In September, as we were wrapping up our latest member event in Munich, the 300th member, Dell joined the ng Connect Program. It was a close call: it could have been the City of Fresno, or Support.com or Social Imp8ct, all of which signed up in the same week. This shows how the idea of a global, collaborative structure, enabling organizations to join forces in creating and market testing innovative solutions, continues to appeal to a broad range of entities, small or large, for profit or not, operating in various industries.
The trend of a 20% membership growth year over year, observed in the past two years, is well on its way to be extended, if not exceeded in 2016. Nokia’s acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, the Program’s founding member, did nothing to slow down the development of this ecosystem. Quite the opposite, as clear synergies were identified between the company’s strategic priorities of focusing on 5G, cloud and Internet of Things, there was a boost to the ecosystem’s long standing mission of accelerating adoption of these new technologies via sound business models, innovative user experiences and unmatched collaboration capabilities within a diverse community. One of the first initiatives after the acquisition, at Mobile World Congress 2016, was the launch of the IoT Community, a group of ng Connect members determined to realize the promise of the Internet of Things. The IoT Community quickly grew from 35 companies to over 80 today, largely contributing to the overall ecosystem expansion.
The Program expects the Internet of Things to be a strong driver for the ecosystem for many years to come. During the last member event, Jason Collins, Vice President of IoT Marketing and the head of ng Connect, offered a strong case of why the Internet of Things is not another fashionable marketing hype, but the next technological revolution. Taking pleasure in letting his engineering background resurface, he used Moore’s law and Metcalfe’s law to support his argument:
★ Moore’s law states that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles every two years. From that it can be derived that the cost of connecting devices (and related chipsets) decreases rapidly, to a point where it becomes economically relevant to connect each and every single one of them. Objects can and should be connected.
★ Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users. Jason used the number of Facebook users correlated to the company’s revenues to show how the law can be verified.
So the future promises countless devices to be connected, and as the industry works its way past the current barriers and silos inherited from the original Machine-to-Machine approach of IoT (discrete subnets of connected device for single applications), the considerable value of a true Internet of Things can be unleashed!
The difficulty in overcoming the obstacles should not be underestimated though. Ask chipset manufacturers if the technology and manufacturing techniques get any easier while satisfying Moore’s law. We believe that, at ng Connect, our collaborative ecosystem approach, our process for taking new solutions and new business models to market trials, while not solving everything, go a long way towards jumping that barrier. The fact that in the last twelve months we have been able to deploy market trials in many different market segments including Smart Cities, Automotive, Public Safety, Healthcare, and Utilities, and have designed solutions for Agriculture and Retail, demonstrates the value of bringing together actors of these segments with technology, software, application, and services providers to work across traditional boundaries.
More than reaching the 300 members milestone, it is this acceleration of the Program that we all perceive that is our most significant achievement so far. We have more active market trials and services concepts than ever before. We have more member companies engaged in our activities than ever before, including companies participating in our ideation events around the globe, helping in the design of new service concepts or actively involved in the deployment of market trials. Just like Facebook with active users, ng Connect’s Metcalfe’s law is going to be verified with the number of active members. And if the value of the ecosystem is measured in the number of ideas, solution concepts, market trials and, last but not least, direct or indirect revenue generation, it has never been this high!
So this is an invitation to all you 300 members: get engaged in the Program or stay engaged, just as we will keep on growing this ecosystem to the next milestone of 500 companies. Together we are delivering the promise of a connected world, creating unprecedented value for all our customers.