Just about every aspect of IT lends itself to becoming a managed service in one form or another. But with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), the types of applications that organizations are thinking about deploying are becoming more varied. The problem is that many organizations aren't sure which applications will prove valuable enough to the business to deploy at scale.
As a result, interest in managed IoT services is on the rise. For example, at the Oracle OpenWorld 2015 conference this week, Tata Consulting Services (TCS), in cooperation with Oracle, unveiled a white-label managed IoT service spanning eight applications that customers can deploy using their own branding.
The struggle to add value
The real challenge is finding a use case that adds value to the customer. To provide that, IT service providers need to get much closer to their customers. Many IT services providers pride themselves on being trusted advisors to their clients, but the truth is that most organizations these days are looking for strategic IT partners. Ideally, they want IT services providers to have more than a passing interest in whether they succeed as a business. That means organizations increasingly want their IT service providers to build and manage applications on their behalf instead of selling them a bunch of piece parts.
Hardware isn't becoming irrelevant, though. In the case of IoT specifically, not much is going to happen until an organization finds ways to deploy thousands of sensors that feed data back to a local gateway. That local gateway is little more than a low cost server where some basic aggregation and analysis of the data it collects can be performed before being shipped back across the network to a core Big Data analytics application running in the data center. The data that application processes then needs to be fed back into operational systems to close the proverbial IoT loop with what is coming to be known as prescriptive analytics.
Given the nature of much of the data being collected, someone also has to be called on to secure the environment. In fact, for many IT services that specialize in security the rise of IoT environments may represent nothing less than a bonanza.
But no matter how it all gets put together, the fact is that when it comes to adding value these days hardware is a means to an end, and software is now a prerequisite for success.