Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of devices, vehicles, buildings, and other objects equipped with software and sensors to enable them to interact and gather data on environment. The data collected is transmitted over the internet and analyzed to improve processes. The IoT industry is expected to grow at more than 20% over the next several years as more organizations see the benefits of sensory data to reduce costs and realize operating efficiencies. Examples of application of IoT include fitness wearables (distance, calories trackers), medical remote monitoring (blood pressure, glucose, heart rate trackers), entertainment (smart TVs, set-top boxes, wireless speakers), home automation (consumer robots, connected kitchen appliances), home security (sensors, cameras), home energy management (light bulbs, thermostats), smart energy (smart grid, smart meters), connected vehicles, factory automation, among many others.
The accelerated adoption of IoT in recent years has been driven by several key trends such as lower cost & size of hardware, higher proliferation of smartphones, better data storage & analytics, and increased use of cloud computing. The IoT is composed of six layers; at one end is the hardware, which refers to chips and sensors used to make IoT devices. On the other end is the cloud, which stores the data coming from the IoT devices. The layers in-between support communication across the two ends and include device management (manages IoT devices remotely for functions such as reboot, reset or update), connectivity management (monitors connectivity paths between devices and servers), application enablement (links IoT devices to applications) and data management (analyzes data at the edge of the network). Security is also critical to the IoT ecosystem and therefore is present in each layer.
Multiple companies cover different layers of the IoT stack and Cisco is one of the companies clearly positioned to benefit from the rise of IoT. Cisco traditionally has operated in the networking & hardware segment, and recently has been developing software for its IoT services. The company provides IoT products on a number of fronts and across many industry verticals:
- Network: Cisco’s 1000-5000 switches, ASR routers and Aeronet access points support IoT applications.
- Applications: Cisco’s Fog performs real time control functions such as asset management, energy monitoring and smart parking.
- Security: Cisco’s FirePower firewall appliances for network security, IP cameras for physical security and malware protection for software security.
- Analytics: Cisco’s CSA analyzes incoming sensor data to make decisions.
- Automation: Cisco’s Field Director for network management.
However, although Cisco is a leader in most of the IoT stack, the Company needs to strengthen its position in the cellular wireless space and as a consequence in March 2016 completed the acquisition of Jasper Technologies, one of the largest IoT cloud-based software platforms, for $1.4 billion. Prior to Jasper’s acquisition, Cisco’s IoT focus was mainly in connectivity for non-cellular wireless, fixed assets and data connectivity analytics within the IoT stack, but was weak in terms of connectivity for its customers. Now with Jasper, Cisco completely covers the IoT stack which enables the Company to support cellular management and grow in the software & services space, the missing pieces in Cisco’s IoT strategy.
Jasper serves 3,500 enterprise customers through more than 25 service partners in 100 countries. Jasper helps customer manage and monetize IoT services in a single platform. According to Jasper the real value of IoT is not in the devices themselves but in the services that they enable and the sources of revenue that those services generate. Jasper helps businesses bring IoT solutions to customers faster with a readily usable and scalable platform. It enables businesses with the ability to have real-time visibility and to monitor the status of their devices from any place and at any time.
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Internet of Things… Big Brother is Here. RBC Capital Markets. August 2016. Amit Daryanani, CFA