Analysts continue to talk up the potential of the IoT market, but it is hard to see how 21 billion devices will be connected by 2020 given the current, highly bespoke IoT deployment model. There is simply no way a handful of, albeit large, suppliers delivering highly bespoke solutions can realise the full potential of IoT. This is according to Nick Sacke, Head of IoT and Products, Comms365, who believes that shrink-wrapped services are the key to realising the vision of IoT at scale.
From smart parking to smart warehousing, a new generation of channel friendly ‘IoT as a Service’ solutions are set to transform IoT adoption. Here, Nick explains why.
To date, the channel has had little input into the evolution or adoption of IoT – and for good reason. How can a reseller possibly embrace the full, end to end implementation required? From diverse sensor technologies, a lack of network standardisation, large up-front costs, and the need for multiple vendors for just one solution, achieving an end to end IoT deployment has been deemed to be too big, too complicated and too high risk.
Instead, resellers that have been keen to become the first to provide IoT solutions to their customers have rebadged the IoT services from mobile carriers. Unfortunately, not only do these services do little to build on legacy Machine to Machine (M2M) offerings, they don’t maximise the true value of the technology. Furthermore, the major carriers are in many cases working directly with enterprises on the largest and most lucrative M2M deployments, so where does this leave resellers in a congested, price driven market?
As a Service
If the benefits of IoT are to be truly realised, the model has to change. This is where the channel comes in, as the key to offering wide scale, successful deployment to businesses of every size – and channel IoT adoption means developing a better, faster and more relevant IoT model. IoT as a Service or shrink-wrapped IoT is different on every level. Based on a proven market need – such as smart parking or smart warehouse operations – IoT as a Service requires limited customisation. A complete IoT smart parking solution, for example, will include sensors, network, data storage, analytics and visualisation, but will be offered as a service that can be purchased as a proof of concept, a first case deployment or even as a full-scale solution. For a reseller, there is nothing to do other than install it – and even that can be outsourced if required.
Complete Business Solution
It is important to note that a shrink-wrapped IoT solution is not just a proof of concept (PoC). There are a number of kits available that enable a simple IoT demonstration, a couple of sensors, a gateway with a wireless protocol to connect to the sensors, and an application. But while this sounds like IoT as a Service it is not deployable in a live setting, it is just a bench demo that can be used to prove the concept and validate the requirement. The shrink-wrapped IoT PoC kits allow the end user to test IoT for real in several application areas to determine the validity of their business case.
True IoT as a Service is different. With deployable sensors and viable network connectivity, for example, the fast expanding LPWAN networking options that can connect a high volume of sensors, as well as the data storage, analytics and visualisation components. Every aspect of this end to end, shrink-wrapped model is designed to scale to thousands, even millions of highly dispersed devices.
Of course, the sheer logistics of implementing and supporting IoT on mass is daunting for any organization, which is why the IoT as a Service model relies on an ecosystem of expert companies. Just as the LORA Alliance is a group of small and large companies successfully working together to deliver LPWANs globally, the IoT ecosystem will drive industry standards for networks, sensors and best practice deployment. The new generation of IoT as a Service providers will use this ecosystem to ensure resellers have full and complete access to the expertise and capacity required – from sensor manufacturers onwards – to deliver IoT at scale.
And this is key. IoT can deliver efficiency, cost savings and revenue generation – but it will never inspire the trillions in investment predicted by the analysts if every deployment is bespoke. IoT will only become mainstream if the ‘as a Service’ model is adopted.