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Commercial IoT benchmarked revenue increased 14.7% YTY to $11.7B in 4Q18: The prizewinners and dark horses

IoT continues to expand vendor revenue, but it is unlikely to ever contribute to explosive growth

Total commercial IoT benchmarked revenue increased 14.7% year-to-year (YTY) to $11.7 billion in 4Q18. IoT is a market that is “too big to miss” and is contributing new revenue for a large set of vendors. However, it will not offer explosive growth, and large transactions represent a shrinking percentage of the available market, leading vendors to evolve to a more agile way of doing business or face missed opportunity. 

Cloud services revenue grew 46.7% year-to-year in 4Q18 and increased as a percentage of benchmarked IoT revenue from 13.2% to 16.8% year-to-year, favoring all cloud platform vendors. Cloud services continues to be a growth leader as vendors gain customers and upsell with advanced tools as price wars wane. Efforts to extend PaaS to the on-premises edge or private cloud will further bolster cloud services revenue.

Most IoT deployments today consist of multiple-vendor solutions, and in delivering multiple-vendor solutions, component vendors are challenged to be recognized and compensated for their contributions and must target their go-to-market efforts precisely to generate margins. This is leading to an increase in “ingredient marketing,” where component vendors communicate to customers and partners the value their components contribute to solutions. Systems integrators, usually the vendors with the greatest exposure to customers, are stuck between their claims of owning differentiated IoT intellectual property and the increasing visibility of third-party components. Increasingly, solutions are delivered as bundles and sold by value-added resellers, ISVs and independent hardware vendors, posing the same challenge to component vendors.

TBR’s Commercial IoT Benchmark highlights the current commercial IoT revenue and gross profit of 28 vendors. TBR leverages financial models and projections across a diverse set of IT and operational technology (OT) components. Additionally, the benchmark outlines the major vendor drivers and trends shaping the market. Reach out to [email protected] for a deeper conversation about the findings in TBR’s 4Q18 Commercial IoT Benchmark.

Distributors and VARs: The unsung heroes of the IoT market

The background

Commercial IoT has received substantial press over the last three years. It started in 2015 with hyped claims of IoT’s ability to deliver total transformation, but expectations around the technology have matured and IoT is now viewed as a reasonable technique for solving business problems. However, one thing has not changed: When it comes to IoT market participants, the focus of the discussion remains on larger IT vendors, SIs and customers. The missing story is the involvement of the distributors, VARs and smaller SIs, and the current needs of the small to midsize customers.

What are distributors?

Distributors sit between IT vendors and VARs or SIs, procuring equipment or software from the former and distributing it to the latter two. Because distributors generally have a very large customer base, they can help vendors reach more customers or provide a channel for vendors that cannot afford to build their own, such as smaller ISVs. Because distributors procure equipment from vendors and stock it themselves, they are incentivized to educate VARs or SIs about vendor products and help market them as well as to deliver sales training, demos and exhibitions. Distributors are masters of the supply chain, bundling and contract negotiations.

What are VARs?

VARs, along with SIs, serve on the frontline of IT and offer a more tailored storefront to customers than a larger vendor. VARs will seek to build and deliver turnkey solutions by mixing and matching technology and software, as well as layering on services of their own, such as integration, customization, consulting, training and implementation. VARs are often organized by customer type, from those offering general IT services to those specializing in education, the public sector, heavy industry and other niche areas. VARs, along with SIs, often have the keenest grasp on customer challenges, making them well positioned to package IoT components, build applications or offer services.

The IoT market continues to stabilize, with the overall market growing at a moderate accelerating CAGR of 24.8%

4Q18 Commercial Internet of Things Market Forecast infographic

TBR projects total commercial Internet of Things (IoT) market revenue will increase from $456.1 billion in 2019 to $1.4 trillion in 2024, a CAGR of 24.8%.

Topics covered in TBR’s Commercial IoT Market Forecast 2019-2024 include deeper examinations, such as trends, drivers and inhibitors of the seven technology segments we track (e.g., cloud services, IT services, ICT infrastructure, and connectivity), the 10 vertical groupings we cover (e.g., public sector, healthcare, manufacturing and logistics), and four geographies (i.e., APAC, EMEA, North America and Latin America).

In addition to a more in-depth examination of the aforementioned topics, we also delve into the rise of “bundles” and “packaged solutions,” and how vendor partnering is lowering cost of sales for IoT implementations.

For additional information about this research or to arrange a one-on-one analyst briefing, please contact Dan Demers at +1 603.929.1166 or [email protected].

The IoT market continues to stabilize, with the overall market growing at a moderate accelerating CAGR of 24.8%

TBR projects total commercial Internet of Things (IoT) market revenue will increase from $456.1 billion in 2019 to $1.4 trillion in 2024, a CAGR of 24.8%.

It is important to remember that IoT is a technique for applying technology components, not a technology itself, which leads to certain drivers and inhibitors. Because it is a technique, IoT has an unlimited shelf life. Vendors that invest now and solidify their IoT go-to-market strategy will benefit in the long run. Methods for connecting equipment and solutioning may evolve, but the overarching technique is not going away. However, IoT growth is limited by the components and solutioning that compose the technique, including capabilities, standards and cost. This leads the numerous submarkets and sub-technologies of the IoT ecosystem to experience varied growth.

IoT revenue will accelerate as technological capabilities and standards mature and common solutions appear, culminating in lower cost and complexity.

Graph showing commercial iot market forecast alternative market performance scenarios 2019-2024

TBR believes an emerging growth accelerator is the fact that IoT offerings have evolved from the initial DIY stage to easily integrated components to component kits to, finally, almost complete solutions. At each point in this evolution, IoT becomes less expensive, less burdensome and less risky to customers, while still delivering business benefits. This greatly broadens the market, resulting in market growth and revenue growth for vendors that participate in this evolution.

However, customers remain concerned with the cost of IoT solutions, including the expense associated with transmitting, processing and storing data. The amount of data stored increases as IoT projects remain in operation, and a thoughtful data collection and storage policy is key to maintaining positive ROI.

Maturing offerings, vendors and customers prompt long-term IoT vendor growth

The continued interweaving of the technology component market with Internet of Things (IoT) techniques delivers a well-defined path to long-term sustained growth for many IT and operational technology (OT) vendors, especially those vendors that are best able to differentiate their portfolio and position themselves as critical partners for a wide set of IoT solutions.

The hype surrounding IoT has only served to confuse and overwhelm customers and vendors, but efforts by both parties to cut through the hype is driving the growth of installed IoT solutions. As the hype fades, vendors are better able to rationalize their go-to-market strategies and messaging, particularly around how to assemble IoT solutions, leading customers to better understand how to apply IoT.

However, while it is becoming easier to assemble an IoT solution, it is still challenging to design and implement the IoT technique. We don’t expect a huge explosion of revenue; IoT itself isn’t a “killer app,” but it will enable moderate and slowly accelerating revenue growth for the various components involved in an IoT solution.

In our 3Q18 reports and thought leadership, TBR will focus on three topics that we believe are currently the most impactful on the wider IoT ecosystem: the increasing maturity of the IoT technique, the growing consolidation of generic platforms, and how increasing commoditization around IoT is working in favor of economies of scale and enabling the growth of installed solutions.

IoT is growing up: Increased ecosystem maturity will lead to increased customer adoption

TBR, through discussions with vendors and customers as well as our use case databasing, is noticing growth in installed IoT solutions, whether from net-new deployments or expansions of existing IoT deployments, signaling improved maturity. IoT maturation is not so much about the components of IoT as it is about businesses developing their ability to leverage technologies and techniques that are increasingly applicable to a growing number of business problems.

A major driver of this maturity is greater clarity around IoT techniques, led largely by go-to-market realignment and improved messaging by vendors, organization around IoT by customers, shifts from competition to coopetition by vendors, and general improvements in the construction of the technology that facilitate advanced usage of the IoT technique.

Signals of consolidation appear in the cloud IoT platform space

Infographic discussing signals of consolidation appearing in the IoT cloud platform space

The cloud IoT platform landscape consolidates around largest vendors as customers seek continuity, consistency and the best tools

Cloud services revenue grew 48.2% year-to-year and increased as a percentage of total benchmarked Internet of Things (IoT) revenue from 12.4% to 15.8% year-to-year in 2Q18. Growth is driven by customers, especially those without deep legacy ties, moving their workloads to the cloud. The public cloud ecosystem is beginning to consolidate, with the top vendors competing on best-in-class tools, partnerships and business-problem-solving messaging.

Software, while still a sizable portion of benchmarked revenue, is experiencing slowing revenue growth, from 19% year-to-year in 2Q17 to 4.2% year-to-year in 2Q18. Software, along with ICT infrastructure, will continue to play a role in IoT solutions with the advent of edge computing, but as providers’ cloud platforms mature and tie-in deals with application partners are cemented, demand increases.

ICT infrastructure revenue grew 14.1% year-to-year in 2Q18 due to increased IoT deployments as well as hybrid IoT becoming an increasingly common IoT framework. ICT infrastructure gross margin rose 80 basis points year-to-year. TBR believes the increase stems from the need for more specialized or powerful hardware to handle the more advanced needs of IoT and its components, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine vision. Despite the increased utilization of ICT hardware due to hybrid IoT and the need for specialization, the long view for ICT infrastructure will be complicated by commoditization. TBR expects most ICT infrastructure companies to deeply invest in software and service components to buttress the profitability of customer engagements as the threat of commoditization looms.

Vendors across the technology spectrum are all fervently trying to crack the code for the “killer app” within specific verticals that can solve common business problems and be widely adopted by customers. The vendors that win with building the first widely accepted solutions will be set up for success, while others in the oversaturated market will at best become acquisition targets and at worst become history.

For more information, contact Analyst Daniel Callahan at [email protected].

Canonical’s growth play: Make customers’ and partners’ lives easier (and more economical)

TBR perspective

At Canonical’s 2018 Analyst Day, CEO Mark Shuttleworth laid out a very compelling construct for Canonical’s vision of being the link between the operating system (OS) layer and the cloud control planes. Canonical has Ubuntu OS versions to run from the largest high-performance computers with NVIDIA graphics processing units to the smallest device OSes at the heart of offers from niche vendors such as Rigado. Throughout the event, Canonical stressed multicloud interoperability through Kubernetes. The big unknown on the horizon is how to provision infrastructure for edge analytics, which sits at the heart of the strategic relationship Canonical has with Google Cloud as Google donates Borg to ensure Kubernetes does not challenge Borg the way Hadoop forked from MapReduce.

Existing virtualization economics has stalled, with premium pricing models emerging from the major and better-established competitors Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) and VMware (NYSE: VMW). The Canonical play further compresses the economics of the infrastructure abstraction and OS components, where parts will be provided for free and the services and update provisions will become the basis for the monetization model. Akin to how free Android disaggregated the device OS space and gained share against Microsoft, Canonical bets on market projections showing devices used/owned per person growing from two to three devices today to as many as 20 devices within the next five years.

It is from this vantage point that one open-source Linux distro, Canonical’s Ubuntu, was taking direct competitive aim at another (Red Hat), while likewise suggesting VMware’s time as the market maker would quickly start to fade as more and more app modernization efforts move code from virtual machines (VMs) into lightweight Kubernetes containers (clusters).

 

Canonical hosted its 2018 Analyst Day in New York City on Sept. 20, 2018. The event featured presentations from the top leadership at Canonical, including Shuttleworth, Finance Director Seb Butter, SVP of Global Data Centre Sales Jeff Lattomus, and VP of Global Sales, IoT & Devices Tom Canning. Canonical focused on business and go-to-market updates as well as key presentations by partners, such as Paul Nash from Google Cloud, outlining how Canonical has accelerated or added value to their businesses. At this year’s event, there was a noticeable blurring of the lines between cloud and IoT discussions in comparison to years past where there were more definitive tracks. Regarding both Canonical’s own strategy and its conversations with customers, it is exceedingly difficult to have a discussion about one and not the other, which is reflected in the broader IT landscape as of late.

Increased market clarity drives 16.1% year-to-year growth in commercial IoT revenue

Technology Business Research, Inc.’s (TBR) 2Q18 Commercial IoT Benchmark recorded revenue growth of 16.1% year-to-year, to $10.3 billion, in 2Q18, among the 28 IT and operational technology (OT) vendors we benchmark. The revenue growth is largely a result of continued implementation of Internet of Thing (IoT) and growth of installed IoT solutions.

The dousing of rampant IoT hype, which only served to confuse and overwhelm customers and vendors, is helping drive the growth of installed IoT solutions. As the hype dies out, a wave of increased clarity and maturation is forming with vendors rationalizing their go-to-market strategies and messaging, leading to customers better understanding how to apply IoT and vendors learning how to assemble solutions. Packaged solutions are emerging as vendors cooperate, focusing on their strengths, and assemble components sets that solve verticalwide challenges. TBR believes these factors are driving tactical business-focused IoT projects to supersede overambitious projects stuck in proof-of-concept limbo.

However, while easier than in the past, IoT design and implementation are still a challenge. TBR does not expect a huge explosion of revenue beyond midteen growth going forward.

Total 2Q18 commercial IoT benchmarked gross profit increased 16.6% year-to-year to $5.1 billion. Reduced complexity in IoT due to increased knowledge around building and applying IoT as well as the streamlining of portfolios as a result of increased partnering is improving vendor profitability. Also, vendors are leveraging specialized tools, such as artificial intelligence (AI), to justify higher pricing.

 

TBR’s Commercial IoT Benchmark highlights current commercial IoT revenue and gross profit for vendors. TBR leverages financial models and projections across a diverse set of IT and OT components. Additionally, the benchmark outlines the major vendor drivers and trends shaping the market.

Telecom operators drill down on IoT opportunity in logistics

Despite the hype to the contrary, in commercial Internet of Things (IoT), not all verticals are created equal in terms of opportunity. There is near-term opportunity in some verticals, while opportunity in other verticals will take a few years to mature. The verticals with the longest and deepest histories of using IoT are oil and gas, utilities, manufacturing (including automotive), and logistics. Because these verticals have a long history of using primitive IoT, mostly in the form of telematics, customers in these areas are more familiar with what IoT can offer, how it can be applied to their businesses and where measurable ROI can be found. Unsurprisingly, segments that have most experience with IoT continue to generate the greatest amount of IoT-related revenue.

Telecom operators were early to advertise that they were leaders in the verticals mentioned above. However, now that the chips are down, TBR believes operators are focusing on real, mature IoT opportunity, leading to them drilling down on logistics. Logistics aligns well with telecom operators’ capabilities due to the mobile and distributed use cases. Verticals such as manufacturing provide less opportunity to telecom operators due to the more static and condensed nature of factories. Here are some examples of commercial logistical moves from leading operators:

  • In March 2017 Verizon announced the combination and rebranding of its Verizon Telematics, Fleetmatics and Telogis acquisitions into Verizon Connect. Verizon notes that the rebranding completes the integration of its connected vehicle division with its acquisitions of fleet and mobile workforce management companies Fleetmatics and Telogis. TBR believes the rebranding of Verizon’s telematics businesses into Verizon Connect was a smart move because focusing its IoT business around connecting mobile workforces differentiates Verizon, letting customers clearly know what they can use Verizon Connect for, highlighting its expertise and also making it more partner-friendly. Verizon Connect is now a module that can enhance a broad IoT platform such as Azure IoT.
  • In May 2018 AT&T entered into a partnership with operational technology (OT) behemoth Honeywell to develop IoT solutions for aircraft and freight deployments worldwide. AT&T delivers Honeywell worldwide connectivity, and Honeywell gives AT&T a larger door into industrial engagements.
  • In February AT&T launched two comprehensive solutions with Geotab’s fleet tracking platform, AT&T Fleet Management for Enterprise and AT&T Fleet Management for Government, to provide customers with a holistic view of their transportation assets to improve costs, productivity and safety.
  • TBR believes Telefonica, Vodafone and Orange are also competing for logistics engagements using well-populated landing pages touting their ability to provide logistics-based IoT solutions. Orange, for example, signed a three-year multimillion-euro agreement with Finland-based Cargotec in 4Q17 to codevelop an IoT-based cargo solution.

While vendors will compete for logistics business opportunities worldwide, TBR believes Verizon will try to consolidate and win share of the field service and trucking industries in North America; AT&T will focus on air and sea shipping or asset tracking worldwide and leverage its advantage in connected car gained through multiple contracts with leading automakers; and Telefonica, Vodafone and Orange will battle it out for EMEA and LATAM share.

 

Time to get industrial about healthcare

Internet of Things (IoT) hesitation in the healthcare vertical stems from the industry’s complexity, as it is chained by liability and privacy issues, a general unease about change, legacy equipment, and unevolved processes. These complexities are all rooted in real concerns of customers and vendors in the healthcare space. However, the “Industrial IoT Analytics for the Healthcare Industry” presentation by Glassbeam employees Gopal Sundaramoorthy and Puneet Pandit at PTC’s LiveWorx event highlighted that it is time to shift how vendors go to market within the healthcare industry.

Sundaramoorthy indicated there are not a lot of high-level analytics, or grand-scheme IoT implementations, in healthcare. The challenges mentioned above, especially privacy issues, including healthcare organizations’ desire to keep data internal, prevent it. Instead, Sundaramoorthy explained vendors need to talk to healthcare organizations like they talk to manufacturers, focusing on how healthcare organizations can connect equipment to improve asset utilization, save costs and increase efficiencies. This is the operational technology (OT) discussion instead of the IT discussion.

With asset utilization, for example, how is a medical scanning device being used? How many scans are being done and in how much time, what types of scans are being done, and when are the scans happening? Or, a conversation around operator utilization could include aspects such as determining whether operators are fully trained by measuring what functions they are using and how long they take compared to average or trained users. Likewise, predictive maintenance, such as noting when a bulb needs to be replaced in an MRI machine, helps avoid costly or dangerous downtime. These simpler-to-implement OT-based measurements will help hospitals run more efficiently and save money just through connecting machines and adding straightforward analytics. It also helps medical device manufacturers better understand why things are going wrong and how to best improve diagnostic time, shorten repair time and relieve frustration for medical professionals.

Sundaramoorthy indicated that simple connectivity is healthcare’s biggest problem. To break the hesitation barrier, vendors should focus on solving the first step in IoT: connecting the often woefully out-of-date machinery and building in IoT, in the spirit of OT, to prove ROI to medical organizations. After machines are connected and OT-based IoT is proving consistent ROI, the discussion to move to more transformative IT use cases will be a much easier sell.