I came across Wirepas for the first time about six years ago in Tampere, Finland. I was impressed with the unique concept of the de-centralized low power mesh connectivity in their offering. Wirepas, at the time, was a fully vertical company with their own sensors, protocol, gateways and cloud applications and a measurement as a service business model. This was very advanced already at the time when IoT was still more hype than reality. The company was focused primarily on sensoring and the domestic real estate market.
However, when I took the helm of the company 2014, we ran an extensive strategy discussion within the team. It was clear that the vertical offering we had is the easiest for the targeted customers. The only caveat was that the vertical offering had a very limited fit, only for the one purpose it was designed for. On the other hand, Wirepas’ unique asset was the protocol core that had been researched and developed for more than ten years. The rest was done to make the end-to-end product live.
Our goal was to have a model where we could scale up and help the digitalization acceleration around the world for as many verticals and use cases as possible. Therefore, we decided to implement a very bold new strategy, solely focusing on the protocol SW only, and making Wirepas Mesh the best mesh connectivity technology in the world. How hard could that possibly be? We didn’t need to start from scratch and with focus and time, the inevitable will happen! The best product is bound to have a fit and demand in the market. We had a plan.
Now, the inevitable has happened! Wirepas Mesh is probably the best performing low-power mesh connectivity today with the leading KPIs for scale, density, throughput, power and reliability. It has not been easy, but thanks to the focus, with the best talents in this area, and large scale industrial IoT as a design objective, we are where we targeted to be. And first in the market.
Yet, that is not enough! It would be enough if there was a customer who excelled in all the other parts of the IoT stack and hardware from radio design to gateways. So, although we made the transformation from vertical to horizontal, we were still limited because IoT platforms require very broad and advanced skills to make a complete solution. On the other hand, it is not realistic to build the best in class team and offering for the full solution for all the markets, especially when different verticals have different requirements. Even the biggest design houses are not capable to serve all.
The solution is to have an ecosystem play. Ideally, whatever the challenge is, there are partners with whom the overall system can be built affordably and timely. When use case for the idea and business plan is in place, probably the most important step is the make, use or buy analysis.
- Make the parts where you look for differentiation. Competence is always limited, if not in capacity, in skills, usually both. Hence, it is important to focus on areas where you make a difference to your customer. It can be an area where there are no technologies available yet for your use case, or you have a secret sauce you want to focus on to excel in your business.
- Use reference implementations where applicable and available. Reference implementations help to further focus on the “make” part and give better time to market. It is important, however, to understand that reference is not a product. It is the user’s responsibility to pick the right building blocks and test against the intended use cases.
- Buy the parts you don’t have the skillset or time to develop and for which you can trust a 3rd party. Buying is partnership at its best. No parts in any system are stable forever, but under continuous innovation, development and especially testing. It then makes sense to share that cost with an IP licensing model. Having the right partner to develop a critical part of the system while you focus on the “use” and “make” can be the best combination. Buying something doesn’t mean higher costs, quite the contrary. Worth of analysis is labor cost, time to market and system level cost when comparing commercial, free of use or making yourself.
Wirepas’ focus is still protocol SW, but also more and more on ease of use and utility value. Therefore, we also started to invest in reference implementations which are free to use. Today, a new customer can have a full end-to-end system running in just a few hours, instead of months like when we started. Having that as a starting point helps a take the make, use or buy analysis as well. It helps in avoiding the non-differentiating heavy lifting that connectivity projects usually have. We have seen hundreds IoT projects and tens of different use cases and the ones who do this analysis, and choose based on it, have been able to make the project with the lowest budget, the lowest solution cost and the shortest time to market, but also with the highest product performance.
Every company needs to renew itself from time to time. Focus on ease of use and utility value is Wirepas’ new extended promise. We continue to invest in it. We are confident the inevitable will happen again, where customers are served with not only the best performing mesh, but rich reference options to make the most affordable solutions. That promise helps the ecosystem to trust the making of IoT products in the first place. Too many IoT projects fail because of the wrong make, use or buy outcome. Wirepas not only licenses the critical elements and offers reference designs, but also helps customers to connect with other partners to secure the success of the overall solution and project execution.
We believe, we have now the right model and execution with the fast-growing group of ecosystem partners. Overall cost and risk of a new IoT project can be predictable and low enough for successful development and deployment. We are involved in tens of first of a kind IoT systems that were not possible before. For example, the ecosystem approach for the industry very leaders like Maersk, Prologis, Fujitsu, Sulzer and many more are delivering unprecedented services at cost that is small fraction of cellular technologies.
Please visit our new website for more information about our offering and partner ecosystem. Together we dare to say it out loud:
DARE TO CONNECT!