Tom Siebel is Getting His Systems Running Again, This Time in IoT

NEWS ANALYSIS: How small but fast-rising C3 IoT has paved its own way in the nascent industrial internet of things market.

Tom.Siebel.YouTube2

As GE, IBM, Comcast, Verizon, Cisco Systems, AT&T, Honeywell and a dozen other huge, well-established corporations begin to scope out their portions in the next IT greenfield of opportunity—the internet of things—there’s a little, 300-person company already standing out there with its own stake in the ground.

That company is C3 IoT, and it’s located on the shores of San Francisco Bay, a few miles down the Bayshore Freeway from neighboring Oracle, a company that hasn’t talked about it yet but also has the wherewithal to be an IoT participant.

While C3 IoT itself is a bit of an unknown at this point, its founder, Tom Siebel, is quite well known in the IT world. He was an executive at Oracle in the late 1980s, started Siebel Systems in 1993, then sold it back to Oracle for $5.8 billion in 2006.

That was back in the days when a billion dollars was a billion dollars.

Siebel Named Entrepreneur of the Year

We bring this up because Siebel, 64, a 40-year veteran of Silicon Valley, was named this past week as Ernst & Young's 2017 Entrepreneur of The Year, a prestigious award in the IT community. Siebel founded C3 IoT in 2009 as an IoT platform and applications company; since then it has pivoted to add in machine learning as a basic part of its secret sauce.

“It is a great honor to accept this award on behalf of the many talented women and men with whom I have the privilege to work with every day at C3 IoT,” Siebel said in his acceptance speech at the awards event in San Jose, Calif.

This is the second time Siebel has been honored as Entrepreneur of the Year. As Chairman and CEO of Siebel Systems, he was cited as Ernst & Young’s 2003 “Master Entrepreneur” for founding and managing one of the most successful software companies in history and pioneering the customer relationship management (CRM) market.

Between 1999 and 2003, Siebel received several accolades as the leader of one of the fastest-growing and most influential companies from BusinessWeek, Deloitte & Touche, Fortune, Harvard Business School, Investor’s Business Daily, and other industry observers. In 2016, Siebel received the Most Admired CEO Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Francisco Business Times.

Fastest-Growing Software Market in Years

As C3 IoT CEO, Siebel is once again working on a market leadership position in one of the fastest-growing software markets in the history of information technology. The market for AI and IoT applications is projected to reach $250 billion by 2025, driven by CEO-led mandates for digital transformation initiatives.

C3 IoT is aiming at this growing demand by enabling large industrial and commercial organizations to build and deploy next-generation software applications that exploit big data, predictive analytics, AI, machine learning and IoT across the enterprise for productivity improvements, new business creation and competitive differentiation.

Under Siebel's leadership, C3 IoT claims it has built the industry's only platform as a service (PaaS) for AI and IoT applications--with 14 patents pending globally--that is proven at enterprise scale with large-scale deployments worldwide.

Siebel told eWEEK in that his company already has nearly 30 working installations of his company’s platform, including a multimillion-dollar system sold a year ago to Paris-based energy provider ENGIE. ENGIE selected the company's platform and applications as the tech foundation for its global enterprise-wide transformation plan.

C3 IoT is providing ENGIE with the necessary power, scalability and flexibility to apply machine-learning and advanced real-time analytics to very large petabyte-scale data sets, Siebel said.

C3 IoT: A Leg Up on Bigger Competitors?

The company claims it has a lead in working industrial installments over larger competitors.

“GE, for one example, is having a hard time selling its Predix (industrial IoT) platform,” Siebel told eWEEK. “They’re using it internally in a lot of places, but it’s slow on the uptake. Our platform is actually out there working and providing value.”

It’s true Predix has been treading water for a while in the market, but there are also signs that it is now getting some customers. The platform’s new Allsites energy management system, for example, has been installed in about 4,500 of banking giant JPMorgan Chase's U.S. branches, and the financial services company says it is saving energy and dollars right off the bat.

GE thinks AllSites will do for factories what Apple's iOS and Google's Android did for smartphones. It uses sensors, software and lighting controls to curb electricity and gas usage at Chase branches by 15 percent, projecting the savings of about $200 million over 10 years.

Potential of Industrial IoT Market is Great

Such is the potential power of the IoT, and C3 IoT is right in the middle of it all.

C3 IoT also has provided significant customer projects for financial services consumer spend prediction, discrete manufacturing dynamic inventory optimization and supply network risk, healthcare chronic disease prediction, oil and gas predictive maintenance, renewable and thermal power generation and optimization and data lakes.

The company offers C3 Ex Machina, a visual analytics and machine learning development tool that simplifies and speeds big data exploration and predictive analytics modeling. C3 Ex Machina empowers data scientists and business analysts to extract actionable business insights quickly--without writing any code. It also offers native support for Python and R, allowing data scientists to leverage the programming language of their choice and push their code back to production in the C3 IoT Platform without rewriting any code.

Siebel’s firm is expanding on the AI and machine learning capabilities currently integrated in its platform with additional deep learning technologies and more advanced analyses that increase the precision and accuracy of predictions. C3 IoT also added: image processing for object and facial recognition at the edge; natural language processing (NLP) for analyzing text-based data such as handwritten notes and work logs; expanded support for libraries of machine learning algorithms; and a machine learning pipeline that makes it faster and easier to develop and deploy machine learning models and publish them back to the platform.

C3 IoT results for fiscal year 2017, ended March 31, 2017, included 600 percent year-over-year bookings growth, 65 percent revenue growth year over year, and cash-positive operations.

So the early returns are in: Little C3 IoT is carving out a leadership role in the first inning of the IoT era, and a lot of the big guys find themselves chasing it.

Tom Siebel is the main reason for this. We’ll continue to keep a close eye on this sector at eWEEK.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...