M2M - The Industry

When a lot of people talk about IoT, it often seems to revolve around the consumer.  I often hear how it will change people's health, allow people to automate their home and allow them to have a disturbingly close relationship with their car.  However, according to some (including me), the real growth may be in the Industrial side.  So, why does no one talk about it?  Maybe getting the level of dirt from an Industrial vacuum isn't as much of a page-turner to read as the latest Apple iHealth application...

The following quote was taken from a Globe and Mail article, quoting Whitney Rockley.  Ms. Rockley is with McRock Capital and says:

There is a view in 2014 that the world has gone beyond Big Data. They are now talking about the Internet of Things [IoT], and data analytics,” Ms. Rockley said. The industrial side of the IoT is getting incredible attention from groups like Cisco, SAP, and also from Royal Dutch Shell and Rio Tinto — industrial IoT will outpace consumer IoT by 2017.

Now, the idea that IoT will be popular in many industrial applications is not new.  In fact, I wrote a blog post about how GE thought IoT (called Industrial Internet) would change many of the economics of business that we take for granted today.  So, what is different now?  I mean, I have been selling modems into some industrial markets for close to 20 years.

Well, for starters, it is beginning to move from the theoretical to the practical, as well as from the "operations team" to the entire company.  Companies like Cisco and SAP see it as large potential growth engines, amazingly in two totally different ways:

1.    Cisco sees it as both a chance to sell more hardware but also to move its company away from being a hardware-centric company to one more focused on providing overall solutions. 

2.    For SAP, it allows them to bring this very "decision-intense" data into their customers....basically, the data from an IoT application has tremendous importance to just about all parts of the company equally.  This is unique and this allows SAP the opportunity to sell services and software modules like little other data ever could, hence its value.

So, will the "Industrial Internet" be bigger than consumer IoT?

I've gone back and forth on this one.  On one hand, you have the consumer side.  It is hard to argue that it will be bigger when you talk about billions of potential users, all having various parts of their life using IoT.....the amount of data is incredible.

On the other hand, you have tons of businesses, each with thousands (or in some cases, millions) of assets that could be using IoT to communicate back.  In the end, I do believe that the Industrial side will be bigger than the consumer side and here are a few reasons why:

  • For many consumers (at least for the next little while), most will see IoT as a "nice to have" and not as a necessity.  I mean...I can live without my garage door being automated.  However, businesses are in a competitive situation and the savings/productivity gain will be too much to ignore.
  • As many consumers as there are, there are way more machines / devices out there.  I suspect that when one uses sheer numbers, companies own more potential assets than consumers that will use IoT, at least in the short term.
  • Finally, I think the pricing / complexity for consumer IoT is not yet at the point of mass-market appeal, where it likely is for most businesses.

The Bottom Line

I think companies that focus on either side of the IoT fence will be in a great position to make a lot of money in the coming years.  However, companies that can successfully work in both areas will be true winners in our space.

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