No matter what enterprise industry you’re in, it’s likely that somewhere between the water cooler and the boardroom you’ve caught wind an IoT initiative that’s underway. Your organization might be in the highly visible minority that’s actually made material progress toward an IoT strategy, but for most companies, a fully realized IoT play remains largely theoretical and vexingly elusive.
IoT initiatives need infrastructure
Even when the concept of a viable IoT business model is well formed, many companies struggle with how to achieve the adoption of the technical infrastructure needed to make it a reality. Often, that technical hurdle exists because the company has never done anything like it before. It might know how to make a Thing— it could be a coffee maker or an air conditioner or monster truck—but there’s not a lick of internal know-how when it comes to managing the complexities an IoT stack demands, from sensors to network connectivity to data stream management to customer care to billing. What these would-be IoT players need is a jump start.
CSPs to the Rescue
There’s plenty of good news on that front. From New York to London to Shanghai to Sydney, communication service providers (CSPs) have a transformative agenda in their pockets. To wit, to transform themselves from providers of general mobile connectivity to Digital Service Providers (DSPs), leveraging their existent network infrastructures to deliver a range of modern services that go beyond traditional voice/data/text.
Key to that strategy is the deployment of end-to-end IoT enablement stacks. These “IoT in a box” stacks under development across the CSP landscape are largely being designed using best-of-breed cloud based technologies, some of which were natively developed by the CSP, but many are being acquired from other providers. It’s essentially a variation on more generic Platform as a Service offerings (PaaS).
Not your average PaaS for the IoT
Unlike generic PaaS, however, these stacks are specifically tailored to meet the needs of an IoT offering by including a chain of capabilities that begin with hardware sensors, connect to networks and manage data streams, and culminate with tools that allow for rapid IoT application development, and the full array of functionality needed to manage IoT “products”, sell those products to customers, and manage the billing and care those customers will need.
IoT PaaS from communications companies not quite here
Few of the world’s CSPs have yet made it to the point of having their IoT PaaS stacks ready to go, but the pace at which they are under development is feverish and the range of CSPs that will be offering them is nearly universal. Divisions like Verizon Enterprise are already making themselves known, though. Chances are they will get there in the next twelve months or less, and when they do the “thing makers” of the world will have a quick-start option for getting their IoT-dream products to market far faster than the daunting DIY path they might be fretting over today.