Planning the future of the IMC

  • April 29, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Steve Rogerson talks with Sara Brown, who took over as chair of the IoT M2M Council (IMC) in January, about her plans for the council and her views on where the industry is going.

When Sara Brown, vice president of marketing at Multi-Tech, took over the reigns as chair of the IMC in January, she could not begin to imagine what the next few months would have in store. Then, coronavirus was little more than rumours coming from the Far East.
“The Covid thing has put a bit of a kink in the works, but we are adjusting,” said Sara Brown (pictured). “This is an interesting time for all, particularly for those in the IoT industry who have developed products for the critical industries.”

She believes that some in our industry will come out stronger because of this.

“A lot of people are seeing a more pressing need for monitoring equipment remotely and working from home,” she said. “But I hope like crazy that everyone will manage through it. People are having to manage cash flow, supply chains are being disrupted. It is hard to make broad predictions. Retail sales are down 83% so they are not going to be deploying new technology soon, but in the electricity space business is booming because everyone needs the services.”

Brown was elected as chair at January’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, but since then the whole trade fair industry has been thrown into chaos. One of the first major casualties was Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which was called off, and Embedded World in Nuremberg was much smaller than usual. But the cancellation that hit the IMC the most was Hannover Messe, where the council was due to run its own seminar series. Instead, the IMC held the seminar series last week as a two-day online conference.

“The online conference last week went really well,” she said. “I did not know what to expect from this but we had solid participation. Representing Multi-Tech, I talked for twenty minutes and heard from real people trying to create real solutions. And it is a lot cheaper than doing a live event. So it went really well.”

For next year, the IMC is again signed up for CES where the dedicated IoT space is growing.

“This year, we thought CES would be good but it turned out really great,” she said. “We are running the IoT part again next year. For Hannover Messe, we are planning to run a conference on the floor. Hopefully, this will grow. It will be interesting to see what will come out of it and how these shows will work as part of the marketing mix.”

Events such as these help to raise the profile of the IMC, which has a two-tier structure of sustaining members that fund the organisation and more than 25,000 adopter members.

“For our adopter members, we are a source of expert information on the IoT and how to deploy services,” she said. “For sustaining members, we are a way to connect to that community. We have a role that resonates with both audiences and it is working.”

For the future, she said she wanted the IMC to increase the content and quality of what is was giving, moving away from branded content to more expert knowledge and thought leadership.

“We want to create something that is more valuable for the membership,” she said. “I have been in the space for 15 years and there are still people coming to this fresh and don’t know where to begin or what kind of questions to ask. That is why we launched our RfP programme.”

The RfP programme available today is free of charge for the adopter membership. It provides a set of questions and considerations on the software side for those moving into IoT.

“It has been super well received,” she said. “They don’t know what questions to ask and thus it has been really beneficial in letting them evaluate the different platforms.”

The next stage is expanding that to look at the IoT from end to end, with questions for hardware vendors and network operators, for everyone involved.

“We have taken the existing RfP template and quadrupled it so it is not just one piece of the puzzle,” she said. “This will be a paid-for subscription service and it will come out later this year.”

To conclude, she said the IMC was no longer a fledgling organisation: “I want to revisit some of the visions we put together a few years ago when we got started and see that we are still aligned with the membership and continuing to deliver.”