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Commercial IoT: Maturation solves some problems but also creates challenges

The evolving IoT partner ecosystem

Because IoT solutions integrate the physical and informational aspects of business, almost all IoT solutions include diverse components from multiple vendors. TBR uses the term “component” to include all contributions: hardware, software, and professional and cloud services. When IoT started receiving a lot of attention more than three years ago, vendors attempted to gain first-mover advantage in the IoT market by vying for customer attention with claims of providing end-to-end IoT solutions, even though almost all of those solutions incorporated components from several vendors. Many vendors claimed all of IoT as their turf, leading to market confusion, channel conflict, and vendors’ failure to communicate their differentiating advantages.

The past year has seen many vendors dial back their claims of IoT dominance, while an increasing number of component vendors, including OT vendors, have more clearly communicated their specialized contributions to effective IoT solutions. As vendors have increasingly focused on their strengths, reducing the overlap of claimed expertise, it has become easier for them to partner to create complete solutions. At the same time, as vendors have gained experience and devoted resources to researching and cultivating their individual partner ecosystems, they have become more knowledgeable.

In delivering multiple-vendor solutions, component vendors are challenged to be recognized and compensated for their contributions. This is leading to an increase in “ingredient marketing,” where component vendors communicate to customers the value that their components contribute to solutions. Systems integrators, usually the vendors with the greatest exposure to customers, are facing a conflict between their claims of differentiating IoT intellectual property and the increasing visibility of components. Increasingly, solutions are delivered as bundles, sold by value-added resellers, ISVs and independent hardware vendors (IHVs), posing the same challenge to component vendors.

In 2Q19 TBR’s Commercial IoT Practice will be expanding its research into how the maturation of the IoT market is playing out for customers and vendors and how vendors can refine their go-to-market (GTM) strategies and tactics in light of the evolving market. The diversity of IoT solutions, the involvement of operations technology (OT) in both the purchase and delivery of solutions, and the enormous IoT ecosystems all pose challenges to predominately IT-oriented vendors.

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.

Technology Business Research, Inc. announces 1Q19 webinar schedule

Technology Business Research, Inc. (TBR) announces the schedule for its 1Q19 webinar series.

Jan. 9            Virtualization flips the axis on technology monetization and adoption

Jan. 23         IoT is getting a lot easier

Feb. 6           The pendulum swings: Customer demands reshape how infrastructure vendors do business

Feb. 13         5G will be an evolution, not a revolution

Feb. 20         Customers care less, vendors buy more, and both sides become more intelligent

Feb. 27         Consulting’s robot army: How RPA changes the consulting business model

Mar. 20        Enabling stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem to navigate the path to value-based care

TBR webinars are held typically each Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET and include a 15-minute Q&A session following the main presentation. Previous webinars can be viewed anytime on TBR’s Webinar Portal.

For additional information or to arrange a briefing with our analysts, please contact TBR at [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.

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2018 5G Americas Analyst Forum

5G will provide network efficiencies for telcos as they anticipate next-generation use cases

Given the introduction of Verizon’s (NYSE: VZ) 5G Home fixed wireless service in October, as well as the upcoming launch of AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s mobile 5G networks by the end of 2018, the 5G era is edging closer to reality after years of industry speculation regarding the technology’s capabilities. Similar to prior network eras, such as the transition from 3G to LTE, the 5G era will be a gradual evolution of existing network capabilities and will not immediately yield its full benefits or dramatically alter the global wireless market during its inception.

A resounding theme at the 2018 5G Americas Analyst Forum was that the 5G era will essentially be “more of the same” initially. LTE will remain the predominant source of connectivity for most wireless subscribers in the Americas over the next several years until 5G coverage becomes nationwide and customers transition to 5G-capable devices. The accelerated speeds offered by LTE-Advanced services, as well as the cost savings offered by IoT network technologies such as Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M, are currently more than sufficient to support the demands of most consumers and enterprises.

The wireless industry is anticipating 5G will foster IoT innovations in areas including connected car, healthcare, smart cities and augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR). Though advanced IoT use cases that require the precision promised by 5G, such as remote surgery, are being explored, many of these services will not become commercially available until the mid-2020s at the earliest. Additionally, solutions like remote surgery and V2X automotive services will be burdened by significant regulatory challenges as ensuring 100% network reliability and ultra-low latency will be essential to prevent hazardous outcomes.

Although the end-user benefits of 5G will initially be limited, investments in 5G will ultimately be viable due to the network efficiencies operators will gain from the technology. 5G, which is expected to provide between four- and 10-times greater efficiency on a cost-per-gigabyte basis compared to LTE, will enable operators to more cost-effectively add network capacity to support the prevalence of unlimited data plans as well as continued connected device additions. Offering 5G services will also be essential for operators to remain competitive against their rivals as the marketing of accelerated 5G speeds will help to attract subscribers. Lastly, the deployment of 5G networks will prepare operators to support 5G-dependent use cases when they do come to fruition and spur customer demand.

 

 

Around 70 representatives from well-known operators and vendors attended the annual 5G Americas event to talk with more than 70 industry analysts about the state of wireless communications in North America and Latin America as well as discuss challenges and opportunities presented by the rapid development of the mobile ecosystem.

The event kicked off with a presentation from T-Mobile (Nasdaq: TMUS) CTO Neville Ray regarding 5G leadership in the Americas. He discussed topics including projected use cases, the importance of 5G to the U.S. economy, the Americas’ position in the global 5G market, and the different initial approaches U.S. operators are taking to 5G. A panel of network and technology executives from operators including AT&T (NYSE: T), Sprint (NYSE: S), T-Mobile, Telefonica (NYSE: TEF), Cable & Wireless and Shaw (NYSE: SJR) provided additional insights into 5G evolution and activity around 5G by each respective operator.

Day 2 began with panel sessions featuring leaders from top telecom vendors, including Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC), Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Samsung, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) and Commscope (Nasdaq: COMM), to discuss areas such as 5G regulatory challenges, 5G network and technology deployments, and potential 5G go-to-market strategies and use cases. Following these panel sessions, the reminder of the event offered analysts the opportunity to participate in a choice of 34 roundtable discussions focused on key 5G topics, including Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G network infrastructure and technologies, regulatory considerations, and 5G in the automotive industry. 

NFV/SDN prepares operators to support 5G-era use cases

Infographic explaining how nfv and sdnwill prepare operators to support 5G-era use casesOperators are under pressure to invest in these technologies

Operators will further adoption of virtualized network solutions by capitalizing on 5G use cases and strengthening security capabilities. Integrating NFV and SDN technologies will enable operators to more effectively support network technologies that will become prevalent in the 5G era, including network slicing and edge computing, which will play a pivotal role in supporting 5G use cases such as advanced Internet of Things (IoT). The flexibility and agility of network slicing will enable operators to remove unnecessary functionality (e.g., sunsetting a noncore service) while launching services on command. Edge computing will allow operators to support 5G use cases that require ultra-low latency, such as augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR).

Operators are under pressure to invest in NFV and SDN to reduce total capex and opex spend as well as introduce new services and stay competitive as they prepare to offer 5G services and search for new network use cases. The flexibility and scalability offered by NFV and SDN is particularly appealing to operator enterprise customers, which are expanding their operations and are undergoing digital transformation initiatives such as utilizing multicloud environments, incorporating IoT solutions, and integrating digital customer service and sales portals. Software-mediated network services are enabling businesses to deploy applications and provide connectivity to new branches more quickly, which is particularly important to customers in verticals that frequently add new locations, such as retail.

The shift to software-defined network architectures is extremely disruptive to the vendor community. Incumbent network vendors are under increasing pressure to move up the network value chain, from hardware to software and software-related services. They are increasingly disrupted by the adoption of white-box hardware and the utilization of ODMs as operators search for avenues to reduce network costs. Deploying white boxes provides significant cost savings for operators as well as greater flexibility by allowing carriers to deploy the most appropriate virtual network functions for their environments without being limited by the constraints of propriety hardware. Though the ODM threat has not manifested in the telecom operator customer segment to the extent it has in the webscale segment, incumbent vendors must remain on alert and attempt to mitigate this threat. TBR believes the best course of action is for vendors to embrace the movement of value in the network from the hardware layer to the software layer. This could include embracing open-source code and layering in proprietary software to differentiate. For most incumbents, scaling quickly through acquisition is preferable.

For more information, contact Senior Analyst Michael Soper at [email protected].

NFV/SDN prepares operators to support 5G era use cases and helps drive network efficiencies

According to TBR’s 3Q18 NFV/SDN Telecom Market Landscape, operators will further adoption of virtualized network solutions by capitalizing on 5G use cases and strengthening security capabilities. Integrating NFV and SDN technologies will enable operators to more effectively support network technologies that will become prevalent in the 5G era, including network slicing and edge computing, which will play a pivotal role in supporting 5G use cases such as advanced Internet of Things (IoT).

Operators are under pressure to invest in NFV and SDN to reduce total capex and opex spend as well as introduce new services and stay competitive as they prepare to offer 5G services and search for new network use cases. The shift to software-defined network architectures is extremely disruptive to the vendor community.

Graph showing total NFV/SDN spend by capex and external opex for 2017 through 2022

Incumbent network vendors are under increasing pressure to move up the network value chain, from hardware to software and software-related services. They are increasingly disrupted by the adoption of white-box hardware and the utilization of ODMs as operators search for avenues to reduce network costs. Deploying white boxes provides significant cost savings for operators as well as greater flexibility by allowing carriers to deploy the most appropriate virtual network functions for their environments without being limited by the constraints of propriety hardware. Though the ODM threat has not manifested in the telecom operator customer segment to the extent it has in the webscale segment, incumbent vendors must remain on alert and attempt to mitigate this threat.

The NFV/SDN Telecom Market Landscape includes key findings, market size, customer adoption, operator positioning and strategies, geographic adoption, vendor positioning and strategies, and acquisition and alliance strategies and opportunities.

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 diversity of IoT solutions and their multicomponent and multivendor nature require new approaches from vendors

The Internet of Things (IoT) market is beginning to stabilize, if not mature, and this is a good time for vendors to focus on vertical markets and use cases within those markets, especially where there is a gap that aligns well with an IT vendor’s strength, such as telecom operators’ capabilities in logistics.

“We project total commercial IoT market revenue will increase from $370.3 billion in 2018 to more than $1 trillion in 2023 at a CAGR of 24.4%,” said TBR Analyst Dan Callahan.

Commercial IoT Market Forecast Alternative Market Performance Scenarios 2018-2023

Other topics we cover in the Commercial IoT Market Forecast 2018-2023 Update include the emergence of embedded IoT solutions, the rise of independent software vendors and independent hardware vendors as paths for propagating embedded solutions, and the drivers and inhibitors for select verticals and technology segments where we anticipate the most change.

The Commercial IoT Market Forecast 2018-2023 Update highlights the current and emerging revenue opportunities in the commercial IoT market for vendors. It leverages financial models and projections across a diverse set of IT and operational technology components, verticals and geographies. In addition, the report outlines the major component and industry drivers and trends shaping the market.

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.

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.