Navigating the IoT boom

  • By 2020, an estimated 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet globally.

  • Enablers, engagers, and enhancers make up the IoT landscape.

  • To innovate, determine where your company can add and capture value in IoT.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is so much more than a smart refrigerator that tells you when you need to go to the grocery store, wearables that track your steps, or the smart watches you’re thinking about getting. IoT is the nervous system that sends and tracks important information between things, places, and people. From smarter industrial applications to cities to healthcare to home automation to automobiles and everything in between, IoT is changing not only your personal life, but it offers opportunities for innovation in business. By 2020, an estimated 50 billion devices around the globe will be connected to the Internet. Postscapes estimates that by 2020, the potential economic impact will range from about $2 trillion to more than $14 trillion. That’s just a few years away!

As you can see in the graph below, according to BI Intelligence, the Internet of Things will be the largest device market in the world. IoT will result in $1.7 trillion in value added to the global economy by 2019.



Image Source: How the Internet of Things will be the world’s most massive device market and save companies billions of dollars, by John Greenough, April 14, 2015.


One of the areas of low hanging fruit for businesses in IoT is exploring how connected devices, people, and processes can increase efficiency and lower costs within the home, city, and workplace. According to the article: A Strategist’s Guide to the Internet of Things by Frank Burkitt, one in every six businesses will roll out an IoT-based product, and roughly 75% of those are currently exploring how to use the IoT to improve internal operations and services. IoT is set to revolutionize the customer experience by helping companies personalize or customize products and services based on data and behavior sent directly by customers, using connected products or wading through connected places.

The result is innovation across the board. The question is, how will your company build value in this new world and what role will you play in its transformation?

The IoT playing field

Let’s take a broad yet organized view of the emerging landscape of IoT players. They tend to fall into one of three camps, with each reflecting a different type of enterprise, according to Burkitt:

1. Enablers:

Develop and implement the underlying technology. Enablers are primarily technology-oriented companies. These vendors essentially build and maintain the IoT infrastructure that enables Engagers to develop their own connected services.

2. Engagers:

Design, create, integrate, and deliver IoT services to customers. Engagers offer the direct link between IoT and the market. They use the endpoint, hub, platform, and service offerings (the IoT infrastructure) created by the Enablers to produce services for consumers and businesses.

3. Enhancers:

Devise their own value-added services, on top of the services provided by Engagers. These companies provide integrated services that re-frame and repackage the products and services of the Engagers. Their value proposition stems from creating and extracting value from the data, relationships, and insights generated from IoT devices and activity.

Finding your way through IoT

As IoT grows, the implications for business model innovation are huge. Opportunities for innovation and optimization in customer and employee engagement, product development, services, and overall experience design is largely unwritten and yours to define. All it takes is not only to explore where you want to be, and what you want to do, but also to shift your perspective to see it in two ways: 1) Where you add value and to whom, and 2) Where and how you can capture value to improve company efficiencies, identify opportunities, and learn.

As with anything new, we can either innovate or embrace mediocrity. As competitors explore new horizons, your competitive advantage comes down to not just technology, but to how you will employ it to improve what exists and introduce what has yet to be realized.

Learn more about how AT&T Internet of Things solutions can improve your business model.


Brian Solis is the author of the book, What’s The Future of Business. He is also a principal analyst at Altimeter Group. AT&T has sponsored this blog post; the opinions are those of Brian Solis.


Useful Links:

A Strategist’s Guide to the Internet of Things

How the Internet of Things will be the world’s most massive device market and save companies billions of dollars


Brian Solis Analyst Altimeter Group Sponsored post About Brian