Nicolas Windpassinger, Schneider Electric: On why culture trumps technology in IoT adoption

The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming into the enterprise; there is no doubt about that. The thought of the work executives have to undertake in their organisation to accommodate digital transformation is only eclipsed by the thought of what happens if their firm gets left behind. In other words, if you don’t digitize, you die.

Not this correspondent’s words – but those of Nicolas Windpassinger (pictured), global partner program vice president at Schneider Electric. His new book (left) offers little in the way of compromise. “The title is a good explanation that you need to change, you need to evolve, all of us, personally and professionally,” he tells IoT News. “If you don’t evolve or learn, you’ll die, and your competition is going to take care of you.”

The window of opportunity to take advantage of IoT, Windpassinger argues, is gradually shutting. But the problem has always been the lack of magic formula to make things work. If it were so easy, everyone would be doing it by now; we wouldn’t have to wear out shoe leather pounding round industry events, or reading every analyst report we can get our hands on.

For Windpassinger, this point of getting past the ‘you want to succeed, you need to be IoT’ one size fits all mentality is key. Companies – and company cultures – differ. “It’s very interesting,” he says. “If you go to an IoT event, you look at the startups, you look at the companies… they’re selling technology, but what are they solving? What is their core value proposition?

“Very often we say to succeed in the IoT you need to be a startup. Well the reality is that it’s not true, and there’s quite a bit of literature on that,” adds Windpassinger. “If you are a pioneer, and you have been very successful in your marketplace, it’s easier for big or medium-sized companies with a strong legacy of customers to digitize from the edge.

“Everybody talks about Uber – they’re always the same stories. They’re really the exception – if you look at the literature, a small company has a lot of difficulty to beat a well-established pioneer.”

Yes, there is no magic formula, no one page or sentence that enables organisations of all sizes just to flick a switch and ‘become IoT’. However, whatever the size of your organisation, as the book details, there are common steps that can be taken. The book outlines what it calls an IoT4 methodology, going through each section; how the IoT structures itself from a technology perspective; offering differentiation strategies; different business models; and transitioning from an analogue to a digital customer experience. If you don’t know the rules of the game, how can you expect to win, as the prologue puts it?

Don’t expect this book to be a tech-heavy trudge, though. This is for two reasons; firstly, anyone who has read such tomes knows the majority of the material is out of date by the time it hits the shelves; and secondly, because it’s difficult to predict how the market – particularly though standardisation – will go.

On the standards issue, Windpassinger recounts being at an industry event a couple of weeks ago, and the impression was clear. “You look at all those standards, it’s just crazy,” he says. “Everybody is designing their alliance, or their ecosystem based on their specific use case, or based on [something else]… since there is no global standard, everybody teams up.

“Is it going to last like this? Are some of the consortia going to team up and try to go for these global standards? Honestly, I don’t really know, and I don’t think anyone on the market really knows where it’s going to go.”

Neither is Digitize or Die a guide to help organisations sort out their customer value proposition – the book assumes companies already have that bit tied down – but where the book excels is around giving examples of companies who have successfully digitised, alongside companies who failed, as well as how the cultural side, instead of the technological focus, remains a key theme.

“The middle management is key to successful or unsuccessful digital transformation,” says Windpassinger. “It’s an education book for the middle management – or the top leaders who can use the book towards their middle management to initiate change.

“The core idea of the book is really that digital transformation is a people transformation more than a technology transformation, and to be able to initiate change at the management level, it’s about educating those people, creating a sense of urgency amongst them, and be able to explain to them,” he adds. “Yes, it’s a threat, yes, it’s a struggle, we as a company can choose not to do anything, but in a couple of years it’s going to be very difficult, or we consider that we need to transform ourselves as a company – and this begins by educating people about the different options.”

Editor’s note: You can find out more about Digitize or Die and purchase it here. All benefits from the book will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association and Fondation de France.

Read more: Digitize or Die book extract: The importance of leadership and middle management for IoT

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Internet of Warnings: How Smart Technology Can Threaten Your Business’s Security

security is a concern with iot

Science fiction technology may not be as far off as we believe. The Internet of Things (IoT) uses the powerful combination of Wi-Fi and cloud technology to send information and perform actions through devices with Internet capabilities. This advance stems from the use of telemetry, decades-old machine-to-machine communication via wired sensors and transmitters. Now the wires have been replaced by radio waves that transfer a nearly infinite amount of data.

IoT technology ranges from entire smart cities that streamline traffic to fridges that detect when you’re low on milk and order it for you, among many other products and services. Devices such as Fitbit and Nest are growing in popularity due to their low price, practicality, and variety of automatic functions. Nearly any object you use regularly can be exchanged for a “smart” version that logs usage, performs tasks for you, or learns your schedule and changes the environment accordingly—rapidly making the ubiquitous dream of a “smart house” a present reality.

How can the Internet of Things be utilized in business?

The Internet of Things is becoming more prevalent, so it’s likely your business has considered a switch to some form of IoT device. Self-driving delivery trucks and self-monitoring security systems are industry-specific, but every business benefits from smart lighting and thermostats that reduce energy costs. Retail markets can use IoT to keep an accurate and immediate inventory, while devices like Square can turn your smartphone or tablet into a hassle-free cash register.

Though IoT technology is still relatively new, the potential economic impact looms on the horizon. Constant updates on the status and stock of households and workplaces means the average consumer is likely to purchase more products than they would buy on their own. All industries have the potential to use this technology to increase sales and efficiency wherever needed. IoT devices may eventually replace human counterparts who once performed the same function.

How can you secure your Internet of Things technology?

Security is the biggest risk factor when incorporating IoT technology into your business. Some factors you should take into consideration before committing to an IoT upgrade:

  • Hacking: The most widespread IoT fear also happens to be the most rampant. If there’s a security loophole in a device that stores your credit card number or other personal information, hackers will try to exploit this vulnerability, often without encountering firewalls or other obstacles. Your safety could be compromised further by hackers who take over the entire system and hold your devices at ransom or even use your hardware to launch attacks against others without your knowledge. Understanding how your data is stored and accessed is something you must be aware of when considering an IoT device for your business.
  • Surveillance: Any device with a microphone or camera can potentially be activated by a remote user with the right knowledge. That’s why sites that seek out the IP addresses of webcams with unprotected open ports stream millions of private video feeds to viewers willing to pay. Familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your device and the permissions its software may have to be sure no one can eavesdrop on you. Read the fine print!
  • Company Security Policies: How does the manufacturer manage the security of their devices? Device security is the responsibility of the individual company, and since there aren’t yet any laws protecting IoT security, most companies depend on self-regulation and self-reporting. What safeguards has the company put in place to protect you, the consumer? What happens to your device if the company goes out of business?
  • Education and Caution: People can become reliant on smart technology, so it’s important to know the hidden downfalls of using these devices in your business. Employees who come in contact with a company IoT device should be aware of the possible threats and security breaches they can cause.

Most of the security concerns with IoT technology have to do with the engineering of the devices themselves. For this reason, knowledge and discretion are the most important safeguards to take when considering the switch to an interconnected network of smart devices. Though it may be fun to imagine your work computer booting up when it senses your car pulling into the parking lot, the vulnerabilities of this technology cast a long shadow on its practicality.

This article is brought to you by Mark Anderson, CEO of Anderson Technologies, an IT Consulting firm in St. Louis.

The post Internet of Warnings: How Smart Technology Can Threaten Your Business’s Security appeared first on ReadWrite.

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The Pixel 2 uses “Fused Video Stabilization,” and the technology behind it is incredible

With its new Pixel 2 phones, Google introduced something called Fused Video Stabilization which fixes the so-called “terminator effect” the original Pixels suffered. It’s a proprietary combination of optical image stabilization, electronic image stabilization, and the company’s fancy machine learning tech. Its results are stellar, giving Google’s Pixel 2 phones one of the best, if not the best, video capturing results out there. Since we know that it works well, now the burning question is: how does it work?

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The Pixel 2 uses “Fused Video Stabilization,” and the technology behind it is incredible was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Apple’s 2nd-Gen HomePod Rumored to Feature Face ID Technology

Apple’s first HomePod speaker isn’t even out yet, but there are already rumors coming out of the supply chain about its next-generation successors.

Inventec Appliances, the manufacturer that produces Apple’s HomePod, as well as its AirPods wireless earbuds, is looking toward the future of smart speaker trends. Inventec’s president, David Ho, said that smart speaker companies are already looking to “incorporate features such as facial and image recognition,” Nikkei reported on Saturday.

While Inventec Appliances produces smart speaker products for companies like Sonos, market analysts believe that it is Apple that Ho is referring to — and specifically “the next generation of Apple’s HomePod.” Jeff Pu, an analyst for Yuanta Investment Consulting, said that Apple could roll out a HomePod with 3D-sensing cameras (necessary for Face ID) by 2019.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about a camera-equipped HomePod. In May of last year, CNET reported that Apple’s then-rumored Echo competitor could sport facial recognition technology. Of course, when WWDC ’17 came around, Face ID was nowhere to be found.

Still, that doesn’t mean that future HomePod won’t have facial recognition technology. Apple is rumored to expand the number of products that use Face ID next year, including its 2018 iPad Pro devices, as well as across the entire 2018 iPhone lineup. On the HomePod, Face ID could enable clever features like automatic user profile switching based on who is currently in the room.

The Taiwanese-based Inventec Appliances is currently the sole supplier of Apple’s HomePod device this year. According to analysts, Inventec will ship a fairly low amount of HomePod devices this holiday season — about 50,000 units by year’s end, according to Arthur Liao of Taipei-based Fubon Securities.

That production will pick up next year, but analysts are still on the fence about how the demand for the product will play out. “According to supply-chain checking, Apple is set to make 4 million units of HomePod in 2018, but we are currently about conservative about whether the demand who’ll be that good,” Liao added.

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Three tips for fighting the holiday blues with technology


The holidays are soon to arrive and while most of us are looking forward to seasonal cheer, approximately 60 percent of us are also going to be stressed out and prone to the holiday blues. We’re lucky enough to have some technology that can help with that, and there’s no better time than right now to start planning. Everyone has mental health. And just like our waistlines, we tend to let our emotional state go during the holidays. Some 64 percent of those diagnosed with a mental illness say their symptoms worsen during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s…

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