Digitalization, IoT, networks and money

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SmileIT

I am sitting at the Celtic-Plus spring event here in Vienna. Ridicolously high suit-rate compared to the fact that they intend to target future dynamics of how technology is going to be delivered to people and businesses. I’m in jeans and probably a bit of an outlaw – which fits pretty well in fact, because none of the pitched projects does really offer a mature collaboration opportunity for me.

However, it is still interesting to learn what’s the innovative potential in the field of wireless networking and media. Interested in more detail? You may wanna check out their hashtag: #celticevent

What’s pretty obvious here is that also mobile network providers and researchers in that area want to leverage and support innovation wrt Digital Business and the Internet of Things. Every other project is taking you onto a trip on how they will improve the world by providing people, businesses and things with an enhanced connectivity experience. 5G and the 5G Infrastructure Private Public Partnership is one of the most re-known and most heavily discussed topics here (heavily criticized, either, for their lack of reasearch into flexible broadband spectrum usage).

When listening to the project pitches, which mainly aim at finding partners within the community in order to execute on their research objectives, I was presented with a couple of really cool ideas; and also the project exhibition area offered a good insight into what is being done to improve worldwide connectivity (take e.g. the initiative to improve the reach of traditional wireless transmitter stations in order to bring wireless connectivity into remote areas; Serengeti area as a concrete example).

However, there was one particular problem with nearly all of the presented award winning or pitching projects: A severe lack of productizable and monetizeable results.

Here’s a few examples:

1. Tilas

TILAS explores possibilities to provide wireless to a huge amount of interconnected devices (like e.g. in heavily populated rural areas) and thereby making large deployments of huge amount of wearables and devices possible in the future.

On their folder, their achievements are described as “solutions to overcome the already detected technical problems in current large cities.” And it continues: “The demonstrator will highlight the main achievements in the different fields including figures that asset the benefits of the proposal in terms of capabilities and economic savings […]”. No tangible monetizable (product) results or implementation plans highlighted.

2. Seed4C

This is an acronym for “Security Embedded Element and Data privacy for Cloud”, and their objective is to propose an approach to attach hardware-based secure elements (SE) to “cloud nodes” in order to offer strong security enforcement and to support and end-2-end process ranging from security modelling to security assurance.

Good thought. Here’s their achieved results according to their flyer: “Seed4C has defined an end-2-end security process which consists of the following stages […]”, and then the stages are explained which include a modelling approach, an OpenStack platform for application deployment according to the model and security policy configuration. The project has ended in February 2015 after 3 years work. So, that’s it more or less. No claim of any company actually implementing this.

3. H2B2VS

The complete name of this is “HEVC Hybrid Broadcast Broadband Video Services”. And this is pretty interesting, as it proposes to use broadband networks in addition to broadcasting networks to allow for hybrid distribution of TV programs and services leveraging both in a synchronized way in order to overcome the limitations in capacity that traditional broadcasting methods have.

Achievements so far (as the project is going to end in October 2015):

  • 20 use cases on hybrid distribution described
  • 3 HEVC encoders and 2 decoders available
  • CDNs adapted to hybrid delivery
  • a proposal to MPEG how to efficiently synchronize broadcast and broadband (acceptance state not reported)

Tangible in a sense of productization? None, as far as I could see.

Future projects

The pitch session with about 20 differnt projects mostly asking for cooperation partners offered some interesting ideas as well, e.g. a framework to combine information from wearables (like e.g. about an accident of an elderly person) with location and mobile and skill data of close by healthcare personal, or a platform for predictable management of public transport, or a worldwide database for usable broadband spectrums in order to allow services to leverage any spectrum in a flexible dynamic, an agile, way (closing the gap of what’s claimed to be leaking in the 5G research projects’ scope)

None of them – however – offered any glimpse on competition analysis or tangible results and deliverables from which monetization opportunities could have been deducted.

So, in the end

… I was asking myself: With all those cool and highly innovative approaches being presented and with hundreds of millions of governmental money pumped into these initiatives – where is the results that companies take into their portfolios and products to be offered on the market or included in solutions? Where is the real practical change of ecosystems and services for consumers or businesses that show that the funds provided through collaboration under the Celtic-Plus cluster are rightfully used and spent? How can the European Union and EU governments spend huge sums of money to projects which (mostly) in the end do not come up with anything more than academic research results?

Don’t get me wrong: I thoroughly and fully trust, that funds are important, research on an innovative (maybe sometimes a bit academic) level is utterly necessary to drive digital innovation, that not every project can end with a tangible new solution being productive: But the spending for these kind of projects is tremendous, and the duration of most of the projects is pretty long, and the results, as I could see, are mostly so very limited that I would really love to demand funding organizations to bind their spendings to actual revenue achieved with the respective project results.

If any angel investor or private equity acted that way and not measured their engagement against real practically usable results, they’d be dead before having even started.

I think, in order to really be successful in terms of innovation, there needs to be innovative projects alongside monetizable and productizable business needs! And funds for the same — meaning that there’ll be less for purely academic research as long as it can’t be brought back into the market and – ultimately – benefits the end user and an improved (digital) world.

 

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