Strategy and business model innovation in M2M, IoT and IoM markets.
I have recently been consulting on the topic of IoT Platform strategy with a particular focus on the recently issued oneM2MTM standard. As part of this work, I researched the activities of different IoT alliances and industry groups because there is a lot of industry discussion about competing standards.
In discussions with company executives, a recurring theme is that nobody wants to take a bet on any single ‘standards’ approach. As a result, many companies choose to hedge their bets and participate in multiple initiatives. Having examined several of the leading initiatives from different dimensions, it’s debatable whether companies are getting a strategic, product-development return on their participation (setting aside brand-building and personal networking benefits).
There are many different ways to look at each of initiatives. For this post, let’s begin by concentrating on their mission and primary objectives. The following list paraphrases information from the different initiative websites:
|IoT Alliance||Mission Statement|
|Allseen Alliance||“Drive adoption of IoE products, systems and services with an open, universal development framework supported by a vibrant ecosystem and technical community”.|
|FiWARE||“Create a sustainable ecosystem to grasp the opportunities that will emerge with the new wave of digitalisation caused by the integration of recent Internet technologies”.|
|HyperCAT||“Drive a secure and interoperable IoT for industry, enabling data discovery and interoperability. Create an inclusive, one-stop shop of best practice IoT implementation through sharing of knowledge of processes and applications”.|
|Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC)||“Identify requirements for open interoperability standards and define common architectures to connect smart devices, machines, people, and processes”.|
|LoRA Alliance||“Standardize low power wide area networks (LPWAN)”.|
|oneM2M||“To develop technical specifications for a common M2M Service Layer that can be embedded within various hardware and software, to connect devices with M2M application servers”.|
|Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC)||“Establish a single solution covering interoperability across multiple vertical markets and use cases”.|
|Thread Group||“To create the very best way to connect and control products in the home. Not a standards group but one aiming to create market awareness”.|
From these statements, it should be clear that some of these alliances are not in the standards business at all.
All of these initiatives are striving for inter-operability with a domain focus. That is to say, they may focus on inter-operability within a portion of the technology stack (e.g. networking, data exchange etc.) or a class of IoT applications, such as the connected home (see one of my older articles  on ‘Place as an IoT strategy’).
Setting aside the technical merits of the different alliances, one informative way to compare them is in terms of the life-cycle to commercial standards. It is one thing to have a ‘standard’ but what is the alignment of eco-system, implementation and commercialisation factors necessary to create a mass market?
The following view of the different initiatives maps out a simplified ‘go-to-market’ process. It begins with requirements and the specifications that lead to a standard which can then be tested and certified before eventually being brought to commercial fruition via market-development and commercial-incubation activities. The illustration also maps the different initiatives along a basic applications stack formed of four components: networking; connectivity management; M2M/IoT application enablers (i.e. horizontal platforms); and, IoT applications.
This depiction shows that some alliances (left-hand side of graphic) focus on the early-stage process of specifying IoT-application enablement requirements. The IIC, for example, began by developing a set of requirements which have led to a reference architecture while also launching test beds for its initial use cases.
Others alliances (right-hand side of graphic) are building off existing standards, such as HTTPS, JSON, REST, 802.15.2 and LoRAWAN, and prioritizing evangelization and market-development activities. The European Union supported initiative, FiWARE, stands out because it plans to seed the market via a EUR80m commercial incubation fund targeted at start-ups and small businesses.
Within this context, the issue for companies is not so much a matter of picking the ‘winning’ standard as much leveraging the largest interoperability footprint. The Korea Electronics Technology Institute , for example, recently demonstrated a oneM2M platform that allowed Alljoyn, Google Nest (Thread Group), Philips Hue and Jawbone platforms to communication with one another. This is a milestone accomplishment from a country at the forefront of mobile innovation and services.
It puts a new complexion on the kind of interoperability that will underpin affordable solutions (via economies of scale) and innovation (by exposing new application and revenue-generating opportunities from cross-silo application and data sharing).
 Business Korea – Tech Compatible with Different IoT Platforms Has Been Presented http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/article/10864/internet-many-things-tech-compatible-different-iot-platforms-has-been-presented