One of the big lessons we have learned in 7 years of working with 300+ clients and 5 million low-power wireless devices is that Commercial IoT is different. Commercial (or Enterprise) IoT is different than both Consumer IoT and Industrial IoT.
What Is Consumer IoT?
When we talk about Consumer IoT in this case we mean wearables and smart home and personal monitoring devices. That’s where a lot of Bluetooth LE and 802.15.4 wireless protocol products got their start. One of the advantages in this case, especially when it comes to Bluetooth applications in Consumer, is that everybody today has a smart phone. So, you can rely on the smart phone as a ubiquitous, secure, application-ready gateway/platform that is always connected to the Internet. That’s a big head start when you’re looking at building and deploying IoT use case applications. And, it’s not necessarily one you have in Commercial IoT.
What Is Industrial IoT?
Commercial IoT is also different – on the opposite end of the spectrum – than Industrial IoT (IIoT). When discussing Industrial IoT we tend to think of large-scale factories or manufacturing or automotive plants. We might also think of monitoring utilities and expensive assets. A lot of times these are wired sensor connections with expensive hardware and server-class, compute-heavy gateway devices. The economies of scale are different. The economics are different. The technologies are different.
What Is Commercial IoT?
We have in the middle, then, what we call the Commercial or Enterprise IoT market, which behaves in a unique way and includes different types of use cases. Specifically, when we talk about Commercial IoT some of the key use cases that we see are Intelligent Asset Tracking, Smart Office and Buildings, Connected Lighting, Sensing & Monitoring of all types, and Location Services (like being able to provide contextual experiences to guests in places like hotels and restaurants).
Commercial IoT Applications
This is the set of Commercial IoT applications that we’re seeing increasingly deployed into environments like office buildings, retail, hotels, hospitality, healthcare facilities (whether those are hospitals or outpatient facilities), and entertainment venues. Effectively, these are the new ceilings into which infrastructure is being placed to support these types of key applications. That landscape is shaping up very differently than the Consumer or Industrial IoT landscapes.
There are two forces that we see shaping the market for these types of Commercial IoT applications. One is the rapid growth and proliferation of low-power wireless devices. Depending on whose staggering projections you believe, the number of devices connected via Bluetooth LE or 802.15.4 is growing from about 5 billion today to about 15 billion by 2022. That’s a lot of growth in a short period of time.
The second force is coming from the need for edge computing and the ability to run local applications, collect data, and exert command & control over devices within relatively short proximity – and its exploding as well.
Reshaping IoT Solutions
Consequently, these two forces are reshaping the architecture around IoT solutions and that creates a distinct need. It’s a solution recipe that includes flexible wireless connectivity, large-scale security, and cost-effective edge computing. These needs are not always different from the needs of Commercial and Industrial solutions. But, the Commercial IoT applications you’re dealing with are of a much larger scale. For example, rolling out an asset tracking solution to hundreds or thousands of facility sites requiring the ability to easily deploy, install, monitor, manage and evolve the solution. That’s a very different economic proposition. And so, figuring out not just how to do this but how to do it at scale is a big part of the Commercial IoT difference.
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