Mister Beacon Episode #45

IoT WAN Management - Jasper

July 20, 2017

Is there an alternative to LP WAN to connect IoT devices? Cisco Jasper have proved there is. In this episode, special guest Martyn Etherington, CMO of Cisco Jasper, discusses the ways Jasper's IoT connectivity platform is playing a huge role in the management and monetization of cellular SIM card connections to IoT devices. We hear the inside stories of how some major companies are connecting networks of devices to the cloud.


  • Steve Statler 0:05

    Welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast. My name is Steve Statler of Wiliot as a bit of a change. We'll talk about that in a second. But first I want to introduce Martyn Etherington is a special guest a because this is an old friend, and B. He's working at a really interesting company Jasper, where he is the Chief Marketing Officer. So Martyn, welcome to the show. Thanks,

    Martyn Etherington 0:28

    Steve. But pleasure See you after all these years, but 15 or so years, since we've seen each other?

    Steve Statler 0:33

    Pretty amazing. Yeah, a lot of water under the bridge. And it's funny, we both ended up in this IOT space, you know, one of my clients of Statler consulting was Wiliot. And they were doing some really cool stuff around passive Bluetooth. Basically, Bluetooth sensors and tags without batteries. So not going to spend a lot of time on that. But it was so exciting. I've joined the company. And so starting next time we do a show, there'll be a Willie out logo in the background. But we don't compete, we compete with like 1% of the marketplace. So part of the deal when I joined was these we're going to continue I can talk to people like you, which I really enjoy doing. There's a huge ecosystem. And so this is, you know, a proper job. And also I get to talk to fun people. So what more could you ask? Thanks so much for taking time out. Jasper has a very interesting company, maybe can you give us kind of the elevator pitch on what you guys do?

    Martyn Etherington 1:28

    Yeah. So we're now called Cisco Jasper, because in our part of the overall Cisco family, but in essence, you think about Jasper, what we do? We do IoT connectivity management. So what does that really mean? Anything with a sim chip in it connected to a cellular network that requires provisioning, security rules, split billing, monetization, really we are the We Are The partner sits in the middle of a thing, which is in our case, a sim, we're connected to a cellular network. And then before it gets to an application or any degree of an analysis, we're in the middle there, we actually manage that whole security aspects, the connectivity aspect. And then through our API's, we're able to hook into things like Watson, SAP is your etc. And they can then use that data to then determine what they want to do with with IoT, the Internet of Things. So that really is what we do, and been very successful at it.

    Steve Statler 2:39

    How long has the company been going for?

    Martyn Etherington 2:41

    Probably about 10 or so years. So it's sort of sort of evolved during that time, it was really set up as just for wireless. And the CEO, Johanna Muhammad, is really the probably the last five to seven years. So IoT taking in taking place and really designed a product to sit very, very squarely in into that being the lead brand within within that space.

    Steve Statler 3:09

    And so the things that you manage, you talked about, they need to have a SIM card, that's kind of the so you're not managing Bluetooth beacons that don't have Sims, you're managing kind of the embedded, basically like a cell phone in a in a some kind of metered device. So charging stations, stuff like that?

    Martyn Etherington 3:30

    Oh, sure, certainly charging stations in remote. And the reason why it's so low cellular is number one, unlike other sort of data collection aspects, you'll find that just seven Salya Simmons just really just sift the data versus gold, but it's low management. And also now with the advent of low powered, you're getting that low powered aspects. So that's really why that the seller was was was there. Also the low cost, the the prevalent nature of its millions, hundreds of millions of things sitting out there. And that's really our biggest opportunity is, yeah, we've got some competitors. But there are a lot of unmanned Sims out there, that if you manage it, you're going to stop them sort of road roaming and probably expenses, security vulnerabilities. So that's really why would focus on that. Now. In the future. We'll be looking things that Laura, other low powered areas, but for now, it's similar with moving towards low powered in the not too distant future.

    Steve Statler 4:38

    And isn't like 5g is basically taking cellular and making it more IoT friendly, is it not?

    Martyn Etherington 4:45

    Yeah, I think that's probably a good way a good way of expressing that. So with 5g, and then also with these different term Sigfox and all these different variants of low powered conductivity. They're all vying It's not too dissimilar to when you and I first started units, and with US International and our seven, all vying for that de facto, and it's standard, the same protocols and mediums right now. So that's why our declared view right now is cellular first, and then really see where all the other standards start to move towards, and then use cases and then the applicability to our platform, then we'll make the bets in the future on where those mediums will go to.

    Steve Statler 5:30

    Give us a sense of the customers you have out there, can you kind of give us some indicative numbers and some examples?

    Martyn Etherington 5:37

    Yeah, so first of all, I've got to be very clear that our customers, in fact, all of our business, 100% of our business comes through network operators. So great partner in the United States, at&t, they're our number one exclusive partner in the United States. And then outside of that, we have another 49 Major operators, all the the who's who of network operators. So ours is a revenue share model, that we work with an operator, they get the end user customer, and then we're going to share that revenue number one. However, we also have an enterprise focused sales team too, because we've also learned that we're one of many other partners within network operating ecosystem. So we want to make sure we're out talking to enterprises, and drive them back to the network operators to add value to this same motion.

    Steve Statler 6:34

    So like, would the car companies be an example of a customer?

    Martyn Etherington 6:39

    Yes, car companies, we have 2020, the world's leading OEM car comes out of GM. Great reference on our website, if you take a look at it on jasper.com on GM case study, but you name a jaguar, Ford, GM, and that American company we can't talk about begins to t. And as the electric car factory that has one of our customers too.

    Steve Statler 7:08

    Fantastic. So what what's the kind of functionality that you would add to? So is it like OnStar? Are you part of OnStar? Or?

    Martyn Etherington 7:16

    Yeah, absolutely. What OnStar. So basically, anytime you think about car is basically a sim on wheels. And anything with well, spaces like smart cities, smart buildings, fleet management, they're all good. I think it needs a truck roll, all good case studies for IoT, particularly in our space. And what we do, of course, is just really manage all those devices. So for instance, cars, as you talked about OnStar. That's really all done on our platform. So we can actually get people via answer. We've also got for the car OEMs, we allow them to do split billing, which is important for them. So if they've got some Spotify account, or a serious account, or some insurance company wants to aggregate the data, we can do this billing. So not only managing this devices, making sure that the billing plans for them the right plans are certain, we've got some automated rules to make sure there's no rogue data downloads, and of course, the security aspects, and then talk about that, from an OEM perspective, allow them to do split billing so they can monetize their productivity with with the vehicle.

    Steve Statler 8:30

    So what are some more of the things that become an issue that needs to be managed? When you're dealing with cellular, you talked about one there, which was managing kind of road downloads. So presumably, you know that bandwidth is a really scarce commodity, and you don't want to be wasting it on on stuff. That's irrelevant. What other functions do you offer that make people decide to use your platform rather than building it themselves?

    Martyn Etherington 8:57

    I think there's a number of things there's, you could put some rules against. So you can have a set of rules, you've got hundreds of 1000s of devices out there needing to be managed, you can put rules against certain things. So if it's suddenly so it doesn't, it trips, something, an event, you come back and alert you. So that's just one basic example. There was a whether it's folklore or not, again, I can't guarantee the credibility of this this story. But it sounds really good. There is a traffic light with a sin, cranking up international roaming charges against it. So if you had rules to prevent that you can catch those sort of anomalies very, very quickly. And that's that's one, security is obviously paramount, and people are scared right now of IoT, and everyone fears that their cat ball is going to be the security breach for the rest of the house. So we want to make sure that you've got some degree of security built into that and there's a lot more from Cisco Jasper, in the weeks and months to come around that particularly as we start to build In the Cisco technology into our products, and so it just really goes down to those passive provisioning, managing rules security, and then also from a monetization perspective, the ability for a company to monetize IoT.

    Steve Statler 10:16

    And what are you seeing in terms of sensors? So there's one thing, being able to talk and send some data backwards and forwards, but what, and we talk about the Internet of Things, and the fact that we're gonna have sensors everywhere, but what are you actually seeing in terms of the sensors that are actually being used and how that's creating value? Because you do hear about some pretty hair brained examples that obviously someone just thought of in the bath, and no one's actually doing it? What are you seeing people actually do?

    Martyn Etherington 10:48

    Yeah, I think that there's a term we call which is reliability. And I think that if you speak to anywhere, I'd say, we go to any IoT seminar, and you're going to get the cell Professor Guru, the analysts saying, there's going to be a gazillion million watt, putting your favorite big number, putting your favorite analysts and putting your favorite year, we get that it's gonna be huge volume of kinnitty stuff. And then you get the quirky, connected toothbrush, connected capital. They're all they're all sort of fascinating, charming sort of stories. But so right now, we, we manage over but even now, 50 million things out there on our platform. And across all different industries. So we call this real IoT, because people are managing their businesses right now. And making revenue from being connected to sensors, robotic arms, or vending machines, cars, you name it, today, and I think that's really the thing that we're trying to get the conversation away from is IoT in the future, since tends to IoT now, and real IoT, and applied use cases, to, to IoT case studies and examples. That's why if you go to our website, we do, we spend a lot of time effort money on trying to ensure that people can understand the nuances behind IoT implementations. And I think just one final piece of that is, many people we talked to are a little fearful about IoT, they're thinking when you have to invest millions of dollars, and the potential security breaches. So we recommend we work with our network operators to on something we call the IoT starter kit. And basically, it's a couple of Sims attached to our control center, IoT identity management platform, some, some modems and LTE modems, you can get out of the box, and it's typically less than $100. And you get up at the bottom up and running within 20 to 30 minutes. That way, you can start to really play in the labs of how you can really think about how to apply IoT in support your business strategy, and not just think about Iot of things, I think, where people fall down what we've learned from the successful lead players in the spaces, they use IoT to support their business strategies, not the other way around about connected things. So that's really what we're calling real IoT. It's about the real business value and outcomes driven today by IoT on our platforms with our partners, to make sure that we improve our customers business.

    Steve Statler 13:35

    I think that's really points well made, the vending machine thing that you referenced was really interesting. And I think this maybe underpins your point further. So I spent a bunch of time looking at vending machines, because I just thought they were interesting. And there's so many things you can do if they're connected. I mean, there's millions of vending machines, most of them aren't connected, and you put a modem in there, and you can suddenly start to accept card payments, and so forth. So that's kind of the basic thing. But once you're doing that, then you can start measuring what some what's the state of your inventory. And rather than having someone drive a van visiting vending machines that don't need to be serviced, you just service the ones that do need to be serviced. And you send people with the, with the, with the materials that are required, rather than just a huge box of stuff that isn't actually being sold. So there's so much that you can do but the thing that really struck me was how few companies are doing that, because the benefits are compelling payments, optimize delivery of stuff, but actually the issues were not the technology, it was all about the business and how do I how do I automate and organize my fleet of trucks so that they can use that so are you seeing a lot of that? Are you saying, okay, the technology exists? I can do it theoretically. But I can't do get my head round how to change my business?

    Martyn Etherington 15:02

    Yes, I mean, that's, I mean, that's a lot to unpack. But the short answer is yes. The next answer that is go to the Cisco Jasper website and type in cancelo. There the vendor manufacturing for vending machines. And they are great case study, you go in there, there's great videos about three or four minutes long, peppered with, with basically everything you said about prevention, troubles, administration, inventory management, what's selling best what's not selling, and then also reduction of operating costs and improving the customer experience. So do go on to jasper.com and type in cantaloupe, ca n t ELO up. And you'll find that a great case study there. So I think that's to your point. That's a good example illustration. And that number one, number two is, yeah, I think people are fearful. I think as you get the more senior elements within companies, they're hearing IoT, very much like we compared to CRM, big data, that people start to freeze. My encouragement is I spoke to a moment say where it was, it's actually in North America. Basically, they manage all of the coffee stations, all of the sort of accoutrements that go into industrial companies around North America. And I set them order about a dozen IoT starter kits, that's going to cost you less than $1,000. Put out a competition to your head of engineering, and come up with the most innovative way to help us track, manage and control our assets out in the field. And that's how you can start. And I think it's really just down to the creativity of people and unleashing the innovation within the companies to really look at how you can adopt IoT. And I think it goes back to my earlier point is the most successful IoT programs are the one that supports a business overall strategic objectives. So it should support it not though the other way around trying to find an application for IoT is looking at how you can actually enhance either making more money, saving money or improving customer experience. And then with your objectives, how does it help you as a business person solve those problems?

    Steve Statler 17:27

    So good advice. Last question area, I don't know whether it's going to be the last question. But tell us a bit more about the connections that you're establishing. I'd love to hear a bit about so what's happening as a result of the Cisco acquisition, what, what are the changes that you're saying? So what's the connectivity there? And then I'll come back and I've got one last connectivity question to ask him.

    Martyn Etherington 17:49

    We'll start off with Cisco Jasper, why we call Cisco Jasper, I think, when we're doing due diligence, all of our big network operators, they were extremely pleased, then there's a caveat without delighted you've got longevity, Cisco is a fantastic brand. But we're concerned that you're going to get lost, we're going to concern that your customer centricity is going to move away. So that's why we were very purposeful we in fact, sponsor people miracIe and got some very good coaching insight there. Over time, it will devolve into Cisco, absolutely. But right now, Cisco Jasper is that name. And so post acquisition is one of the most smooth owners saying this. This is one of the most smoothens acquisition I've ever been part of. And the other thing that we're seeing is we're getting the benefit of the billions of dollars that goes into Cisco r&d. So on next, we are getting way too much. Our next premium applications over the top applications will be around security, Cisco umbrella security, and then start to look at analytics, and so on and so forth. That's really where we've seen that aspect. So the brand has been fantastic for us. And then also the r&d technology. Well, we've got to really focus on is really unleashing the rest of Cisco, to try and actually augment ourselves with our network operators. Very

    Steve Statler 19:22

    Good. And what about other integrations? I think you mentioned SAP, so why would you integrate with something like SAP?

    Martyn Etherington 19:30

    If you think about it, we've really basically managing those Sims and managing those connections and we don't do the real deep and wide analytics or whatever people want to do. So really, we've got two big focus of our strategy was to realize what we're good at. And then also make sure we don't compete with the likes of AWS and, and Watson etc. So we have a set of API's that people against those platforms, we've done a lot of work with Salesforce with SAP with Microsoft, with Amazon, purely to make sure that we've got those connectivity and we can take advantage of their ecosystems. And that's really the strategy behind that.

    Steve Statler 20:14

    Very good. So any question I should have asked you.

    Martyn Etherington 20:18

    We can show that up, and I'm not gonna share that with you.

    Steve Statler 20:23

    All right, very good. Martyn Etherington of Cisco Jasper. It's been a real pleasure talking to you after 15 years. Congratulations on being part of such a fascinating company doing really well. Appreciate it.

    Martyn Etherington 20:36

    Thanks, Steve. It's always a pleasure speaking with you.

    Steve Statler 20:43

    So well, you must have thought about so we both watched Desert Island this this is like a first and most people have no idea. So what what would be your three? I can't say desert island. This is they'll probably sue me. But what are the three songs you would take to Mars?

    Martyn Etherington 20:57

    Yeah, so I thought about it. So my walk and my dog this morning, and it's hard on us. So I did sphere of consciousness. It would be number one. The bittersweet symphony by the verb number one. Number two. Get Lucky by Daft Punk. Number three. Lark ascending by Vaughan Williams.

    Steve Statler 21:17

    All right. And what was the logic behind those choices? Knowing you? I'm sure there was some.

    Martyn Etherington 21:21

    Oh, yeah. So bittersweet harmony. It just it's just I think that's the perfection of pop music. That's number one. Number two, Daft Punk. I love to know Rogers nice guitar playing so my thought was hurtling towards Mars. It gives me enough time to practice a guitar, learn a guitar and be like now Rogers. And then the third one, it would be when looking out the window and missing missing planet earth. Because I think nothing speaks about English British summer then lock us in it. So that's the three reasons why those three songs cool tunes can come to mind.

    Steve Statler 21:56

    Well thought through would expect nothing less of you.