2014 will see the various players in the M2M and IoT platforms space begin to play more to their strengths.
As a result, a more defined market structure will emerge and 2014 will be a year of productisation (and commoditisation) in the M2M and IoT platform space. But the result will be accelerated growth.
Machina Research, the world’s leading provider of strategic market intelligence on M2M and IoT, today published its latest report on the evolution of the software platforms that support M2M and IoT deployments. The report predicts a substantial shake-up in the current platforms hierarchy, with massive implications for many current players in the M2M world.
Over the last decade, a range of M2M platforms has emerged to assist with the development of M2M applications. Until recently, these M2M platforms have tended to focus on speeding the development of stovepipe M2M applications, rather than supporting an open application environment that allows application developers to easily configure applications that draw inputs from multiple M2M (and other) applications. Recently a new type of platform has emerged: the M2M/IoT Application Platform. Key movers in this space include Xively (which focuses squarely on the value-added IoT application space), Thingworx (which seeks to also support the stovepipe applications that underpin an IoT environment) and Bosch Software Innovations (which is bringing systems integration capabilities to the party).
Commenting on the findings, author Jim Morrish notes:
“These platforms represent, in some ways, an increasing focus on horizontal enabling components that can underpin a future Internet of Things (IoT), complemented by a flexible and powerful application development and management environment. But M2M/IoT Application Platforms are not a panacea for the travails of today’s M2M world.”
The key functionality of an M2M/IoT Application Platform is the capability to abstract across a range of inputs, and to control a range of external processes. However, it is clear that any potential provider of M2M/IoT Application Platform solutions must move significantly beyond this core capability in order to attract application developers and build the ecosystems necessary to gain critical mass. An M2M/IoT Application Platform provides the ‘glue’ that binds together application developers, M2M connected devices and a range of niche and specialised M2M platforms and wider enterprise IT systems. In the world of the M2M/IoT Application Platform, the application developer is king.
As Morrish summarises:
“M2M/IoT Application Platforms represent a new and disruptive force that is entering the traditional M2M platform space. These existing M2M platform types will be impacted in a variety of ways. Some will be greatly impacted.”
Application Support platforms: are likely to be hit hardest by the advent of the M2M/IoT Application Platform. Really, the best way forwards for Application Support platforms will be to secure deals with the likes of ThingWorx to leverage their M2M/IoT Application Platform capabilities.
Combined Connectivity Support and Service Enablement platforms: will need to focus more on Connectivity Support than Service Enablement, as M2M/IoT Application Platforms come to dominate markets for the latter.
Solution providers: should regard an M2M/IoT Application Platform capability as a driver of revenues in other areas of their business. Systems integrators are likely to offer M2M/IoT Application Platform services for free, so disrupting the market for others.
Device Management Platforms: will remain relatively unaffected by the advent of M2M/IoT Application Platforms.
To achieve success in this space Morrish identifies that:
“The application platform M2M/IoT Application Platforms must excel not only in terms of offering constantly evolving application development and management environments, but also in terms of supporting a kind of Semantic Web of Things.”