Vincent Korstanje, Kigen iSIM

Securing IoT for better lives: the decade that matters most

One year on, Vincent Korstanje, CEO of Kigen reflects on the potential of secure IoT for positive impact to people and planet. There isn’t a moment to lose – simple decisions today for anyone investing in IoT will help shape a future we can trust.

In the last 12 months since I announced that Kigen was charting a new path, we have seen our mission to integrate security into the heart of all connected devices and data gain more relevance to the future of IoT. We’ve been fortunate to witness and support many of our partners making huge strides in iSIM going mainstream. Alif Semiconductor, AT&T, Google, Murata Technologies, Qualcomm, Quectel, Sequans, Sony Semiconductor IL, Soracom Inc, Truphone, are some of the partners who have made their iSIM plans public in the past year. iSIM roll out (initially in logistics, consumer lifestyle products and home appliance predictive maintenance) is now enabling over a dozen different profiles of use cases, sparking new possibilities across multiple sectors. Across 2021, our business has grown over 120% in revenue enabling 100 new customer opportunities and our focus on the fast-moving markets of eSIM has seen over 350% YoY growth.

Set against the backdrop of the global scale obstacles such as the pandemic, global chip shortage and not so obvious increasing impact of security breaches, it’s been a year that has demanded rigor and resourcefulness from every business to navigate for successful outcomes. 

This is just the beginning. To successfully emerge from Covid into a world that is more resilient, fairer, and sustainable we need new technology innovations desperately. Our anniversary lands this year in a week where the world is turning to solutions that will define how future generations experience this planet, many examples have been brought to life on how technology can help achieve progress towards critical COP26 targets. But the window of opportunity to use our tools to envision and build an inclusive and sustainable world is slim. If we want to do it, the moment is now. 

The security model of IoT in use till now is outdated. The security choices in connected products today will shape decades of services – both as consumers and in the industrial processes. We must build with this responsibility in mind. The future society cannot afford the wasteful “fix or forsake” mantra when it comes to the vast range of devices from paper-thin labels, minuscule medical electronics to major water pipelines, and everything in between that is being connected.

We need a new approach. This growing recognition and urgency around secure ready-to-connect hardware and services will make this the decade that counts. This notion is built into our language which we term as the #FutureofSIM.

Broadening the benefits of global connectivity for all

Our team comes from diverse walks of life and is focused on how we bring the energy efficiency required for all devices, even those that are tiny, that can take advantage of the SIM security which has become the de-facto standard for trusted services in smartphones. What struck us in common was that something so fundamental to the enormous impact of cellular has remained too complex, for too long. The key to broadening the market of all things smart, is simplicity. This led us to pioneer the iSIM: the disruptor, that enables the radio and secure element capabilities to be integrated into the silicon itself. Along with the size and power benefits, this brings more evolved capabilities to provision and remotely manage any device. 

Secondly, I have mentioned before that we stand at a breakthrough moment for IoT. The challenges brought fore by the global pandemic on every day businesses have been tough, to say the least. But it is evident when we talk to those industries (who by larger have not traditionally had connected products before) that their priorities and success are dependent on using technology to emerge as revitalized, optimized, and more resilient in the long term. 

Take, for example, the new mode of flexible and remote working. Whether an apprentice or a CEO, this is a relatable experience of our work-sphere in the last 18 months. This has demonstrated a clear need for fast, stable connectivity for individuals, communities and enterprises and put greater emphasis on endpoint security. According to a survey by GSMA Intelligence, 98% of enterprises recognize the importance and want end-to-end security for their data at the point of collection and all the way to the cloud. Further, the very nature of edge is changing rapidly with more Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities. This makes it more critical that we lower the barriers to incorporate high-grade security within the DNA of these devices. To make it simple we have taken learnings from our work with customers and collaborated with industry peers on Open IoT SAFE Manifesto – a guide for enterprises, OEMs and CSPs to adopt open approaches to chip to cloud security with simple and well-understood protocols. 

Another example in how security brings enhanced services: one of the biggest contributors to climate change emissions, the transport sector now needs to decarbonize whilst improving accessibility. See my discussion with George Malim earlier this year, on why this matters and how our technology comes to play a small part in helping change urban mobility here.

The security choices in connected products today will shape decades of services – both for consumers and in the industrial processes. We must build with this responsibility in mind.

Control to collaboration

Executive teams and boards of directors across all types of manufacturing businesses are re-evaluating and understanding the role critical supply chain, technology, and security play in the success of their business. In the fast-coming era of distributed intelligence, where legacy postures of security will not stand. Democratizing security can open new pathways for digital transformation for a wider set of industries even those without the experience and expertise in mobile. The past 11 months has seen us talk to cosmetic companies, to those in mining, agriculture, healthcare, logistics, remote and safety alerts, and other exciting new entrants. Fortunately, as part of our heritage as a company founded by Arm , ecosystems are integral to Kigen’s way of working: we bring the choice of leading silicon, chipset or module vendors to help these new players in cellular manufacturing to embark on their groundbreaking innovation.

Many of the largest telcos and CSPs have iSIM on their product plans already with substantial resources to help it scale. Our goal is to help move quickly with a relentless focus on “eSIM and iSIM-first” customers who need to leverage the cost, power, and scale efficiencies of the technology. In combination, this offers manufacturers the ability to use the best network for their needs across multiple markets, and to allow developers to build the best solutions they can imagine without having to stand up completely new areas of expertise. 

Building from here

As the old adage goes “the first rung on the ladder is the hardest” – The past year’s success is the product of a talented, smart, hard-working group, and I take great pride in being a part of this team. During 2021, we have listened to our customers and approached every challenge with openness to be ‘fresh’ even when experts. This allows us to know that the path to customer success may not be straight and focus on the long term. We shall continue to make investment decisions in light of long-term market leadership considerations, such as our investment in great talent. We continue to expand our key teams in a number of locations as you will see from our active vacancies.

We are a small team, but willing to take on challenges that remind us that together, we are building something very important here, something that matters to our customers and will matter to future generations. We’re thankful to our customers for their business and trust, to each other for shaping our best new ideas, and to our advisors across Arm and Softbank for their support and encouragement. For our part, we want to help enterprises invest in the right tools to reduce the consumption of resources and make manufacturing secure by design. Done right, this has the huge potential to better our lives and support sustainable action for our planet.

eSIM and iSIM for IoT - bikes
iSIM and eSIM technology in fast-growing e-bikes

US$8 trillion market is being disrupted by ride-sharing, autonomous driving and micro-mobility. When we consider the share of e-bikes and e-scooters in our cities, according to research from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), if the share of e-bikes rises to 11%, we could see a 7% decrease in CO2 emissions from the entire urban transport sector by 2030. This sector accounts for 50% of urban trips in the US or 70% of urban trips in cities like London so it’s a huge impact in terms of how businesses and governments and cities can really provide better services. 

The effects of these are obviously much cleaner air, much better transportation, and better mobility to get from A to B. Behind the scenes, these systems tend to be quite complex but, for user-facing scenarios, they need to be really simple. This is where trusted and secure services come into play and can enable the value chain of governments, cities technology providers, people who provide the services for the e-bikes and, of course, the end-users. All of those need to make sure that they’re working in a way that data is secure for anyone having to share their ride information, or their location information, for example.

Read the full interview here.

Join in our #futureofSIM conversations on LinkedIn and tell us how we can work towards making this decade more impactful.