The tech world is at a point of unparalleled change. You've heard that phrase, or things similar to it, in just about every year since the Dark Ages. Walking around MWC, however, something did feel different this time. Yes, there was a lot of hype and even a healthy sampling of good old fashion vapor-ware. But there were real tangible products, customer deployments and the beginning of some fundamental shifts in the vendor ecosystem structure.
The IoT is growing up. Vendors demoed real products. Customers gave testimonials. And I saw about a third of the slideware and press releases that I normally see. Don't get me wrong, I love slides and am a repeat offender of death-by-foiling, but it was refreshing to see examples of new products and new business models that are actually being used.
So how did this new dynamic of tangible and material change come to pass? It is rather simple in concept. Vendors focused on enabling rapid innovation and development. Bells and whistles were traded in for nuts, bolts and power tools. In the desire to cash in / fear to miss out on the IoT opportunity, blue chip tech companies, with established and proven product development methodologies, focused on quickly getting products/platforms to market (hooray Agile!). What they did next was even more astonishing. They partnered effectively. Not just in the form of joint marketing or sales or press releases about future plans. They actually effectively integrated solutions with the intent to better help customers develop and deploy solutions. A few particularly noteworthy examples:
AT&T, Intel, and Sonim announced one such exemplary partnership. In a matter of months, the companies combined forces to develop an off-the-shelf connectivity and tracking module. The device, born out of Intel’s LIQD program, addresses two of the largest challenges in the IoT marketplace – time to market and security. With an ability to work in more than 190 countries, the Quark-based device will cost $149 when paired with a service contract. AT&T’s M2X agent ships also ships on the device, allowing rapid development via integration with the company’s node-RED based Flow Designed toolkit.
Harman (Samsung Electronics) and VMware also announced a new partnership-fueled IoT solution. Targeted at a range of automotive, industrial and energy management use cases, the integrated portfolio combines Harman’s OTA software, gateways and analytics services with VMware’s IoT solution’s management and infrastructure monitoring capabilities.
Nokia highlighted its growing focus on IoT via a pair of particularly noteworthy partnerships. First, Nokia demonstrated implementation of its IMPACT IoT platform for logistics tracking using Dell’s new Edge Gateway 3000 series. Second, Nokia’s IMPACT solution was used together with SAP’s Leonardo Vehicles Network solution to demonstrate a more intelligent automated (rental) car and concierge experience for Hertz, with features optimized for uses cases ranging from the car rental to parking and fueling location and payment to expense management for business travelers.
Is my optimism for the IoT too high? Maybe? But remember, in less than a year we've seen the Cubs win the World Series and Microsoft stand on stage at Red Hat Tech Forum and tell the world that it loves Linux. Anything is possible. (Whether not every connected product and service should be developed would be the subject of an entirely different topic)
P.S. Someone did actually make a connected toothbrush.
View the MWC 2017 Recap VDC View to learn more.