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IoT Moves to Mainstream by Targeting Vertical Industries

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Although still early in the Internet of Things (IoT) maturation cycle, the industry is starting to show some signs that it’s moving beyond the early adopter phase. Big IoT players like IBM and GE Digital are drilling down with IoT products targeted as specific industries, while others are focusing on niche areas like privacy and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

IBM is playing host to more than 300 customers at its Genius of Things IoT Summit in Boston this week. In an interview with SDxCentral, Bret Greenstein, vice president of Watson IoT, consumer business at IBM, said the company is seeing strong interest in its Watson IoT platform from the retail, manufacturing, and automotive industries.

For example, IBM is working with Sears Home Services to deploy a predictive maintenance IoT product that resides in the cloud. This will allow technicians to tap into information about customer appliances and resolve many problems over the phone, eliminating unnecessary truck rolls.

“You have to look at different industries,” Greenstein said. “There are some companies that are waiting. Those that wait could be left behind,” he warned.

The company also is working with Golden State Foods (GSF), a food processor and distributor. Using Watson IoT for Automotive, GSF is tapping into cognitive computing to improve fleet management and driver safety. The company estimates its 1,000 trucks cover more than 55 million miles per year and make 25,000 deliveries every week.

Too Many Platforms?

But Greenstein cautions that he thinks there are enough IoT platforms in the industry and said that newcomers to IoT should instead focus on other areas of innovation, like developing specialized analytics, or AI applications. “There is no reason for people to be creating more platforms at this point,” he said. “There are enough in the industry and many are consolidating.”

It’s not surprising that IBM doesn’t really want to see more competition in the IoT platform arena. The company has invested a lot of time and development in IoT. At its IoT headquarters in Munich, IBM has around 1,000 researchers, engineers, developers, and business managers working on IoT.

However, more contenders are still entering the IoT space and existing competitors are launching new platforms. For example, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today announced a new application platform intended for manufacturing plants. Called the Express App Platform, it is an on-prem app store that is integrated with cloud aggregator Cloud28+. HPE said the platform will host old and new applications, and it leverages Docker containersso that companies can automatically deploy selected applications on the factory floor.

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