Topio Networks came on the scene about 18 months ago as an accelerator of the formation of markets and the development of companies. By creating communities around emerging trends and developing the information and connections necessary for the community to effectively position themselves and benefit from these trends, Topio helps companies in the enterprise and technology markets accelerate their business plans. We sat down with Founder and CEO Philippe Cases and COO and Co-Founder Gavin Whitechurch to discuss the 360-degree view Topio provides for Industry 4.0, including technologies like AI and Edge AI, edge computing, IoT, 5G and more.
Calysto: What was the thought process behind developing Topio? How did you get started?
Philippe: My background is financing very early stage companies. I was a VC for 25 years and am used to working with companies at a very early stage, two people in a garage. These entrepreneurs, in the early days of development of their venture, usually don’t have the right type of research available to make the right decisions. I built Topio Networks to solve this problem.
We provide research for free to as many entrepreneurs, software developers and end users as we can, and allow them to make faster and better decisions. If we are successful, this will help to accelerate the market significantly.
Calysto: How does your process work?
Philippe: We use a combination of Research Analysts, Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing to create taxonomies about specific industries. We create the taxonomy once and we track how the taxonomy evolves over time. We are now tracking more than 40,000 terms. By doing it this way, we cut the costs of research. About 90% of the research is done automatically and 10% manually.
Calysto: How do you promote yourself?
Philippe: The way we are going after promoting research is through partnerships. We’re not ready to disclose partners just yet, but you will be impressed with the people supporting this endeavor.
Our goal is to help companies really focus at a micro level. We help them with product marketing, and we tell them what content to use to promote themselves to the verticals they have selected. We help them reach out to our audience. We work with both big companies and start-ups.
Gavin: The edge is a place where we’ve focused, particularly in this stage of the company’s growth, because we see a lot of opportunity there. One of the partners we have is in edge computing. The information we have on edge computing is more granular than what you can find anywhere else.
Calysto: What technology areas do you cover?
Philippe: We are covering all technology for the 4th industrial revolution of the business of connected things: AI, edge computing, 5G, blockchain, and all the data backbone that is required to run these technologies.
Gavin: The most exciting areas are edge AI and edge computing—we see a lot of interest and traction there—and 5G is the next one we see interest in. We’re also starting to see some interest in blockchain and spatial computing now. We’re now building a landscape for verticals, first retail and finance because of the interest there, and then we’ll start the landscape for use cases.
Calysto: What technology areas are fading in popularity?
Philippe: Right now, everything around IoT and wearables—they’re being defined differently. Wearables are becoming devices and IoT is being integrated into devices and communications. Even if the terms IoT and wearables are disappearing, the action is still there, it is just termed differently.
Gavin: The IoT is a unique market—people are now tending to focus on subsectors of that market, and the discrete challenges of that market, vs. the “IoT market” as a whole. The other thing is autonomous cars and connected cars—they’re a little less active than they have been.
Calysto: Who are your customers?
Gavin: We have 1.2 million users in our audience. About 40% of the audience is engaged in technology directly, while 60% are a variety of user companies across a wide variety of verticals.
They are senior executives, product executives or people who are involved in developing technology. We have a big component of OEM manufacturers who have assets and want them to be connected.
Calysto: Why do they find it valuable to use your data?
Gavin: The level of data we have available is very granular—incredible detail and very comprehensive. Users can really drill into the types of data that really interests them. It gives companies a lot of context.
Philippe: The way people do research now is they use search terms and let an intern run wild for a couple of months, and then get reports on the results. The problem is the intern does not have the industry knowledge or context, and so the results are limited by the tools you are using. If you are using our tools, we’re culling the entire web and making those connections an intern would not be able to do. So not only do you get specific details on what you need to know, you’re getting them quickly. The speed of access to information is very important—it’s available right there without spending the research time.
Calysto: How have the markets shifted since you first started Topio?
Gavin: The edge computing market is accelerating very fast. In the time the company has been around, when we were putting it together, there were some big questions about telecoms and hyperscale companies coming to market and whether they would compete or collaborate, and we’ve now seen a lot of collaboration between those companies. There were a lot of questions about how those collaborations would work.
Another area we’ve seen accelerate is the far edge; the spike in interest in edge AI has accelerated a lot in the past nine months. The key thing we are seeing with edge computing starting to hit the market is a huge amount of traction and that people understand the range of applications and use cases for edge computing. We talk about it in context of IoT, but there are other applications there as well.
Phillipe: We did a survey late last year that really showed that OEM manufacturers are accelerating in their ability to get the devices connected. You’re going to see an acceleration of those types of applications across the board because the device and asset will be enabled; we are expecting to see 80% of all devices being connected in next 24 months. New technologies such as Edge Computing are also coming in to fix the issues associated with IoT implementations. This incentivizes to pilot IoT and IIoT even more. The world of connected things is setting the ground for a huge industry transformation. I have not seen a better time to be an entrepreneur.
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