By Eric Openshaw, Vice Chairman and U.S. Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry Leader, Deloitte LLP
My Deloitte colleagues and I recently hosted 20 Internet of Things executives and thought leaders, including Dr. Richard Soley, executive director of the Industrial Internet Consortium, at our second Internet of Things Workshop in San Jose, CA. I can attest that it was a truly inspirational event. The objective of the gathering was to work collectively to solve one of the more largely unexplored areas of IoT: revenue generating IoT use cases. The collaborative, insightful discussions and sense of purpose reflects the importance of this critical topic to business and the public sector; and the knowledge shared during the workshop will advance the field as we know it.
A number of engaging discussions were held throughout the two day workshop. One lively topic of discussions centered around the topic of standards. At this early stage of development, the IoT ecosystem observes relatively few widely-adopted industry standards. But is it simply too early in the evolution of IoT to consider the development of formal or de jure standards? Certainly IoT is not unique in confronting this issue as earlier systems of technologies have tackled standards battles in their nascent stages of development. As we have seen there, market forces -- shaped by early applications and dominant stakeholders -- may set near-term IoT standards. What this really means is that a few large players have at hand a meaningful opportunity to drive the de facto standards that the IoT ecosystem will follow for years to come.
In the longer term, however, such de facto standards may or may not suffice however much they are followed by IoT stakeholders. The enduring success of IoT may depend on the development and adoption of industry-wide standards that will formally govern stakeholder processes and practices. Such standards will need to achieve a critical mass of providers and users in implementation and observance and generally have the weight of industry behind them. The wide-ranging interests of IoT stakeholders will also require that they address intellectual property rights implications. The process must be deliberate and transparent and, no doubt, near-term de facto standards will influence what will ultimately emerge as de jure standards. The pace of adoption, as well as pace of development from policy/standards groups, will ultimately dictate how long this process takes. Yet, if past is prologue, it would seem inevitable that standards will emerge. In the meantime, it's likely that enterprises and governments will proceed forward with their business cases, strategies and projects and utilize standards if and as they are available -- but not as a necessary precursor to pursuing an IoT solution.
IoT standards were not the only topic of discussion at the event. Some of the other key themes that emerged during the workshop included:
- From product to service outcomes
- Who buys... and who funds?
- Who are the winners and losers? Does IoT really create wealth... or simply move it around?
- The keys to the kingdom: The IoT value chain consists of many players with specific roles. But do those who control the data collection and analysis own the keys to the kingdom?
- Revenue generation and innovation are where the future is, but they are difficult both from value creating and value capture perspectives
If you are interested in these important themes or are curious as to what other themes were touches upon at the Internet of Things Workshop, I encourage you to read the full workshop summary report and let me know your thoughts.