Behind all things smart, from homes and buildings to vehicles, is IoT. What will open up new worlds for the future? Open IoT standards. John Osborne II is Chairman of the Board at Zigbee Alliance. He is also Vice President of IoT, sales and marketing at LEEDARSON. He talks with me about device innovation and enabling IoT standards across the industry.
Innovation Across Industry
John and I met years ago when he worked as Kroger’s innovation leader. Kroger’s process of instilling a culture of innovation is featured in my book. As Chairman of the Board at Zigbee Alliance, John is innovating an industry’s approach. Although it may be in your home, you may wonder what Zigbee is. Zigbee is one of the original machine -to-machine protocols allowing device sensors to communicate to a mesh network. Their device innovation has evolved into one of the premiere mesh networks in the industry. Zigbee products are designed to be long lasting and interoperate. The products require minimal upkeep and maintenance. But Zigbee is more than device innovation. Through Zigbee Alliance, John brings industry leaders together.
Collaboration to Benefit All
A main goal of Zigbee Alliance is to get industry leaders to accept IoT standards. Those standards will broaden innovation opportunities. Low power technology is at the forefront. The hot topics in our world today – health and wellness, aging in place, connected vehicles. These areas highlight the need for what Zigbee Alliance is doing.
Joining forces will simplify the industry for customers and businesses. But finding common ground among competitors is no easy task. Zigbee Alliance’s efforts to build relationships started with a one-week session of industry leaders. Since that first meeting, the collaboration has grown. The meetings are now held in locations across the world. Zigbee Alliance has become the facilitator allowing companies to lead. Amazon announced last year it would incorporate a Zigbee smart hub in Alexa. That has sparked the interest in others to follow suit.
The Aim of IoT Standards
The challenges still exist in to getting consensus among industry leaders. Yet, Zigbee Alliance moves forward. Their intent is to achieve common data models, common API, and common security. Companies want layers of security. But that’s not ideal on the consumer end. Still a few years out, companies are working towards the middle ground – designing the right security.
Still in the works is how IoT standards compliance will be identified. Zigbee Alliance is working with other organizations to determine this. Once established, it will simplify the consumer’s purchase process.
Partnerships for Smart Device Innovation
John also highlights the work that LEEDARSON is doing in partnership with small businesses. As an ODM, LEEDARSON has the resources. Small businesses bring their ideas. Not many innovators are aware of this type of ODM partnering approach to device innovation. The right partner can accelerate the innovation.
Lessons Learned from the Innovation Leader
The process of innovation always presents challenges in the form of innovation antibodies. New people come with their own agendas and ideas. What has John learned in his experience in device innovation and promoting IoT standards?
Here are John’s tips for dealing with innovation antibodies:
- Keep pushing your idea.
- Give them a platform for their view.
- Make them part of the process.
- Spend a lot of time educating.
- Work through the problems.
As innovators we can’t always jump to the conclusion that we’re right. Sometimes you are the one hindering your process. When that happens, you need to self-reflect and try a new approach.
We have to evolve ourselves. Take a risk and try something new and different.
Now that the tech is here, the solutions are next. Smart homes and advances in home security give rise to many use cases. The trend now is managing properties remotely and aging in place. A trend of tomorrow is cloud connected cars as displayed at CES. John’s hope for the future is connected cities. Before that can happen, issues of politics need to be resolved. Getting ecosystems like telecoms and the sensor business to work together is another future challenge.
You may also join the conversation with John and me on The Innovators Community.
To hear the interview with John Osborne II, Chairman of the Board at Zigbee Alliance and Vice President of IoT, sales and marketing at LEEDARSON, at #CES2019, listen to this week's show: Device Innovation: Enabling IoT Standards.