IoT integration: In consultants we trust?
IoT integration: In consultants we trust?

IoT integration: In consultants we trust?

IoT integration is a tricky issue for many organizations, no matter how gung-ho their IoT plans. Could calling in the consultants help?

How can can organizations ensure that their early-adopter IoT projects of today fit well with their ‘connected company’ visions of tomorrow? Could they be doing more to ‘future proof’ their plans?

For many, the solution is to turn to systems integrators, or SIs, as partners to take a leading role when it comes to building end-to-end IoT solutions and platforms, according to a report published this week by market analyst firm ABI Research.

The company’s analysts forecast that IoT system integration and consulting revenues will grow past $35.7 billion in 2022, from just under $17 billion this year. To put it simply, IoT looks set to provide a massive cash bonanza for many consultants.

Read more: Chamberlain: Opening the doors to connected devices

Looking for help

As for the reasons why organizations adopting IoT are prepared to foot the sometimes hefty bills that such engagements involve, ABI Research points to consultants’ experience in integrating legacy systems into end-to-end solutions; their knowledge of the IoT landscape and players in the market; and their existing relationships with enterprises and end users.

In the words of ABI Research analyst Ryan Harbison: “SIs have deep knowledge not only of enterprise pain points and issues, but also of specific applications and the business as a whole.”

But this raises an issue in itself: which firm to pick? As ABI Research points out, the choice of consultants out there range from global SIs and consultancies like Accenture, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers to IT service system integrators such as IBM and HP. Companies like Accenture, it suggests, have “stayed ahead of the curve in IoT, primarily by addressing client demand for connected solutions and by understanding the value behind enterprise digital transformation and technology convergence.”

Then there are others, such as Altimetrik and Leverege, which customers may never have heard of (we hadn’t), but which ABI Research claims have “delivered value to their clients by offering extensive knowledge and expertise with particular vertical markets.”

Read more: Consultants set to cash in on march of the robots

End user concerns

Says Harbison: “End users are less concerned with the features of a various device or software platform and are more concerned with how their IoT solutions work as a whole to truly become a system of systems.” That’s debatable. Some end users may not be looking that far ahead – even if they should be.

But Harbison also adds, “Enterprises looking to develop IoT solutions may not contact hardware or software vendors and instead rely on the advice of a SI to navigate the marketplace to find solution components that deliver a full solution. Moving forward, it’s crucial for software and hardware providers to develop deep relationships with a range of SIs that provide vertical-specific solutions to end-users.” In other words, there is some onus here on the sellers, as well as the buyers.

But isn’t this just another layer of complexity for buyers to navigate? After all, building an IoT environment that will stand the test of time requires a fair degree of assumption, prediction – and, we might add, luck. There are many moving parts: the sensors or devices; the connectivity; the platforms; the applications; the users.

Just as the vast majority of IoT projects won’t find a single technology provider that can meet all needs, many may struggle to identify a single consultancy firm with staff that can understand and work with all the technologies available.

For more insights into IoT integration, we are holding our Build conferences in London in November 2017 and in San Francisco in March 2018. These events will be a great opportunity for attendees to learn more about the IoT platforms, architectures, applications and connectivity needed to build robust IoT ecosystems.