A couple of weeks ago, Entopy achieved an important milestone. The platform passed 10,000 shipments tracked. This coincided with the platform also surpassing 5 million API calls recorded. These milestones are significant. Whilst we hope that these numbers will be grow rapidly and become much larger, they demonstrate the platforms robustness, stability and the fact that 80% of these shipments have completed in the past 6 months, and the platform is now delivering visibility over c. 3,000 shipments per month shows positive growth and ultimately, scalability in the platform and our approach. In light of this achievement, this blog post will reflect on the many years of development and the hard yards put in by the Entopy team.
Starting out as predominantly a hardware orientated business, Entopy developed an IoT sensor from the ground up. The hardware development process is, well hard. Many hours/days/months of testing, both in labs and out in real environments, looking at performance of GPS, cellular communications and the processing performance of devices taught us huge a amount. We became familiar with likely bugs, nuances in the way that mobile IoT devices work and communicate, the challenges in different conditions and much more. Whilst that time was difficult, long days, frustrating test results and the occasional eureka moment, we got there and achieved our goal.
In parallel with the hardware development, we were building a software platform that would collect and visualise the data but critically, add context to the data our devices were sending. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was the software elements that would ultimately drive the business.
Early in 2018, we made a strategic decision to ‘open the platform up’. This meant the development of many API’s that would allow us to collect data from various other sources (not just our own) and also pass the data collected and processed within our platform to other systems to deliver more value to our customers. Up until that point, we had focused on developing a closed system, that would require users to procure Entopy sensors and Entopy software.
The change was driven by a recognition that for IoT to deliver real change in the supply chain, collaboration was key. The supply chain is so big and so complex, for IoT to realise the immense vision that so many fell in love with, collaboration between stakeholders, and collaboration between vendors was the only way forward. Opening the Entopy platform up would extend its reach and ultimately, the value it was capable of delivering.
But it was the early software ideas that would prove to be the most valuable ones. At the point of Entopy’s inception, we had identified that sensors on their own offered nothing more than ones and noughts. GPS lat and longs, time stamps, speed recordings, temperature recordings, etc. For that data to be really valuable, it needed to be associated with the real world. What does this location mean? What exactly is operating at this temperature?
We therefore knew that the sensor had to be associated with other data regarding the asset(s) that it was monitoring. We also recognised very early that because sensors needed to be reusable (to be economically viable), they could not hold additional data regarding specific assets locally. Instead, this data needed to be held within the cloud. We therefore started to develop what has now become a centre point of our software, the ‘virtual inventory environments’ (learn more on virtual inventory environments here). Essentially, a virtual representation of an asset to which sensor data (and other sources) can be associated with.
Fast forward 4/5 years, and the platform has over 700 proprietary functions and many, many algorithms (again proprietary) that make things work. Each of these functions has undoubtably been influenced by learnings from our initial hardware development endeavours. The platform now can not only take data from IoT sensors but also other supply chain systems such as ERP & TMS, automating the entire creation of a virtual inventory environment.
The 10,000 shipments tracked milestone represents 10,000 virtual inventory environments spun up and closed down. It demonstrates scalability in our approach but critically, viability. The value delivered from those 10,000 shipments tracked is of course the most critical point, and we (and our customers) could not be happier with the results.
It’s often good practice to look back and reflect as you achieve milestones. There may be things you might have done differently. Maybe you would change this or that if you could have your time again. But it is my view that the platform wouldn’t be what it is today if we had have done anything differently. The journey was the development.