Sophia Hasnain with Linked Things

On this week's Industrial Talk we're onsite at IoT Solutions World Congress and talking to Sophia Hasnain, Founder and CEO at Linked Things about “Metaverse of Things and Human Centricity”. Learn about Linked Things along with Sophia's unique insight into the future of the Industrial Metaverse on this Industrial Talk interview!

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Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go.


Alright, once again, thank you very much for joining industrial talk. And once again, also thank you for your support. Because we're building the platform, a platform that is dedicated to you industrial professionals all around the world. You are bold, you are brave, you dare greatly you collaborate, you solve problems, you're making the world a better place, and therefore, this platform is dedicated to you. And it is celebration of You, because You are the hero in this story. All right, we are as you know, broadcasting from IoT solutions World Congress 2023. It is a great event, a great event, and it is an event that you need to put on your calendar for next year. If you were not here to do that, because Barcelona doesn't disappoint. Nor do the professionals here at this particular event disappoint. They want to collaborate with you solve your problem. All right, in the hot seat, we have a person by the name of Sofia, Asana.


Yes, that's right. Sofia Hasnain

01:18 is the organization. And let's get cracking. She's gonna dazzle you with her brilliance.


We are because everybody listens to me and knows that I'm not. So it's easy to get dazzled.


All right. We'll try.


We'll try. No,


I'm gonna go conference.


Yes, absolutely.


Have you been here before?


So no, this is my first time here in person. Last year, I was part of the hybrid program. So like I was, I did you know, there was an IoT solutions World Congress, extended version, where I spoke online.


Oh, did you have your time?


Yes, absolutely. I am thoroughly enjoying this conference.


All right. For the listeners, before we get into the topic of conversation, give us a little background on who Sophia is.


So Sophia is an electrical engineer by education, who has been doing a lot of cutting edge projects all through her career. So like I started my career in 99, after graduating from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with master's in electrical engineering, I have since then, worked in Pakistan, Germany, UK, on working on different cutting and cross cutting edge technology projects. I started my career as an embedded systems engineer and embedded design engineer and then moved on to work on it and financial services and all these different marketing engagement strategy projects. Back in 2016, I, you know, when this whole hype of IoT was everywhere, and people were talking about the miracles of IoT and the magic of IoT, I started to look at it again, spoke to people about pros like figuring out how to do it. And we started linked things in January of 2016, looking at what is the shape and form of IOD in, in emerging markets would look like, so we started with that. Because, you know, there's already even today there's like the conference is also about like, you know, Europe, US, Australia has like develop markets, we said, you know, a big bulk of manufacturing is actually happening back in, you know, the emerging markets, which are, you know, export oriented markets, and they have weak regulations. So, you know, here we talk about sustainability, and resilience and being you know, environmentally conscious, and labor laws, and all of these things right back there, the regulations are very weak. And if we ignore the practices over there, we all have one planet to share. So we just can't say that, okay, we'll have these islands of, you know, good environment and everything perfect. And over there, we can leave things to you know. Right, right. So you you do have to look at holistically. So we Peter and I was in Pakistan. So we started this in Pakistan, looking at IoT and then moving on to industrial IoT practices platform.


I don't even know where to start with that. That's a heck of a CV that you got going on there. I have one question. Sure. See, I understand the the push for sustainability and then having that conversation and leveraging technology to achieve whatever those goals are defined whenever you find companies, is that a is that a recipe for business success, or does that hinder businesses Because it's one thing to say, Yes, I get it. Yes, I want to do it. But But you're asking the company that I got to, I still have to keep the lights on. You're asking me to do something that is just, that's, that's a challenge.


So I think the question is neither of these, like, you know, is that my business success? Or it's my business failure? Or is it compulsion? Because I think we all have at once again, going back to this, we all have one planet. And if I take a very short term view, I would say, Yeah, my profit over planet, right. But the sustainability means that I have to take a bit of a longer view, and see that, okay, how I'm impacting my environment, and the future with it, right. So you cannot have for example, I'll give you another example of the work that we do, we have also, alongside this whole industrial IoT, we started looking at, you know, city wide air quality, right. So air quality in many of these industrial cities, and in emerging markets is extremely poor, when you look at some kind of index, right? So, you know, your top 10, top 20 cities are actually in the emerging markets. And I can have a very narrow view and I say, okay, I can continue to pollute, doesn't matter, because, you know, I have got to take care of this many this money workforce, and you know, my profits and all this, but the air quality has a detrimental impact on the productivity of your employees as well. So when they walk in, if they are tired, right, if I just look at this, like, you know, I'm producing pollution, and I'm getting tired workforce at the end, or I am getting sick workforce like that already has allergies or, you know, other respiratory problems, or nowadays, the studies also talk about like that you have, you can get, you get you're tired, you're more or less motivated to work. You know, you've got even people talking about miscarriages, and then all of this so you, it's all our choice at this point, what kind of view we want to have, and what we would like to achieve with our you know,


yeah, and it's a big picture. I understand there's a there's a journey that is here. It's not it's not gonna happen overnight. And I agree with you 100%. Okay. Yeah, that was a tangent, a digression.


I know that.


It's just, I don't have the answer. I don't have the the insights. I don't, you know, hang out with the people that you hang out and have those conversations. But it's it's an important conversation. Now. You're speaking here at this event. And I think it was scalable. Just go down that road. Talk to us about that.


So we I spoken to two sessions today. One was on Metaverse, and what does it mean for enterprise? And the second one was how we were it was a case study, like how link things could actually a platform that was built for emerging markets, could take it outside Pakistan, and deploy it in developed markets as well. So like, you know, we've been talking about how important technology was and what were the key trigger points that helped us to deploy it efficiently. And so I talked about, like, you know, what are the key things you need in the platform? And, and how you should approach that scalability question as well. Because I think that's the question, even today.


So you're saying, Okay, I'm in an emerging market? Right. And I'm developing a solution, a technology solution, right. And I've got to get it out of that emerging market into something much bigger, greater scale, more commercial? Yes. So you're saying, is there an effort to say, Okay, I'm in, I'm looking around these emerging markets, and I know, the businesses and the companies around there, and I see what's taking place? Are you saying that, that's the technology I want to work with? I want to begin bringing that one out of the in scaling is that


what helped us to scale? Right, so like, you know, what helped us to make this kind of a move from, you know, I'll explain it to you like, you know, yeah, so they get a few things that are part of our platform. So when we started, like, you know, the challenges that we were facing in emerging markets actually became challenges in developed markets later. So like, for example, you know, energy crisis has hit the market only last year, like in the Western world, right. But countries that are in emerging markets always had an energy crisis, right. Sustainability always has been an issue. And then workforce, right. So like, you know, we Talk about a lot of AI in modeling and you know, through the high level stuff, which actually you can go and sell to a CEO. And I'll go take a step back and visit and don't talk about digital transformation and saying that, you know, a lot of digital transformation projects fail a lot of IoT projects fail, right? It's, it's, yeah, yeah. And why do they fail, because you know, you're selling something to the top layer, and they buy it, and you go, and you implement it for people who are at the shop floor level, for example, right? So these are the people who are actually going to use it, but you never built it for them, you built it for the management, you sold it to the management saying that, you know, look at this, how pretty your dashboard is going to look like you will know this, this this mural, but the guy who has actually, who's actually responsible, he doesn't have the tools, right, he doesn't have the by end, he doesn't, he's not engaged at all. So and we faced this challenge as well in you know, in emerging markets, and we really had to sit down and say that, okay, why are we not successful? When, you know, we look at all the case studies coming in, coming out from McKinsey or in the world, and we're just gonna blame them. But you know, the case studies and you say that, look at this, they are successful, why are we not successful? So we looked at it, and we said, No, the problem is that we are not building it for the people who are going to use it, we are building it for the people who are going to buy it, right. And then that's why it's not very successful, then you go back and you say that, you know, you want to buy it again. And they said no, but you know, the first time it didn't work out, it might not work or the second way, second time. So you say okay, so the first thing I think, that we focused on was human centricity, like the topic that you know, everybody's talking about today, here. For us, human Centricity was very important going to the point where the workforce is going to engage with your platform. Right. And that helps you scale. Because if you say that, you know, a lot of people talk about one pilot to pilot, some people say that, you know, it was a free of cost pilot that we did, and we never couldn't scale it, we could never take it to the second machine, third machine. But the thing is that if you don't have human centricity, if you don't have the, you're not able to engage the workforce. At the end,


it's a common tale. I mean, I don't know what the stats are on on systems like that, where they get sold at the sea level, and say, that's gonna do everything that you see person wants, and yet you're not responsible for it, and then just dies a miserable death, or it just continues to be put one of the many legacy systems that you have sort of out there and figure out what to do. And it's just a, it's a, it's an, I've seen it all. And they do it, and it's not out of a desire to, it's out of a desire to try to do something better. It's out of a desire to try to make it. But But rarely do we ever, ever interact with.


So for us, it was a compulsion, like, you know, because we it was, it just became mandatory, because we had to go and work with the workforce that was semi literate, semi skilled content, interpret what you're building with a bar graph and pie charts. And you know, this fancy data popping in here. And then simulation of the data, they don't care, they don't see that they cannot relate to it. So how do you do it, then you have to actually come up with, you know, graphical or visual assets that they can relate with you. So if it's a tank, you say, Okay, here's the tank. If it's fish, you say, Okay, it's 50% filled, it's not you, you use the visual tools to tell them what they are accurate so that they can relate to what they're seeing in real world versus what they're seeing on the screen. And that increases the adoption. Right.


Yeah. Just to add to that, don't make it hard for me. Don't I'm not I mean, that's, that's that's the reality of it. Right? Yeah. There is a desire to adopt. If it makes my life easier, make my life easier. Yeah. Don't make the work for that information. And I see it. Okay. Good. God. Yeah,


exactly. That's it. I mean, so. So that was one thing. The second challenge was how do we actually retain the data in case of power failure, or in case of internet disruptions? And people we're not talking about edge at that time when we build it, right. So we built the edge because it was a requirement. And then we went back and we looked at a lot of people is calling it now an edge, but it was something that was something that we had to build. So edge is one of the things so


just for the listeners out there. Just help us just define quickly the And why that's important. So,


you know, when the whole IoT thing came, people were talking about cloud based solutions. And then they realize that there are certain applications that would require on the ground, you know, something close near to the sensors near to the devices, some processing over there. And they said, Okay, that's cloud, this is edge, right? So. And a lot of now the hardware is coming with built in Edge capabilities. And people, and it's also, you know, then you talk about, like, how to keep the data persistent, and all these kinds of technical terms, and we can get into like, but, you know, that was all part of it. So that's something that the other thing that I think, that helped us was that we, from day goal, or maybe like, after a few iterations of our platform, we decided that we cannot be relying on on cloud based services. So like, you know, we have to build cloud native solution, but it has to be cloud agnostic. Because our customers were hesitant, for example, on they had preferences immediately, like, you know, I would be on X or Y, and I cannot be on Zed. And I can, then so that we had to look at, like how we can actually containerize the whole platform, build something that is, you know, the redeployable on different clouds and satisfy our customer requirements. And I think now, it's not just about the about the brand or the cloud provider, but it's also like, you know, if you look at companies that are multinationals, or have got global footprint, global manufacturing footprint, they would like to have their IoT platform closer to the manufacturing industry, right? So their industry where they are geographically to reduce the latencies. Right? Yeah. Right. So it just cannot be that, you know, all the data from the world is going to Europe, or you. And you would like to have like if manufacturing is happening in Southeast Asia, that, okay, let's go to Singapore as a hub, deploy this, and then you need something that manages the whole, you know, this platform, network of platform,


or these these systems. And I agree, I mean, it, it makes complete sense. And, and I would imagine, with your experience, you've seen a lot of changes, you've seen a lot of good things, you've seen a lot of challenging things, and it makes sense. I get it. And now with the the the speed at which we're digitally transforming the world, whatever that looks like. Then there's other other things that you're you're working through the systems that your your look at, in these emerging markets. Are they custom? Or how do you? How do you? Look, we're at IoT solutions World Congress. And it's just software, in a sense, its technology, its various types. We do this we do that we all of that is all there. It's a, it's interesting. It's noisy for me. I don't know, what where, how, but how do you I still struggling with merging market, here's a, here's an app. That's, that's our program, whatever it is, and we're scaling it when you have this out here. This is noisy,


too. It's noisy. And it's also interesting, because then you get to see various things that are happening, how people are actually perceiving. So it's actually like, it's truly an emerging technology. And we are talking about, and it's a big mandate, because we're talking about digitizing all the physical spaces. So we're not just talking about, you know, giving you a hand handset and social media access or, you know, camera access or something like this. But we're talking about digitizing all the physical assets, right? And then, you know, there's like, I and that's why I say multi Metaverse because you've got so many universities here use it is right. So, you know, the, the, the I mean, it's sometimes mind boggling how how much work needs to be done, right? And you need all these players and everybody coming in with their own expertise. I think it's the noise is more because everybody is excited about it. Everybody is finding their own niche solutions. Okay, I've got the solution. I've got the solution. But


But again, if I'm Scott sixpack, and I'm just trying to figure out how to manage my operations. And then I'm getting inundated and confused mind does not make a decision because I'm confused. I've know something I've gotten on the line. I've heard Scott talk about this right. And I know I need to do something, but it is just it gets down to this. I need to trust somebody. Yes. It's a person. Yeah, it's a human interaction to ensure that wherever I go, I know that I'm heading in the right direction, identifying where I need to go, that's that we don't need to go there yet. We can go over here. And it is I see it as a journey. Anyway, I just,


yeah, I mean, but you know, you will see consolidations, I think, going forward. Yeah, like, you also see, like, you know, again, IoT is such an interesting technology that, you know, you've got all the industrial manufacturers coming in, in this space, and you've got all these hyper scalars coming in this space, and, and then they are startups, and they are waiting for the margin, I know, exactly, and who is going to win and who's going to do what, and then you know, you've got clouds by the equipment manufacturers, and you know, you've got hyper scalars, getting into some kind of hardware. And then luckily, they couldn't do that, right. So there's a minimal effort on our side, see, so,


again, I want to be with the winner. If I go down this road, I want to be with the winner that's gonna be around, it might be an acquisition, it might be whatever, it might change, it will change, quite frankly. But I want I don't want to lose her. And I hate to put it that way, where they go away, and then all of a sudden, you got this legacy system, that nobody knows how to support and


operations doesn't again, very interesting thing because the market we work in, they just have legacy, and they don't legacy equipment, and they don't have capital to revamp their systems. Right. So we are now saying that, okay. And that also, you know, became our capability that, okay, you've got legacy equipment. Okay, we'll bring the data on the cloud, and do it that way. Right. So, so again, I think the winner, I would say is going to be that actually reduces the capex cost. provide something that is, again, what people have been talking about human centric dashboards, human Centricity in the whole solution. If you say, I'm just doing it for management, and I'm not doing I'm not going to cater to all of the management layers or the working layers, organizational hierarchy, it's going to fit. So yeah, legacy, human centricity. And being like, totally cloud agnostic helped us scale. And that's the, I think, the conversation that I was having here as well. You're awesome.


Sophia has her name. How do they get a hold of you, Sophia? Yes, so somebody's listening is like, hey, I want to get a hold of her because she's pretty cool.


write me an email or find me on LinkedIn. My email is Sophia dot Hasnain at LinkedIn dash Or I am Sophia has named on LinkedIn and you can find me there.


I would I would opt for the LinkedIn approach is because I I'm gonna have that contact out on industrial park. Just FYI. Okay. Yeah. You're great.


Thank you very much. Thank you. Currently enjoyed the conversation. Thank you for the opportunity.


Now, IoT solutions World Congress right here, you get people like Sofia, real problem solvers, helping you succeed. And that's, that, to me is a really noble purpose. All right? Again, we are broadcasting IoT solutions World Congress 2023, put this on your calendar, it is a must attend event you get, you get to hang out with people like Sophia, and you're gonna change the world. We're gonna have all the contact information for her out on industrial talk. And we're gonna wrap it up on the inside. So stay tuned, we will be right back.


You're listening to the industrial talk, Podcast Network.


All right, I'm living the dream. You're living the dream industrial talk and listening to Sophia. She was phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. And every time I have these conversations with professionals like Sophia and others, it is all it always gets down to how do I collaborate with them? How do I connect with them? How do I work with them to solve problems? And I'm telling you right now, she's trusted. So you reach out to Sophia, because now she's definitely at a different level than I am which not saying much because well, I'm just got, I geek out on this stuff. But Sophia, incredible. Thank you very much for being on industrial talk. All right. You need to be a part of IoT solutions World Congress. You can see right there out on the video. If you're if you haven't seen it on the video, you need to see it out in the video, incredible venue with wonderful companies. And if you're, if you're even thinking sniffing around a digital transformation journey, you need to be a part of this particular event and connect with all of the professionals that call this a great venue for collaborating right? You need to do that. That's IoT solutions World Congress. I think it's in May. I'll have all the information out there as well as all the contact information for Sophia because you need to connect with her. All right, be bold, be brave, dare greatly hang out with Sophia and you will change the world. Thank you very much. We're going to have another great conversation coming from IoT solutions World Congress, so stay tuned.

Scott MacKenzie

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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