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Insights from Leaders in IoT at Axeda Connexion

  
  
  

By Steve Hilton, MachNation

At the end of an industry event, we at MachNation like to reflect on some of the insights generated by event participants. In this environment of weekly IoT/M2M events it is not easy finding unique nuggets of wisdom, but occasionally we do. Let's discuss a few insights from discussions and presentations on 6 May at Axeda Connexion 2014.

  1. "Integration is the killer app for IoT," according to Bill Zujewski, CMO of Axeda. This seemingly innocuous idea is packed with importance. While some are often looking for a single application or device that will create disproportionate business value in the IoT ecosytem, they are misguided. The real value of these IoT solutions rests in the integration of device data with back-end business applications in the re-definition of business processes. These integrations can have profound implications on enterprise costs, innovation and new services development.
  2. Minimizing vulnerability to the "bad guys" is critically important in IoT. Security isn't just the responsibility of the CSO, as we have learned recently from the firing of Target's CEO in response to a massive security breach of customer data.  Numerous speakers brought-up the topic of IoT security and its importance. Since many IoT solutions have been deployed by operations technology (OT) staff without too much involvement from the CSO's organization, it becomes even more important to consider the end-to-end security implications of IoT solutions from device, OS, application, connectivity and application integration perspectives. The importance of OT in the IoT decision-making process is one of MachNation's hot topics for 2014. Bringing in some of the well-founded practices from traditional security auditing is one way to drive standard security practices in the deployment of new IoT solutions.
  3. Responsiveness to data creates competitive differentiation and business value. Peter Utzschneider from Oracle highlighted this issue clearly in his keynote address. Enterprises must use IoT data to increase responsiveness across organizations. This responsiveness can be seen in departments as varied as logistics, customer care, field services, maintenance, sales and marketing. Speed, agility and fact-based decision-making create enterprises that outperform their peers.
  4. Intelligence in end-point devices is needed. This point was raised several times during the event. Whether that intelligence needs to sit on the device or on the network is arguable. However, I believe it is true that we need more intelligence logically closer to end-point devices. More intelligence closer to the network edge allows for better, faster, more reliable and more distributed decision-making. It gives us more ability to impact, change, modify and re-direct things/people at the edge of the network. These changes alter the user experience at the edge. In some cases (for example, monitoring an oil pump along a supply line), altering the user experience at the network edge is less important. However, there are other cases (for example, a connected vending machine) where altering the user experience at the network edge is tremendously valuable.
The ecosystem of partners attending Axeda Connexion was strong. Bringing together system integrators, application vendors, platform providers, services providers, communications operators, device manufacturers and chip manufacturers is no small task. But bringing them together with enterprise end-users creates strong value for the entire ecosystem.

Observations from Axeda Connexion 2014

  
  
  
Axeda Connexion 2014 (Twitter hashtag #CX14) is a who’s-who of enterprises and technology companies that have embraced or are learning how to embrace the connected future. The key themes from this year’s show span business/strategy and technology characteristics of IoT. Let’s take a look at some of the top ones.

Impact of IoT solutions on business process. No doubt that IoT solutions pack all sorts of value for enterprises, but oftentimes we overlook the challenges that enterprises have in re-designing their business processes to take advantage of connectivity, connected devices, sensors and the richness of the data provided by these IoT solutions. Business processes touching all aspects of operations, finance, marketing, sales, customer support and product development can be impacted by new IoT solutions. Enterprises must prepare for these changes -- changes that impact technology, but also human factors within the enterprises. As such, it is critical that enterprises create appropriate change management and training plans. In addition, they need to address additional security and compliance issues that might be impacted by changes in particular business processes. These changes impact large enterprises as well as small/medium businesses that march down the IoT path.

Moving enterprises from product to services companies: striving for competitive differentiation. An age-old adage for many businesses is, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” But those enterprises that adopt IoT solutions realize that there is something that needs improvement. Sometimes identifying those problems and taking the risks to change require great foresight and executive commitment. Many enterprises that are product-centric recognize the difficulties in creating a sustainable competitive advantage solely based on a product-only business model. So in order to help differentiate their products, these enterprises are adding connectivity to their products and becoming hybrid product/services companies. These changes help diversify the overall revenue characteristics of these firms while building competitive differentiation through enhanced customer loyalty, difficult to replicate product/service offerings and reducing the time-to-market for new service solutions.

Innovative technology solutions being deployed today: enterprise examples. There is tremendous diversity in the types of IoT solutions being deployed today. A quick perusal of attendees and speakers at the Axeda Connexion 2014 event attest to this fact. There are hundreds of enterprise attendees from sectors including healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, automotive/transport, software, distribution and others. The IoT solutions vary from those that have been generally available in markets for years -- like, fleet management -- to those that are in beta-stage today -- like several healthcare solutions in various stages of medical testing. As we expected there was strong presence of IoT solutions in the industrial sector -- the industrial sector being one of the hottest IoT sectors in 2014 according to recent MachNation research. There is a heightened focus on the quality and useability of the data collected from these IoT solutions, recognizing that collection and analysis of data must lead to actions that seek to improve business outcomes.

Application integrations: To reach the goal of extracting maximum value from IoT solutions requires careful integration of enterprise business applications -- like CRM/SFA, ERP, inventory management, accounting/finance, distribution systems and other -- to IoT platforms like the Axeda Machine Cloud. Very few enterprises are implementing IoT solutions as green-field deployments. Most enterprises have existing business applications that require integration with IoT applications and application platforms. Simple approaches and careful project planning are required to ensure data is mapped and shared appropriately between applications. Look to cloud application vendors like Axeda and Salesforce.com that are creating deep business and technology partnerships to ensure the success if these integrations.

Axeda Connexion 2014 continues to attract some of the most progressive enterprises and technology vendors that have embraced the connected future.

About the author -- Steve Hilton is the Managing Director and
co-founder of MachNation, the only Steve Hiltondedicated insight services firm covering the future of the Internet of Things, Internet of everything and connected device ecosystems. His primary areas of expertise include sales enablement, competitive positioning, marketing media development, cloud services, small and medium businesses and sales channels. Steve has 20 years’ experience in technology and communications marketing. Prior to founding MachNation, he built and ran the IoT/M2M and Enterprise practice areas at Analysys Mason. He has also held senior positions at Yankee Group, Lucent Technologies, TDS (Telephone and Data Systems) and Cambridge Strategic Management Group. Steve is a frequent speaker at industry and client events, and publishes articles and blogs in several respected trade journals. He holds a degree in economics from the University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

About MachNation -- MachNation is the only dedicated insight services firm covering the future of the Internet of Things, Internet of Everything and connected device ecosystems. MachNation specializes in understanding and predicting these technology sectors including developments in hardware, platforms, communication services and applications. MachNation specialists have provided sales tools and marketing support services to the majority of the world’s leading IT and communications firms.

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