How Dell IoT ISVs Are Winning

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This guest post is co-authored by Jason Shepherd, Director of IoT Strategy and Partnerships and Katie Hamilton, IoT ISV Partnership Program Manager.

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In Dell’s IoT team we’re building a multi-tiered, world class network of experienced Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Systems Integrators (SIs) to complement our broad portfolio of IoT-enabling assets including purpose-built IoT gateways, security and manageability tools, IT infrastructure, and data integration and analytics software.

We’re taking a cue from the success of a number of our Dell colleagues, including at the top of the list, the Dell OEM Solutions team, whose work over the past decade with expert ISVs and SIs has been a powerful complement to their core work with branded OEMs.

OEM, embedded and operations technology markets demand deep domain expertise and agile, experienced program and project management teams to deploy standards-based and scalable technologies into customers’ application-specific solutions.

We firmly believe that ISVs and SIs are a critical span in the bridge between the exciting industry potential of IoT and profitable market reality.  

We recently hosted a collection of more than 30 leading ISVs at a workshop here in Austin, TX during our annual Dell World conference. The following is the first of a handful of blog posts to share some of that group’s collective thinking.

In this first post, we offer a summary of the findings from the above survey we issued at the Workshop and help provide some color to the responses. We're looking forward to sharing more of what we're learning, making a connection to the right partner for you, or considering you as a partner for our growing program.  Visit www.dell.com/IoT to stay updated and soon access more details about Dell's IoT Solutions Partner Program.

Selecting Target Markets

Is there clear value?  Is the market for that value large enough?  Do I have the domain expertise, and stable technology to profitably penetrate and scale?

Dell IoT ISV partners universally agreed: The IoT opportunity is large, fragmented, and complex. During the course of the discussion many peers realized mutual challenges in establishing the path forward.  In response, they offered a variety of approaches to select target markets.

Almost uniformly, Workshop participants began or ended their selection process description with ‘value’.  For the companies in the room, IoT was first, last and foremost about creating value for solution providers and their customers.  Often times, answering that question meant going far beyond technical capabilities, and focused squarely on the readiness of the market to receive the message, invest in exploration, and take a leap of faith on a solution.

Next, participants offered that where there is value, and the market is ‘ready’ for it, the market must be large enough to offer the opportunity to build a scalable business. Most of the people in the room know that the current state of the market is project-intensive.  All of the participants indicated that project-based businesses that cannot mature into product lines will struggle to scale, achieve maximum margin, and offer preferred returns.

Participating ISVs had backgrounds ranging from building inspection and automation, manufacturing, oil and gas field instrumentation, and transportation.  All had combinations of experience with software, physical systems, professional services and program/project management.  Despite their varied backgrounds they largely agreed: Once you find a qualified, ready market – one that is large enough to scale, then you – the ISV – must have the subject matter expertise and stable technologies, to help drive sales and scale. 

Technical Developments Needed to Enable Scale

The need for simplified Data Integration and Security made up 4 of the top 6 line items.

The participants in the Dell IoT ISV Workshop at Dell World were dominated by companies with core business experience in factory automation, process control, telemetry and a host of related instrumentation and analytics businesses. They were all quite familiar with the depth and scope of the installed base of devices and the need to collect and analyze data to enhance core business operations in a number of attractive IoT market opportunities.

With this experience, workshop participants cited simplified data integration and normalization tools as the number one technical development that could accelerate value creation, scale and margin in IoT  

Parallel to data synthesis and harmonization tools: Security.

Security was cited in a number of ways, with many descriptions, and as often as any other factor. During the roundtable discussions, workshop participants cited a number of reasons for security being at the top of the list of technical requirements required for market scale:

  1. Pre-existing regulations and rules about data integrity in their core and target markets – setting a high bar for any new IoT system installations to be considered.
  2. The mission-critical profile of the installation environments, applications and assets under consideration to connection across current roadmaps.
  3. The need to enable more automation and autonomy at the edge in order to meet minimum ROI and greater disruptive business line and business model opportunities. 

To be sure, the requirements for success constitute a longer list than what we present here. But as our experienced collection of IoT ISVs shared with us in our workshop: we must begin somewhere. And as some of our participants summarized toward the end of the workshop: If we do not start with value that the market recognizes, that we can deliver, securely, where else would we start? 

Stay tuned, we will be exploring more findings from the Workshop, and more innovative stories from the Dell IoT ISV community in the coming months.

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