The Platform of Things: The Mega IoT Platforms Land Grab


Be it in the Automotive , Manufacturing, Pharma, Aerospace, IT or any other industry, even industries you would not expect from like farming, the focus is on IoT platforms. It seems every product and service is becoming a platform. As a result, every industry is moving from offering products and owning assets to offering services and managing interactions. Platforms will underpin this shift with IoT fueling the revolution.

There are already hundreds of platforms out there, from enabling transactions and exchange, to sharing and even co-development and co-creation. As every industry converges into platforms, the key competitive differentiator between them will be their intuitive and cognitive prowess. As a result, commercial activity is moving now from industry specific to pan-industry, mega-platforms and hundreds of specialist and vertical-specific platforms clustered around them.

Tracking this activity reveals an intricate dance of partners, each seeking to assert control over an ecosystem of technology providers and application developers. The other key question is, will the Platforms become commodities? We think so!

Partnerships’ The Way Forward

The common refrain in IoT is that ‘no one can do it alone.’ This is certainly true and market share should be considered in terms of the dominance of cloud-hosted platforms and ecosystems, rather than customer numbers or revenues. Revenues today are still modest and say little about the competitive advantage in the future. Companies at this stage of the market are focused on partner selection and acquisitions to plug technology gaps and investment in platform capabilities in order to attract developers.

According to Frost & Sullivan’s IoT Tracker, 9 percent of company announcements in the past 12 months were about ecosystem building – typically involving technology partnerships and joint go-to-market strategy (Exhibit 1). Another 7 percent involved product co-development.

Of course, so-called ‘strategic alliances’ in the ICT industry can quickly fade away, as participants discover they have less to gain than they first thought. However, IoT suppliers are more dependent on their rivals and peers than in traditional ICT. IBM, for example, claims to work with some 1,400 IoT partners in one way or other. Though many relationships will be as loosely coupled and dynamic as the IoT itself, others are genuinely strategic and longer term.

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