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Most businesses are eyeing the internet of things warily, prepping research projects or implementing pilots. At a minimum, they are reading about how other businesses are implementing connected systems. But according to Michael Simon, the CEO of LogMeIn, which owns the Xively cloud platform that supports many businesses’ internet of things efforts, the best way to get started in this journey is to start.
Simon, who is speaking with me at our Structure Connect event on Oct. 21 and 22, explained that many of the companies coming to his firm are entering entirely unknown territory when it comes to bringing connectivity and the data it can provide into their businesses. For example, many of the old-line companies don’t think of things that are fairly typical in the web world, such as capturing a customer’s email address.
“Relationships are the heart of business value, and so to bypass that relationship with a customer would be a huge cost to a business,” Simon said. However, it’s a new concept to a company that might be selling a washing machine or a temperature sensor for an industrial refrigerator inside a kitchen. And once LogMeIn’s customers add connected devices or sensors to their product lines, they see unanticipated advantages. For example, a company that installs connectivity inside a washing machine might do so because it seems like a feature the end-customer wants. But once the washing machine is installed in the home, it offers plenty of insights back to the manufacturers about how consumers use it or even where a product might fail.
That type of insight might allow a business to open up a services operation as well as sell physical goods. It even could lead to new products coming into the market. However, in order to make these things work, Simon and his staff must educate companies about more than email addresses. Many consumers and enterprises are concerned about the security and privacy risks that come with connectivity.
LogMeIn’s people are concerned about those risks as well. “We’ve had to turn away customers who have had insufficient security processes,” Simon said when discussing the initial steps companies must take to get their products or businesses set up in the Xively cloud. Yet despite the complexity of creating new processes and a potentially steep learning curve associated with getting old-line businesses connected, the rewards are many. As Simon points out, adding connectivity can “let old line businesses innovate faster and give them access to the benefits of Moore’s Law.”
That makes collecting a few emails worth it.