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Gilad Meiri, CEO Neura; Wireless Serial Entrepreneur; Top-Ranking Executive, Authority in IoT and Innovation

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Gilad Meiri.

Gilad MeiriAn Internet of Things expert, Gilad Meiri has acted as the CEO of Neura since he founded the company in January 2013 with co-founder and life-long friend Ori Shaashua. Meiri's past experience as a serial entrepreneur in wireless helped him frame the technology and concept behind Neura's products.

In addition to Neura, Gilad is also the co-founder and CEO of Spicebox, which has created numerous successful products for mobile devices. Meiri received a Master of Business Administration from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, where he co-founded the Social Venture Fund. He received dual Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Education from Tel-Aviv University.

Additionally, among the many uncommon things in his past, Meiri has written three outdoor cooking books, spent two years backpacking throughout Southeast Asia, and served five years as an infantry officer in the Israeli Defense Forces.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:33: Can you provide an overview of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its history?
"....The Internet of Things is about connected hardware (pieces of hardware that can be identified, communicated or engaged with one another or the cloud or through any type of device like a phone)....essentially machine to machine communication has been around from the 60s...."

:01:47: How do you see the wearable market evolving and what is its value to enterprises?
"....Whether placing something on your wrist or other type of real estate on your body to measure bio-sensory metrics, it is something that people appreciate....It's a well known secret that people are buying these devices but the consumption or the 4-month usage rate is decreasing rapidly, so I think there is a lot of graduation that still needs to be done in this space with regards to enterprise....This is a consumer-oriented phenomenon and to be honest I am very much focused on consumers when I deal with IoT, but you definitely see corporate wellness programs that have greatly benefited from the wearable trend...."

:03:50: What about the consumer electronics market and how this will change enterprises?
"....Many of the consumer electronic devices out there are essentially issued by these giants which care more about stability and the right type of experience than innovation and doing crazy stuff (different from the wearable tech which is predominantly controlled by smaller companies), so you see a slower roll out. One exception would be these hub strategies where you buy essentially a gateway into your home....With regards to enterprise, there is a lot of potential utilization especially around energy efficiency (so connected sockets, switches, lighting, obviously air conditioner, thermostats and also control management to devices, IT); vast opportunities to bring connectivity into the office and into facilities..."

:06:47: How will the advances in the auto market change enterprises?
"....The auto industry I think is one of the most exciting with regards to the Internet of Things....I think the thing about the automotive industries is that it makes sense for players to collaborate (as opposed to consumer electronics where it's not really certain if collaboration would benefit all, so they try to own the customers by themselves and the ecosystem creates its own landscape). The automotive industries would greatly benefit by cars talking to one another regardless of the make of the car. Think of safety implications - if the cars from one brand can talk to the cars from another brand, with regards to enterprise there are huge benefits...."

:09:59: What are the timelines for where IoT is heading in the future in other areas?
"....This year or next year is definitely the year of wearable tech, and even though it seems like there are so many companies out there, the smartwatch phenomenon is still not to be stifled....With regards to home appliances, consumer electronics, gardening and gaming I think you are seeing the shelves being stocked pretty slowly, with projections coming out in 2015 and 2016 with you seeing vast portfolios of connected hubs....Essentially 2017 to 2022 is pretty much the stage where most of the cars being offered on the market will have a significant smart component to them....I think the next step that is going to be very significant will probably be in healthcare...."

:12:48: What is the current state of robotics, where is it heading and how do robots fit into IoT?
"....To be honest I know less about robotics just because of my consumer focus and with consumers, robots play a different role....On the enterprise level, definitely the defense industry and the safety industry can and do benefit through devices that serve in the manufacturing processes...."

:14:03: There are so many advances in machine learning, deep learning. What are your thoughts on this and how it will help business?
"....I think when you talk about deep computing, contextual computing, artificial intelligence (however you want to call it), there is a very gradual rollout because a lot of risks are involved....The ones we deal with are around really understanding individuals and then trying to teach the individuals' devices about their next predictable move to allow these devices to foresee, predict, respond and not just react or be activated. I see a lot of potential, but again I'm highly biased. But I think from personal experience all major players in this space are experimenting, highly interested and any major developments in this space will be boldly adopted...."

:18:14: There is this idea of Kurzweil and the singularity where machines are going to have equivalent or greater intelligence than we are and perhaps we will merge in some way. What are your thoughts on this?
"....I think there is a distance between the philosophical notion of the singularity and what's practical, what will happen....In a sense, think of a world where you walk and the world reacts to you, rather than you walking and start needing to pull a switch to make the world work for you. Now from there to a singularity situation where machines have understanding (a true intelligence), we are still not there...."

:20:06: What is the nature of global strategies in terms of machine learning and IoT?
"....With regards to IoT generally, I think it's quite berserk because it does not really follow disruptive cycles....On one hand you have this sense of evolved market and all the giants of technology (Apple, Google, Cisco, HP...) they are all believers in the value IoT can deliver and so are investing vast amounts in any super market that they have in IoT strategy. But it is still very much ambiguous what value can be derived and where this will head....I think there's a lot of confusion but a lot of belief in the value and so the behavior of these companies is very fascinating to see...."

:22:27: Where do you see it going in other countries, for example China? There’s tremendous investment in science and technology, do you think China will become a leading force in this area?
"....I think within the small grid evolution you see China definitely leading the way. Their ability to take a city and embed it with infrastructure fast has proven better than many other countries so I do believe China will become a leader in the Internet of Things...."

:24:53: What are the top resources for learning more about IoT?
"....If you just want to make sure that you know what's happening I would definitely create a curated list of influences in Twitter and follow that....I think that would be probably the best source...."

:27:20: Can you describe your most significant and influential achievements and the practical outcomes seen today and forecasted into the future?
"....For the past five years I have essentially dealt with connected hardware. My company helps create devices by providing them connectivity. It was pretty tough five years ago (when everyone just wanted iPhone cases and Bluetooth headsets), to convince people that connectivity has value. But we were fortunate enough to be engaged in all kinds of projects, anything from electronic cigarettes that measure your consumption to molecular sensing around food quality, so I definitely learned this from the bottom up and have engaged with really exciting entrepreneurs and their ideas...."

:28:46: It would be interesting if you could share some of your leadership lessons that may help the audience in terms of their roles?
"....I've always been in very early companies so that would bring expertise that is dedicated towards that environment. So I would not flourish in a big corporate with all the politics that surround it, but in a small company I think there is a place to have professionalism when dealing with rapid growth....The second thing is: knowledge is key. I'm never the smartest person in the room so I make it an effort and a point to be the most educated person in the room, so I invest a lot of my time understanding and thinking about what's happening in my space in the bigger industry....The last thing I would say (which is more of my managerial motto and I say it to every employee that comes to Neura)....I have this big sign on my desk which says: 'I'd rather be pushing back raging bulls than pushing forward lazy donkeys!'...."

:32:10: Do you have one thought to help manage those who have that spirit?
"....I do think the best advice would be for managers to truly be able to accept these personalities and welcome them....It comes with a cost because entrepreneurs have complex personalities...."

:35:59: Past, present, and future – name people who inspire you and why is this so?
"....Elon Musk....Tim O'Reilly from O'Reilly Publishing....Ayn Rand...."

:38:00: What surprises you?
"....I'm continually surprised. I'm a fan of innovation and innovators. I am awed by what is called the Maker Movement...."

:41:47: Do you see or have any recommendations of improvements in policy that should happen here in North America and perhaps internationally?
"....I think that within IoT specifically, security is a huge pain point. There is a lot of fear around security and I think companies are not doing enough. They are not doing enough because they don't have to, so that is the one big chunk of policy that must arise quicker rather than later to define the security measures that must be in place when dealing with connected hardware.... Another pain point is privacy. I think the balance here needs to shift; people need to own their data, control their data and understand why they are giving away privacy and be able to manage it. If they cannot manage it then it's not transparent to you....The third thing which is really a required policy is standardization. Today machines don't talk to one another. But in the thing in the future, devices will be able to communicate with one another from the get-go...."

:46:08: Do you feel computing should be a recognized profession on par with accounting, medicine and law with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, personal responsibility, public accountability, quality assurance and recognized credentials? [See and the Global Industry Council,].
"....The desired answer for this would be yes, but I actually think no....I think most software engineers are developers, executing a code on a project and the decision maker is typically not the developer but either someone in management in product, and so I think the risk for unethical behavior or irresponsible deliverable does not lie with computing (with developers), it lies with management...."

:47:40: From your extensive speaking, travels, and work, can you share a story (perhaps something amusing, surprising, unexpected or amazing)?
"....There's a thing I do when I talk – I want to prove to the world that personalized computing is happening today. So my goal obviously in the Internet of Things is to have your home react to you and to your partner and to your son and daughter, to you in the evening and to you in the morning differently because it really understands your needs, your goals, who you are etc. and I try to convince people that this is actually already happening today...."

:51:04: You choose the topic area. What do you see as the top challenges facing us today and do you have any kind of solution you'd propose?
"....The main challenge is the fact that you have a huge discrepancy between demand and supply so today it's very much a supply driven phenomenon....The other thing is the difference between User Experience (UX) and value...."

:55:26: If you were conducting this interview, what questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?
"....What will the future bring?....What needs to happen in order for the future to be delivered?...."

:59:29: Gilad, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your substantial wisdom with our audience.