WISDOM ACROSS THE BOARD // INTERVIEW #10
A couple of weeks ago this series introduced you to Yasunori Mochizuki, NEC Fellow at NEC Corporation, and a Board of Directors (BoD) here at FIWARE Foundation. Today we bring you a perspective from Jose Benitez, CEO, and Co-founder at Secmotic, a Spanish-based IoT company committed to innovation, development, and IT security. Jose has been on the FIWARE Foundation Board of Directors since 2018.
After graduating from Telecommunications Engineering in 2013 – motivated by a passion for programming and ethical hacking as a hobby when he was a kid – Jose co-founded Secmotic in 2014 and took on the role of CEO. To this date, he has not stopped programming and researching new technological trends. On a personal level, he invests his spare time doing as many hobbies as he can manage: from Muay Thai to surfing to spending weekends in Portugal or at the Cadiz beaches, Jose also enjoys playing flamenco guitar.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
FIWARE Foundation: Why do you want to be on FIWARE Foundation’s Board of Directors?
Jose Benitez: My mission in the FIWARE Board of Directors is a two-fold one.
The first mission is to ensure that the FIWARE governance bodies take into account the views of the small IoT companies when designing the growth and strategy direction of the foundation. This is very important to me, as a representative of the Gold Members of the foundation. A lot of them are small or medium-sized companies, and hence may face different challenges, need alternative support – in comparison with more established companies – and this is something that the BoD has to bear in mind. These companies add extreme value to the work carried out by the foundation in the sense that they all have the FIWARE interest at heart, first and foremost. Hence, one of my goals is to ensure that their voices are added to the dialogue and strategic discussions.
My second mission is to give the BoD a fresh perspective, to add further expertise to the work developed by the BoD. The mixture of professional profiles currently present in the BoD has been key to the success of the FIWARE Foundation.
FIWARE Foundation: What experiences do you bring from your current role and your career to date that would be valuable to the foundation?
Jose Benitez: As a young CEO of a company that aspires to be a big player in the Smart Cities domain, I have seen, at multiple levels, different obstacles that a technology like FIWARE can encounter. I develop both software and business on a daily basis. I talk with public and private companies about their needs and I write innovation proposals that rely on the latest technological trends and standards.
On top of my technical and business profile, I fully understand the challenges that cities face every day in their digital journey transformation and what they expect from a technology such as FIWARE to help them deliver their digital vision. If we put all that knowledge together, it becomes a powerful tool to ensure the prosperity of a technology such as FIWARE. Thereby, adding such views to the planning and strategic decisions of the foundation is very important and I believe this is an area in which my background comes in handy.
FIWARE Foundation: From your perspective, what are FIWARE Foundation’s biggest strengths and challenges for the upcoming years?
Jose Benitez: Without a doubt, one of the main advantages of FIWARE is the adoption level that it has already reached in the market, especially in Smart Cities and Context Management. FIWARE is also strongly present in the Smart AgriFood, Smart Energy, and Smart Industry. At the core of FIWARE lies the Orion Context Broker, and its high-quality has positioned FIWARE where it is now.
In terms of challenges, even though the core is very robust, it also has to be adaptable with new technologies such as blockchain, AI, digital twin and so on. Clearly, in the FIWARE Foundation’s strategy, this is nothing new, and the appearance of new standards or technologies, such as Linked Data, demonstrates that the FIWARE core is not immutable. But the Foundation is clearly trying to fill in the gap. FIWARE has already added these elements to its ‘Powered by FIWARE’ architectures, allowing users to learn how to design applications using the latest technologies and experience its benefits on a practical level. The FIWARE Tech Roadmap contemplates the evolution of some of its components, by leveraging on some of the advantages that DLTs have to offer. The foundation keeps working on that front to be able to better incorporate such new technologies towards its outstanding work in supporting cities worldwide on their journey to a standardized, open and inclusive use of digitization.
FIWARE Foundation: Where do you see FIWARE Foundation three years from now and what will your contribution to its further growth be? What changes, if any, would you make to the foundation’s strategic direction?
Jose Benitez: I foresee that FIWARE’s presence will be stronger and even more stable in three years, driven by the growth of the members of the foundation that see how valuable the technology is. While FIWARE’s presence in other non-European countries is increasing, from my perspective, there is still lots of space to grow further in Europe. Going global is, of course, very important and therefore, we will use our further growing adoption in the whole of Europe to subsequently succeed in other continents. So, in the mid-term, we continue developing the European market whereas, in the long run, we will be further present worldwide.
The strategy adopted by FIWARE, in general, is complying with this strategic line, but I have been seeing big parts of our dissemination and growth coming out of physical events and meetings which needs to change now due to the impact that COVID-19 has been bringing and so that the FIWARE Community can continue to engage with their peers.
Even though the FIWARE members have been exposed to broader visibility and network opportunities lately via the many virtual initiatives spearheaded by the foundation such as the FIWARE Days (as part of a new series of domain-specific virtual experiences), brand new content and a dozen high-quality online webinars, there is room for improvement. I would like to see more promotion of the technology itself to grow even further the adoption of FIWARE technology.
For instance, programs such as cascade fundings have demonstrated to be successful when it comes to bringing in new members with different “Powered by FIWARE” solutions. Hence, I am happy to see that FIWARE has just launched the next generation of the FIWARE Accelerator Programme to guide startups and enterprises to build and bring smart solutions to the market, based on FIWARE technology. This is an important step in delivering technical training, creating business opportunities for startups and SMEs, and also increasing the adoption of FIWARE technologies. I, for once, always implement FIWARE technology in any project that I take on because it is also the core of our business and I will continue spreading the word about FIWARE.
Stay with us as we catch up next with Andrea Cruciani, CEO at Agricolus and TeamDev, and a member of the FIWARE Foundation BoD.