Internet of Things is rapidly disrupting and transforming the world around us. Myriad of things are being connected to the internet across industries, manufacturing plants, homes and cities. Businesses are relying more and more on smart and connected devices to drive operational efficiencies, profitability and sustainability.
An estimated 28 billion IoT devices will be connected by 2020 in areas of security, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, robotic machinery and many more. These devices will generate vast amounts of data putting enormous strain on network, computing, and storage resources. Any solution to this problem mustwork across heterogeneous set of devices, networks, and cloud infrastructure.This is where Smartiply is making a differenceby leveraging Fog Computing and AIto address these challenges and thereby shaping the future of IoT.
Born in September 2015 as an academic spin off from Arizona State University (ASU) and Princeton University, it has developed powerful solutions to some of the latent challenges faced in implementing IoT.Discovering smart devices within proximity, combining available resources, and enabling collaborative computing is what Smartiply specializes in.
The company was founded by eminent people across academia and business world. Dr. Mung Chiang, Dean College of Engineering Purdue, recognized as the pioneer of fog computing; Dr. Junshan Zhang, Ira. A Fulton Chair Professor at ASU and an expert in Wireless networks, mobile social networks, privacy and security; and Kaushik Pillalamarri, accomplished global techno-leader from the industry.
Junshan collaborated with Mung, a successful serial entrepreneur, who in turn roped in Kaushik, an industry partner andfriend, to commercialize the concept. The tremendous opportunity that the technology provided spurred the creation of Smartiply Inc. A business plan was put together and presented to investors who immediately saw the potential that the technology held for accelerating IoT adoption. The ambitious tech start-upjourney of Smartiplythus began.
Smartiply is strategically located in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, USA, with a fully owned subsidiary in India, and satellite offices across the world. Smartiply attributes its success to its values and work culture. Smartiply attracts the best talents in the field with an emphasis on good cultural fit with the company values. This commitment to shared values is a powerful unifying force and fosters an environment in which innovation and teamwork thrive.
In a short period of time Smartiply has achieved tangible resultsand successfully commercialized its products. It has set benchmarks in reliability and efficiency and in the process earnedthe respect and trust of customers, partners, and investors.
Addressing mission critical challenges and enabling a superior digital experience
Smartiply has launched two products based on its foundational platform—an IoT Gateway and a Mobile Application. The Platform leverages network, computing, and storage resources closer to the user and at the edge enabling better availability&performance, tighter security, and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Smartiply has filed for several technology patents to protect its intellectual property.
Smartiply has always believed in a customer centric approach, and the needs of business and industrycome first. The objective is to continuously deliver forward-looking, modular, and scalable tech solutions. The platform’s modular design differentiates its products and enables deployments across industries irrespective of the size and scale.
Smartiply collaborates with system integrators and partners to reach out to different industry verticals. As a result, today, Smartiply is backed by multiple strategic partners covering a variety of industries across the world and has a multitude of active deployments. In 2018, the company plans to launch a mobile-enabled enterprise mobility platform and launch a third-party software development kit (SDK) to enable collaboration, communication and sharing among multiple IoT devices. It is therefore not surprising that Smartiply has been recognized among the “20 Most Promising IoT Solution Providers - 2018” by CIO Review.
What does it take to drive a successful tech startup like yours to address challenges faced by the IoT industry?
In my view the most important aspect is people. Getting together the right set of people with the right skills and values is the most important factor in building a successful start-up. A good combination of technical competencies, a positive attitude, and passion to deliver on what the company is trying to achieve; and persistence &resilience to confront challenges and deliver consistent results,are key attributes. The team must have the ability to confront difficult situations and setbacks, deal with extreme pressure, and still emerge successful. The only way this is possible is by being surrounded by an extraordinary group of trusted, talented and passionate people. The leadership team, employees, board members and advisers, customers, partners, investors, and well-wishers all collectively and collaboratively make things happen.The focus mustbe on outcomes and delivering results, and not just on technology.
Further to this is the meticulous effort of continuously scanning for potential opportunities where we can make a difference.
What’s the primary objective of Smartiply and how can its clients leverage its services?
Smartiply’s primary objective is to make IoT available for everyone through an affordable platform that comprehensively addresses mission critical challenges that slow down adoption.
Smartiply solves difficult challenges faced in IoT deployments which are heavily dependent on network and cloud infrastructure. These deployments face serious reliability issues that severely impact primary functionality, productivity, and operating costs. There are 4 key challenges that impede ROI and create barriers to IoT adoption, namely – non-availability of reliable network and cloud infrastructure;high latencies leading to poor performance and delayed actions; data security issues; and affordability. Affordability is critical as stranded investment and high total cost of ownership makes it impossible for companies to deploy effective IoT solutions.
Smartiply IoT Platform uses Fog Computing and Embedded AI to leverage network, computing, and storage resources at the edge,enabling faster adoption of IoT by delivering higher reliability, reducing dependency on cloud, and lowering total cost of ownership.
How does Smartiply leverage Fog Computing and Machine Learning technologies to create value and help drive ROI for IoT deployments?
The Smartiply platform uses multi-channel bonding technology for carrier and channel aggregation to deliver reliable, boosted, and secure connectivity. This enables an uninterrupted and seamless customer experience. The Embedded AI capabilities allow analytics across video, voice and sensordata to be done locally and thereby enable critical decision making within the Fog or network edge. This significantly improves the performance of the solution and provides significant cost savings.
This innovative technology enables devices to intelligently discover each other, create fog networks on the fly, and interact directly with each other. These capabilitiesare being extended to developers globally to exploit through the Smartiply SDK. We believe this will fuel innovation and spur the development of third-party applicationsthat will enable use cases never imagined before. Without a doubt, these platform capabilities will help drive ROI in IoT deployments.
Headquartered in New Jersey, USA , the company also has a strong foothold in India . What are the challenges involved, and which other countries are on radar?
Customer pain points and needs differ across geographies and the key challenge is to stay focussed on specific opportunities and use cases. In line with this strategy, Smartiply built a horizontal platform that enables a multitude of applications across industries instead of industry-specific vertical applications. Making the platform modular with components that can be added or removed based on the magnitude and intensity of the problem is an important element in ensuring efficiency in implementation and a healthy ROI.
We’re very active in the US with several ongoing trials with various industry leading companies.We are also rapidly expanding in India where the unique challenges of poor infrastructure, harsh climate conditions, and economic disadvantage provided an excellent test bed for the product. It’s therefore not surprising that the first successful deployment of the IOT Gateway was done in India followed by installations across the country.We are currently also actively working on a few opportunities in the African market. We will leverage our learnings from these markets to work on our future expansion plans to rest of Asia and Latin America.
Political environment, government regulationsand taxation structures have implications on how we expand across the geographies, and we will deal with these on a case-by-case basis.
What is your go-to market scheme at a global level?
Smartiply took a platform approach that is portable and horizontally scalable across devices and industries. The IOT Gateway Solution is currently deployed to provide video surveillance solutions for financial services, logistics and warehousing, and retail industries. The Mobile Solution is focussed on OEMs, operators, content providers and corporate employees. The goal is to make the platform ubiquitous across all connected devices, such as cars, drones, wearables, sensors, and other things, to provide the benefits of fog computing to all.
The initial target segment is customers who have a high demand for reliable network &high speed connectivity to the cloud but are challenged because of poor infrastructure, geographic or economic constraints. The customers we are working with are currently from Public Safety & Security, Enterprise & Government IoT, and Industrial Monitoring domains. We have plans of expanding to new industries including Smart City, Education, Healthcare, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Management. Our sales team is working on consolidating strategic partnerships with IoT solution providers, systems integrators, device manufacturers, online sales, corporate sales, and third-party developers, to offer disruptive product capabilities and customer economics.
The initial target market size is estimated at nearly $5 billion and Smartiply intends to capture at least 10% in the next 5 years.
How does Smartiply plan to achieve seamless yetsecure connectivity in the area of Mobile Applications at home and on the go?
The Smartiply mobile application enables smartphones in proximity to discover otherphones belonging to trusted individuals, such as family members, friends, and colleagues. It then combines multiple available Internet connections in the Fog network to create a larger pipe and delivers an uninterrupted digital experience even in poor bandwidth situations. In addition to providing secure connectivity within the Fog, the native multi-path algorithm provides added security from malicious attacks.
As Fog computing grows, it poses a lucrative opportunity across the globe, and a lot of competition. What are the advantages of Smartiply over its competition?
The horizontal platform approach to Fog Computing and the ability to cater to different industry verticals clearly differentiates Smartiply from competition. Solving for lack of reliability and for operational inefficiencies is unique to Smartiply; competitors have always solved for either of the problems but not both. These factors make Smartiply solution unique and thereby acceleratesits adoption. Furthermore, opening up the platform capabilities to the world through the Smartiply SDK fuelsfaster adoption of Smartiply technology. The platform is complex to build and difficult to replicate, giving us a clear advantage of a few years over the competition. Several patents have been filed to protect the company’s IPs.
What milestones have been achieved so far and how do you plan to keep up the momentum?
Smartiply was born towards the end of the year 2015 after successfully raising the initial round of capital, and within 10 months of operation, the company conducted 12 simultaneous market trials across USA and India and secured its first purchase order.Further, the platform approach allowed us to launch two products within a short period of time. The value proposition that we offered to our customers was improved reliability, cost savings, higher efficiency, and entry into new markets.
While the first year was about building and launching the platform and products, the second year was all about solidifying the foundation and establishing ourselves acrossmarkets through several strategic partnerships. The company just entered its third year of operation and we are in the middle of a financing round. The funding will be invested to drive market development, platform roadmap implementation, R&D and IP creation.
We will continue to listen to our customers and focus on value creation and outcomes, not just technology. We will continuously evolve our technology platform to stay relevant and work towards quickly getting into a leadership position.
What is your take on future prospective and vision regarding new technologies?
Newer devices are entering the market with unique characteristics and new needs are constantly emerging with the marriage between IoT, AI and video, voice&data. Very shortly, 4K video and AR/VR will become mainstream alongwith other bandwidth hungry applications. By 2020 one credible source estimates there will be 28 billion connected devices. Currently, around 92% of these devices’ workload is in the cloud. With more devices being added generating more traffic, there’s an enormous amount of data that has to be transported or processed in the cloud putting tremendous load on the network and cloud infrastructure. Therefore, it goes beyond a doubt that adoption of Fog Computing is the only viable alternative for the future.
Smartiplyleverages these trends and provides a comprehensive solutionto these challenges. Our mandate is to enable the current and next generation of connected devices with fog computing through our platform and SDK licenses. The platform capabilities shall evolve to build on top of existing embedded intelligence and machine learning capabilities to incorporate sophisticated analytics and decision making on the edge and make this available to everyone at an affordable cost.
Creating global footprints also comes with the challenge of managing an international team. How would you describe your Leadership and management style?
My long tenure at Verizon in the US has taught me how to manage diverse teams across geographies. My overseas assignments in Asia and Africa helped me understand new cultures and new markets as well. These acted as an asset when I was presented with the opportunity to establish the company and expand globally to manage not just the teams but also develop the markets. Communication is key, and we go the extra mile to ensure alignment and efficient collaboration across teams located in multiple counties. To keep the team motivated and passionate about what we are trying to achieve and bring out the best in them is the most important job of the leadership team.
I can confidently state that Smartiply has some of the most brilliant minds and we are truly fortunate to be in this situation. In fact the first set of founding team members - Arsalan Gilani, Dr. Shunge Li, and Ravi Shankar Pooli, left lucrative opportunities to be part of this exciting journey, to form a team to drive extraordinary results, to maximize shareholder value, and to take everybody to the promised land. Each of them made original contributions to the company. With the momentum created, two of our angel investors also joined the company full time, to head critical functions, forgoing other opportunities.
My philosophy is to ensure that our colleagues have the right environment to be motivated, to give their best, and to be successful. I believe in never letting people down that trust you and that depend on you.
What is your vision for Smartiply? Where would you like to take the company in the next five to ten years?
We design, develop, and deliver secure Fog-based IoT solutions to address the challenges of network and computing resource constraints inherent in Cloud Applications. Our goal is to enable IoT for everyone, not just the Fortune 500 and urban establishments. We will propel mass adoption of cost-effective IoT solutions across all industries, customer segments, and geographies by making the Smartiply platform ubiquitous over the next five to ten years. We shall continuously leverage key industry and technology trends to adapt and maintain leadership and differentiation, to capture more than a fair share of the market.
From the Client
“The Smartiply IoT Gateway addresses a category of IoT applications that are too big in terms of data needs for a single cellular connection but too small for an expensive leased line, opening up a completely new market. Its unmatched network reliability and dynamic bandwidth allocation is valuable to mission critical applications such as surveillance. The built in Edge Analytics speeds up decision making and reduces cost. The gateway enabled us to differentiate and enter new markets in a highly competitive industry, cut down on installation time, and drive revenues faster.”
—Sunil Udupa, Chairman & Managing Director, Securens Systems Pvt Ltd