Tuesday, 23 December 2014

There's market potential in packaging the internet of things

News that Fujitsu is offering a cloud platform for customers to exploit the internet of things (IoT) highlights the fact that it’s still a mind boggling concept for a lot of companies – and that savvy suppliers are going to have to help their clients wrap their heads around what they can do.

A key element of this is Fujitsu’s statement that it’s building a “global ecosystem” with business partners. It’s not just the cloud platform, but tying it in with sensors, devices, networks, middleware and applications as part of the deal. It makes sense to offer customers a package that saves them a lot of agonising over whether all the parts will work effectively together.

Throw in an analytics service for those small to midsized firms that don’t know how to exploit all the IoT data and there’s a solid business proposition, especially if the economies of scale make it more competitive. This has promise as an approach for major suppliers to carve out their shares in the market, so far largely untapped, that brings together big data and the IoT.

The main hurdle is likely to be in whether customers have their own ideas about which sensors, devices and other parts of the package they prefer to use. If they have suppliers who are already proving their worth they are going to think twice about dumping them, and making a new investment, to buy right into the big players’ ecosystems.

This could be an interesting feature of the IT business over the next few years: whether customers turn away from cloud platforms because they are incompatible with their choice of hardware and networks, and whether the major firms with the capacity to create packages can make them sufficiently flexible. 

But the fact that the IoT is virgin territory to a lot of companies places big suppliers, especially those with a record in systems integration, in a position where they can lead the way by making it easier for customers. It’s one case where the demand is likely to respond to the supply.

Mark Say is a UK based writer who covers the role of information management and technology in business. See www.marksay.co.uk

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