The fragmentation of the IoT supplier ecosystem has long been a barrier to adoption, as enterprises may be worried about having to separately negotiate, pay for and manage connectivity, devices, security solutions, management platforms, and vertical solutions from multiple suppliers. The role of IT services providers in making IoT easier to adopt and use is to offer a one-stop-shop that combines their own and third-party solutions, and adds advisory, integration, professional and managed services, and end-to-end vertical solutions.
In COVID-19 times, IoT has evolved to become a key enabler of solutions to ensure the safety of workers, facilitate remote operations through monitoring and control, and ensure uninterrupted supply chains. Some operators and IT Services Providers (ITSPs) have thrived in this environment while others have found it difficult to convince sceptical businesses to invest in what may still be perceived as an unproven technology (that has actually been around for 20+ years) with uncertain outcomes. In past years, it has also been difficult for some IoT ecosystem vendors to generate substantial revenues, with security breaches, supplier fragmentation, and perceived high solution costs listed by enterprises as barriers to adoption, along with difficult to prove ROIs.
ITSPs can play a key role in this environment, aiming to clear away these objections with a one-stop-shop, provide access to a comprehensive set of partners for particular use cases and verticals, and provide consulting and professional services to smooth the path of hesitant enterprises. Successful ITSPs have also distinguished themselves with unique platforms, diverse strategic partners, a focus on new or unique verticals, and an array of end-to-end solutions. At the same time, IoT has recently been “demoted” by some vendors as just one of many enablers in the digital transformation journey and is sometimes left out of new services and enhancements. While 5G and the advent of private networks are positive indicators for renewed excitement about IoT, ITSPs will remain important facilitators. GlobalData has published a report highlighting ITSPs that have distinguished themselves with an evolutionary approach to IoT, that includes technical and market positioning enhancements, application of new technologies, new vertical niches, and key additions to existing products and services with which to draw customers. (See x)
The following examples show some of the more differentiated approaches:
- Dual approach with Smart Services and XIoT platform, featuring strong partnership with Intel
- Platform enables As a Service model, rapid device deployment, edge and cloud analytics, advanced security
- End-to-end solutions for targeted verticals: asset monitoring/maintenance, energy management, logistics tracking/monitoring, robotics, utility substations/smart grids
- Easy-to-digest “Market-Ready” deliverables on Intel marketplace, e.g. Predictive Asset Maintenance with Edge Compute; The Smart Substation
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- Explicitly addresses Private Network opportunity in manufacturing with Codex (powered by Mindsphere) platform
- Unique end-to-end solutions, e.g. Smart Connected Vessels, Intelligent Supply Chain, Connected Cooler, Smart Control Room, Process Digital Twin for Pharma
- Diverse adjacent technologies; BullSequana Edge Analytics, Atos Syntel IoT Accelerators, DevOps Digital Twin, IoT Security, Video Surveillance
- Solid partnership evolution with recent additions: Eupry (Danish start-up offering compliant temperature sensing for perishables; UbiqiSense (smart buildings)
- Recent acquisitions (Bright Wolf for IIoT and Servian for analytics) provide Cognizant-owned solutions for IoT rather than depending on 3rd parties.
- Hitachi, Verizon ThingSpace, and PTC partnerships show platform diversity.
- Augmented Reality advocacy through research and surveys may pan out as differentiator.
- Diverse IoT references focus on different needs of manufacturers (connected factory, data storage, fleet management). Shipping, pharma, utility and mining examples also showcased.
- Comprehensive approach to smart spaces is unique and innovative and leverages proprietary SCALE (Sustainable-Connected-Affordable-Livable-Experiential) framework.
- Meridian Live Enterprise Workplace Platform helps companies reimagine experiences in the work-from-anywhere era.
These examples show that ITSPs are quite different in their approach to the market, go to or through diverse partners, have different vertical specialities, and may add a lot of their own IP into the mix of solutions.