquare maintain our position in vertical industries.

4. What are the biggest challenges customers are facing today? Are you seeing real deployments or just proof of concepts out in the field?

The plethora of platform solutions creates issues for customers given that they represent just the foundation of an IoT system and require significant additional work before they can be used to address business issues. This makes it difficult to successfully plan and implement IoT systems.

This is one of the reasons that large-scale product deployments of full IoT systems have been somewhat rare. At Bsquare, we provide platform components as part of the solution, and can leverage AWS and Microsoft Azure IoT platform offerings, but we’ve also provided all of the application components required for industrial customers to see tangible results fairly quickly.

Regarding deployments, we’re not seeing many announcements with any monetary figures attached and as such, we do see more proofs-of-concept than actual real-world deployments. Bsquare recently announced a $4M+ commitment from a Fortune 500 company to deploy our DataV solution and hope to share more customer wins in the future.

5. Identify your partners and how they fit into your strategy?

Bsquare is a member of the AWS Partner Network (APN) and we offer DataV, a complete IoT software stack, powered by AWS IoT, a managed cloud platform. Bsquare is also working with Microsoft to ensure DataV is able to fully utilise the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite and Microsoft Azure IoT Hub.

DataV can operate within on-premises environments, hybrid infrastructures and public clouds like AWS and Azure. Our strong partnership with AWS enables our flagship offering, DataV to scale its solution to hundreds of thousands of assets in the field in various vertical markets. Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite and IoT Hub offer Bsquare customers the opportunity to take advantage of maximum flexibility in deployment options.

With Azure and AWS as partners, Bsquare provides customised IoT solutions to deliver real-world business outcomes. These outcomes cut across many vertical markets, but share common use cases that ensure increased asset uptime, reduced service and warranty costs, and lead to better designed and more reliable products and services.

6. What are your distinguishing factors/competitive differentiators?

First, Bsquare’s DataV solution is a complete, yet modular IoT software stack, meaning customers can utilise DataV in a variety of ways, no matter what void they’re trying to fill or problem they’re trying to solve. This flexibility provides many options for customers and we’ve found that every solution in industrial environments is unique unto itself.

Secondly, we have strong partners with AWS and Azure that will help us scale. We are a smaller company but we are much more focused, and more experienced than startups coming forward with platforms as Bsquare has a heritage of embedding operating systems in “dumb” things.

Lastly, Bsquare provides DataV IoT Services, a rich array of systems integration and professional engineering services that ease implementation and successfully help organisations roll out IoT systems touching potentially dozens of internal and external systems as well as hundreds of thousands of connected devices.

7. Do you offer professional system integration services? Do businesses need professional services to integrate your solution?

Yes, we provide hardware and software engineers, systems integration capabilities, and data scientists to help customers make a seamless transition to IoT. We offer professional DataV IoT services to accelerate adoption and ease the implementation process that include IoT Systems Integration, Application Development and Platform Development. Our in-house talent is able to add to products before and after market. We believe that dropping a product off at a customer’s doorstep is insufficient. Most customers need help after that and that’s where we take the initiative to support and provide professional services after the product is delivered.

8. What kind of savings or efficiencies can be gained when a trucking company applies your system for the above-mentioned use cases? Or share an example of a use case where you were able to help solve their challenges.

DataV technology can help fleet operators to go beyond remote diagnostics by applying real-time logic and automation to telematics data, providing accurate information when it is needed most. Repair times can be reduced through optimised repair plans that increase service centre throughput and automate warranty claim processing. DataV analytics can be used to predict failure events and maximise the performance of the fleet ensuring uptime, a key performance metric in fleet management.

Example use case:
A large commercial truck manufacturer can use DataV to improve asset uptime, reduce warranty exposure, drive down service costs, and improve product design. By extracting data from large fleets of trucks, customers can accurately predict failures before they occur and the repairs required to prevent them. Service technicians can be given precise, data-driven remediation steps and this information can be tied into warranty claims systems, ensuring prompt and accurate payments.

Jerry Chase, CEO at Bsquare