Since the early 1990s, Chris Rezendes has helped hundreds of companies to explore, develop, and market complex technologies using outside-of-the-box thinking in a varied range of industries.
He has supported a broad range of suppliers and integrators with technology development and commercialization strategy development. With over half of his work related to mobile and wireless, his current work is focused on generating trusted data from device-level networks, which include analyzing the deployment of clouds in down-range, public safety, and other difficult environments.
This wasn’t always the case.
When Chris Rezendes began working in connected products, he started with a massive industrial machinery. These machines could provision selected data sets, secure them, provision access to a network, then access to the Internet. That was 25 years ago. While the work on cyber-physical systems began to develop in pockets, it was still two decades away before the phrase “Internet of Things” became a household word.
Now with nearly 28 years of experience in analyzing, advising, and operating mission-critical technology businesses, Rezendes has worked with some of the largest and most respected companies in the industrial, embedded, defense, infrastructure, and information technology industries, with clients inclusive of close to 75% of the Electronics Business Top 100 OEMs and every tech-focused member of the Fortune 500 list still around.
Rezendes was first introduced to IoT in 1991 when he was working with a number of industrial automation and control suppliers in various project, program management, and consulting positions, as they explored the idea of standardization within their hardware/software platforms for embedded/industrial compute, control, and communications.
“The big idea then was that with some degree of standardization, some instrumentation data might become more portable and reusable in contexts or applications outside of their immediate control loops and closed supervisory platforms,” Rezendes said. His career began to take off in industrial automation and dual-use, industrial and defense, technology.
“These were cyber-physical systems, doing physical work in the analog world with carbon assets and inventories,” Rezendes explained. “These systems were relied upon and operated by subject matter experts in a wide range of disciplines. The ‘not messing around crew’ we would call them. They deployed tech only if it could be proven to help with risk first, all else later. In other words, I think I might have come into IoT from the near-polar opposite end of the spectrum of so many others who saw it as a convenience tool, in a retail context.”
Rezendes next opportunity came in 2008 when he attended a marine technology summit at The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology. “The room was dominated by oil and gas exploration, defense, intelligence, and PhDs from physical sciences, largely oceanography and related fields. Three things occurred to me,” Rezendes recalls.
“First, the Physical world is not very well instrumented. Second, where it is, the dominant use cases are not necessarily the best for commercial and industrial scale. Third, if others do not get involved in defining which parts of the physical world we might instrument, and how, we could find ourselves missing out on an enormous opportunity… to develop more ground truth, with the operational, financial, ESSG intent, and more inclusively than the first couple of phases of the Internet did.”
During his time as a private consultant and contractor, Rezendes career has included experience in defense and dual-use technology assessment, supporting a wide range of federal agencies and departments.
“Some of my most challenging projects were in support of defense, intelligence, and public safety applications,” he said. “Mobility for small teams. Sometimes we were integrating body-worn sensors, other times UAV feeds, and in others, ground vehicles and remote surveillance or targeting and related systems.”
As founder and partner of INEX Advisors, Rezendes and his team were focused on helping clients to define, select, and engage in their most promising growth and investment opportunities.
His client base included a wide selection of start-up and early-stage companies which are operating in or around the IoT, connected devices, and M2M as well as a number of Web 2.0 and 3.0 solutions and “killer enabling technologies” which are critical in transforming mobility, cloud, and big data solutions into a semantic web.
Prior to the launch of INEX Advisors LLC, Rezendes served in various capacities in a tech market intelligence, industry analysis advisory firm which focused on a number of embedded, industrial, defense, and mission-critical tech markets. A fair amount of that work was M&A due diligence.
Through that M&A network, he took advantage an opportunity to serve as Vice President and General Manager for a $100 million mission-critical computing and communications supplier that was backed by the private equity firm, Clayton, Dubilier and Rice.
Today, Rezendes is the Chief Business Officer at Spherical|Analytics and its parent, Context Labs, founded by serial entrepreneur, Dan Harple, who has launched and sold a number of companies, including InSoft to Netscape in 1998, at the outset of the first internet boom
“We merged our IoTImpactLABS with Context Labs in January 2018. Our companies are obsessed with elevating the provenance and pedigree of a wide range of data sets and sources, often called ‘alternative’ or ‘other’ data by risk, finance, and regulatory communities,” Rezendes said. “This label ‘other’ accrues to IoT data as well. This label either explicitly or implicitly limits the accessibility and potential for this data to be sourced, trusted, and considered by some of the biggest public and private sector decisions made daily.”
“I lived through this intimately, daily when I was running ImpactLABS. Cool data – so what? In other words, there are a number of potentially groundbreaking insights that are not included in risk assessments and investment allocations because the analysts and investors are not familiar with them and have no structured way to trust them. That is where my work comes in today.”
“However, as we learned in past lives, and what we are learning by doing today, is that if we can ‘up kit’ or upgrade existing and new IoT data sets, for example, with provenance and pedigree, such that they become Asset-Class-Data, then we think we will open up new opportunities for that data to become part of more decision support systems and more decisions,” he continued. “From that, better, i.e., more resilient work will become the norm. We have the privilege of collaboration with some of the smartest, most influential people, and institutions in the world that are committed to making resilience the killer app.”
Truth, Trust & Progress
“Our work focuses on one of the top three issues if not THE top issue in IoT, and perhaps the planet today: truth, trust, and progress,” Rezendes said. “We have progress to make in most of our biggest and complex systems – cyber and climate risk costs are proving that daily. Hourly. In order to make progress as quickly as needed, we are going to have to collaborate more broadly, with more agility, and that means that we quickly need to establish higher than traditional levels of trust in our digital systems when trust is at risk.”
“In order to trust, we must have a common view on the fact set that gets us to a shared truth – of the existence, identity, location, state, and status of the ‘things’ that make up our events that we all have care and concern for,” he summarized. “IoT can start that process… our teams at Spherical|Analytics and Context Labs start and persist trust in source, data, and policies across complex multi-stakeholder chains of custody. Trusted data. Asset-Class-Data.”
It is evident that Rezendes has a real passion for the IoT and the projects that he works on as he explains where he sees that the most value is being created. “I think it will come at the intersection of next-generation resilient cyber-physical infrastructure, such as comms, energy, the World Wide Web, public safety and health; climate, environment, natural resources and more regenerative and inclusive approaches to local or regional economic development or redevelopment. Infrastructure is the primary interface between society and the planet. How can we not elevate it if we want to elevate ourselves, the planet, our systems?”
We couldn’t end this story without going back to what drew Rezendes to IoT in the first place.
“I saw that IoT could become an engine for developing ‘ground truth’ – a set of facts that would be a more accurate representation of anything that mattered to us – a trust platform if you will. I saw IoT as a way to get to the truth of a thing, and in so doing, enable individuals and institutions with shared or unique opportunities or liabilities related to that ‘thing’, to make the best decisions possible in any given context – productivity, profitability, or ESG/UNSDG impact. I thought this was especially true for things that matter most in a risk management context – climate, cyber, population health, and more.”
In the new age of a connected everything, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a thriving topic of conversation amongst business leaders around the globe. It continues to impact businesses across almost every industry, and as new advancements are made, new challenges are exposed.
Rocket Wagon Venture Studios is proud to sponsor this series on Enterprise IoT and IIoT Innovators. We will be profiling a different personality each week. Our innovators include highly accomplished business minds and thought leaders in the field of IoT and IIoT, including CEOs, CSOs, and CTOs of IoT companies of the highest caliber, revealing common challenges, risks, trends, and much more.
Original published in IoT Evolution World by Arti Loftus on August 9, 2019 and can be seen at https://www.iotevolutionworld.com/iot/articles/442932-iot-pioneer-chris-rezendes-sees-truth-trusted-data.htm