Internet of Things… A word that day by day is more and more empty of any meaning. After years with all of us talking to customers about IoT… WE MADE IT!! Customers are completely lost… You can see it into their eyes. Everybody talks about IoT, but everyone is offering different things (to make the list short…):
- Sensors (Data collection)
- Enablers (Raspberry Pi, Arduino, gateways manufacturers, etc. Data Preparation)
- Telecom Operators (Data Transport)
- Middleware Platforms (Data Alignement, Process, Control and Visualization)
- Business Intelligence (Data Insights)
- Cloud Infrastructure (Data Management, Availability and Archive)
As I said, I can make this list ten pages longer and make for everyone of them a far deeper description of what each actor is actually doing, but I don’t want to make this article a way to demonstrate how smart I am (because I’m not!), but a way to talk in a very simple language about IoT. So going deeper into the basics (very basics).
So now, everyone is doing IoT. EVERYONE. And once everyone is doing IoT, means that IoT has no longer meaning. Is like saying “we do IT” or “we do Computing”. Actually, a good friend of mine explainned me how ridiculous the IoT speech is becoming. They are a large sensors manufacturer with a history of 27 years in business. But he said “Now we are not anylonger a Sensor manufacturer. Now we are IoT, so now we Rock!! Since we are now IoT, my company is been valuated with 1 more zero on the right side of the valuation number…”. I can understand that: the future looks now terrific for a sensors manufacturer, but because adding IoT to anything we do, shouldn’t have to mean that you Rock and you are actually adding any value. And here is where the problems start. Even companies with very limited know-how and offering claim they do IoT. But my point here is… “Are we actually ready for IoT implementation?”. And my answer is… “Barely”.
Through many years of doing IoT and being a Software Manufacturer, we license our technology to System Integrators for them to create platforms and applications for their customers. And one thing we learned is simple: very few today’s System Integrators are ready for IoT. I know that if a System Integrator is now reading this sentence, probably will feel offended, but please, don’t feel so. What I mean by saying “very few today’s S.I.’s are ready for IoT” is based on the following points:
- IT SYSTEM INTEGRATORS (IT S.I.’s): This kind of Integrators have a huge knowledge about Software Integration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Infrastructure, Networking… But ask them to “connect the thing that today is unconnected”. They create their IoT proposal “asuming” the “things are already connected…” So after your question you will immediately see how the sweat appears in their forehead. Actually we offered sometimes projects to IT System Integrators to go together and everything is smoothly moving ahead until we reach the discussion of “how to connect the thing”. We obviously support them on selecting the Hardware as well as in developing the firmware (if needed), but definitelly, IT S.I.’s have a challenge here. Some of them even simply say “we do not connect things. We are not hardware installers…”.
- OT SYSTEM INTEGRATORS (OT S.I.’s): They are the experts on Operations Technologies (OT). They know how to manage sensors, actuators, electrical networks, installations and Industrial Softwares (as SCADA). They know everything about how to make a machine talk. Everything. And how to interact with those hardwares. But if you ask them about “IT Infrastructures, Cloud, Networking, Cyber Security…” you will also see the sweat appear on their forehead. Mixing real world things with the virtual world of IT is a challenge for them.
The point here is that both claim to be an IoT System Integrator, and in fact, they are completely right. Because everyone of them is able to cover an area where the other is totally blind and because both of them are delivering solutions that satisfy their customers. And this is what matters most. But are those kind of System Integrators the ones who will lead the Internet of Things future? I doubt it. Both of them are squeezing their today’s skills to cope with the future of IoT, but both of them have a clear understanding that their future needs to be shaped based on a different bunch of ADDITIONAL (not instead) skills they haven’t now. But do they have time to win those skills? Yes, but… a new race is born: IOT System Integrator (IT & OT System Integrator).
- IOT SYSTEM INTEGRATOR (IOT S.I.’s): Those are the new super-heroes of Integration. Because they have the skills of talking about Hardware and about Software. About Actuators or PLC’s as well as about Cloud Infrastructure or Cyber-Security. About how to talk to an SCADA Applicaton as well as how to talk about Containers Orchestration. They know how to talk about connecting to Internet and extract data from an old equipment installed 15 years ago as well as about Business Intelligence in Microsoft Azure Power BI or IBM Watson IoT. They are the heroes for a customer because they can answer most of the questions the customer has about “Can we connect this machine? How? Is the hardware expensive? How about Fog Computing? What about Security? How can we create proper insights? Can you install it On premise? And On Cloud? What it is the best choice of installation and why? Which is the best Cloud if we go Cloud? What about Containers? Which is the right transportation method for the data? etc”.
The need of this kind of IOT S.I.’s will bring many integrations in the industry, M&A’s, etc. Or the integrators will be what their name says: INTEGRATORS of different vendors. And to do so, they will need a bit of all skills inside to orchestrate a solution. They will not need to be super-experts on every area, but they will need proper skills to integrate those areas.There are still few of them out there. But they are becoming stronger and stronger, because they are able to get the trust of the customer, because the IOT S.I.’s are able to make IoT come true TODAY. And will take the customer by his/her hand to cross the bridge to the IoT world. Those who talk too much about 2020, when everything will be Connected, will probably be late, because the challenge is making IoT happen today, connecting today’s things today. And through it, the know-how they are absorbing is massive. Get ready, they are already here!
IOT, the new super-heroes of Integration…