It has long been known that, in spite of the promises of connected homes, the enterprise was where the Internet of Things (IoT) would truly push the envelope. According to Gartner, from a note published in August, 5.8 billion enterprise and automotive endpoints will be in use by next year.
But what do these sorts of figures mean in more practical terms? For Adam Daniel, VP enterprise solutions at IoT platform provider Losant (left), we are almost at the tipping point, even for behemoths such as construction and manufacturing. “If you think of it as a drag race, we’re at the yellow light getting ready to hit the green,” he tells IoT News. “Once [industries] get past the barriers, I think things will definitely accelerate faster.”
Losant offers a platform for enterprises to build and deploy applications which can scale to millions of connected devices. When this publication featured Losant this time last year, the focus was more on enterprise and industrial organisations being at the start of the proverbial journey of a thousand steps.
This time around, the saying should be ‘a little learning is a dangerous thing’. “Enterprises have gained knowledge, and as they’ve gained knowledge, they’ve realised that with hardware identification, connectivity providers… there are so many options, so many different choices out there,” says Daniel.
“We get some clients who started off with the full intent of leveraging and using our platform and then realised quickly that they want to focus on their business, whether that’s making machinery or whatever their process may be, and they rely more on us to do the actual IoT implementation and software.”
For Daniel, whose role at Losant is the culmination of the better part of two decades in software development and consulting, the barriers are two-fold: hardware, and boardroom buy-in. Indeed, the two can be linked. Companies are reticent when it comes to taking the initial hit for hardware, with Daniel noting that many of Losant’s partners have moved from a CapEx to an OpEx model as a result.
Yet many of the use cases are now starting to resound for these organisations. Smart environments in particular are becoming increasingly enticing in the identification of a company’s assets, both inanimate and human. Daniel jokes that it is ‘not Big Brother-ish’ – in construction for instance, it is vital for safety – and adds: “The perfect example is on-demand facilities or on-demand maintenance. Instead of doing scheduled maintenance in bathrooms we’re working with companies to detect traffic in and out of bathrooms to notify a facilities member when it should be cleaned.
“Companies always want to know where their assets are,” adds Daniel. “Indoor positioning and smart environments are really becoming popular. The utilisation of space – you have a large conference room where you’ve got these hotdesks, but how are they actually being utilised? Who’s using them? When are they using them?”
If explained at the highest level, then these should be examples of use cases which would garner corporate approval. However, it can be easier said than done. For Losant, many new customers are those who have already tried to build things out and found it a struggle.
“We’re seeing a lot of inbound right where the internal organisation is now looking for something easier and quicker and faster to market,” says Daniel. “What we’re seeing from the executive level is ‘show me you guys aren’t spinning your wheels for two years’ – they’re seeing how quickly we’ve got examples of clients that have been trying to do their own thing for two, two and a half years and then be able to spin something up within six weeks or a couple of months on our platform.”
So what is the right way, in Daniel’s experience? “We support customers doing things like proof of concepts – quite often where we help the business areas prove out whether they have the right business process, the right hardware, the right platform,” he says. “We’ll do proof of platform sometimes, where they’ve messed around, compared us with other platforms, and we basically come in to show we can do everything they need us to do.
“Biting off small pieces allows us to quickly get to success or failure, and then they take that and show that back to the exec level for additional support and funding.”
Losant will be exhibiting at IoT Tech Expo North America in San Francisco on November 13-14, showing off its platform as well as speaking on trends and demystifying smart environments among other topics. As Daniel notes, a full ecosystem exists today, with plenty of discussion set to take place among all the various stakeholders.
“5G [and] connectivity is going to continue to be a thing – until it really is a thing,” he says, laughing. “I also think we’re going to continue to hear about predictive maintenance as we always do. People are in the data question phase, but not quite there yet. Hopefully we can see some cheaper hardware vendors, some cheaper IoT gateways, that will allow people to quickly get past that barrier of cost.”
Losant is exhibiting at IoT Tech Expo North America in San Francisco on November 13-14, and can be found at stand #465. Find out more about Losant’s role at the show here and register your place by visiting here.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam.