August 6, 2014

Fulcrum Data in IoT: Why We Obsess About It And You Should Too

EVERYBODY and their grandparents in emerging IoT markets are launching ‘platforms’. Everyone. For anything.

Table salt application platform. Watchband notch selection platform. Navel lint analysis and interpretation platform.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of other IoT platforms that are in one stage or another of development or deployment. The vast majority of them will flame out as ‘platforms’. And while the success rate for some will be higher when they are positioned as application or asset-specific solutions, there will be blood.


The typical ‘shortfall’ reasons – leadership, execution, capital. But more importantly, another shortfall: value. There is little or no core value to the initial solutions these companies are developing, and yet, they are racing to announce themselves ‘platforms’ that others should be working with, supporting, promoting.

Too many talented, well-intentioned people are forgetting:

  1. Not everything on the planet should be instrumented.
  2. Not everything on the planet that should be instrumented should become a platform.
  3. Not everything on the planet that should be instrumented and should become a platform can.
    See ‘shortfall’ citation above.

In other words:

  1. A lot of people do not want to pay for instrumenting things just because they can. Period.
    Cool stuff + No Value = No customers.
  2. A lot of people do not want a lot of platforms for managing their digital/ virtual lives.
    Not in social. Not in IoT.
  3. A lot of people do not live purely logical, utilitarian lives. Humans are often emotional, illogical and messy. Wonderful maybe, but, not efficient.

Yeah, you read that right. I started three sentences with people.

IoT is about people first – above all else – including business and things and such.


We see these ideas applying at least in IoT. Maybe they were not the dominant axioms in social or mobile, but, remember, the ‘kids’ that drove social and mobile are now the adults that are part of driving  IoT. We highlighted some of this in a previous post.

So how can we increase the odds that an IoT startup will succeed?

Perhaps a concept we call ‘Fulcrum Data’ at INEX.

We define it in three parts:

  1. Define and deliver the fulcrum data.
  2. Define and deliver valuable services from that fulcrum data.
  3. Define and deliver policies on data privacy that a 12-year old can understand.

This conversation is too larger for one post, so I will start with fulcrum data.

What is fulcrum data?

Fulcrum Data is the specific data/ content/ payload that your brilliant, new IoT devices are going to produce that is currently not available, or available with severe limitations, or simply unreliable.

Remember when we thought we were geniuses for producing food pyramids?

Without getting too deep into this, I would ask you to consider simply one point:

1992:     Servings

2005:     Ounces

2010:     Caloric composition (nutritional value)

This kind of shift in thinking about nutritional evaluation is but a small part of the larger conversation. But, it is a conversation that is not limited to performance athletes, people with thyroid issues, or diabetes, or any other physical concern. This kind of thinking is becoming more and more mainstream.

People want the Fulcrum Data on the food that they are eating. They want the calories and the nutritional value, the sourcing and more.

Deployers of IoT solutions demand Fulcrum Data.

Heavy equipment fleet managers demand that their hours of service data be delivered in increments of minutes, not hours; and that the data be fused with tachometer feeds to produce ‘idle’ versus ‘work’ modes.

Ranchers and other livestock managers demand that their feed management systems deliver caloric and nutrient information not just weight or mass to determine feed program effectiveness.

Oil and gas field service providers demand that their well instrumentation compensate for pressure, temperature and moisture, not just pipe dimensions and flow rates to determine volume.

Fulcrum Data is critical to the delivery of ROI:

  1. From the first application deployed by the initial customer(s). Deployers are customers, not products.
  2. Quickly for customers in enterprise and individual markets. Months not years.
  3. Drives documented ROI opportunities for a broad range of 2/3/4 order subscribers. Fusion with other reliable, related data enables new subscription services to existing AND new customers.

To be clear, the total value potential of the fulcrum data is expanded exponentially when it is:

  1. Encoded with relevant metadata
  2. Authenticated from its source sensor through its value-chain
  3. Fused with complementary data from other sources
  4. Delivered in context-sensitive packages/ services/ subscriptions
  5. Secured to protect the privacy of the stakeholders accessing the data

However, your ability to grow your IoT business will turn on your ability to deliver value.

Your ability to deliver value will turn on your ‘Fulcrum Data’.

If your Fulcrum Data is that powerful, the market will tell you, and you will have your platform marching orders.

But start with the Fulcrum Data.



August 6, 2014