IoT for SMBs. Deploying an IoT solution isn’t for the weak of spirit. Most of the high-profile Internet of things (IoT) deployments are with large multi-national corporations. This isn’t surprising, as it generally takes 4-6 technology partners to plan, test, deploy and manage one IoT solution. There’s a lot of custom development of applications, testing of platforms, unique specification of devices and analysis of communications implications.
But we are entering a new era for IoT; an era where solution providers can begin to productize solutions for small and medium business (SMB) customers. With 200 million SMBs in the world, surely this is a good market segment. But getting from today’s state of IoT affairs to an IoT easily deployed by SMBs is no walk in the woods. What are the key areas requiring development to make SME IoT a reality?
- Industry leader to coalesce viable channels to market – In the enterprise IT world, we have powerful and successful companies like Cisco, HP, IBM and Microsoft. These companies have created the resources, training, certifications, commission plans and management structures to support vast, global channel partner programs. We don’t have such monoliths in the IoT world – and we need one quickly if we’re going to more thoroughly penetrate enterprises and SMBs with IoT solutions.
- Global channel capacity — Finding credible solution providers that have the breadth and depth of channel capacity is likely the most challenging aspect of launching SMB IoT programs. Many of these solution providers are small application and services vendors that serve local markets. In order to make IoT deployments profitable across the ecosystem, we must recognize that SMB markets are mass markets – in some ways similar to residential markets. We must have a way to incent and reward a local partner with a credible, successful SMB solution to share its solution across geographies.
- Productization – Not all solution providers are good at productizing solutions for SMB markets. We believe that the most credible providers of SMB solutions are communications operators like America Movil, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile), KPN, Orange, Sprint, Tele2, Telenor Connexion, TeliaSonera and Vodafone. These types of providers have both the technical understanding of IoT and experience bringing SMB solutions to market. More on this in later insights.
- SMB-appropriate applications – As I learned long ago in my dating life, timing matters. Not all IoT solutions are appropriate for SMB markets today. We recommend focusing on the following applications for SMB IoT: security/surveillance, fleet management, retail solutions, building/energy management, various asset monitoring, certain aspects of digital signage and speciality manufacturing.
A market as large as SMB IoT deserves more attention from service providers, vendors, technologists and certainly from MachNation. Stay connected for more SMB Internet of things updates.