Last week, the IDC European Internet of Things Practice had the opportunity to meet Solair, a young IoT-specialized Italian company. Here some takeaways from the briefing we had with them on their offering and solutions.
Last week, the IDC European Internet of Things Practice were introduced to a young Italian company that is making its name in the Internet of Things (IoT) scenario: Solair. Founded in 2011 and based in the North Italian area of Bologna (more precisely Casalecchio di Reno), Solair, thanks to its platform solutions, is showcasing interesting experiences in the Italian IoT market. An Italian IoT market that lags behind forerunner countries such as the Nordics and the U.K., but that promises interesting growth rates for the coming years (19.8% 2016-2019 CAGR, according to IDC European Internet of Things Spending Guide). Here are my takeaways on Solair:
- Applications at the heart of Solair's offering. Although Solair's full offering includes an IoT gateway and cloud-based platform, its forte is its IoT applications offering. A product suite composed by 7 specific software modules that extrapolate value from data and provide measurable business value and insights. This ample applications coverage enables customizable modules for each specific business task – from maintenance to PLM or engineering operations – ensuring flexibility, adaptability to context and use, and integration with companies information systems (ERP, CRM, …).
- The connection between things. As mentioned above, an IoT gateway is part of Solair's offering. This IoT gateway is the heart of a wide range of connected objects and ensures the communication of the right data at the right time, decoupling the complexity and the variety of the technology behind and the application platform layer.
- The importance of a strong and wide ecosystem. It goes without saying that Solair would struggle without its ecosystem of partners. On the infrastructure side, it relies on Microsoft (Azure platform) and other tech players such as Eclipse, MultiTech, Seco, ST, Stream, Wot.io, while on the sales/implementation side it relies on partners such as NTT Data, Vodafone, and Altea. The importance of creating partnerships and collaborations (both strategical and tactical), in such a complex and variegated world such as the IoT one, is a key recommendation of the IDC European Internet of Things practice. We believe "No one can do it all," and Solair is one example of how partnerships can go a long way.
- A cross-vertical approach. We had the possibility to see how Solair's go-to-market strategies cross different industry sectors: from Government, with Smart Cities solutions for municipalities (intelligent parking systems, smart lighting, and waste management), to Manufacturing, with remote maintenance and monitoring applications. We have not seen any applications in those vertical markets that are more security sensitive sectors, such as Financial services or Utilities. Focusing on enhancing vertical coverage, understanding specific business needs and operative issues of unreached industry sectors will be vital for Solair's future expansion.
- I want it all and I want it now. Solair claims to be able to deploy a fully operating IoT solution in just 2 weeks, and this is certainly a positive condition for customers that want to test and use their solutions without passing through challenging and long implementation times. Being rapid and efficient is important not just for new installations, but also for expansion and enhancement of existing solutions (both in terms of new connected things and application features). This in particularly important for IoT solutions where adopters tend to start with small test pilots, and then scale to more complex solutions and implementations.
- It is not just a geek affair. Most recent results from the IDC European Vertical Markets Survey highlighted how Line-of-Business (LOB) influences more than 60% of the overall Western European companies' external IT spending. A trend that is even more evident in the IoT scenario, where many solutions are directly selected and adopted from LOB units. Solair focuses on LOB units, proposing market strategies that speak "LOB language" and building its offering with the direct involvement of business stakeholders.
The IoT market will show huge business opportunities in the next years, but it will continue to be immature, scaling up the level of competition. In order to sustain its first-years growth rates and compete in the European IoT playing field, Solair will need to extend its IoT capabilities and offerings to fit additional industries and use cases, without omitting to invest on the analytics and security side of their proposition. It will be interesting to follow Solair's future developments and next steps!
(This blog is written in collaboration with Gabriele Roberti, Research Manager, IDC Italy)