Poland might not have been the first to adopt the concept of the Internet of Things, nor be its most fervent implementer, but the it is certain to become a part of everyday life
Imagine getting an SMS on your smartphone from your fridge. It’s writing to tell you that the milk is about to expire, but it also informs you that it has already made an order at your favourite online shop and a fresh supply will be delivered later today. Sound a bit far-fetched? It might be closer than you think, as more and more items which we consider to be decidedly low tech are getting connected to the internet.
Although the penetration of internet-controlled gadgets in Poland is not yet on par with world leaders such as South Korea, the country is already a hotspot in the production of Internet of Things (IoT), according to Ludovic Subran, Group Chief Economist at Euler Hermes, who explained that, unlike other countries which “don’t have the sheer need to move beyond the technological frontier, Poland could experiment with IoT in real life, with a clear business incentive.”
Tomasz Kowalczyk, Innovation Manager of HardGamma Ventures, a Warsaw-based VC firm, declares that there are some companies from Poland making waves on the international stage, but that there is still plenty of room for growth.
Keeping a tab on the kids
Kowalczyk cited Blastlab – in which HardGamma Ventures is an investor – as a company which has received positiveresponses from overseas. The Gdańsk-based firm specialises in beacons, devices which are constantly aware of where they are due to a number of receivers, and can relay different types of information to users. It produces a device which essentially consists of two armbands. One is worn around the wrist of a child, the other around that of the parent. The parent’s armband vibrates whenever the child gets too far away. Think of it as a baby monitor for the new age.
Meanwhile, Oort, another Polish company specialising in home automation equipment, is producing items such as smart lightbulbs and smart power sockets which you can turn off and on through your mobile device. Do you want your meal to be warm when you get home from work? These products allow you to turn on your slowcooker from your phone or tablet.
Oort CEO Radek Tadajewski says that start-ups from Poland often find barriers in realising their potential abroad. “In Western Europe, I feel- and sometimes hear – that the fact that we are Polish means that we don’t make ideal partners for cooperation. This is quite different from the United States or Asia. There’s no such problem there,” Tadajewski told Polish Radio in a recent interview.
HardGamma’s Kowalczyk said that what is missing for Polish start-ups operating in the IoT ecosystem and beyond, is to establish a strong relationship between the level of technology– which in his opinion is quite high – and the management capabilities which will allow these companies to grow.
Buying in bulk
But Polish companies are clearly still new to the trend towards IoT. According to Poland’s Office of ElectronicCommunications (UKE), only three percent of Polish companies use technology which is connected to the internet (apart from computers). Meanwhile, only six percent intend to expand into IoT in the near future.
Of these companies, most are in the field of transport and logistics, using it for measuring fuel consumption, for example, or to notify of road accidents. Around a third of companies use it in trade, and merely one percent use IoT solutions to monitor vehicles and buildings.
“The Internet of Things is still a relatively young solution which the market is only just getting used to,” says Adam Stańczyk, Business Analyst at BPSC, a Chorzów-based IT solutions company. “This is evident even in large companies, particularly in production plants, where, despite large investments in recent years in progressive automation and robotics, machines practically do not communicate with the software.”
‘The Internet of Things is still a relatively young solution.’
According to Cisco, which analysed the attitude of Polish entrepreneurs to such new solutions, the most common barriers to IoT are lack of funds (21 percent) and not seeing its importance for their business (20 percent). As many as 15 percent blamed a lack of knowledge about IoT.
While IoT might still seem like something far off, the price point of many products like smart TVs, internet-connected lightbulbs and location beacons is dropping, becoming ever more within the range of an increasing number of people. A total of 40 percent of Poles own products running on the IoT ecosystem, while 50 percent claim that they will buy such devices in the near future, according to a recent poll by IAB Poland.
“As Poles become wealthier, they will purchase more and more of this technology,” said HardGamma’s Kowalczyk, The market for IoT will double between 2014 and 2018, according to IDC, a global advisory firm, from $1.5 bln in 2014 to $3.1 bln by 2018. As more households and businesses recognise the potential for IoT to not only make their lives easier, but also safer and more productive, the domestic sector will continue to grow impressively.
Globally, the market for internet of things will continue to grow exponentially. According to EY, ” the number of connected devices [will] exceed 50 billion by the year 2020″.