After attending all three annual Internet of Things World Forums, I was in a position to see the progress that the industry has made during that time. Vendors continue to appear to be frustrated on their roles and where their profit pools may emerge, while customers are generally nervous about making leap from proof of concept to full production ( because the IoT implementation will be a forcing function for new business models for everyone)
At last week’s annual Internet of Things World Forum, hosted by Dubai, UAE, it was great to see the progression that the industry has made over the past three years. I have had the fortune of attending all three events (Barcelona, Chicago and now Dubai), and it is clear just about everyone is aware of the IoT. Three years ago, the conference made everyone aware of the opportunity of what IoT will do for every industry and public sector. Last year, industry showed off proof of concepts (POCs) and where value is created by connecting a physical device to the network. This year, several early adopters rolled out fully integrates solutions where multiple devices and sensors located in different environments had their individual data aggregated, processes and generated high value business outcomes. For many customers seeing these solutions for the first time, this was the investment return on their long trip to Dubai. (Note: Dubai, as a city, has quite a few IoT projects, but is in that mid-point between point and integrated solutions).
The IoT World Forum highlighted the following needs and opportunities for customers and vendors alike:
1. Now is the time for IT vendors and Industry (OT) vendors to establish a strong eco-system partnership to create and deliver integrated solutions. This will be a necessary evil for their P&Ls as they try to work out how and where they add value into the solution and therefore claim their share of wallet from their customers.
2. The time has come for Systems Integrators (Sis). After waiting for 3 long years, customers will be looking to them to help sort the complexities of an IoT solution (of which there are many). However, it will be very important for the SI’s to recruit local partners who understand the needs and requirements of every customer in this very broad market opportunity.
3. IT and OT vendors need to aggressively recruit and train their channel and alliance partners. Customers will also need to be comfortable with the fact that the IoT will pull in new channel partners for them to trust and learn, while at the same time move on from those that simply can’t make the leap to supporting IoT in digital transformation.
Given that the IoT is based on a connected infrastructure, telecom carriers and network service providers need to address their roles more clearly to their customers. IoT will be delivered as a service model on a reliable, secure network for every size of customer across the enterprise and home. To that end, the long tail adoption of IoT will be much quicker this time, and therefore customers will be looking for the network infrastructure to be in place with the level of service that the IoT application requires and that they can afford.
Finally, each year in our global surveys, security always remains the top one or two concern of all customers. This time, it appeared that security was underplayed at the ‘Forum. IT vendors had the opportunity to ease the fears of the customers by discussing their progress to date. As someone who has worked in the financial services industry, I know how challenging it is to create a secure platform, giving data access to the right person at the right time. It’s called GRC (Governance, Regulation and Compliance) layered upon embedded security on the device, network and system. With the advent of the IoT solutions, now is the time for security vendors to step up to the task of integrating their capabilities to the SIs, making the IoT business outcomes safe for both the customer and the business.
While there are no shortage of IoT events for customers to attend, in 2016, when you are thinking about going to one, make sure that the agenda will give you the answer to the 3 bullet points mentioned above, with security given the top billing.