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Earlier in the week we identified the most influential companies working on the Internet of Things (IoT).

Using the same research from the marketing influence platform provider Appinions, let’s take a look at the top ten movers and shakers. Just like the list of top 10 companies, this also holds some surprises — not least of which is the influence of two of the top dogs from HP and BlackBerry.

About the Rankings

Before looking at who made it onto the list, it is important once again to look at the methodology to see how Appinions drew up the list.Every month, the Appinions platform reviews nearly a billion documents from offline, online and social sources to help marketers gain an understanding of whose opinions are driving market awareness and perception.

Jonah Bliss, director of marketing at Appinions, explained how their research is carried out:

We feed it [the platform] tens of millions of docs every day from everything from sources that are online and offline and from news, TV radio and social media. From this, we are able to identify what topics and what people are influential a given field and what the wider, general public is talking about."

The reason we stress this is to understand that these lists are not random. They are devised from analyzing billions of documents and listening to the chatter across many different social channels.

From this Appinions identified home automation as the most popular branch of IoT technology with companies like Apple, Google, Philips, Samsung and Belkin already involved, but also looking to get in deeper.

It also found that the most influential products can be divided into several different categories including: home automation, software platforms, connected devices, and security products. At the moment the most popular of those is home automation devices, but given what the research found out about security, it would not be a surprise if security became the top priority soon.

Top 10 Influencers

Taking all this into account the people that appeared on the list are probably not that surprising. The list is as follows:

  1. Eric Rondalat, CEO, Philips Lighting: Rated the most influential executive in the IoT at the moment. Recently, he said Philips will be using Apple’s HomeKit to enable the company enhance its Hue lighting range by pairing devices throughout the entire home and making it all controllable from Siri.
  2. Brad Smith, General Counsel, Microsoft: Interestingly Smith is not a techie but a legal eagle and underlines the rapidly growing importance of security and security issues. He points out that concerns about online privacy will grow over the decade and will be proportional to the number of devices that will be connected by 2020. He estimates that figure to be about 50 billion devices.
  3. Oracle President Mark Hurd: Hurd  became the third most influential executive in the market when he announced his company’s intention to purchase Internet of Things software platform maker Micros Systems, representing Oracle’s first foray into the market and offering a new heavyweight to potentially champion privacy.
  4. Rich Tehnrani, CEO, TMC: Rich Tehrani is an IP Communications industry expert and visionary. In 1999, Tehrani launched Internet Telephony Conference and Expo, now the biggest VoIP show in the world. Tehrani is also the founder of the TMCnet communications/technology. Generally respected as an analyst of emerging trends in communications and IP telephony.
  5. Craig Federighi, VP, Apple: Not really a surprise to find him on this list given the role Apple is playing in the IoT at the moment. Federighi is currently vice president of Software Engineering at Apple. Previously, Federighi worked at NeXT, where he led the development of the Enterprise Objects Framework. After NeXT, he worked briefly for Apple, and then for Ariba, where he was Chief Technology Officer. He returned to Apple in 2009 and was a driving force behind the major 2013 release of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 7.
  6. John Chen, CEO, BlackBerry: Based on BlackBerry’s previous form, it is not one of the companies that springs to mind when you think ‘cutting edge technology’. However, Appinions thinks the IoT might be the turnaround factor BlackBerry needs and Chen is committed to using QX, the OS it bought in 2010 for M2M communications, as a cure for Blackberry’s current ills.
  7. Charlie Bess, CTO, HP: HP is probably another company that no one expected to find here, but HP has been working this beat since the 1980s. Bess points out that as high-end analytics becomes more important as the IoT evolves, network reliability and the ability to identify weak points is going to be essential. Meg Whitman has also underlined previously that the HP revival will be built on innovation and development in-house.
  8. Tony Prophet, VP Marketing, Microsoft: This is Microsoft’s second entry in this list and underlines its commitment to turning itself into an IoT heavyweight among other things. Prophet was the former Hewlett Packard Senior Vice President of Operations for Printing and Personal Systems, moving to Microsoft last April. He will be stepping into the role of Corporate Vice President, Windows Marketing. Given HPs IoT track record, this is strategic appointment.
  9. Dan Tentler, Founder, AtenLabs: AtenLabs provides cutting-edge enterprise network security consulting and solutions from threat modeling prevention techniques to security labor and recovery. Tentler says that with the devices market now dipping its toe into the IoT pond, they are opening themselves up to massive security problems. Could Nest, for example, be hackable Tentler asked recently in an interview? The question was rhetorical, but the answer is obvious.
  10. Steve Jennis, SVP, PrismTech: As executive director of PrismTech, he is also responsible for the business development and marketing functions. He pushed PrismTech towards the IoT in 2012 and the company has been building on that ever since. From this PrismTech built its Vortex Intelligent Data Sharing Platform (Vortex), which provides system-wide data sharing for machines, devices and people.

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No IoT Rock Stars - Yet

If the people above, for the large part, are embedded in the really big tech companies, it is notable that not all of them are:

What I thought was most interesting [about the influential people table] was looking at the most influential executives they’re not exactly rock star names. It speaks to the wonkiness of the market. But I think what is really interesting is that you see two beleaguered companies - - you see Blackberry and you see HP - - in the middle of the table and this could be [for them] the first light at the end of the tunnel,” Bliss says.

Talk to HP’s CEO Meg Whitman about that and she probably won’t agree with you. She consistently points to all the different technology fields that HP is working in and the progress it is making. This, she would undoubtedly argue, is where the HP turnaround will happen.

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Even still, if HP can ride the IoT wave there is huge potential in it. Bliss points out that HP has been working on technology since the 1980s that is only really beginning to make sense now.

I was talking to Charlie Bess by email, the HP chief technologist that is mentioned in the report and he says that HP doesn’t really get the recognition it deserves for their decades of work. They were working on things way back in the 80s but no one knew what the Iot was back then. This recognition [in the chart]] means that people may be starting to talk about it a little bit and that can only be good for HP.”

BlackBerry is another company that may see a turnaround on the back of the IoT.:

BlackBerry’s CEO John Chen had a surprise top 10 showing, offering hope that the troubled company, once known for rock-solid mobile security, is generating dividends from embracing IoT.”

In fact, Bliss points out that although the tech giants appear to be dominating the field, there are a lot of interesting developments going on in the periphery — such as the entire industrial Internet sector – dedicated to integrating web connectivity in industrial machinery.

Other influential products include Belkin’s WeMo smart home system, Dropcam’s connected home security camera, and Kwikset’s smart lock and key, he says.

The bottom line is that it’s still anyone’s market out there and there is still a lot of jostling for position and recognition. If you were to characterize the state of the IoT market at the moment the only thing that can be definitely said about it is that it is in a state of flux that is likely to continue for some time to come.

As to who emerges as the clear leader absolutely no one can say. It is a race that’s far from run and if speedy innovation and launch are key attributes of agile IoT companies then there is still plenty of reason to expect the eventual market leader to come from the ranks of the minnows, and not the current IT whales.