October 20, 2014

New Leadership and the Internet of Things

By ·

Chris Rezendes, Founder and Partner, INEX Advisors


We are leaving one age and entering another. The information age is waning and we are entering something new. Something beyond social, mobile and the cloud. The great synthesis perhaps. Between virtual and physical. Digital and analog. Silicon and carbon.

Maybe, through the intelligent, intentional instrumentation of the physical world, we will create new ground truth. About water. Arable land. Energy. Population health. Nurtition.

And with that ground truth, perhaps we will create more trust? And leadership. And meaning.

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Three maxims, three tactics, three examples of the new leadership expressing itself in IoT

During our TEDx talk on IoT last year, we were thrilled to share three maxims of emerging leadership in IoT. These are elements of a vision that we see over and over again in some of the most compelling IoT startups in the world.

  1. Grand challenges before small conveniences
  2. People above machines
  3. Faces more than screens

In an INEX post recently, we defined three ways that the new leadership in IoT is creating a new class of products, services and experiences, based in part on a new set of technical, commercial and social values. These are a core set of common tactics evident in some of the most powerful IoT solutions deployed today.

  1. Human-centered – or accessible analytics for anyone
  2. Persistent sockets – or the rise of reliable hardware
  3. Transparent business models – or the rise of authentic value over edge

And here they are. Three IoT companies with approaches that map – at the conceptual level with the maxims, and at the tactical level with the development approaches – to a number of elements of an emerging new leadership. In IoT. In national security and public safety. In resource management. In agriculture.

Blueforce Development. Mike Helfrich’s team enables remote teams from multiple entities to rapidly stand-up manage and tear-down secure networks of people, proximate sensors and remote services. Securely. While the business began in the Tier 1 SOF (Special Operations Forces) and Intelligence communities, versions of these capabilities are now available to first responders and enterprises deploying mobile workers across a number of vertical markets.

Clearly a human-centered approach to IoT, Blueforce is a brilliant example of the faces more than screens maxim by delivering a single pane of glass common operating picture that enables operators to see only what they need to see quickly, accurately, actionably. They can get in a screen, get what they need, and get out quickly.

Wellntel. Marian Singer and Nicholas Hayes have been bridging the mechanical engineering and geohydrology worlds, the real time control and extreme remote telemetry domains for nearly 20 years. Their work made them global experts on pump equipment and machinery management. Their IoT company Wellntel goes beyond the pump to instrument the groundwater BEFORE it is consumed.

Two of the strongest value propositions in their solution include: The design of their device, optimized to operate at the wellhead for years, and their focus on creating a business in profitable sustainability for them, well owner/ operators, and a number of other interested stakeholders.

Farmobile. Jason Tatge and his partners brought commodities markets to farmers on their hand held devices in the last decade. His new company aims to bring precision agriculture to the mid-sized, family and small scale agriculture operations. From application- specific sensors for ag equipment, machinery and ambient environments, to a cloud-based electronic farm record suitable for delivering regulator-authenticated intelligence, Farmobile is enable another revolution in ag, food, nutrition, population health and rural economic development.

There are a number of things unique about the Farmobile model, but, two map most closely to the maxims and tactics checklists: People above machines, and transparent business models. Each Farmobile client secures a licensing agreement that enables them to define the authorization of the re-exploitation of their data to 3rd/ 4th/ 5th parties – and share in the revenue from those subscriptions.

Oh, all three will be in Boulder Colorado November 9-11 at the Worlds Greatest Problem Solvers.

October 20, 2014