How can smaller IoT startups partner with the big wigs? The panelists at Geektime Conference’s Digital Life panel have some answers
TheTime Group’s Uri Weinheber kicked off the first panel of the Geektime Conference by telling the crowd that, “The global companies are already here in Israel with their R&D centers and open wallets for investments.” Moderating the panel, Weinheber led an engaging discussion on developments in the Internet of Things and how they are influencing our Digital Life.
Weinheber immediately honed in on how the move towards smart devices is pushing the industry to put the consumer at the center of developing their products. He pointed specifically to the importance of using Big Data to learn more about users as a key part of personalizing products.
Joining Weinheber on stage was Lenovo’s Director of External Innovation Ornit Shinar, BioGaming’s CEO and Founder Dudi Klein, and Jacky Abitbol, who serves as the VP of Corporate Development at Orange.
In an interesting moment, Weinheber asked Abitbol whether his company Orange was back on speaking terms with Israel after CEO Stephane Richard made comments in June that his company “would leave Israel tomorrow” in response to a question by a supporter of boycotting Israel. The comment had caused significant tension with the company, which is represented in Israel by the local partner. In response, Abitbol told the crowd, “Don’t believe everything you hear on the news,” before expanding on how his company is continuing to partner with projects based here in Israel.
Which trends are industry leaders noticing from IoT innovators?
Shinar reiterated Weinheber’s message that the user has to be the focus, and how Big Data is playing a role in driving innovation. “I think we’re seeing a lot of interesting big data products,” she said, noting how it is helping to develop products that are more consumer centric.
She proceeded in driving home the point that at Lenovo, they are looking for smart devices that can be truly intuitive and predict the needs of the user. Regarding her company’s current strategy on their partnerships with IoT innovators, she told the audience that, “We’re looking for companies with technology that we can incorporate into our own technology.”
Speaking from the perspective of a more established IoT firm, BioGaming’s Klein cited his company’s use of gamification in developing their solutions for the health sector. “We’re helping people re-learn how to walk,” he said of their physical therapy products.
Open for business
As the panel wrapped up, Weinheber asked the question that all attendees were waiting for: How can they approach big players like Lenovo and Orange with their massive distribution networks?
For his part, Abitbol offered an open invitation telling the audience that, “If you have an existing product and you want to do business with Orange, then come to our program.”
Shinar offered a response that was simultaneously vague yet revealing. “We’re completely stage agnostic,” she said, saying that if entrepreneurs have an idea, they should reach out even if they are at an early stage in their development and funding process.
However, she made the point that Lenovo was seeking partners who are looking through the wide lense perspective. While she appreciated that some ideas can lead to “fun” products, her company is searching for ideas that can make more significant changes than just tell a user how old the eggs are in their fridge or another device for their washing machine.