The Long Route To IoT Platformization

Image credit: iStockphoto/bluejayphoto

A while ago, Australian executive Mohan Jesudason was filling up his swimming pool from a garden hose at his home in Melbourne.

He completely forgot he was doing it and went out to do some chores. When he came back, the pool was overflowing, and his backyard was soggy with water. He may also have breached the water-use limits for that time of the year.

With technology from the company Jesudason heads, this simple error would have been avoided, and hundreds of liters of water would have been saved. But Melbourne’s smart meters weren’t hooked up to the technology.

Jesudason is chief executive of X2M Connect, which was recently listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

If Melbourne’s water utilities had used X2M’s IoT technology, he would have received an alert on his phone telling him that his water use had skyrocketed that day and was well above normal levels. It’s a simple thing, but he would have been able to turn off the tap.

While Melbourne has yet to implement this kind of technology, it’s a different situation in Asia where X2M — and its previous incarnation as Freestyle Technology — has successfully engaged with utility companies, particularly in South Korea.

Becoming a standard overseas

Back in 2017 — as Freestyle Technologies — it secured its first AUD6 million deal which saw its smart water systems deployed in 24,000 Korean households in one of the first IoT implementations of its kind.

Working closely with a Korean water company and local municipalities, X2M developed smart data-driven solutions initially deployed in 24,000 households to manage water use and quality.

This followed more than two years of working through proof of concepts and use cases with its South Korean partners, which has delivered results in different sectors and geographies.

From that original work has come solutions that can be applied to gas markets, electricity, street lighting, and waste management. The company has since won contracts in markets such as Taiwan and China.

Earlier this month, X2M won two tenders with the Korean Water Resources Corporation — or K-water — for two remote monitoring tenders for more than 100,000 households across three municipalities.

Notably, the X2M IoT platform has been adopted as the standard for remote water monitoring in the Dangjin municipality, which means that all future deployments will need to connect to its platform.

This means that other applications will need to be built on the X2M platform by third parties. It gives the company a good chance to put its technology into the remaining households in the three municipalities.

Regional ambitions

The X2M revenue model is based around both hardware and software as a service. There is the initial sale of the hardware and then the subscription model on services that are built on connectivity and data exchange.

While this is an attractive business model which the company is seeking to scale, it's not as if it is an overnight success.

IoT implementations might only now be gathering pace, but the company was founded as Freestyle back in 2006 and has worked its way through close to AUD50 million in development funding to get where it is today.

It has hardly shot the lights out financially, either. The shares are well underwater since the July float on the ASX, and the market capitalization is at around AUD25 million. The IPO raised a modest AUD8 million.

As with many new technology companies, however, X2M is playing the long game, and it's far too early to make a call on its success.

Its long-term commitment is demonstrated by the fact that it has a workforce who can speak 19 languages, which speaks to its global ambition to scale.

It also shows that, even in a technology-intensive area such as IoT, technology is only a part of the formula for success.

Lachlan Colquhoun is the Australia and New Zealand correspondent for CDOTrends and DigitalWorkforceTrends, and the editor of NextGen Connectivity. His fascination is with how businesses are reinventing themselves through digital technology and collaborate with others to become completely new organizations. You can reach him at [email protected].

Image credit: iStockphoto/bluejayphoto