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Here’s why the IoT market has many surprises in store

rubiks cube magic cube Source: offenblende

The research phase of a new vendor benchmark is always an exciting time – especially when you are dealing with a relatively young and highly dynamic market such as Industry 4.0 and the IoT. In this case, surprises are not the exception, but the rule! The recently completed research phase of the new I4.0 / IoT vendor benchmark produced two major surprises that ran counter to expectations.

1. The number of IoT platform vendors has not exploded as expected, but rather imploded

The research phase of the previous I4.0 / IoT vendor benchmark took place less than 12 months ago, so you would hardly expect there to have been a dramatic change. But the reality is very different: the market for IoT platforms has evolved at an astonishing rate. If you had tried to predict how this segment would evolve in the future based on the results of the last study (in Q3/Q4 of 2015), you would probably have outlined the following situation. In 2015, an initial small group of IoT platform vendors were active in the German market. Based on comments from market players, many new vendors were expected to enter this segment over the course of 2016, with a market shakeout starting and picking up speed in 2017 and 2018. It was assumed that this process of consolidation would revolve around clusters, in other words around niches characterized by high complexity (e.g. divided by industry sector or use case).

Development forecast for IoT platforms based on research in Q3/Q4 2015

Matrix showing the development forecast for IoT platforms based on a research in Q2/Q3 2015 Source: Experton Group, 2016

But if we take a look at the results of the most recent research phase (in Q2/Q3 2016), it quickly becomes clear that the predictions made above require a complete rethink. The German market has not seen any explosion in the number of IoT platform vendors as compared to the previous year – in fact, the number has actually fallen slightly. So what happened? The market shakeout has occurred much faster than expected. Many vendors pulled out of this segment very quickly (especially system integrators) while others failed to make an appearance even though they were planning to enter the market last year. What’s more, the market for IoT platforms has not clustered around industry sectors or use cases, but rather large vendors offering everything from a single source – in other words, vendors that are clearly aiming to cover all industry sectors and use cases. To guarantee their provision of turnkey solutions, the leading IoT platform vendors are currently ramping up their collaboration with each other, because the reality is that none of them can genuinely offer everything from a single source at the present time. This is prompting the emergence of IoT platform networks. Right now everyone is seeking their place in these networks, and I’m convinced that these will give rise to large IoT ecosystems in the future.

Development forecast for IoT platforms based on research in Q2/Q3 2016

matrix showing the development forecast for IoT platforms based on a research in Q2/Q3 2016 Source: Experton Group, 2016

2. Industry 4.0 platforms are now being launched on the heels of IoT platforms

Traditionally, the core task of manufacturing execution system (MES) solutions has been to control the manufacturing process in real time. Solutions based around this core task continue to evolve. They increasingly integrate new technical concepts such as the cloud, analytics, big data, and micro services. This is giving rise to a new generation of smart solutions for connecting and automating the manufacturing process. The Experton Group classifies these solutions as Industry 4.0 platforms. These two separate segments of Industry 4.0 platforms and IoT platforms are clearly distinct from one another, and at the moment there is virtually no overlap in terms of the vendors offering these platforms. The only exception so far is Bosch, which has already established itself in the German market as a key vendor in both segments. I4.0 platforms are currently provided in three different delivery models: entirely cloud-based, entirely at the edge, or as hybrid models. This third option usually involves providing MES functionality in real time at the edge, and analytics in the cloud. As part of the most recent I4.0/IoT vendor benchmark, we have shed new light on the intricacies of this emerging segment of the market.

Delivery models for Industry 4.0 platforms

Matrix showing delivery models for industry 4.0 platforms Source: Experton Group, 2016

The I4.0 / IoT vendor benchmark provides a comprehensive overview – Download the executive summary here

In addition to the latest trends related to IoT platforms and Industry 4.0 platforms discussed above, the recently published I4.0 / IoT Vendor Benchmark 2017 also includes additional information and findings on the current vendor situation in Germany. An abridged executive summary of the study is available for download here. It offers a broad overview of the current market situation in a total of ten market segments related to IoT and Industry 4.0.

More on the IoT and Industry 4.0 market

What will be the top trending topics over the coming years? Read Arnold´s article on market changes specifically initiated by Industry 4.0 / IoT technologies from a German perspective.