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Co-creation for the 30 billion opportunities in IoT

Back in the early 2010s, when it first came out as a new technology named IoT, we were flooded with news about the overwhelming impact and business proportion that the IoT was going to make in our lives.

Years later, we are still waiting for those trillions of connected things. What nobody told us at that time was that the internet of things was going to be of a very different flavor from the internet of people. We assumed that the IoT would follow the same growth pattern as in the case of humans, simply because it was, of course, "INTERNET".

What many did not realize at that time was that the reason why billions of humans were able to get connected to the internet in a little over a decade, was that human beings are relatively standard "things". We all use little more than a browser, social networks, messaging apps, and email clients to do our cybernetic duties. Our data content is simply video, audio and plain text.

In IoT, on the other hand, we can find an overwhelming diversity of things, shapes, and conditions for those things. Things didn't take up watching video streaming. Its connectivity in terms of bandwidth is relatively poor, and being able to send little data (low bandwidth) was much more appreciated, but having a long-lasting battery autonomy.

The diversity of things is so gigantic that makes the myth of 30 billion connected things true, but incomplete. There are indeed billions of things to be connected in the world, but not all of them will be connected in the same way, nor for the same purpose. We will end up, perhaps, with millions of small individual niches.

Projects of thousands of sensors and not millions of them are nowadays a common thing for IoT solutions developers. This has generated a very diverse ecosystem of technical resources, connectivity, and software platforms. That´s because each niche must be tackled with very different sensing, protocols, transport devices, and data processing technologies.

At the sensors level, for instance, projects in proximity and controlled closed environments can be addressed with short-range technologies. Protocols such as RFID, BLE, Z-Wave, ZigBee, or Wi-Fi, progressively save on battery energy costs as we get closer to the source of internet connection (Gateways or antennas). Other projects require a wide geographical scope, increasing the complexities for the energy autonomy of the equipment in the field, and proportionally conditioning the amount of data sent per minute, hour or day. There is not a one size fits all.

Another unforeseen challenge was that the number of niches and different conditions in the world of things was going to represent a specialization and standardization difficulty. Developing a livestock monitoring application is not the same as developing a fleet management system or a solution for industrial machinery. The experience of subject matter experts in each niche is required to complement the IoT developer's technical criteria with the real-world conditions of the object from which information is to be extracted, for whatever the business case may be.

That is why, by definition, IoT must be understood as a co-creation technology. Lantern Technologies has adopted this philosophy since its foundation as its core strategy. Lantern becomes an ally and not a supplier of its clients and business partners. The co-creation of products is the only way to make successful projects in IoT in such a diverse ecosystem of business cases.

Only complementing the capabilities of Lantern's IoT expert with the experience, track record, and market presence of partners and clients , have made it possible to successfully co-create and commercialize high-impact products into markets.

This co-creation approach implies a high level of business maturity, governed by absolute trust between parties. When starting any new endeavor of this type, the most important thing is upfront transparency in costs, efforts, and common objectives. A project is proposed as if both parties were part of the same organization. Everybody is committed to the success of a common target, and Lantern is no longer seen as a service provider, but as a stakeholder committed to meeting and exceeding product goals.

That level of involvement is not achieved with a typical client-supplier hierarchical model. The discussion of joint business models becomes integral part of the solution design process, and each one has a clear-cut understanding of its corresponding expected benefits from the venture. Parties become one society chasing together those billions of opportunities that remain out there.

This approach of extreme trust and partnership has allowed Lantern to have more than simply customers, but long-term business partners such as Link America, GBM and E2E. Companies with whom we invest, win, and co-create high-tech solutions with remarkable market impact.

Alban Sanchez

CEO Lantern Technologies

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