BOSTON—To Mike Simon, if a product has an on/off switch, it should be connected to the Internet.
Simon, the outgoing CEO of remote access technology maker LogMeIn and co-founder of the company's Xively Internet of things (IoT) business, said during the opening keynote of LogMeIn's inaugural Xperience user conference here Oct. 1 that businesses no longer need to spend a lot of money to enter the burgeoning IoT arena, and the tools they need to do so are easily attainable.
"The technology is there," he told the crowd at the show, which saw 5,000 people sign up to attend. "It's inexpensive and available. You just need the innovation on top of that technology."
For the bulk of its decade-plus of existence, LogMeIn made its money and its name through its remote access and desktop products that IT support departments can use and Web conferencing software for online collaboration. In 2009, the company went public and now has more than 800 employees.
However, a year ago LogMeIn bought Ionia for $12 million, a key acquisition that has helped the company move into the IoT space though its Xively platform. Now the Internet of things has become a key focus of LogMeIn—whose mission is to help businesses bring connectivity to their products—and is the central theme of Xperience, which runs through Oct. 2.
During the morning session, Simon laid out how advancements in technology have made connecting devices relatively easy and inexpensive, as well as the benefits the IoT can offer both those businesses that participate in it and society as a whole. His talk was more focused on the present and short-term future, while Peter Diamandis, founder and executive chairman of the Xprize Foundation, gave a look at where technology and the IoT are bringing the world in the next few years and decades.
For Simon—who is stepping down as CEO at the end of the year but will remain as board chairman—now is the time for businesses to get into the Internet of things. Moore's Law is continuing to drive rapid innovation in technology, making it more powerful, smaller and inexpensive and opening up opportunities for companies of all sizes.
"Anyone that makes a product with an on/off switch should also make the IoT a priority," he said. "The possibilities are endless with connectivity."
The IoT is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years, with vendors and analysts alike forecasting staggering growth in the number of connected devices worldwide. Cisco Systems officials are predicting that the number will jump from 25 billion last year to 50 billion by 2020, and that the pervasive connectivity of everything from cars, homes and cities to industrial systems and medical devices will have a $19 trillion impact on the global economy.
That message is beginning to set in, Simon said. In a recent survey conducted by LogMeIn, 21 percent of responding companies said they have IoT projects underway and most see it as an opportunity to grow revenues. They also have C-level support, which he said is crucial to success.
Simon noted that analysts believe the global impact of the IoT can reach $1.7 trillion, but he said that might be conservative. The CEO pointed to cost savings in everything from the amount of energy used by households to the amount of gas consumed and time lost due to traffic congestion.
The challenges that businesses and technology vendors have to address are security, scalability and support, Simon said. He pointed to the recent high-profile hacks of moving vehicles as examples of the security hurdles, but also said that as more residential appliances and systems become connected—from garage doors to thermostats—the concerns increase. LogMeIn's Xively division looked to address some of those concerns with the launch of its Xively Identity Manager Oct. 1.