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The IoT market has begun sorting itself out in 2019 — a vast improvement from its disorganized past

It has been a wild and chaotic ride for Internet of Things (IoT) vendors, with many placing big bets on IoT in the past and entering 2018 largely disappointed by the results. While IoT will likely never meet the expectations placed on it in 2015 and 2016 — the peak of hype — IoT’s contribution to IT vendor revenue will increase, with IoT ultimately becoming a core revenue driver. IoT, as a technique to solve business challenges through the assembly of technology to drive results, such as predictive maintenance, resource efficiency, value-added services or generally, increase insight, is not going anywhere.

The good news for vendors is IoT is getting a lot easier as the ecosystem sorts itself out. The increase in portfolio focus and partnering is making the market easier to navigate for vendors and customers. Offerings are becoming easier to implement and integrate as vendors begin to converge on architectures and standards, as well as orient go-to-market strategies toward coopetition rather than “winner takes all.” Customers are coming to market with a greater understanding of what they are looking for thanks to efforts by vendors and early adopters educating the market and cutting through the hype pays off. TBR believes 2019 marks the emergence of “go-to-market 2.0” as an evolved strategy for both IT and OT vendors seeking to better profit from IoT.

 

The 1Q19 Commercial IoT Market Landscape looks at technologies and trends of the commercial IoT market. Additionally, TBR catalogs and analyzes by vertical more than 450 customer deals, uncovering use trends, identifying opportunities, examining maturity, and discussing drivers and inhibitors.

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].

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.

It’s time to stop calling IoT a technology

Yes, we all do it. Every analyst, vendor and customer has referred to Internet of Things (IoT) as a technology. I have done it countless times, and so have my extremely talented and informed peers. However, it’s a misnomer, a shortcut, and a cop out, and if we actually think of IoT as a technology, it’s ultimately harmful to the adoption of IoT. IoT is actually a technique for solving business problems using a combination of technology components and services, rather than a technology in and of itself.

No one vendor does IoT alone ― it’s not a deliverable, self-contained technology solution. Rather, it often involves a “leader” company, generally a consulting company or an ISV, assembling a solution sourced from software, services and hardware components from partner companies. My colleague Ezra Gottheil likes to use a construction analogy. A general contractor will shop at Home Depot (the wide and increasingly saturated IoT marketplace) for all the components he or she needs to build a structure. The general contractor will also hire subcontractors (partners and specialized vertical ISVs) who have certain expertise. Even as we move closer to prepackaged IoT or shrink-wrapped solutions, multiple vendors will continue to be involved in delivery.

Some of these components can be grouped into the “new technology” bucket. As TBR closely monitors use cases and fills our use-case database, which currently has more than 360 entries, IoT projects are increasingly linked with augmented reality/virtual reality, blockchain and analytics. All of these new components, including IoT, are enhanced when used in cohesion.

But many of the components, such as servers, routers, mobile devices, sensors, connectivity, IT services and business consulting, have existed for decades. IoT is a new shiny label slapped on a technique IT companies have been using for decades: pulling together IT components to build solutions and help customers achieve their goals.

TBR believes when a vendor tells a customer “you should adopt this new transformational technology,” it is usually met with eye-rolling. IoT is no different. As soon as the “new technology” discussion comes to the table, customers instinctively rock back on their heels. It sounds like a large and long-lasting commitment, which leads to rip-and-replace cost fears, technology lock-in consternation due to a rapidly evolving market, and a general lack of understanding about the benefits.

TBR believes vendors should change the message. Begin with discovering what a customer’s business problems are, then suggest using the technique of IoT to begin strategically solving them in a stepwise manner. It’s not a rip-and-replace approach; it’s seeing where improvements can be gradually made to increase connectivity throughout an organization and ultimately deliver improved insight. It might mean adding sensors to legacy equipment, using IoT components and new analytic tools to tie together legacy data and create new insight, or implementing tangential technologies such as blockchain to better inform customers on their supply chain. Eventually, it could mean all of these combined.

At a recent vendor event, the CEO of a Boston-based IoT solution vendor asserted that IoT is now passe. True customer evolution, including problem solving comes from the bigger picture ― using the technique of IoT, tangential technologies, and internal and external data sources to supercharge efficiency and gain insight.

IoT as a technology is a lazy oversimplification. Let’s start messaging how the technique of IoT ―a new way of thinking about and applying technology ― can help solve current business challenges in an agile and cost-effective manner.

 

The exaggerated expectations created by IoT hype play a big role in how vendors approach IoT in 2018, for better or worse

HAMPTON, N.H. — Internet of Things (IoT) vendors are succeeding by focusing on business problems, not transformation, according to Technology Business Research, Inc.’s (TBR) 3Q18 Commercial IoT Market Landscape. Shane O’Callaghan of TSM Control Systems, a PTC customer, explained it at LiveWorx2018 in the most straightforward manner: “IoT is not a technology project; it’s a business project.” TBR believes leading vendors are gaining market traction because they are molding their IoT go-to-market strategies around solving tactical business problems with solutions proved by case studies.

Vendors that focus on technical aspects are unlikely to gain breakthrough success and will be relegated to being component suppliers to vendors more engaged with customers at a business-problem-solving level. At LiveWorx 2018, PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann told analysts PTC may have been looking too far forward, focusing on cutting-edge technology, and had trouble explaining IoT to customers and how its platform, ThingWorx, would improve outcomes.

Like PTC, some vendors appear to be caught between trying to evolve from a component-positioned, technical-messaging vendor and a vendor trying to solve business problems. And many vendors are struggling to rise above the messaging of more successful peers or put a unique twist on their solutions to differentiate them amid an increasingly saturated and hypercompetitive market.

In its 3Q18 Commercial IoT Market Landscape, TBR deeply examined paths vendors are taking to evolve.

  • Emphasizing partnering is one approach most vendors use. Partners are critical because most IoT projects include components from several vendors, and very few of those vendors have a relationship with the customer.
  • Increasingly, IoT is embedded in both hardware and software products from independent hardware vendors (IHVs) and independent software vendors (ISVs), respectively. IT vendors are leveraging large- and small-scale ISVs and IHVs to bring their technologies to a broader market beyond providing custom solutions.
  • Some vendors are narrowing their focus and messaging to verticals in which their expertise matches the challenges experienced in the vertical.
  • Some vendors are beginning to sell off underperforming business units or looking for attractive acquisitions in their areas of focus. TBR expects 2018 to be a year of consolidation and acquisition activity.

The 3Q18 Commercial IoT Market Landscape looks at technologies and trends of the commercial IoT market. Additionally, TBR catalogs and analyzes by vertical more than 350 customer deals, uncovering use trends, identifying opportunities, examining maturity, and discussing drivers and inhibitors.

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].

 

ABOUT TBR

Technology Business Research, Inc. is a leading independent technology market research and consulting firm specializing in the business and financial analyses of hardware, software, professional services, and telecom vendors and operators. Serving a global clientele, TBR provides timely and actionable market research and business intelligence in a format that is uniquely tailored to clients’ needs. Our analysts are available to address client-specific issues further or information needs on an inquiry or proprietary consulting basis.

TBR has been empowering corporate decision makers since 1996. For more information please visit www.tbri.com.