IoT vendors report that positive changes in the market are that the build-it-yourself approach to IoT is starting to give way to increased use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) platforms. And more telecom operators - particularly wireless operators - are considering how they can take advantage of the coming wave of connected devices beyond simply providing 2G or 3G SIMs or connectivity services to enterprises, solution providers or other third parties. Responding to competition from new network providers, telecom operators are pushing the idea of cellular connectivity direct to devices through the development of new standards and as an intrinsic part of future 5G networks. The issues of security, standardization and interoperability are also being talked about more than they were in the past.
What seems to be happening is a functional enhancement and marketing repositioning of platforms higher up the technology stack to support the creation of applications built to run in multiple environments, as well as to provide interfaces to sector-specific data management and analytics engines and tools. Simultaneously, there is a recognition of who is spending money on IoT, and that is driving platform providers to change their offers and strengthen their commercial and informal partnerships in order to address the real market that's out there today: industrial, largely machine-to-machine (M2M)-style IoT.
While still in its early stages, vendors are certain that the market for IoT platforms is maturing; enterprises and smaller businesses that are developing IoT applications and services are recognizing that some of the technology challenges do not have to be solved afresh for each application, but can be overcome by using appropriate horizontal platforms.
Platform vendors recognize the role that telecom operators play in IoT: they can readily provide national and in some cases international connectivity, and it is relatively straightforward to extend this offer to device and connectivity management (even if this requires partnerships with other operators). Their experience with IT platforms stands them in good stead as providers of other support to IoT app developers and business users. In particular, as IoT reaches across more and more areas of commercial activity, the way that telecom companies resolved interoperability and standards issues may serve as a model for IoT.
Platform providers are also identifying the significance of industrial IoT as a sector with potential for direct sales, and many players in the space are beginning to form partnerships and put together ecosystems in order to attack this market better. We expect this to be a strong feature of the IoT platform space throughout 2016 and 2017.
IoT Platforms: Chasing Value in a Maturing Market examines the market for horizontal, multi-sector platforms to enable IoT applications. It considers the role of, and opportunities for, telecom operators in this market; considers where value resides in the process of developing, supporting and delivering an IoT application; and considers how much of this value can be captured through use of a horizontal platform. It looks at the role of standards and the importance of interoperability and interfaces, and it assesses the offerings of 10 leading vendors of IoT platforms.
The following excerpt shows our view of the IoT technology stack, identifying some specific types of platform. As we pointed out earlier, there are some products and services that fulfil platform requirements (ability to interface to multiple devices or processes or applications) that are nonetheless developed with a specific, often vertical-market-oriented set of users and applications in mind (particularly in the data management Layer 4).
Excerpt: Technology Layers in IoT
IoT Platforms: Chasing Value in a Maturing Market is published in PDF format.