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Innovation Showcase: 6 IoT Companies on Tap

Enterprise communications are always shifting. We have seen voice-only become multimodal, changes to business and delivery models, and transitions in preferred device types. Through all of these changes, the priority has been on human communications and collaboration. Suddenly, that too is up for grabs.

Within the next few years, there's a strong likelihood that we'll have four Internet-connected devices -- more than 24 billion of them -- for every human on earth. The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing how, what, and why things communicate, and it appears our machines, devices, and sensors will have a lot more to say than humans do.

Each year the Enterprise Connect Innovation Showcase serves to introduce new, innovative ideas, products, and companies to attendees. This year's theme is IoT, and me and my fellow judges, Art Schoeller, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research, and Maribel Lopez, founder of Lopez Research, have selected six companies that demonstrate innovation in enterprise IoT.

Soon after we set the theme it became clear that IoT can mean different things to different people. Is the Internet required? Does it have to be a thing? What about enabling components and infrastructure? What if the solution benefits a supplier rather than the user? Do apps count?

A popular approach is to define IoT as a connected thing, such as a motor or thermostat, and exclude apps that run on desktop or mobile devices. But this definition included old-school devices such as connected IP phones, and it didn't address key IoT challenges that CIOs face, such as scalable, secure management. So we expanded the scope to include infrastructure and middleware and narrowed our focus to newly connected things.

Many Enterprise Connect exhibitors have significant IoT initiatives underway, including Microsoft, Twilio, Verizon, and Cisco. The intent of Innovation Showcase, however, is to introduce new companies to the Enterprise Connect audience, and so the mainstays aren't eligible for participation. The six newcomers we've selected to participate in this year's Innovation Showcase are, in alphabetical order:

  • Cereno - will show its NuVa room devices that utilize vertical and horizontal screens to provide a real-time collaboration experience that better emulates face-to-face interactions
  • Hub One - provides middleware at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and has developed a network of sensors and other IoT devices that integrate with Hub One's Mitel notification server to improve event response times
  • Kaptivo - offers a cloud-connected camera that can bring any standard dry-erase whiteboard into an online collaboration system. Users can livestream their meetings, as well as save them as presentations
  • Left Lane Networks - provides Tripdots, a telematics service that connects into platforms such as Cisco Spark for automating travel-related business processes
  • Relayr - offers an IoT middleware service that enables manufacturers and enterprises to create scalable, cloud services with remote visibility and control. The service now integrates with Cisco Spark
  • Telestax - offers Restcomm, an open source platform for developing and deploying IoT and real-time communications applications. Restcomm components specialize in IoT-ready M2M communications

This is a nice collection that includes things, tools, integrations, and middleware. You can hear each of the Innovation Showcase companies present its story on Monday, March 27, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., during the Innovation Showcase break-out session at Enterprise Connect. You can also meet them in the Expo Hall in booth 1201.

The implications of IoT on enterprise communications and processes are staggering. Cisco just reported that its enterprise customers are using Jasper to manage 40 million IoT devices -- up from 17 million about a year ago. Amazon reported that it has 45,000 robots across its fulfillment centers -- up 50% from last year. All of these things require services, management, network capacity, security, and analytics.

Sensors are becoming prevalent across the enterprise. Real-time data will replace guesswork across a variety of business processes involving people, resources, and activities. Sensors can provide simple telemetry or even full-motion video. For example, NEC recently shared how major airports are using its analytics software with live video to measure crowd sizes and wait times in real time.

I would like to thank my co-judges Art and Maribel in evaluating the applicants. Art has extensive experience in the contact center, which is where IoT becomes proactive with customer engagement. Maribel is a voice of authority within IoT and brought a broad perspective to the table. The judging process resulted with some interesting conversations and debates.

I expect to hear and see more than these six companies showing IoT applications this year at Enterprise Connect. Be sure to check out the session and visit with these spectacular showcase companies, and join me for more on IoT in the Thursday morning general session, "IoT & UC: Connecting Things to People in Your Enterprise." (And if you haven't yet registered, use the code NOJITTER when you do to save $300 off an Entire Event or Tue-Thu Conference pass or to get a free Expo Plus pass.)

See you in Orlando.

Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.

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