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The Demands of Interconnectivity: Radix's Assessment of the IoT Industry

January 20th, 2023

It’s no secret that navigating IoT can feel complicated; labyrinthine even, like a digital, data-packed web to be unspun. Not to mention the whole of the IoT market is on a fast-tracked upturn as its sectors experience major growth. So in order to best traverse IoT, going into it with a streamlined plan is essential.

In determining a plan that’s the best-fit possible for your business, one name that is very much worth the consideration is Radix IoT. Radix IoT is an intuitive, scalable, and unified platform for critical facilities’ data collection, limitless remote monitoring, and process management rooted in intelligence. The Radix IoT commercial platform has designed everything to be self-service, and it allows critical infrastructure to run even when it isn’t possible for someone to be on location. It unifies IoT Devices, BMS, SCADA and PLCS, and it offers comprehensive, software-based solutions with a convenient, three-step recipe:

  • It starts with Mango OS, a flexible IoT core. Mango OS installs on most edge-based hardware and runs in the cloud, enabling sure-fire connectivity when building.

  • With Mango OS installed, the Radix IoT Cloud allows for configuration, secure central management, visualization and analytics of tens of thousands of global locations.

  • Finally, Radix IoT includes (as mentioned) everything to be self-service; even a free version used to replace PLC and SCADA with systems at the edge. And Radix IoT offers comprehensive professional services to get you up and running in no time, as well. (With cost-effective prices, to boot.)

To examine more of the ins and outs of Radix IoT and the IoT industry’s state, we got the chance to speak with Michael C. Skurla, Chief Product Officer at Radix IoT. The company will also be in attendance (and holding a session) at IoT Evolution Expo, taking place from February 14-27, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Here’s what Michael had to say:

IoT applications are achieving scale these days. What are your thoughts as to what is contributing to IoT's accelerating growth?

Several factors are contributing to the accelerated growth of IoT. These include:

  1. The decreasing cost of IoT devices and sensors, making them more accessible to consumers and businesses.

  2. The increasing availability of high-speed internet and wireless networks, which allows for more efficient communication and data transfer between devices.

  3. The growth of cloud computing and big data analytics, which enables the storage, management, and analysis of large amounts of data generated by IoT devices.

  4. The increased use of IoT in various industries, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation, which is driving innovation and creating new opportunities for growth.

  5. Advancement in technologies like 5G, AI, and edge computing which are enabling more powerful and sophisticated IoT applications. This also includes the greater acceptance of standards for communications of devices, making interconnectivity more ‘out of the box.’

  6. The increasing need for automation and remote monitoring in various industries spurred by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, now proven to reduce OpEx in many cases.

Do you think we have enough professionals skilled in IoT applications and deployment, or does the industry need to hire and train more people?

The demand for professionals with skills in IoT applications and deployment is growing exponentially, though the skillset is illusive, as it is often tied to the context of the application. What is IoT in healthcare is very different than IoT in home automation. The availability of people with the necessary skills within verticals is not keeping pace. Companies need to make a concerted effort in training to allow skilled individuals with a context in the companies’ industry to expand their technical knowledge to include IoT applications, systems, and solutions.

Private Networking, be it with LoRaWAN or Cellular, is on the rise. What are your thoughts about these trends and what we should expect in the future?

The use of private networks, such as LoRaWAN and cellular networks, for IoT applications is definitely on the rise. This is due in part to the increasing number of connected devices and the need for secure, reliable, and low-cost communication between said devices.

LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) is well-suited for IoT applications that require long-range communication, such as in smart cities, agriculture, and industrial IoT (IIoT). It operates in the unlicensed spectrum, which allows for low-cost deployment and easy scaling. Configuration is the key here and, as devices become more standardized, efforts need to be made to allow this technology to integrate with fewer hurdles into IoT frameworks or ecosystems.

Cellular networks, on the other hand, are widely available, with good coverage and fairly decent bandwidth for IoT applications given the typical low payload requirements per device. They offer clear advantages over public networks in security and can scale exceptionally well. However, they are more expensive to deploy and maintain than unlicensed networks, and compliance standards for hardware manufacturers are complex and expensive through programs such as PTCRB.

We are already seeing a combination of both private and public networks being used for IoT. The choice of network will depend on the specific requirements of the application and the available infrastructure. As cellular networks are evolving to 5G and private networks are expanding, the demand for low-power, low-cost and private networking will increase. There will always be a trade-off between cost and features between technologies such as LoRaWAN and cellular. The key will be who can lower the technical barrier of entry to drive more rapid adoption.

In addition to this, the use of edge computing and network slicing will become more prevalent as it allows for low-latency and low-power processing of data closer to the source. This will aid use cases such as real-time monitoring and control of industrial processes, improved security and privacy, and more efficient use of network resources.

How has your company changed in the last few years? What IoT applications or technologies are driving your growth?

The fastest increase has been in alternative energy. As technologies such as solar and wind become more prevalent worldwide, they also become more unwieldy, requiring remote management and monitoring at scale, all in locations where getting people to troubleshoot or repair is prohibitive in short order.

Originally these generation technologies were relying on older technologies such as SCADA solutions. However, they didn’t scale across locations well, and were cumbersome to configure and manage at scale. IoT platforms such as the Radix IoT Mango solution have solved this dilemma by offering an open solution that is vastly more scalable and is IT-native, allowing massive rollouts without requiring big custom development efforts.

Is there any recent news from your company you would like to talk about?

We put a significant effort into the Radix IoT Cloud offering through 2022 and are releasing it in 2023. This cloud-first model of an IoT Platform is using the tried-and-tested Mango OS platform to allow for an easy-to-deploy solution geared to critical infrastructure and high reliability. In the past, users were forced to learn how to manage their own cloud environments and databases. Now with the Radix IoT Cloud, when paired with Mango, it makes for an easier and more affordable solution that takes long-term expenses and labor out of data-driven monitoring and management for a variety of applications including telecommunications infrastructure, smart buildings, alternative energy plants, factory automation, and datacenter operations.

We saw some big mergers and acquisitions in 2022. What should we expect in 2023?

There are many that happened in 2022, however the most notable were:

  • Schneider Electric, which already owned nearly 60% of Aveva, took over Aveva for an increased valuation of $11.6 billion. Schneider had tried to do this twice before and finally succeeded. This strengthens its EcoStruxure platform. It is important to note that in 2021, Aveva acquired OSIsoft, who produces a leading data management platform for industrial operations.

  • Semtech announced its intention to acquire IoT module and wireless communications equipment manufacturer Sierra Wireless in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. This brings together what are considered best-in-class modules into one potential offering in the future with LoRa and cellular. They also stated they will combine the two companies’ cloud services platforms. The deal is still pending approval from the DOJ.

  • Siemens Infrastructure acquired Brightly Software for $1.6 billion. U.S.-based Brightly Software provides asset and maintenance management SaaS solutions to a wide variety of applications including medical, clinical care, education, government and more. This acquisition will help Siemens build its share as a software provider for building technologies as well as smart city applications.

Are there more? Sure. Lots, and 2023 will see this continue. You will see many hardware companies continue to attempt their inroads into SaaS revenue models by entering into the software industry. It has been a fairly mixed bag of success and failure for companies entrenched in hardware to adapt to this model, but when they succeed it is truly transformative (and profitable).

We have experienced some supply chain issues across a variety of industries. How has this made the use of IoT more essential?

IoT and the technologies that drive it have become increasingly essential in recent years due to the electronics supply chain issues that have affected various industries. IoT technology in logistics and JIT manufacturing alone have allowed companies to better track and manage their supply chain operations, which can help to mitigate the impacts of disruptions and ensure continuity of supply.

A good example of this in supply chain management is using IoT-enabled sensors in shipments. (Something that just a few years ago was prohibitively expensive). These devices can be placed on products, shipping containers, and other assets to track their location, temperature, humidity, and other factors. As sensor prices decrease, this is becoming much more commonplace. This data can then be analyzed to identify potential issues, such as delays, bottlenecks, or damage to products, and appropriate action can be taken to resolve them. Examples of this even exist in residential applications where various news articles have been published on how Apple AirTags have been able to find people’s lost luggage before the airlines can. Tracking will become more common in all respects, including indoor navigation services.

Additionally, IoT technology can help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of supply chain operations by enabling companies to automate processes, reduce labor costs, and improve coordination between different actors in the supply chain. This can help to minimize the risk of disruptions and improve overall supply chain performance.

Overall, IoT has become a key tool for companies to manage their supply chain in a more effective way, allowing them to anticipate and prevent disruptions, improve efficiency and customer satisfaction, and better manage the end-to-end process.

Some IoT solutions are more fascinating than others – for example, the IoT rat trap or the living wall. What IoT applications have you implemented or heard about that caught your attention?

For any IoT application to be successful, it needs to be frictionless and improve something that was a manual task or allow something to be discovered that was difficult to ascertain in the past. Though we commonly talk about residential IoT applications, smart cities and healthcare, I think one of the most interesting applications that is fairly underserved currently is in agriculture. The technology is fairly simple, and the science is proven, but the market reach hasn’t happened yet. This involves not only traditional farming but also vertical and urban farming. IoT sensors and devices can be used to collect data on crop growth, soil moisture, and weather conditions, which can then be analyzed to optimize planting, irrigation, and harvesting. This can help farmers to increase yields, reduce water consumption, and improve crop quality.

If you had a magic wand, what would you do to progress the industry?

IoT technology is really the concept of the interconnectivity of everything; gathering data from everywhere to drive analytical outcomes now or in the future. The issue is this gathering part and is due to really messy (or non-existent) standards. Additionally, security is petrifying given the current rate of rollout and there is no going back. There is little effort to standardize more between industries when it comes to communications protocols, data organization, and data portability. This needs to change through nimble standards bodies that do not exist. The best out there currently is IoTSF, which is trying to bring some sense to the chaotic world of data security in the IoT space is.

Why are you excited about IoT Evolution Expo 2023? Why should attendees be sure to stop by your booth in the exhibit hall?

IoT Evolution is truly a unique show bringing together customers and manufacturers from the software, hardware, and carrier spaces. It fosters a unique environment that is unlike most other shows and conferences. It’s hands down just an enjoyable experience.

Are you speaking at IoT Evolution Expo 2023? If so, what is the session and why is it a must-attend?

Our session will be “Creating Smart Infrastructure in IoT-Enabled Synergistic Building Portfolios”

Buildings have, for decades, generated a tremendous amount of data. But this data was left locked up and siloed in proprietary ecosystems and only used for diagnostics and fault detection. Many of these devices, wrapped in obfuscated protocols by building technology vendors, make it difficult–if not impossible–to use data for auxiliary purposes. This session explores how existing infrastructure is being modernized to drive outcome-based analytics to improve business performance. This is not a rip-and-replace philosophy, and it explains how IoT platforms are transforming how systems work in buildings to drive the most effective outcomes. This session will also focus on the dilemma of multi-site operations at scale (hundreds, if not thousands of locations), and how this is now becoming easy and the norm.

For more information about this year’s IoT Evolution Expo, click here. Radix IoT will be in Booth #562 in the exhibit hall.