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  • Afzal Mangal

Less IoT is more


Wonder how this piece of art will fix one of the problems within the IoT ecosystem? Let’s start with a question that someone asked me recently: ‘Are there relationships between AI and 5G?’ I just said: ‘I don't know’. Then he asked me some questions about VR and AR use cases. I gave him the same answer. Of course I’m honored that he finds me worthy of such topics. And of course I read some articles about these topics. But I don’t have the right to share my view on these topics. The same goes for other hyped topics like blockchain infrastructures and crypto currencies. Yes, I have a job in the tech industry. But that doesn’t mean that I have knowledge about these topics. When it comes to these topics, I have nothing more than information. And the thing with information is, in my opinion it is not enough to guide other people.




Then we also have some cloud consulting companies and system integrators with a ‘holy book’ for IoT. They can tell you which cloud platform you need, which application protocol, security protocol, how to create a business case, how to transform your organization and business. They know everything about IoT. They stepped into the IoT ecosystem just based on the information that cloud and platforms are part of the value chain. So why not step in and try to solve everything? But unfortunately they are only making things more complex. I’ve asked different end users with a potential business for IoT transformation to get in touch with a few of these consultancies, and they came back very confused or without a clue what IoT can do for their business. As I stated, I never talk based on just having some information. But I’m unstoppable when I talk about IoT. It’s my craftsmanship. However, when I read these ‘holy’ end-to-end IoT guidelines, I even get the idea that IoT transformation is not possible and will never happen at all.


Try to Google ‘Internet of Things’ and you will get more search results than the current amount of IoT devices. Every time a person talks about IoT just based on information, he/she is only adding another dot on the paper. However, we don’t need more dots. We need connections between the dots.

Most of these ‘ dot-placing’ people and companies are trying to find a role in the IoT ecosystem based on extrinsic motivation like profits and power. Not only the above mentioned organizations, but we could also look at the operator who’s trying to sell end-to-end solutions while he still didn’t fix the sim problem which you still need to put in your device. They try to get a big piece of the pie which is called the ‘iot value chain’. The theory behind this, is that it should bring a lot of revenue. But tell me one thing.. If everyone is trying to fix all parts of IoT, who is going to take care of the smaller parts? Trying to fix each part of the IoT value chain is similar to the all-you-can-eat restaurant where they serve Indian curries, chinese dim sum and japanese sushi. Nothing is tasty and and sometimes you even end up with food poisoning.


Last week I met a representative of a telecom infrastructure company. "Hi Afzal, we are also intending to do something with IoT and we want to do everything. Sensors, embedded development, connectivity and we even want to deliver integrations with IoT platforms etc. Can you bring me in touch with some potential customers?" I told him about some verticals who are eager to scale-up from 10 pilot devices to 1000 ‘real live’ devices. Guess what he said?😅 “Are you joking Afzal, we need at least commitment for 50.000 devices. We cannot afford to spend time on such a small project.” This is crazy. How are we ever going to get those numbers if no one wants to take care of the first 1000? We are stuck and it really disappoints me.


But the solution is very obvious. Last week I went to Museum Voorlinden with my friend Ewout to get inspired by this new exposition “Less Is More”. We were looking at this masterpiece of art, just created with some stones and mirrors. Have you seen the result? Take a moment and have a close look. It’s amazing. Not only because the artist is a genius, but also because of the focus on less things.


Great. But what has it to do with IoT? The success of ‘less is more’ is proven by thingsboard.io. They created a masterpiece IoT platform. Have a look at their website. There is no ‘by the way, we also know which cellular module or connectivity bearer you need’. Less. The same goes for 1NCE, go and check out how they fixed the global IoT connectivity problem. Or Sodaq who made it easy for the entire world to start prototyping with IoT. Just by focusing on less and becoming the specialist in their field..


So yes, there are also a lot of good things happening in the world of IoT. But there are still many companies who need to adopt the concept of less is more. Talking less when you don’t have the knowledge will make it much easier for everyone around you. And it will also make you humble, which is the best way to become a leader. Focusing on less will bring quality within your business. Less is the way forward. Less is more.




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