Last week we were invited to speak at the 2017 IoT Convention in Mechelen. It was the second edition of the Convention (last year it was held in Brussels) but already probably the biggest IoT event in Belgium. And as it happens during industry events in small markets like Belgium or even Benelux- nearly everyone doing IoT was there. Which meant it was a fantastic opportunity to get the pulse of the market, see what everyone has been doing lately and most importantly (as we will elaborate a little below) - discover new partnership opportunities.
We couldn’t help notice a few recurring themes throughout the talks which continued unfolding in the exhibitor areas during networking breaks. So we thought it would be cool to share our main takeaways from our industry’s hottest conference here at home in Belgium. We have three of them. They are not novel ideas but are good markers of where we stand and what we should be focusing on to move forward.
So what have the IoT industry leaders been predominantly talking about last Thursday (except of course how great their companies are :)?
1. IoT partnerships are essential
Scratch that. They are vital. Connectivity providers are saying it (and they were very well represented at the Convention), device manufacturers are saying it, software companies are saying it, it’s a recognized fact by nearly all players in the IoT value chain.
Why are partnerships vital? The consensus is that no one can do it all and no one can do it alone. There is no one-size-fits-all, universal end-to-end solution that caters to anyone and anything. The market is too complex, evolving too quickly and the use cases are too specific for one company to be able to cover with equal competency all aspects of a solution offering. The configuration of all of the components of an IoT solution varies greatly from one use case to another.
Focusing on your core competency and finding partners with complementary domain knowledge and authority seems to be the winning formula. Whether for product development, finding new channels to market or adding value to existing services or applications - finding the right partner can make or break your success.
At Waylay we understand the importance of partnerships and we are always looking for partners to help us create better IoT enterprise solutions for our customers. Whether you are a system integrator, connectivity operator, device manufacturer, app development agency or other key IoT provider, get in touch now if you think we should join forces.
2. Building the case for IoT use cases
Almost every session we’ve attended last Thursday had at least one slide in it that tried to give an overview of possible applications of IoT across industries. Can you guess what they all had in common? Nothing. They were all different and they were all right. What does this mean?
Basically that the IoT market is of gargantuan proportions. And right now, it’s a lot like looking at a clear summer night sky - if you focus on any random square inch of it then a myriad of applications become visible. We are at a point where there’s a race for defining use cases and finding the most promising ones - which are not necessarily the most apparent.
And while customers are getting increasingly more aware of what IoT can do for their businesses, many still expect technology companies to define the business case for them. This was perceived as a key challenge in the advancement of IoT projects, with Convention attendees talking about the shared responsibility of matching the solutions to the problems.
At Waylay we have a good track record of IoT deployments in smart city, smart home, utilities and logistics amongst others and take pride in our horizontal approach to connecting IoT with business. If you feel that there’s an opportunity for your company to gain competitive advantage with IoT, get in touch and we will demonstrate how Waylay can help.
3.IoT projects tend to stall in POC phase (but there are more POCs than ever before)
Digital enterprise innovation today mainly revolves around cloud and mobile, with IoT just coming out of the hype phase into the real world of practical applications (see the struggle of defining business cases that we mentioned above). So what this means is that while there’s an increased interest in IoT opportunities- it’s not yet an imperative must have and there’s no real sense of urgency around them.
Given the complexity of an IoT deployment, there are nearly no full-scale projects being rolled out before going through some sort of preliminary proof of concept stage, which can last from a few weeks to a few months depending on the application domain.
There’s a popular catchphrase in our industry that, as expected, had its fair share of use during the Mechelen IoT Convention as well: Think big, start small. Recognize it?
There’s real substance to it but while this was proudly displayed on slide decks in conference rooms, a more down to earth talk was going on at the booths and networking areas. One that was discussing deployments happening at departmental level that struggle to scale and turn into full-blown enterprise-level projects. The ease and appeal of starting small is what draws in customers in the first place, but the challenge of moving from the small start to the big idea behind it shouldn’t be overlooked.
So here you go, these were our three takeaways from the IoT Convention in Mechelen last week:
- find strong partners with complementary knowledge & authority
- meet your customer mid-way in defining the business case and
- fight the POC-phase-lag by reiterating the “big thought” that fueled the “small start”
These are all just general thoughts from a regular attendee’s perspective but we were actually invited there to speak about one of our most exciting client cases - powering B2C IoT platform Conrad Connect, with over 100k connected devices and growing. More about this in a future post.
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