IBM’s Genius of Things: The Vendor Lays Out Its Portfolio for Industrial IoT

Kathryn Weldon – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services – Americas

Summary Bullets:

• IoT solutions providers often struggle to assemble a set of offerings that allow customers to extract maximum benefit from the IoT, let alone provide a full stack of solutions from consulting to software to platforms to vertical solutions.

• IBM has the benefit of its Rational and Maximo software, already used by hundreds of companies in manufacturing, automotive, insurance, and defense, and repurposed/expanded to exploit IoT data to improve product design and operations.

IBM’s Genius of Things event in Boston earlier this month described in detail IBM’s solution set and roadmap for the Industrial Internet of Things (Watson IoT), along with insights on its positioning and differentiation, illustrated with customer examples. IBM has an impressive IoT portfolio that focuses on three areas: engineering connected products, driving operational excellence, and finding and sustaining differentiation. All three leverage elements of existing software products (primarily Rational application development tools and Maximo asset management software) that have been repurposed for the IoT or perhaps more accurately have been expanded to work with the diverse kinds of data that can be collected with IoT technology and analyzed in back office systems. In addition the vendor is using next-gen enablers such as AI, AR and Blockchain to provide differentiation. IBM is also aiming to deliver a full set of Digital Twin/Digital Thread solutions, which provide detailed 3D representations of a “thing” or connected product to aid in product design and continuous improvement, development, training, maintenance, usage simulations, and marketing demonstrations.
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Does Ingenu’s CEO Search Portend Problems for Proprietary IoT LPWANs?

K. Weldon

K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

• LPWAN provider Ingenu announced that CEO John Horn was leaving the company and that it has a new strategic direction with an emphasis on partnering with leading ecosystem vendors to offer turnkey solutions

• This may portend difficulty for all the proprietary LPWAN vendors, who face imminent, highly significant competition from Tier 1 mobile operators launching LTE-M and NB-IoT networks

The sudden departure of Ingenu CEO John Horn, who was also the former head of T-Mobile USA’s IoT division, may be a signal of things to come. The flurry of network launches and service expansions from proprietary LPWAN providers Ingenu, SigFox, and the LoRA Alliance over the last two to three years have given way to more recent and frequent news about LTE-M and NB-IoT build-outs and service trials from mobile operators. 2017 has already seen the majority of global mobile operators promising or delivering on their network promises with national LPWAN networks ready to take on customers. All of these networks have a common message, to lower the price of IoT deployments for lower bandwidth use cases such as non-real-time sensor data collection, while extending device battery life – an ideal combination for long-term deployments where devices may be out in the field without much action or human intervention. A surprisingly large percent of IoT deployments today are in this usage category (often estimated at 60-80%). These are the kinds of applications that used to take advantage of lower cost 2G networks, but the LPWAN providers expect huge growth in the number of connections on their networks over the next five to ten years. Read more of this post

Chinese Operators Ally with U.S. and European Operators and Technology Vendors to Expand Their IoT Reach

K. Weldon

K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • China already dominates the world in numbers of cellular IoT connections; Chinese operators are set to plumb the LPWAN opportunity as well.
  • Recent announcements highlight the importance of U.S. and European IoT alliances to Chinese operators, with opportunities on both sides of the globe.

Over the last several weeks (which included the MWC Shanghai trade show), there have been a sizeable number of announcements relating to IoT initiatives and alliances by the three main telecom operators in China: China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom. The announcements were focused on LPWAN rollouts, alliances with other operators for reciprocal footprint expansion, and technology enhancements/vendor alliances for connectivity and subscription management. China is already a powerhouse in IoT, at least in terms of the number of connections already in use. For example, China Mobile has about 120 million connections, while China Unicom had about 20 million a year ago (and China Telecom hasn’t disclosed numbers). In comparison, Vodafone has about 50 million, while AT&T and Verizon have about 65 million connections jointly. All three Chinese operators are also actively deploying LPWAN networks, focusing on the standardized 3GPP technology, NB-IoT. Read more of this post

Sprint & T-Mobile Merger Looking Real: What Does It Mean for the Enterprise?

K. Weldon

K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Industry ‘chatter’ is intensifying as a Sprint and T-Mobile merger attempt seems increasingly likely.
  • Given each company’s relatively weak position in enterprise services, a combination will not result in a superior enterprise mobility portfolio, at least at first.

Sprint and T-Mobile merger rumors have been circulating for many years, as the number two and three mobile operators are in many ways a likely pairing to go after Verizon and AT&T, possibly expanding business focus, lowering prices and improving customer responsiveness. Read more of this post

To Which Partners Do Businesses Look for Help with IoT Projects?

K. Weldon

K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Businesses looking for help with IoT deployments want companies with experience, in-house resources, and complete solutions.
  • When asked what they look for from suppliers for advisory, professional services, and other IoT requirements, the responses were diverse. Telecom service providers and IoT platform vendors appear to have unseated ITSPs and others for some key tasks.

A recent GlobalData survey of 1,000 global businesses deploying IoT projects included questions on the use of outside consultants and vendors to meet various requirements. The kinds of partners that were considered included equipment vendors (e.g., Cisco, Huawei), platform vendors (e.g., Ericsson, Cisco Jasper, GE, PTC), telecom services providers (e.g., AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone), IT services companies (e.g., Accenture, HPE, IBM), and software providers (e.g., Microsoft, Jive Software). The partner capabilities under consideration were technical consulting, systems integration, device and connectivity management, application development, proof of concept and testing, business consulting, and data analytics. The charts below show the full set of responses to these questions. Read more of this post

Live from LiveWorx: PTC Boosts IoT Morale and Momentum

K. Weldon

K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • LiveWorx brings together a meaningful slice of the IoT ecosystem and boosts momentum for PTC’s role in empowering the market.
  • Cisco’s stats from Monday on the high percentage of IoT project failures splashed cold water on the industry, but PTC is not letting this impact momentum.

PTC’s LiveWorx, still in progress, is an annual lovefest for the IoT industry, with the additional benefit (to PTC) of boosting/cementing its already strong presence within the industrial IoT sector. The company’s ThingWorx platform competes with other IoT application enablement platforms, but is strongly differentiated. It is a purpose-built offer for manufacturing and a comprehensive platform that appeals to a growing number of PTC’s installed base which use its other offerings, including its CAD (Creo) tool and its Product Lifecycle Manufacturing and Service Management software. This year, the event was fortified by a major new release of the platform, ThingWorx 8, which adds enhanced platform capabilities and role-specific applications for engineering and manufacturing, along with new partners, more expansive educational programs, and a new collection of service offerings for customers and partners. Read more of this post

What Enterprises Can Expect from Enterprise Mobility Services Providers

K. Weldon

K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Current Analysis’s recently updated reports on global enterprise mobility services providers show relatively static portfolios.
  • There were some notable exceptions, with some providers focused on new business tariffs, network upgrades, and security enhancements, along with portfolio restructuring to add simplicity.

In October, Current Analysis updated its profiles on the leading global enterprise mobility services providers, including both operator-led or operator-affiliated companies (AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, DT/T-Systems, BT, Orange Business Services, and Telefonica) and IT service providers (IBM, CSC, HPE, and Accenture). While some aspects of these providers’ portfolios have been stagnant (or stable, depending on one’s interpretation) over the last six months, two things stand out. First, while portfolios may not have not changed dramatically, this does not imply that service providers believe there are limited growth opportunities in the market; and, second, for those companies that did add new services or restructured their portfolios, differentiation is important. As a result, pricing or service elements may need recrafting to meet customer needs more effectively and competitively. Read more of this post

Service Provider Selection for IoT Varies Substantially by Vertical Industry – Good News for Telcos

K. Weldon

K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • A recent Current Analysis survey on IoT investments showed that companies vary substantially on what kind of service provider they trust to provide them with consulting and professional services.
  • While equipment vendors and professional/IT service providers were selected most often, enterprises in several verticals consistently preferred communication service providers or software providers for integration and app development.

Enterprises investing in IoT deployments nearly always need help along the way. Some go to third parties for proof-of-concept testing and upfront business and technical consulting, while others need help in assembling and managing disparate hardware and software elements. Many also need an outside developer for application development and many go to professional service providers for data analytics. In a survey conducted this spring among 1,000 U.S. and global enterprises, Current Analysis asked businesses what kind of provider they sought out for these functions; choices included equipment vendors, software providers, professional/IT service providers, and communication service providers (CSPs). Read more of this post

IoT Security: Still a Work in Progress

K. Weldon

K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Security is still the top concern and often prevents companies from launching deployments that would otherwise provide benefits, according to a recent IoT survey conducted by Current Analysis among 1,000 businesses worldwide.
  • Operators are finally addressing some of these fears with assorted services and technologies – either their own or through an assortment of partner solutions.

A survey conducted recently by Current Analysis among 1,000 enterprises on their investments in IoT technology disclosed a fact that should not surprise anyone who follows the IoT market: security is still a key concern. One-third of the businesses surveyed listed it as their top worry, and 17% of the companies surveyed that had evaluated but chosen not to implement an IoT project cited security concerns as the primary reason. Read more of this post

Live at LiveWorx: Industrial IoT in All Its Glory

K. Weldon

K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

• At LiveWorx, PTC showed off exciting new capabilities for Industrial IoT, including the use of Augmented Reality, a potential game-changer for both IoT providers and customers

• The IoT ecosystem, in demos and panels, also showed off new wares, but many acknowledged a long road to meaningful revenue and profits

PTC LiveWorx, held in Boston from June 7th through 9th, is an annual “love fest” for the industrial IoT industry – the majority of presentations and demos showed off new technologies, software, hardware, analytics, dashboards, application enablers, vertical solutions, and consulting services that point to an even more compelling future for industrial IoT. In particular, the use of augmented reality, which PTC now has in its arsenal through its acquisition of Vuforia in late 2015, has the potential to allow customers to sell, demo, manage, operate, and troubleshoot their products more effectively, and cost-effectively prototype new features.
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