If you build it, they will come

Posted: 27th June 2016

If you build it, they will come - Mark Lee CCO

The greatest challenge facing the Connected Home and consumer IoT markets, we are often told, is 'end consumer take up'. Industry luminaries trot out a message that has become drearily familiar to delegates at the myriad conferences that take place around the world every few weeks - 'it's just a matter of time'; 'the next 12 months will see mass market adoption'; 'it's about finding the killer use case or the right business model'; 'subscription based plans are aligned with consumer demand; or conversely a barrier to take up'; 'consumers need educating'; 'we need to make our solutions/products more intuitive' and so on. If you are anywhere near this corner of the market this will all doubtless be familiar, you may even agree with some or all of these plausible explanations for a market that has been nascent for an uncomfortably long time. But after 5 long years as a Connected Home/IoT conference delegate hearing these same messages and in truth on more than a few occasions as a speaker delivering them I am beginning to think that the end consumer take up argument is a bit of a red herring.

The benefits of connecting electronic products are many and clear to see for vendors and support and service organisations alike. There is more than enough upside to support a business case for connected products from harnessing the value derived from simple information gathering and remote management of connected devices. Whether for the purposes of OTA upgrade; remote fault diagnosis/repair; monitoring usage and performance in the field and / or to gather real time product information to better inform decisions relating to product evolution and roadmap connecting products just makes sense. Add to this the potential to develop and add new service offerings to generate new revenue streams and it should be the classic ‘no brainer’. And nobody seriously doubts that the vast majority of electronic products will be connected in the not too distant future. The opportunity and impact on most organisations will be huge and there will doubtless be both winners and losers. It will require some organisations to completely re-think the way they do business and it will likely impact and touch all aspects of the business. The problem lies therein; in the fact that this new market is of such strategic importance to OEMs and Service Providers that making a wrong decision now could have long term and very damaging repercussions and ramifications. When something is of such strategic importance it creates its own inertia.

When things are 'strategically significant’ getting them right becomes so much more important. The stakes are increased and in the case of IoT/Connected Home products/solutions it brings important questions such as security, solution integrity, scalability, reliability, data ownership, control and especially IP ownership to the fore. And amongst these competing priorities lies a quandary – things like solution integrity, security etc. in software solutions are usually the result of long term developments, put to the test and refined over time in the real world. But IP ownership typically means developing something new from scratch that you as a result, by definition, own.

I know of more than 20 mid to large size electronic product OEMs and service provider enterprises that have got into a seemingly irresolvable decision making loop over the last 3 years. They want a connected product and service offer but it's so strategically important to them that they want to have complete control and ownership. The problem, and the reason that they have found it so difficult to do anything is that having complete control and ownership means either an expensive, slow and risky development exercise to build a custom solution from scratch or for those with deep enough pockets a big ticket acquisition (the ‘Victor Kayam option’- i.e. acquire something that has already been developed and proven, as British Gas did when they bought Alert Me, the technology behind Hive for a reported $100m). Neither route is particularly quick, which is probably why none of the 20 businesses I mentioned earlier has released a connected product/service offering as yet.

The other option could be to consider 'partnering' with a SaaS/PaaS player to take advantage of their existing proven technology and service offerings (there are lots out there, including my employer - enquiries welcome!). It’s a credible option but if you are looking for tight control of the solution and roadmap and IP ownership this may not be a good fit.

So the challenge seems to be how to have a solution available in short order (as we are also repeatedly told speed to market is critical - even in a nascent market - I know confusing isn't it) that you can own and control but that is also already battle hardened and proven etc. There may be some solutions to this starting to emerge from the likes of Amazon and Microsoft. Amazon’s IoT product and Microsoft Azure’s similar offering provide templates and toolkits that can help developers along the way but neither provides an end to end solution and a good deal of experience and know how is still required to build a commercial grade solution. As both are also recently released products they can’t really be considered ‘battle hardened’ as yet. As for my own company we have recently announced a new way for companies that are looking for complete solution control and ownership to tap into our market proven software technology. Our new ‘Full Access Licence’ provides unfettered access to the source code of our cloud platform and embedded software technologies, with development rights. We think that this type of approach could be the key to unlocking the inertia that is holding back the market; it solves the quandary of being able to have something that is already market proven and that you can absolutely own and control without either buying the company, or needing a time machine!

At the start I said I thought the consumer take up argument might be a bit of a red herring. I didn’t mean to imply that consumers not buying connected products doesn’t matter, of course it does, there is no point making things people don’t want. My point is that there are many potentially great connected products that people would buy but that have not yet been made because of the inertial effect of things being ‘strategically significant’.  By giving ready access to our software we hope that we can remove at least one barrier to mass market take up.

 Back ground

Intamac has over a decade of experience in the IoT sector and was one of the first companies to bring connected products to market. Since its initial work with BT, offering home security systems, the company’s portfolio has expanded to utilise other IoT technologies, from those requiring connectivity (such as consumer electronics manufacturers) to service providers (such as facilities owners).

Intamac enables OEMs and service providers to transform their products to become a lucrative part of the Internet of Things. They have been delivering enriched customer experiences and valuable commercial insight for over 15 years. Intamac are a trusted partner to some of the world’s biggest brands, and work together to accelerate innovation and drive the transformation of products through market-leading IoT technology.



Editor’s Notes

For further information, please contact:

Natalie Jenkins Head of Marketing Intamac Systems


For interviews, comment, photography, or interest in by-lined articles please contact njenkins@intamac.com

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