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plans and support for independent developers via a software development kit (SDK).
Heading the list of enterprise-friendly features is support for Microsoft’s Exchange server. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced it is working with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to build support for Exchange directly into the iPhone to satisfy the needs of business users, who want to be able to receive their corporate e-mail, contacts and calendar information from company servers, and IT departments who want to be able to manage it.
Apple said it will be supporting Microsoft’s ActiveSync protocol so the iPhone will work directly with corporate Exchange servers rather than what it said is the more complicated extra layer of communicating with a remote network operation centers (NOC)s (define), which devices like RIM’s BlackBerry rely upon. “That’s a more complex scenario that takes money and support and adds risk and reliability from time to time as we know,” said Apple’s vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, in an apparent reference to a recent RIM outage that lasted three hours.
“I don’t think anyone has fundamentally redefined the UI on mobile devices more than Apple,” he added. “A lot of the other phone manufacturers know how to tie features to buttons, but Apple’s redefined development from hardware to software. That’s disruptive.”
Jobs ceded most of the speaking time here at the company’s headquarters to other Apple executives and independent software developers, including chúng tôi which showed versions of their applications tailored to run on the iPhone.
An enterprise-ready iPhone?
Schiller said that, while the iPhone is “an amazing device,” there have been a lot of things “holding it back from being huge in the enterprise.” He then ticked off a series of features that enterprise companies felt would make the iPhone more appealing to big companies. Apple plans to deliver all of these features in the software update due out in June.
Heading the list is “great e-mail integration” with push e-mail from servers. Similarly, he said enterprise customers want calendar and contact information pushed out to their devices, a standard feature of RIM’s BlackBerry devices. IT departments will also be able to use Exchange Server to remotely wipe the iPhone clean or inoperable should it be lost or stolen. Rounding out the list, the iPhone will provide access to global address lists, built in support for Cisco’s IPSec (network security), VPN and certificates.
The finished iPhone SDK isn’t out yet. Today, Apple released a beta version of the iPhone SDK, with the full version and commercial availability of applications built using these new tools, slated for June. A new Apple App Store will be launched online this June as the exclusive way for developers to distribute applications built using the SDK. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the App Store would insure Apple has a measure of quality control and security over what applications get distributed. He claimed the goal isn’t to make money for Apple but to sell more iPhones.
“This is the best deal going for distributing mobile applications,” said Jobs.
The deal is that developers get to keep 70 percent of whatever they want to charge for their applications, while Apple keeps the remaining 30 percent for hosting, marketing and distribution. The developer doesn’t have to pay for credit card or other transaction fees. If they want to offer applications for free, there’s no charge. Jobs said this is the best way even the largest developer could hope to reach every iPhone user. New applications and categories will be featured much as music titles are on Apple’s iTunes store.
Jobs said Apple will only restrict distribution of certain applications like pornography and any “malicious” programs that spread viruses or malware. A few other categories he didn’t mention but that were shown on the screen were “bandwidth hogs” and “Unforeseen.” Jobs also said Apple will be able to track anyone that distributes malicious software allowing the company to “turn off the spigot” and distribution. “We can track who did it and tell their parents,” joked Jobs.
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Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a highly unique but profitable business model when combined with a successful marketing strategy.
Since the cost of hosting cloud networking and applications tends to be reduced with additional customers, SaaS companies need to grow their subscriber base quickly to thrive in a competitive market.
Over the years, I’ve found that many SaaS companies tend to focus more on paid acquisition for steady traffic flow and conversions. While this strategy certainly has short-term profitability, once you turn the faucet off, the traffic doesn’t come back.
For this reason, I recommend that most SaaS companies invest more into SEO as an all-encompassing strategy for growth.
Furthermore, the SEO strategies I list below will only improve your existing marketing efforts, whether you market your company using PPC, email, or social media.
With this in mind, I’d like to discuss some of the unique challenges SaaS companies face in the digital space and ways SEO can be used to overcome these challenges.
Then, I’ll provide nine actionable tips to help you improve your online presence and grow your business.5 Unique Digital Challenges For SaaS Companies 1. Economies Of Scale
As I stated in the introduction, SaaS marketers face a tough challenge in scaling SaaS businesses to a comfortable degree in order to offset the cost of hosting their cloud applications.
To achieve a lower cost of total ownership (TCO), SaaS companies need to build an effective network scale that:
Acquires new customers constantly.
Retains existing ones.
Entices customers to communicate with one another using the software to build a full-fledged network.
Instead, what’s needed is an omnichannel strategy that builds awareness organically through multiple channels.2. Levels Of Service
Many SaaS providers use varying business models, including self-service, managed service, and automated service models for customer support.
These models relate to the amount of support the SaaS vendor provides, which greatly affects the cost of managing and running their platforms.
In some ways, a managed or automated troubleshooting model could be a positive piece of marketing material.
But if your SaaS platform has a notoriously high learning curve, such as Salesforce, and you use a self-service model for customer support, you may need to invest heavily in educational materials and tutorials to assist customers as they learn about your products.3. Customer Acquisition Vs. Retention
While we focus heavily on customer acquisition to grow the network of a SaaS provider, keeping customers on the network is equally important.
Whether you rely on a one-time purchase or a subscription model, constantly iterating with new products, releases, and continual customer support is critical for maintaining steady growth for your business.
For this reason, SaaS companies need to invest in a wide-range marketing strategy that appeals to new and existing customers in different ways.4. Competing For Branded Keywords
Most of your keywords may be branded, which can be difficult to scale if no one is aware of your software or brand.
For this reason, a mix of PPC, link building, and high-level content will be critical to growing your brand’s name and people’s affiliation with your products.5. Optimizing For Search Intent
Finally, when you’re dealing with branded products and multiple keywords, it can be difficult to decipher intent.
As we’ll discuss, optimizing your funnel and content strategically around intent will be important for your overall SEO strategy.Benefits Of SEO For Sustainable SaaS Growth
Since SaaS companies rely on building economies of scale to reduce costs and increase profit, a long-term strategy like organic SEO makes the most sense for SaaS businesses.
Some of the benefits of SaaS SEO include:
Generating sustainable growth through steady customer acquisition.
Reducing the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) of each new customer.
Creating widespread brand awareness for your products.
Educating and retaining customers through highly authoritative content.
Improving overall omnichannel marketing performance.
The last point is interesting because most SaaS companies will typically use email marketing and paid media to attract and retain customers.
As a final point, increasing brand visibility around your software is perhaps the most important aspect of SEO.
Many products like Microsoft Office and G-Suite benefit from having more users on the platform because it reduces friction for people trying to communicate through two different products.
So by establishing yourself as a thought leader and building a loyal customer base using a mix of content and SEO, you can build out a wide-scale network of users that reduce hosting costs and accelerate your growth.
To get started, let’s discuss seven actionable SEO strategies for SaaS businesses.7 Actionable Ways To Scale SaaS Businesses With SEO 1. Establish The Fundamentals
First and foremost, you need to build a user-friendly site for people to download your products, contact customer support, and just read content.
Some technical fundamentals your website needs include:
Fast page speed.
Optimized images (quality and size).
Clear web structure.
Strategic keyword usage.
Clear calls-to-action (CTAs).
A sizeable crawl budget.
An XML sitemap.
No duplicate content issues.
Hreflang tags for international or multilingual users.
Once established, it will be easier to rank your website for authoritative content and keep users dwelling on it once they visit.2. Create Your Buyer Persona
Next, your team should develop a list of buyer personas you will pursue using multiple conversion tools. Input for buyer personas could be based on the following sources:
Sales and marketing teams.
Existing analytics sources (e.g., Google Analytics, Google Search Console, or Paid Media Channels).
Customer service representatives.
Direct feedback from customer surveys and interviews.
Now, your buyer personas or avatars will differ whether you’re targeting a B2C or B2B space.
In a B2C space, your buyer persona will be based on several demographic and psychographic inputs, including:
For example, if you were selling photo editing software, you would likely create separate avatars for professional/freelance photographers and also hobbyists.
On the other hand, your B2B persona will likely target specific people in an organization, such as managers, founders, or daily users.
For example, one marketing campaign and persona may focus on a software solution for sales teams and sales managers. At the same time, another campaign in the SEO space may target SEO managers looking to switch from existing products.
Once you have a list of buyer personas and avatars, you can create strategic campaigns with actionable solutions that appeal to these personas on both paid and organic channels.3. Optimize Content For All Stages of the Funnel
As a SaaS provider, you will likely need to create separate content for separate buyer’s personas, but also for new and existing customers.
In terms of acquisition, creating specific content at each stage of your individual sales funnel will increase your chances of conversion.
Create awareness that the user has a problem and that your software can solve it. Common marketing materials include:
Boosted social media posts.
Build interest in your products and find ways to engage with users.
For example, encouraging users to sign up for your newsletter or email service can be a great way to engage with users over time.
Engage with users further to push them closer to a conversion. Some common tactics include:
Free beta testing.
Purchase And Loyalty
Once a user has purchased one of your products, continue to engage them with special offers or educational content that improves their user experience and delivers satisfaction.4. Focus On The Right Keywords
Since the acquisition cost for early-stage SaaS providers is incredibly high, it’s important to curate a strategic organic keyword strategy that brings in qualified traffic to your website.
Some strategies to generate high-converting keywords and to use them appropriately include:
Target a list of your highest-converting PPC keywords.
Analyze what keywords competitors are bidding on and targeting organically.
Optimize for informational keywords (e.g., photo editing software: “How to enhance a photo”).
Leverage “integration” related terms if your software works with other products.
Focus on benefits (e.g., increase, improvement, automation, etc.).
List features (e.g., photo editing, red-eye removal, cropping, etc.).
Segment target keywords by intent across your sales funnel (e.g., informational keywords at the top of the funnel and keywords about features/benefits for mid-funnel content).
Optimize for lower volume, niche keywords with less competition to carve out market share.5. Build Out Topic Clusters For Authority
Once you have a list of keywords and an actionable content strategy for your funnel put in place, it’s time to execute.
Since SaaS products are fairly sophisticated and highly competitive, it’s ideal to follow Google’s E-A-T guidelines (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness) to craft your content.
In addition, I also recommend creating topic clusters around topics with similar content that reinforces the main topic to generate authority and answer as many user questions as possible.
HubSpot is a good example of a blog and SaaS platform that creates highly sophisticated content clusters around its main products, including blogs and user tutorials.
To create a topic cluster, start with a seed keyword that serves as the main topic, such as “Photography,” and create a series of related topics.
For example, Adobe provides a series of photography tips designed to educate users about and sell their products, such as Photoshop.
As a bonus, leverage community forums to further engage and educate users with common troubleshooting concerns with your products.6. Don’t Forget About Links
While backlinks are still a valuable ranking signal, I view backlinks as a more valuable promotion strategy.
If you follow my content tips above, you will create many linkable assets that naturally accrue backlinks and can be used for promotion to earn more.
For example, white papers, ebooks, surveys, studies, and tutorials provide great resources to educate people and cite information for their own research.
However, to gain early exposure and build links to content, follow these actionable tips below:
Guest post on popular blogs and websites to generate buzz.
Promote educational content on paid channels, such as Facebook and Google.
Email educational content to relevant people in your industry to build awareness.
Contact resource pages for links to your software.
Conduct roundup interviews with industry professionals.
Promote surveys and studies through press releases or paid channels.7. Tie Everything Together Across Multiple Channels
Finally, combine all of these strategies into an omnichannel strategy.
Using a mix of PPC for brand exposure, content to build authority, and organic SEO to scale customer acquisition will provide the best strategy to scale an early-stage SaaS business.
Combine your PPC and SEO keyword research to optimize your funnel and create a consistent marketing strategy that nurtures users from awareness to the decision stage.In Conclusion
SEO and SaaS don’t just sound alike, but they truly do go together.
Featured Image: /Shutterstock
AI projects can be anything, from calculating the chances of survival of fictional characters to diagnosing diseases and saving real lives. Microsoft Translator app
Microsoft is breaking the next barrier in multinational collaboration: Language. The new translator app uses neural machine translation technology to enable conversations, in both text and speech, across 60+ languages, for global teams. It even enables speakers of multiple languages to join the same conversation, translating one-to-many at the same time.Marketing and Sales Analytics
AI can be used to implement marketing and sales tracking along with predictions based on forecasting and analytics. This can work with keeping track of inventory and restocking as well when forecasting demand.Customer Recommendation
E-commerce has benefitted dramatically from AI. The finest example is Amazon and its customer recommendation system. This customer recommendation system has helped the platform in enhancing its income tremendously thanks to a better customer experience. You can try to build a customer recommendation system for an E-commerce platform, as well. You can use the browsing history of the customer for your data.Division of Emails
One of the latest trends in the cybersecurity market is email segregation using AI for detecting, tracking, and
analysing the keywords in the emails to filter the emails for spam and phishing emails. Spam emails are dangerous because if they are not controlled, it occupies the space, delivers the malicious payload, and can cause security vulnerabilities. Similarly, spear-phishing or targeted phishing emails are malicious and can collect personal information about an individual for malicious intents such as stealing the data or stealing the money from the bank accounts, etc.Chatbots
One of the best AI-based projects is to create a chatbot. You should start by creating a basic chatbot for customer service. You can take inspiration from the
present on various websites. Once you’ve created a simple chatbot, you can improve it and create a more detailed version of the same.Personal Assistants
On any phone/laptop today, there is an
AI-powered personal assistant
who can answer questions, set alarms, and reminders, place calls, etc. They study several artificial intelligence datasets and combine a bunch of AI methods like voice recognition, natural language processing, convolutional neural networks, long short-term memory, etc.Transcriber App
A transformer model extracts features from sentences and determines the importance of each word in a sentence. A transformer has an encoding and decoding component, both of which are trained end-to-end. You can build your own AI translator app with a transformer. To do this, you can load a pre-trained transformer model into Python. Then, transform the text you want to translate into tokens and feed it into the pre-trained model. You can use the GluonNLP library for this purpose. You can also load the train and test dataset for this AI project from this library.Advertising and Product Implications Facial Identification
Facial identification engines such as the one used in Facebook and the ones used by authorities to catch criminals are built using deep neural connections which help determine the connection between facial features by
analysing and going through various datasets. It is one of the best Artificial Intelligence projects to get involved with which can immediately read faces and come up with a hit if it has processed the face in its past data or if it detects the same face in the future.Camera-Based Detection of Fire and Localization
We examined some iPhone 13 cases from a trusted vendor in search of evidence backing up claims that the upcoming Apple smartphone might see some noteworthy design changes.
Overall, iPhone 13 design remains the same as its predecessor
A camera bump cutout hints at much larger lenses out the back
iPhone 13 may not have Touch ID embedded in its power buttonTaking a closer look at Totallee’s iPhone 13 cases
Most of the rumors mention minor design changes, with a few notable exceptions.
According to the rumor mill and reliable analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo, most of the iPhone 13 innovation is saved for a completely redesigned rear camera system on the back. With that in mind, we’ve decided to dress up our iPhone 12 in an upcoming iPhone 13 case from Totallee to see if we could spot any notable differences to tell you guys about.
So we went hands-on with these upcoming iPhone 13 cases from a California company, dubbed Totallee, that specializes in ultra-thin minimalist cases for iPhone. Totallee has been successfully releasing iPhone cases ahead of Apple’s event since 2013.The overall design stays the same…
Totallee’s cases suggest iPhone 13 design hasn’t changed much from that flat-edged look of the iPhone 12 family. Flat edges are here to stay, which is great. We should get a bit narrower notch and the entire phone could be a bit thicker at 7.57mm. If true, the difference between the new models and iPhone 12 ones, which come in at 7.4mm thick, could be indiscernible.
Cutouts for the volume buttons and the ringer switch on the left side show that even though existing cases may fit iPhone 13, the experience of using them leaves a lot to be desired.…But the camera bump has swelled
Focusing on the case’s rear side, we can instantly tell that the rumors mentioning a massive camera bump for iPhone 13 are probably true. This is corroborated by cases from other vendors. As you can see for yourself, the rear camera cutout extends to more than half the width of the phone, and all the lens cutouts seem to have increased in diameter as well. With a camera bump that large, there’ll be no mistaking iPhone 13 Pro Max for its predecessor.No Touch ID power button for you?
With iPad Air 4’s fullscreen design and no Face ID, Apple had to put a fingerprint sensor somewhere—that’s how we got a Touch ID power button. We heard whispers the same thing might happen with the next iPhone, but that doesn’t seem to be the case (pun intended).
The unchanged shape of the cutout for a power button seems exactly the same as that on the current iPhone 12 model. Rather than an elongated power button with an embedded fingerprint reader, this case seems to hint at an iPhone 13 without a Touch ID power button.Why Totallee?
For the tenth year in a row, Totallee has cases for Apple’s next smartphones ready. Just to be clear, the branding-free minimalistic design along with the dimensions of the iPhone 13 case pictured in this article have all been confirmed by Totallee’s vendor.
One of the nice touches that immediately jumped at us, save for that huge camera bump, is a raised camera ring on the back of the case. That’s extra protection for when your iPhone is laying flat on a table—the phone will still wobble because of the camera bump but at least the sapphire lens covers won’t be making direct contact with the surface.
This isn’t a sponsored article, but we can honestly claim you won’t regret buying one of these minimalist cases from Totallee, especially if your goal is for the beauty of your iPhone 13 to show off through a thin, light case that practically doesn’t add any bulk.
For further information, check out the Totallee website.
Listen to the podcast and read the full transcript below.
The Internet of Things is an emerging technology with a stunningly rapid growth curve. It’s predicted that nearly $6 trillion will be spent on IoT over the next five years. The lion’s share will spent by enterprise customers, who look to IoT to boost productivity, lower business costs, and help expand into additional markets. In recent QuinStreet research, more than half of survey respondents considered IoT to be critical to the growth and success of their organization.
In this video roundtable discussion, four IoT thought leaders will discuss issues like security, analytics, deployment strategies, and the future of the IoT sector.
Download the QuinStreet research: Business and Tech Decision Makers Expect Big Impact from IoT
Chris Preimesberger, Editor, Features & Analysis, eWeek
Internet of Things: video transcript
Hi, I’m James Maguire, Editor of Datamation, and our topic today is the Internet of Things. We’ll talk about the IoT market overall, as well as development, security and analytics. To talk about that we’ve got four leading experts, including Nigel Upton, worldwide director and General Manager of IoT at Hewlett/Packard Enterprise. Hello to you, Nigel.
Hi, thank you.
And you are there in your home office in Scottsdale today, correct?
I am. It’s nice and warm here.
I bet. 120 degrees, they way, on the way.
Something to look forward to.
Also with us is Jason Shepherd, Director of IoT Strategy and Partnerships at Dell. Hello to you, Jason.
You are there in sunny Austin, correct.
Sunny and warm Austin.
Mike Matchett, IoT Analyst and Solutions Architect at Taneja Group. Hello to you, Mike.
How you guys doing?
I know today is your birthday, so we have you working on your birthday.
I’m looking forward to the cake.
There’s cake around here somewhere. I definitely have cake. And Chris Preimesberger, Editor of Features and Analysis at eWeek, and my colleague here are Quinstreet. Hello to you, Chris.
I know you are very close to the IoT beat, so that’s good.
The IoT beat seems to be everywhere.
Right. IoT is definitely growing, which brings us to our first question. I want to get the take from the four of you on where the Internet of Things market is right now. Of course, there’s a lot of rosy predictions about where it’s headed in the next several years. I think of IoT as more of an emerging tech and not a really truly established tech. Agree or disagree. So, where is the IoT market? Nigel, what is your sense right now and what do you see getting a lot of traction in the IoT market?
So, we judge where the market’s going based on how much revenue we drive out of it. Funny, my boss insists on revenue out of this for some strange reason.
They’re picky that way, aren’ t they?
I know, I know. So, we are driving a lot of money today out of connected car, out of smart cities and out of smart energy. But it tends to be quite specific. You know, connected car is such a broad spectrum and if you talk to a telco they claim they own connected car, and if you talk to the head unit manufacturers they claim they own it. So, there’s so much going on it that space and we’re seeing real traction there. But we also see it happening, you know, that’s the vertical… but on the horizontal layer we see a lot of interest in edge computing. We see a lot of interest in saying, look, I’ve got all of this heavy equipment stuff, particularly from the OT guys; The GEs and Siemens and Schneiders and ABBs. They’ve got these heavy machines out there. Tons of sensors, tons of data, and their very reluctant to send all of that data up into the cloud so they’re doing as much pre-processing as they can. They’re getting more and more data so they need more and more horsepower at the edge. So, we’re seeing a real uptick in saying, ‘give me more horsepower at the edge so that I can do more pre-processing, pre-analytics and use the cloud for the exception side rather than try to send everything over expensive lines.’
Do you agree that IoT is more emerging tech than established tech at this point? Are we well on our way or almost there? Where are we at?
I was doing M2M six or seven years ago, so IoT for me is an evolution of where we’ve been before, and connecting devices we’ve done since RFID days. So, it’s continued to evolve, but now it has a sexy new label which means that it’s seen as brand new and every board wants to know what their IoT initiative is. But in reality, the ability to connect devices and gather data from them and take inference from that has been around for a long time. It’s now accelerating to everything.
Jason, what’s your sense of where the IoT market is these days? Are we really emerging? Are we mostly there? What’s your take?
Yeah, we’re emerging. I totally agree with Nigel. I mean, IoT is a buzzword to apply to things that have been around for a long time. Now, the things that are different: it’s the mashup of data with backend systems, so actually connecting formally isolated things to the backend. M2M is a little bit different on that front, but from an industrial standpoint it’s connecting these formally isolated systems to backend data to make things better. That’s kind of a new trend. There’s people becoming more comfortable with that. Or even just kind of on-premise systems, just mashing up data, IT and OT types of data. And the other big thing that’s happening is that the cost points are coming down where things that have been done for a long time are now becoming accessible to the masses. So, IoT to use really represents the ability to have these things hit scale and it be changing the lives of people much broader than just the folks that have been investing lots of dollars in these types of technologies previously.
So that’s, I think, the big inflection point. We’re coming out of that hype cycle, for sure. It’s super noisy, of course, right now. Obviously, we’ll talk about that today. But, it’s that inflection point. And definitely this market goes vertical before it goes horizontal. It’s extremely important to go on use cases and really focus on that ROI.
If someone comes to us and says, ‘Hey, I want to buy some IoT,’ it’s not really the right customer. It’s people you have a real problem to solve or have to address, they totally agree with the edge compute side. I know we’re going to talk a little bit about analytics, but we’ve been driving in that since the beginning of our strategy, so really in agreement there.
Mike, what is your take about the current IoT market? Are we there, or what’s holding us back, if anything is?
We looked at a lot of different factors. We’ve seen big data. We’ve seen faster networks. We’ve seen devices roll out to the edge. We’ve seen $50 Raspberry Pi’s. Anybody can make an IoT thing that is actually internet connected. You’ve got your Amazon order ‘More Tide’ button you can stick on the wall by your washing machine. Google Nest thermometers. All this stuff is really commoditizing, as Jason just mentioned.
You know, but I think there’s still some big concerns we still have on… you talk about edge computing and you talk about data volume, but I don’t think we’ve even seen the start of the data volumes that are going to get created. I think we’re going to see people start to get really concerned about whether they have access up and down their supply chain to these data streams. How do you make that available if you’re in the middle of a supply chain. How do you negotiate that access? Security is going to be a huge problem when your devices aren’t just reporting on everything, but they might actually be programmable, as well. You’ve got a lot of surface area to attack on the Internet of Things when you get down to that level.
So, lots of great opportunity, but also a lot of concerns as we interconnect everything.
You know, the data question never fails to amaze me. It’s like everything we do creates more and more data. Especially IoT. And you think about IoT as a one-way street. IoT also has the possibility to be a two-way street, at which point the data stream increases exponentially. Where are we going to store it all? That’s a discussion for a different day.
Chris, what’s your take? The current state of the IoT market, where are we right now?
Well, that’s a general question. I like that, though. You know what, I like what Jason said a minute ago, too. It just struck me. Somebody going into a company like Dell or HP or anybody else and saying, ‘Hey, I want to buy some IoT. And I want a little of this and a little of that and a little of this. Put it all together so my business can work better.’ I like that idea.
But, it is an evolving thing, and we have had these devices and this broadband and we’ve had this connectivity for a long time. I think that it’s got, like one of you say, there’s a buzzword that’s put on it. The media is as guilty as anybody because we use it all the time. But, once something has a clever label and a memorable and easy to use label, then all of a sudden it seems fresher and it seems newer. It’s really not that new.
However, it is being democratized. Slowly but surely. The larger players have been using these for a long time, and as time goes on and these devices become cheaper and more easy to get and use, and as the software and analytics are able to be used in the cloud and anybody can do a DIY type of thing, do it yourself. As it becomes simpler to use then it becomes more democratized, smaller and smaller companies will be using these things in their businesses. They’ll find use for them. That’s when the market is really going to start taking off. We’re not anywhere near that yet.
But I think a lot of the key foundation blocks are in place for that. Companies like HP and Dell have their platforms now, and others. Developers are learning how to put these things together. We’re going to be seeing a lot more of this as time goes on.
You know, when I think about things that are holding us back from IoT adoption, Quinstreet did a research study, and security was one of the key concerns that businesses have. Are we really secure with our IoT deployment? So, Jason, what would you say to a business that’s concerned about the security aspect of the Internet of Things? Is that real? Not so real? Could you reassure them on that regard?
No, it’s definitely real. Security is clearly paramount to these types of deployments. You really want to start out being careful, I mean, what we talked about already, when you start pushing down actuation or control from, certainly the cloud…
And what do you mean by actuation?
So, basically actuating a pump or turning something on that spins that people might be nearby or, literally, like being able to control an autonomous vehicle from a remote site. When you don’t have some sort of data diode to prevent that type of control coming in from a hacker it’s a problem. So, that’s why sending data north, like to the backend or to keeping it on-premise, sort of like that starting point, it’s still kind of doing that new thing which is adding less expensive sensors, you know, focusing on really targeted problems, bringing in ERP, CRM, social, but just being careful about how you approach it. So, that’s one kind of way to ask the security question.
The other way to address it is to work with a credible player that works in IT class security, and that’s why companies like us are getting involved. We’re here to go bridge those operations. Companies have been doing this for a long time. With new tools, new infrastructure, and certainly that security manageability to bridge. Everyone is seeing the ven diagram now of IT and OT kind of coming together in IoT. Our whole goal here is to lift up operations focused partners, giving them credible IT class infrastructure to go solve problems in more accessible ways. That’s the goal here.
I’d also say on security it’s all about finding the right size of security so you don’t have to buy the use case. Again, it depends on what you’re doing and the implications if there’s a problem.
The right size, did you say?
The right size. Like, you’re not going to throw the kitchen sink at every use case because what happens is if you make it too difficult to implement because it’s so many layers of security, people won’t adopt it.
Now, on the consumer side it’s going the opposite way where they make it so easy to hook up stuff or try to that basically people go return, return, password, password, and then they get on the network and all of a sudden there’s no security. So, that’s where you see a lot of those breeches. You want to find that kind of happy medium between securing it appropriately and then working with companies that have that pedigree of securing these types of solutions and applying the right level.
So, it’s totally warranted. It’s very important. But we actually see data integration as one of the bigger challenges, and actually, use case focus is one of the bigger challenges up front. First, you need to figure out what your goal is then in very lock step you go secure it. But that’s been one of the biggest things, is fragmentation with data, use cases. Too many companies confusing customers is what’s holding us back even more so than security.
Mike, what do you think about security? What would you tell companies that are concerned about security in IoT?
Well, you obviously have to have a multi-layered approach to thinking about security. Where the devices are. The data in transmission. The data in storage. Where you’re pushing out analytics, and as you mentioned, actuating. I’m going to start using that word.
I love that word, don’t you? I’m going to start using that as well.
Actuating. I think of it as programmable, but yeah. Control, remote control, right? I’m going to fly the drone and not just I’ll look at the video it’s taking and push the fire button as well. So, I think there’s a lot going on there.
I think it’s definitely a bigger problem than anybody can solve at a small level, so I’m glad to see that larger companies are starting to step into the breach and say, hey, we can help you approach this from a comprehensive perspective.
Nigel, I know you think about connectivity in security. Talk to me about connectivity and where that comes from in terms of IoT. What’s important about that?
In my mind it all depends on who you’re talking to, and it’s similar to security, as well. If you look at it from the consumer side, then connectivity, there’s a certain perception on what they need on that. Then you look the enterprise, and then you look to the OT guys, and it’s all different.
So, just stepping back. The key for us is the data and how to make sure that data goes over secure connections. We have that phrase of, you know, the right connection for the right device. When you talk to a telco then, funnily enough, everything is solvable through a cellular connection. But, I guess if you have a hammer then everything looks like a nail. Companies like SigFox and the Lora lines weren’t around two or three years ago, and the sudden acceleration of being able to use unlicensed spectrum…
Explain who those vendors are, just if people don’t know.
So, this is unlicensed spectrum where they can use connectivity using wavelengths that are longer, and therefore ideal for the low power wide area networks where you have devices that have a limited amount of power that perhaps have a battery in them, but they’re buried inside a bridge or a device or in a wall, but they’re not easily accessible so you can’t change the power supply. So, those devices need to be able to have a network that’s not constantly pinging them saying, ‘Are you awake? Are you awake? Send me data. Send me data.’ They’ll only do that once a day or once a week or whatever it is. So, these are very low power devices that need a connection that is a very low bandwidth on them. They’re normally sending tiny pieces of data, small small chunks, but they’re not doing it as often as, say, a cellular network that would continually ping to see if the device was still attached to the network.
So, SigFox and The Lora Alliance are two examples of companies that have gone and created this new type of network, which is very attractive if you’re looking for a low cost alternative to cellular. They’re right now building out their network city by city. Funny enough, they’re both French, and I’m English. So, a natural affinity.
You can get past that, though.
What about the question of analytics? IoT is all about analytics. It’s a stream of data going every which way. There’s a disagreement. Do we do the computing at the end point? Do we transfer the data back to headquarters? Mike, what’s your view on that? Do you recommend one way or another for companies? I know it’s very situational, but what do you think?
Well, it really depends the algorithm what data you’re trying to get and what insight you’re gathering. I think in general what you’re going to see is kinds of streaming controls where you can push out the processing as far to the edge as we can, in every case, as far out as we can. That will be the gold standard, and it’s not always going to be able to push it out to the edge but it will be pushed out as far as possible in the future.
Yeah, and James, storage and… building upon what he was talking about, storage and master data management become even more important in the IoT. There’s no question about it. There’s so much chaff in all of the data that has to be eliminated, and the more you eliminate at the end point the better it is for the central processing. This is just a huge challenge or anybody or any company that’s looking at an IoT strategy of any kind. You’ve got to look at the storage, you’ve got to look at your compression, you’ve got to look at your de-duplication.
And it’s not just security. Security is huge, but let’s get the data clean first. I think that is fundamental to the success of all of this because if you don’t it’s very very expensive to clean it up afterwards.
Jason, what’s your take? At the end point? At home base? Where is the analytics happening these days?
I mean, really, it’s about having a flexible framework to distribute it. Processing and storage where it makes sense. I totally agree with what we’re saying. We’ve been really pushing on the notion of edge analytics since we began our whole strategy and what we’ve seen is that the same players that were talking about, ‘Cloud cloud cloud,’ like last year, are now coming to us saying, ‘Hey, how about that whole notion of edge analytics?’ because they got the bill. Sending all of the data into the cloud is like a bad episode of Hoarders. Keeping all this stuff. Another way I put it is let me Fedex myself a bunch of data and then I’m going to put it in my closet and just never, you know, a bunch of packages, and put it in my closet and never touch it, because I think the stat is that 99% of data that’s collected and sent to the backend isn’t analyzed. So, obviously there’s some work to be done there just in terms of making sense of that data. We see the edge as being the spam filter for your cloud. It’s all about running complex event processing in-memory stream, in the moment, at the edge, as close to things as possible. To do that kind of real-time housekeeping, you can also be supplying security measures at that time in-memory and you can also be applying the metadata models and stuff to where that wherever that data goes in the future, you got to the point earlier, of just around the data management. You’re kind of putting the housekeeping rules on it at the moment of inception at the edge, you know, doing meaningful analytics there, then meaningful data to the backend. Then there’s this symbiotic relationship between the kind of core analytics in the backend and what you’re doing at the edge. And the backend can be your sort of on-prem data center, and that’s as far as it goes. Or, it could be all the way to the cloud.
It’s not about any single model. It’s about applying the right model to the right use case.
And I also want to say one last thing. It also depends on the connectivity. You wouldn’t necessarily, when you’re running on cellular, for example, you definitely want to be doing local analytics so that you don’t just backhaul everything over cell.
But to Nigel’s point, Lora changes things a little big and in a SigFox kind of scenario, low power wireless. It all comes into play.
Nigel, I just heard your name mentioned. People are talking about your opinions. Your view on analytics? I mean, it is an end point? I think, going into the future, analytics is going to be more and more at the end point, you know, there will be less and less need to transfer it back. What’s your take on where analytics happens, ideally?
You might see a basketball game in there, too.
That’s a minor detail, yeah.
It’s not the Super Bowl, right?
Well, you know, I think we might have already started talking this way. The technologies have existed for some time to connect devices to a network and talk about them. There’s nothing really magically new in that sense. But I think in a couple years or 3-5 years we won’t be calling it the internet of things. It will just be the internet again.
It’s like the cloud. The term cloud computing will eventually become obsolete.
You know, cloud still have some public/private thing. But I think internet of things just… we’re going to start to assume that much like your phone and your watch and your FitBit and your Nest thermometer and your car, that everything is just really going to be connected. You’re not really going to be thinking about that as a separate kind of paradigm for a data flow architecture. So, I think it normalizes.
But, between here and there there’s a lot of work to do on reinventing how we talk about it, how we document it, how we design it as engineers. One of the things that I think there’s a big gap in is standards. Standards for protocol. Standards for interchange. If you’re even going to take data and pass it up and down a supply chain, it would be great if there were standards among those people participating in that. So, there you go.
Chris, what do you think? What do you see in your crystal ball? What are we going to be talking about for IoT a few years ahead?
Yeah, I agree. the IoT is a new and exciting term now, but it’s for some old stuff and some new stuff. Three years from now we might still be talking about it. Five year from now? I don’t think so. We’re going to be use to this, these activities, these functions, the smartness within devices. We’re going to take them for granted like we take XML for granted or Java for granted right now. Or the internet itself. It will evolve and it will become part of the culture and we won’t even need to mention the name that much. I think it’s just going to be the internet, like Mike just said. So, that’s the way it is. That’s the way the cloud has evolved and that’s the way PCs evolved and watches and tablets and smartphones and all of them.
We can use our FitBit to text our refrigerator or our coffee machine and get things going that way.
Can I insert just a really interesting use of the IoT? There’s a new startup here in Redwood City where I live called InIt. It’s a kitchen, okay? What they do is they connect all of the devices in a kitchen. We used to talk about the toaster. The smart toaster and the smart refrigerator and all of this, but here’s one result. You’ll be able to look at your smartphone, push a button, see what’s in your refrigerator, there’s a camera in there that will tell you what’s in there. Then, the refrigerator will look at it and weigh everything and see the freshness of everything and judge it and then give you a recipe for some of the ingredients that you have in the fridge right now for dinner tonight
Wow, okay. That’s impressive.
Within a couple minutes.
The problem is you still have to cook it, but okay.
How lazy are we getting.
I can’t wait until there comes a day that I go shopping for a refrigerator and have to conduct touring test kind of interviews on the different refrigerators to find the smartest one to buy for my house.
We’re going to need to have an IoT IQ.
Jason, going forward in the future, what’s coming up for IoT a few years from now?
I mean, like I said before, this market goes vertical before it goes horizontal. It’s all about use cases and all banding together on some of these lower level standards for that interoperability so where you can really get to more of the “Internet of Things”. It’s really a series of increasingly larger intranets. And so, it’s like we very much subscribe to starting small today, go solve some real problems and then you connect your smart ag solution to your cold chain logistics solution, then to your factory flow, and all of those need to be interoperable, ultimately. That’s where we’re headed. So, it’s very important to work on those core standards to make that happen. But right now, start with small real problems for customers.
The other thing I’ll say is it’s very important to be thinking about where we’re headed with analytics long term. So, we like to say architect for analytics. So, we have a lot of people doing great things with Raspberry Pis and Arduinos and Beaglebone. You name it. It’s awesome stuff. Everyone is like, ‘Well, I want go to put these devices out there on the edge and all I need to do is collect data so I’m good. I’m going to send it to the backend.’ We’re finding already people are like, ‘Well crap, I put that stuff out there but now I’ve got to drive a truck out to that remote site because I actually need to put some intelligence down to that thing.’ So, we do caution people to not rush or put barely enough horsepower at the edge to run the job. If you can afford a little bit more horsepower for that job, you’re going to find new things that you can do with it.
Great example: Remote monitoring of an elevator. You know, we’ve got a customer we’re working with that’s doing this. So, it’s like, hey, I put this here, now all I need to do is pull data to kind of understand what’s going on with that asset so I can do predictive maintenance on that asset. Well guess what? What if you wanted to run, you know, turn the pots over to void, you know, so you can run that as a service. What is you wanted to run digital signage for all of the eyeballs going through that elevator? You might want to run multi-tenant on that gateway to do those things, or whatever computing you have up there. Don’t be too hasty with putting the compute out because you’re going to pay for it later if you don’t think about where you might head with it in that 3-5 year timeframe. It’s all about just kind of thinking ahead from where you can grow.
Build a better structure right up front.
Invest in the right infrastructure, without going overboard, but just think about the long term. And also, it’s all about us working together on some of those standards that we can get through binding the intranets together.
Nigel, you know what the future holds, so tell us. In the year 2023, Internet of Things, what are you thinking about?
So, the backend, I think, will consolidate. And the backend will consolidate down to some large vendors that are able to do the heavy lifting to be able to put in that standard space infrastructure that allows you to be able to manage it. There will be crazy innovation on the front end. Once they understand what those standards are then people will innovate like crazy on the devices. So you’ll see a ton of stuff…
Do you mean just functionality? Or, what do you mean by ‘crazy innovations’?
Like the example of the fridge. I mean, for those type of devices we’re seeing all these companies popping up that are building new trackers and all sorts of clever innovations happening on the device side. There will be consolidation, in my view, on the backend and on the stuff where the heavy lifting is. This is from the edge compute platforms, through to how we treat data, though to analytics. I think that will consolidate because it will become more… there’s just more and more data and you need to be able to scale it out.
That movement to standards is absolutely critical. I mean, we chose the 1M2M standard but I’m sure more standards are going to evolve. The idea of having a common data model is critical. The example I’ll use is when talking to a car manufacturer and they told us if anybody comes to us with another killer application we’re going to shoot them. What we want is a killer platform that we can plug anything into. Because they were like most companies. They start with the device, they have an application tied to it, it’s hard wired together, and then you have your next device and your next device. And then you’ve got another application and another application and you just can’t scale it that way. And it’s particularly interesting in connected cars because cars are mobile and they will interact with smart cities, with parking, with energy as EV becomes more and more predictable they’ll have to integrate with the grid. So, connected vehicle is a great thing to think about. You’ve got to be able to cross verticals. So, that ability to have a common data model, a common way of accessing data or using it, and being to access services, it has to go horizontal in the end. But right now it’s all verticalized, and that will, over time, mature and then it will become horizontal.
Ultimately, a vertical solution is the great horizontal scalable platform with vertical domain knowledge applied. Initially, you’ve got to go vertical to get people to adopt and to understand what they can do.
Sounds fantastic. On that note, I’ve got to go program my coffee machine because I can’t do it with my hands. Thank you very much. I appreciate your expertise. I’ll send you the link and we can all tweet about it. Thanks very much.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — HP launched an aggressive campaign to supplant Dell as the No. 1 enterprise notebook maker.
In addition to products, HP said it will help telecom service providers evolve voice and data networks for content-rich services. HP said it would also leverage its industry alliances to help fuel its products, services and infrastructure.
Under the banner of “2005: The Year for Mobility,” HP is also using its alliances to gain that competitive edge. The company announced fresh partnerships with Microsoft, Nokia, and Good Technologies in order to cater to small to medium sized businesses.
HP said it expects to expand the offerings to its larger corporate clients and its consumer division as well. HP’s kickoff comes one day after Dell revamped its desktop and laptop line up. PC sales statistics from analyst firms IDC and Gartner both show Dell with a healthy lead over HP in desktops and laptops, with IBM right behind in third.
With IBM selling its PC division to Lenovo, Ted Clark, senior vice president and general manager of Mobile Computing at HP said the time was right to make a move on both Dell and IBM.
“Absolutely, we are going to retake the number one position for notebooks,” Clark told chúng tôi “Our research indicates that customers are getting weary about IBM’s exit from PC sales. We cover the spectrum like no other company and we are consistently delivering best in class products. It’s a bold prediction to be sure, but we will let the products speak for themselves.”
Clark said the issue is not that HP can’t get to number one, it’s just that the company has spent a fair amount of time focused on the back end. HP was behind the scenes on the original launch of the Starbucks T-Mobile hotspot craze. Some 70 percent of the world’s SMS messaging is processed through an HP Open View system and 90 percent of CDMA traffic is processed by HP, Clark said.
To get its enterprise groove on, 10 new HP Compaq enterprise notebooks made their debut today including the Intel-fueled HP Compaq nx9600, nc8200, 6200, 6100, and nc4200 business notebook series.
Clark also said Tablet PCs would continue to play a part of HP’s strategy and is pricing its tc4200 at $1,599 to encourage more companies to adopt the platform.
HP company announced plans for a next-generation iPAQ Mobile Messenger with Smart GPS, integrated keyboard, EDGE technology (2.5 G), and global positioning. An HP spokesman told chúng tôi the new devices should be available in the company’s second quarter (May or June) and HP is expected to detail more of the devices at the 3GSM World Congress later this month.
Clark said an HP-designed smartphone was in the works for this year but declined to commit the company to either a Microsoft or Symbian operating system and did not disclose any further design specifications.
HP’s handheld push may be mis-timed. A report from IDC today said the worldwide market for handhelds experienced its fourth successive quarter of year-over-year decline during the fourth quarter of 2004. In spite of shipments growing 37.4 percent from the third quarter (due to the holiday season), they fell 18.7 percent (to 2.8 million units) compared to the fourth quarter of 2003.
To help on the backend, HP announced a new hosted e-mail service based on Microsoft Exchange 2003. In addition, HP plans to include Good Technology’s GoodLink software on future iPAQ releases, including the new Mobile Messenger device. The combination GoodLink software managed through Microsoft Outlook and Exchange environments creates a “push” e-mail environment, Clark said.
Also helping bring its sales numbers in line, HP Financial Services is now offering customers a low payment option. The company’s Budget Stretcher lease program gives customers up to $150,000 of new equipment or services on a lease term of up to 51 months.
“Compared with large enterprises, SMBs are more mobile and spend more on mobile services,” Forrester Research Principal Analyst Michelle de Lussanet said in a statement. “Based on surveys among large IT executives carried out in 2002 and 2003, Forrester estimates that 20 percent of enterprise workers are mobile. But relying on fewer desk-bound support staff, mobility in SMBs surpasses this. We estimate that at least 30 percent of SMBs have staff that is mobile.”
Still in that “mobility” vein, HP’s partnership with Nokia will result in a digital pen and specialized paper that can connect through current cellular networks. In a case scenario, Clark said a salesman on the road could have the customer sign a contract and have the document instantly transferred to the backend servers.
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