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The Rise of Business-Driven IoT

Aug. 11, 2016
There is considerable experimentation in the young Internet of Things space—much of it more whimsical than practical, say two executives at Bsquare. But the most promising applications are strictly business.

There is considerable experimentation in the young Internet of Things spacemuch of it more whimsical than practical, say two executives at Bsquare. But the most promising applications are strictly business.

Here are some common assumptions about the Internet of Things. Everybody wants in on it and, in the negative column, security and privacy are a nightmare.

There are problems with those conclusions, according to Jerry Chase, CEO and Kevin Walsh, Vice President Marketing at Bsquare. Sure, the IoT field is trendy, but that isn't enough to entice most industrial companies to invest in it. Our view is that nobody is buying IoT, Chase saysor at least not the operations departments, P&L centers, and business unit managers at industrial firms that the company is targeting. He continues: Instead theyre buying better business outcomes.

Furthermore, while security and privacy are hurdles, most of Bsquares industrial clients view those items like a box to check off rather than huge concerns. I dont think too many of [our customers] are all that concerned about security. Its an interest for IT teams, but they already use standard protocols, Walsh says. It is a pretty tightly controlled secure environment. I think a lot of the alarmism is in the consumer space.

What keeps most operations people up at night is not IoT security but straightforward things such as solving business problems, fueling growth, and cutting waste. A big chunk of what the company does is to help companies improve what they were already doing. In some cases, they help them use technology to launch new business models,

Business over Platforms

Earlier this year, several journalists and investors asked Bsquare's executives if the company was planning on offering its DataV software stack as a platform. In fact, we were challenged that we were not going to be viable in the space unless we offered a platform that could attract the development community, Chase says. We said: gee, that is just not what we are seeing. First off, we have no objection to offering up DataV as a platform. None. We would be happy to do it, but there is no demand for it.

There is no appetitebecause the companys operations-based customers dont have the resources or desire to develop software. They dont want to learn our business. They want to optimize their business, Chase says. So when you offer them a cloud-based solution with lots of APIs, it is just overwhelming for them, he adds.

Walsh notes that the company often doesnt discuss things like APIs and protocols with its customers. If you are talking to operations people, their vocabulary is uptime, reduced maintenance, reduced service cost, or reduced warranty costs. Fortunately, we are just at a stage in the development of industrial sector where it is operations that are leading it. They are the ones looking for an ROI, Walsh says. IT departments, in most companies, are not leading this charge.

Nevertheless, Bsquare sees many companies implementing IoT technology simply because it seems like a good idea. If you start off by saying: I want to implement an IoT solution, it is kind of like an experiment, Chase says. Operations peopledont have time for that.

Turning Data into a Business Advantage

Bsquare's strategy has proven successful thus far. The company just signed a deal worth more than $4 million with a Fortune 500 company. 451 Research believes the company is one of the top five providers and that they were one of the top IoT companies in the marketplace. We are feeling pretty good, Chase says.

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