Monetizing The IoT – New Approaches: EastBanc Technologies


One of the most serious issues hanging over the Internet of Things (IoT) is: who will monetize it and how. Eric Hoffman, of mobile and cloud software house, EastBanc Technologies, recently offered an interesting presentation on monetizing the IoT – aimed primarily at small-to-medium sized businesses (SMEs).

Hoffman, who is VP of Solutions and Services, describes EastBanc as “a custom software shop that builds partnership portfolios.” One of their areas of focus is helping capitalize on the IoT. They have deep skills in identity access management, mobile and cloud – with about 90 of their employees working closely with Azure and another 90 with Amazon

IoT and Vehicle Management

Among the examples Hoffman has presented, are a number in the transportation field. A taxi company in the DC area is using EastBanc’s TRANSITiQ app to track its cabs. TRANSITiQ is also in use at the DC Department of Transportation where it provides real-time tracking of DC’s Circulator buses.

The app can track each bus’s location via signals that are transmitted every three seconds from an onboard smartphone. The software provides system managers with a dashboard that reports key metrics, such as bus delays, showing the degree of delay, e.g., “on time,” “5 to 15 minutes,” or even “not reporting.” It indicates a ranking of system performance and comparison to other agency systems. As EastBanc states, “TRANSITiQ uses a combination of smartphone-based GPS, IoT, and cloud technology to provide a 360-degree dashboard view of individual vehicles and DDOT’s overall fleet.”

The DC Circulator buses service DC’s “main attractions and most lively neighborhoods for business, culture and entertainment,” with six routes at a cost of $1 per ride. With 67 buses, the objective is to provide service at 136 stops, every 10 minutes. The EastBanc software system allows supervisors to inform drivers if they are running late.

The app draws on EastBanc’s SaaS platform called TERRAiQ. The company states that the platform “leverages IoT,” using GPS and cloud to track moving assets such as buses and cabs. Another software tool that uses the platform, FLEETiQ, is designed to allow fleet managers to monitor contractors who may work for them at various times, e.g., for snow removal.

Building IoT Business Cases

An underlying message that Hoffman stresses is that companies should think about starting to build their IoT business case from a small, local situation or need, and then expand it with further capabilities and scope to become organization-wide, or regional, even national and beyond.

He illustrates with a situation that involved two prominent business people who wanted to play squash at an off hour, when the courts were normally locked up tight. The original purpose of the app was to use IoT capabilities to automatically allow admittance to the facility and turn on the lights and other necessary utilities.

EastBanc provided a cloud-based solution, via Azure. In later steps the system was integrated with the squash court’s payment and billing and other systems.

He points out how the same principle of app evolution can be applied to transportation or other areas. For example, a transportation app that starts by using IoT to track the location of buses can be expanded in several ways – scope-wise to apply to other types of vehicles in use in the geographic area; or function-wise to use information about the buses’ performance to reward better performing drivers. Besides using GPS, data from other sensors can be incorporated to show temperature, humidity, etc., in the vehicle to monitor other aspects that influence the quality of the ride.

EastBanc’s Diverse Capabilities

EastBanc offers a wide range of capabilities that it divides into a number of areas: Business Intelligence/Big Data/IoT; Cloud; Content Management; Mobile; System Integration. Hoffman states that about 90% of their revenues are currently being derived from their custom project work, with about 10% from solutions that they offer on a SaaS basis. The TRANSITiQ service is an example of the latter and he reports a number of transportation companies and entities are current customers.

Examples of EastBanc’s other customers and solutions include:

  • Healthcare: An interactive dashboard for predictive health information provider, PeraHealth, that improves visualizing hospital patient data, responding to alerts, and evaluating overall hospital performance.
  • News/Entertainment: Integrating Washington PostTV (online news channel) with Chromecast, enabling video content streaming from mobile devices and web browsers onto TV and HD monitors and wide screens.
  • Educational: Developing a dynamic video player for KZO Innovations that enables users of this video-based enterprise education and training company to produce video communication right from their computer in a web-based environment.
  • Banking: A video banking service for Barclays Bank that enables face-to-face conversations for customers with banking advisers via a smartphone, tablet, or PC – regardless of time or location.
  • Finance: A collaborative workflow solution for the IMF (International Monetary Fund) that expedites and simplifies their process for reviewing funding projects.

Our Take

The issue of monetization of the IoT is clearly a critical one. In the extensive GSA-McKinsey IoT report, over 30% of the challenges identified by respondents were based on: low customer demand and value extraction issues – in other words how to monetize IoT.

This report was cited in our article “Internet of Things” – Identifying The Real Issues, 10/5/15. The monetization concerns were reinforced by other publications mentioned in that article: A survey by Intelligence found that IoT was expected to have little impact on near-term earnings. A survey by Vitria concluded that executives only considered revenue generation to be part of the “second wave” of IoT development, not an important aspect of the first wave. In addition, reports from McKinsey and from VisionMobile indicate that less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team.

Examples of IoT apps actually generating dollars have been reported, for example by Capgemini. Their report cited major companies such as Volkswagen, Michelin, Xfinity as well as IoT-era companies such as Nest (Google?), SmartThings (acquired by Samsung), Jawbone, Enlightened and Metromile (recently covered by MobileCloudEra, Metromile:Compelling Case for Pay-Per-Mile Auto Insurance, 5/31/16).

However, the study noted: “But there is a catch. Over 70% of organizations do not generate service revenues from their IoT solutions.” (Monetizing The Internet Of Things, 2014)

We believe that EastBanc’s approach could be very helpful, since it focuses on SMEs and also uses a simple, step-by-step approach to starting and evolving a revenue-generating IoT app.

We also find the company interesting as an example of the type of company that has accumulated deep skillsets in cloud and mobile software and now has opportunities to turn those solutions into revenue streams from continuing services. EastBanc Technologies has been in business since 1999 and is privately funded by principals of a successful real estate manager/developer company, EastBanc, Inc. The software company, Hoffman told us, now has about 200 employees. It appears to have significant growth opportunities.

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