January 13, 2015

By: Ben Wilmhoff, President, BluFlux

From a connectivity standpoint, CES 2015 was a blur of people and products. Many of the latter were downright crazy, but that’s half the fun of being there. It was a productive event for the BluFlux team as we got to see first hand the new trends in connected cars, Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, M2M, and more, and also got to meet some real pros that are making things happen. With all of the new players jumping in to ride the rapidly growing connectivity wave, how can companies get it right? Below are my three big take-aways.

You Have to Solve a Problem 
There are a thousand buzzwords around the IoT / M2M wave, with everybody connecting everything to the Internet. Some connected devices are pretty cool, though admittedly a lot of them seem to be riding the IoT / M2M coattails and don’t really offer a compelling solution to a problem or a clear value prop. This intense, global push to connect everything to the web to see what falls out reminds me of the intense push all startups go through to define their identity and see what sticks. Ultimately, as my good friend and occasional mentor Adam Benzion from hackster.io says about startups, “You have to solve a real problem.” The same goes for IoT / M2M.

Established Companies Have Real Potential for IoT/M2M, But Risk is High
There are a lot of companies getting into wireless design without a legacy or background in connected devices (or even in electronics at all). I had a great conversation with Matt Kiernan and Tom Penne from Pella. They have attracted a rock-star product development team to help bring Pella into the connected future. This is just one example of a company that doesn’t have a long history in wireless technology doing something really useful in the IoT and Connected Home space! Unless you’re willing to follow the Pella approach and build a new team – or find a strategic partner that you can depend on – the risk of jumping headfirst into this space is high.

Partnerships and Efficiency are More Important than Ever
The connected home, connected car, and IoT / M2M waves represent great opportunity for talented and focused technology companies to offer fast and superior results for large brands like GM, Delphi and Honeywell. Companies that can offer specialized full-scope design services, such as RF / antenna / electromagnetic design (like we do – shameless plug), can provide excellent value to global organizations with sophisticated supply chains but without a history in these sectors.

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