Hilton: We need to make buying a complete Internet of Things solution easier

Steve Hilton - MachNation

Have you ever tried to purchase an Internet of Things or M2M solution? Not a single IoT carrier or vendor has made it simple. Frankly, it can be a horrifically frustrating experience for an enterprise business unit buyer. Why?

  • It takes four to seven suppliers (vendors and carriers) to supply a single IoT solution
  • Each supplier has a partnership roster of dozens of companies
  • Each supplier has multiple points-of-contact – multiple departments handling IoT and M2M sales, service, support and engineering
  • No supplier has enough information to recommend a specific set of partners for all enterprise IoT solutions, so each deployment is highly customized

According to MachNation's Next Generation IoT Forecast, we will have 24 billion connected IoT devices by 2024. That's 30-40 per cent annual growth for the next 10 years.

But we will never see that level of growth unless we make it easy for buyers of IoT to identify and buy an IoT solution. None of the best M2M/IoT carriers--AT&T, TeliaSonera, Telenor Connection, KPN, Tele2, Orange, Vodafone and NTT--nor any credible IoT vendor-- Cisco, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, ARM, Ericsson, PTC, Cumulocity, CyberLightning, Telit, Sierra or others--make it easy for an enterprise to purchase a complete IoT solution.

To help enterprises research, identify and buy an end-to-end IoT solution, MachNation launched IoT3, the industry's only self-serve cloud application that helps enterprises find credible IoT vendors and carriers. To meet the needs of enterprise users, MachNation has built IoT3 to be accessible on any PC, smartphone or tablet. It solves one of the major research and purchasing problems in the IoT industry.

Figure 1: IoT3 on an Apple iPhone 5S [Source: MachNation, 2014]














Let me give you a typical, case study example and explain why a tool like IoT3 is needed. Imagine I'm an IoT/M2M sales person for one of the world's best mobile carriers.

Case study: purchasing process for a fleet management IoT solution

A large distribution services company in Germany wants to find a new fleet management solution that incorporates new security--both physical and data--and video capabilities in the solution. The company has 15,000 employees and a fairly large IT department of 100 employees. Initially it will deploy the fleet management solution in Western Europe and Eastern Europe, but within three years it will extend the deployment to North America. The enterprise anticipates using fairly simplistic analytics with the fleet data; the IoT devices need to be fairly ruggedized and capable of withstanding high temperatures; and it will provide its own system integration services.

I walk into the enterprise's offices and sit down with the vice president of logistics and operations. We talk a bit and he describes why his company is looking to replace its current fleet solution. I pull out my iPad, navigate over to IoT3.MachNation.com and answer the list of IoT3 business and technology questions that detail his IoT business and technology requirements.

In just a few seconds, IoT3 provides a list of recommended IoT suppliers by technology category--hardware/device, platform, applications, system integration and communications. We learn that my company has partnerships with several of the vendors presented by IoT. As a sales person, I look pretty intelligent because I can now have a conversation about an end-to-end IoT solution with my client. And I've made it easy for my client to find an end-to-end IoT solution.

In the IT sector, it is easy to purchase new solutions. For example, if an enterprise wants a new Unified Communications platform or new CRM application, it simply contacts a salesperson, agent or distributor of one of the major vendors in the sector. That sales agent can sell all components of the solution, plus provide any number of planning, testing, implementation or maintenance services. The agent almost always has standard technology architectures and well-documented implementation processes to share.

But in IoT, we are sorely lacking standard architectures, implementation processes and simple tools to make buying easy. Instead of standard technology architectures, in IoT we have a set of architectures that are often at odds with each other. Instead of well-documented implementation processes, we generally have vendor- or service provider-specific processes that are custom-built for each implementation. And instead of simple ways to learn about and purchase an IoT solution, we require enterprises to search for hardware, devices, platforms, applications, integration services and communication services independently.

MachNation believes that it will be increasingly easy for enterprises to find, buy and implement an IoT solution within the next 12-24 months. But it will require careful understanding of the enterprise buying processes, types of enterprise buyers and buyer requirements. We believe IoT3 is a tool to help make buying an IoT solution as easy as buying a new printer.

Steve Hilton is managing director of MachNation, the only dedicated insight services firm for the IoT and IoE industries. MachNation specializes in understanding and predicting the IoT and IoE industries including developments in hardware, platforms, communication services, applications and deployment services. Steve has over 20 years experience providing guidance in the technology and communications sector. For more information, visit: www.machnation.com