Germany has been long considered a country of scientific, technological and engineering innovation. This is reflected in the strength of IoT technology which extends far beyond the automobile industry. Keen to get a feel for an insider’s perspective, I met with Martin Giess, EMnify co-founder and Chief Technology Officer and Frank Stoecker, EMnify co-founder and CEO.
EMnify is a next-generation elastic Cloud Service enabling enterprises and OEMs to connect M2M (machine to machine) and IoT devices globally throughout the lifecycle of a device. It uses provider-agnostic M2M SIM cards in combination with a custom-built, scalable, globally distributed Evolved Packet Core (EPC). It’s RESTful-API and management platform can be fully integrated into existing systems to aid monetization of IoT ventures. EMnify services are provided as SaaS and IaaS, supporting cellular and LPWAN connectivity.
EMnify was founded in 2014 and all three founders actively work within the company, first beginning work together in messaging in 2000. They became the first non-operator in SS7 messaging.
How has the IoT sector evolved in Germany?
Martin Giess: “The IoT and M2M sector in Germany has evolved a lot in recent years. It’s gone from classic fleet management to be more focused on tracking any valuable assets – moving or stationary, from people/pets to high value equipment. In Germany in particular there’s been a lot of evolution around tracking construction equipment and high value machinery built by the German Mechanical Engineering Industry (Maschinenbau).
Initially, IoT systems started as simple alert systems such as emergency buttons in elevators that if pressed instantly call/alert an operator. Now, companies use IoT systems to remotely monitor and collect much more detailed operational data which is then analyzed using big data techniques. This enables predictive maintenance, remote diagnosis, optimization of resource utilization and efficient use of human work force. In this way, German engineers are now able to provide remote support for their customers all over the world, helping them to more efficiently run their machinery to the highest quality standards. This has meant that having assets delivered with built in connectivity and integrated cloud services is now recognized as an important competitive advantage.
What are the particular challenges in the sector?
Martin Giess: “Security is still a pain point and the security risks that accompany complex IoT project are hard to understand. This is due to stringent security concepts and best-practice standards still evolving/being established.
This lack of standards, in conjunction with the general privacy and data protection issues that come with communicating data over the internet, is an area where the German IoT industry needs to put more focus.
In my opinion, there is even the possibility for German IoT companies to obtain a leadership position in IoT security, which would further encourage buy-in for IoT technologies from society at large once the benefits and security standards are better understood.”
What about specific to Europe, how does it differ to IoT enterprise in the US?
Martin Giess: “Currently, we have a very fragmented IoT market in Europe, this is because different standards are being developed within countries, at a country level, which are often then redundant when applied in other territories. There’s also standards being developed for certain verticals which similarly become redundant when applied to other industries.
To drive innovation from Europe, what we need is an open eco-system based on standards and interoperability that enables both large enterprises as well as smaller players and entrepreneurs entering the market, with innovative solutions that serve projects all over the EU.
Protocols and data standards that are developed for specific territories or verticals also lock consumers to one vendor. If consumers cannot migrate their data when they replace a device using a different manufacturer, they will in effect lose any benefit from the data they have been accumulating over time. This again creates a closed and fragmented market.”
What’s next for Emnify?
Frank Stoecker: EMnify is growing rapidly with new investors and customer coming on board; most recently we signed on Lars Singbartl as an investor, the former head of Warburg Pincus Germany. In particular, we’ve seen interest from enterprises and investors increase with our recent launches:
- EMcore – our virtualized core network
- EMpower – an industry-first connectivity and service management bundle
- EMtrust – an industry-first Trusted Service Manager function for the management and provisioning of eUICC SIMs.
We are also currently in the process of signing major channel partner deals which will commence in the second half of 2016. We will also engage in a new funding round during the second half of 2016. The money sourced in this funding round will mainly be spent to accelerate our global sales and marketing efforts which we initiated in October 2015.