My 5 for ‘15

As 2015 comes to a rapid close, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the five biggest things that have transformed the IoT and my business this year.  When I think about where we were – both with Xively and the industry as a whole I really can’t believe the changes that have taken place in what felt like a very short 365 days.

  1. Connected Products are Becoming More Achievable: This, of course, means there are more IoT-enabled innovations hitting the market which is really exciting.  But what is most interesting to me is why this is happening.  There are a lot of reasons for this – hardware and software stacks are maturing and the price for devices materials is dropping.  I would argue, though, that the primary driver of this explosion is time.   The time it actually takes to create a connected product is much shorter than it was last year.  Creating a connected product is a journey with significant steps and milestones.  With Xively we look at this through the lens of building, launching, and running a connected business and we see customers moving through each of these steps more rapidly than ever before. As software and hardware become more accessible and have more “out of the box” functionalities, the time to market for companies that are embarking on this journey is shrinking.  
  1. Learning from Experience: As with anything practice always makes perfect.  As connected products continue to be developed, hurdles will be identified and overcome.  From those learnings, repeatable processes will be put into place, templates will be created all which will result in smoother, faster development cycles.  Even within our own walls we are experiencing this.  Features and functionality that we once had to build by hand for customers are now customizable making it much easier to develop and helping to mature our overall offering.  For example, early adopters have shown us that they will be engaging with new types of users they didn’t have to manage before.  Many of them have created homegrown solutions or used consumer identity authentication, like social sign-ins, tools that don’t meet the robust requirements of security and flexibility.  As a result we created an identity management solution that provides an out of the box capability for managing these new types of users.  
  1. Moving Away from DIY: Early adopters of IoT had some tough lessons to learn – most prevalent, though is probably that they underestimated the complexity involved with connecting, running and supporting an IoT product.  According to Machina Research – 81% of companies with IoT projects underway have tried to take the lead role on the project themselves. What they learned through this DIY approach is that there are numerous domain expertise areas that are outside their core competency (connectivity, security, platform management) and that they really need a partner to help get the project over the finish line.  Thanks to the trail blazing of others, most companies that will embark on an IoT project (59% according to that same report from Machina) will find partners with deep rooted IoT experience to avoid the pitfalls that tend to slow down the development phase.   
  1. Lower Perception of Risk: Companies are beginning to see IoT as more than just a fad, but as a key business transformation.  Tech and non-tech companies alike are beginning to see how they can leverage the IoT for after-market subscription services, recurring revenue models, and the like to augment existing revenue.   This gives internal champions a strong business case for an IoT project and as more and more of these solutions hit the market, it lowers the barriers for entry and perception of risk for the stakeholders. The maturation of the supporting technologies is helping accelerating this as well.      
  1. Support from the Boardroom: In a very short amount of time, IoT went from some futuristic idea to a true business enabler.  Just as a few years ago, every company needed a mobile strategy – today, every company needs to be thinking about their IoT strategy.  Because of the huge market opportunity the IoT brings and the hype it’s created, the C-suite is sitting up and taking notice.  In fact, IoT is so hot on the minds of executives that IDC recently published a report to help business leaders better understand where their organizations are positioned in the IoT market.  This MaturityScape, as they are calling it, helps executives better understand the complexity of IoT, and move the industry from exploration to execution.  More engaged and informed executives lead to smarter business and development decisions, more focus and resources, and hopefully a much shorter time to market. Connected products from competitors are also adding a sense of urgency at the executive levels.

While the IoT is technically still in it’s early stages – it is maturing before our very eyes.  2015 brought in a massive amount of growth across the IoT offerings themselves, the development tools and processes, and the readiness of organizations to fast track their IoT journey.  Companies have larger appetites for funding IoT both within the organization and product specific projects thanks to the number of real life IoT success stories that hit the market this year.  2015 was a great year for IoT and I’m really looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store.

A great place to get a sneak peek at 2016 IoT innovations is CES.  If you are headed to Vegas next week, the Xively team and many of our customers will be there as well – feel free to give us a shout out on Twitter, @XivelyIoT.

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