Internet of Things (IoT) has unlocked a plethora of possibilities for business organizations and has tingled the imagination of developers around the world. It brings forth a promise unlike any other technology in the past. In addition to galvanizing established organizations to join its bandwagon, every possible IoT use case, is giving birth to hundreds of start ups. Further, the integrated ecosystem of IoT products, platforms and services offered by organizations may seem overwhelmingly complex to decipher.
In my experience of over 6 years of consulting on IoT solutions, here is my take on simplifying the IoT ecosystem. There are essentially 5 kinds of players in the game contributing to this massive growth of the IoT industry with their distinct roles. These are the following:
IoT Platform Providers offer cloud infrastructure which is the core engine that powers every IoT solution worth considering. Although IBM Bluemix, Google Cloud Platform, PTC’s Thingworx and others offer IoT platforms as well, a large market share is held by Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure. These IoT platforms are the most open and customizable which implies that architects and developers can choose services to build their own version of IoT Architecture.
These platforms are highly competitive and offer more and more services every quarter. Their marketplaces are application stores where you can pick and choose SaaS solutions developed by cloud partners and 3rd party developers for seamless integration with their underlying cloud infrastructure.
Point Solution Providers are mostly start ups that play in a niche area. Companies like World Sensing offer smart parking solutions, Kiana Analytics for wifi based analytics, Fleet Freedom provides vehicle telematics solution, BeWhere’s Asset Tracking product, and EchoLogics offering leak detection are some of the examples. These solutions are based on data acquisition from their own sensors and devices, analytics engine to derive insights and dashboard to display the outcomes.
Connectivity solutions by Telecom and Network Providers bind all the components in the IoT biome and is the backbone of every IoT solution. Major telecom companies like ATnT, Verizon, Bell Canada, Rogers, Telefonica etc. offer connectivity services in the form of Wifi, Cellular, NB-IoT, LTE, LTE-M and LoRa. New standards are being developed for connecting low power, small footprint devices to enable them to communicate with cloud services on a constant basis.
System Integrators like Tata Consultancy Services, CapGemini, Deloitte, Wipro, CGI, Cognizant, Infosys and others partner with platform providers and point solution providers to build custom solutions for businesses seeking to take advantage of this technological innovation. The leading financial institutions of the world, high end retailers, telecom giants, airports, municipalities etc. outsource most of their IoT solution development to these system integrators. These organizations have massive experience of designing and implementing IoT solutions for various industry domains across many IoT platforms.
Finally, Consulting Firms like McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte etc. play a significant role in advising major organizations towards their digital transformation journey, with a strategy that stimulates IoT adoption. They may not be directly involved in building connected solutions and products for businesses but their market analysis of the industry domain, in view of the organization’s business objectives, influences the decision making process.
The point solution providers do not offer a full fledged IoT platform but an essential upstream service that acts as a critical data source. Every IoT solution worth its salt needs an underlying IoT platform which is offered by cloud providers. Devices and external systems get connected to this IoT platform using Connectivity services. In order to get a customized solution made, the services of a System Integrator may be required as well. And finally, a consulting organization helps design a strategy for businesses to adopt IoT to embark on a #digital journey.
Interestingly, the boundaries of the IoT playground are getting blurry as these players continue to evolve in their space.