The world’s largest brand manufacturers are now realizing the full impact of what the Internet of Things can mean for creating long term connections to their customers, extending market share and profitability.

But with the cycle of innovation accelerating in a world of constant consumer adaption and the threads of connectivity so quickly interweaving across more of our everyday lives, how can these global brand manufacturers efficiently unearth innovations and opportunities that startups so often pioneer?

This past week at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, NESCAFÉ, the world’s most preferred coffee brand, partnered with Mindshare, the global media agency network with billings in excess of US$29 billion, to hold a startup challenge event to source innovative new ideas that explore how technology can be applied to existing or new brands and products. Besides Nestlé executives, journalists and venture capitalists attended the SharkTank-like event.

While there were many that submitted proposals, Ayla Networks was shortlisted among an esteemed list of technology companies to present that included Spotify, Zynga, Amazon, and Microsoft. The Ayla proposal – a product line of connected coffee machines with companion mobile applications – was prepared in detail based on the overall learnings gathered from the hundreds of manufacturers we have engaged with over the last 12 months, particularly as it relates to what it takes to create really successful Internet of Things products for the connected home market segment.

Click on the link below for one of the articles written about the event. Note the quote from the NESCAFÉ exec in the article which I believe sums up the sentiment for the Internet of Things and connected products by practically all the manufacturers we talk to: "The role of the coffee machine and connectivity is a given -- we just have to decide the play we want to make.”

Ayla Networks is the only Internet of Things cloud platform with an architecture that can scale to the needs of a global brand leader like NESCAFÉ, which could easily exceed tens of millions of connected coffee machines deployed. Our development team has previously built the connectivity, security, and data management platforms at that scale for the likes of Amazon/Kindle, Cisco, Silver Spring Networks, and others.

In talking to the Nestlé execs after the event, it was clear that the event was an efficient way for them to hear various technology innovation ideas for advancing the brand. I expect to pitch Ayla-enabled Internet of Things ideas at more of these types of crowdsourced innovation events in 2014.