Here’s how Dell is thinking about the IoT

You think the smart home is a mess? Try connecting oil wells or factories.

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Dell like many of its largest peers (Intel, GE), sees projections around the Internet of things—50 billion connected devices by 2020, or the potential for trillions of dollars in economic value—and wants a piece of the pie.  On Wednesday at Dell World, the company’s annual customer conference, CEO Michael Dell paid lip service to the opportunity without articulating a clear strategy. Dell will sell hardware tailored to the Internet of things, its chief executive said. Beyond that, who knows.  So Dell during the conference introduced a gateway made in partnership with Intel that is, in essence, a computer designed to sit in a factory or field, collect sensor data, and analyze it to send what it deems relevant to the cloud. The idea is to reduce the total information transmitted to the cloud to conserve time and bandwidth. It’s also a bolt-on accessory, so to speak, that can translate data from sensors that use older, non-Internet compliant protocols for today’s digital world. The gateway accommodates the alphabet soup of data created by sensors—once unified, it’s a language that the entirety of the Internet of things can work with.  Cisco, IBM, and Oracle each make hardware offering similar functionality. The devices also serve as a form of lock-in for these companies—a way to ensure that they can squeeze just a little bit more margin out of their traditional hardware businesses before the world transitions to open standards that allow customers to swap hardware more freely.  Rose Schooler, VP and GM of Intel’s Internet of things effort, pointed out that most of the opportunity is in so-called brownfield deployments, where companies are trying to add analysis and connectivity to older sensors. “We can’t start with greenfield because it will take too long,” she said. “It’s hard, and the all-ethernet IP world would be easier, but today that’s the smaller opportunity. We’re only in mile two of the marathon, but it’s important for us to go out there and connect some of this stuff and get some wins.”  To accomplish that, technology companies look to collaborations where they bring the gateways, and consultants help connect the old-line manufacturing gear to the box (and then to the Internet). And then the industry-specific partners come in. For Dell and Intel, for example, KMC Controls assists in building management applications, where reductions in emissions reductions and waste in corporate offices are targeted by analyzing gateway data for opportunities to adjust the air conditioning or lighting.  Figuring out such correlations in the data often requires industry expertise. That’s why we are increasingly seeing, from Dell to SAP, industry partner programs that actually mean something beyond a series of logos on a slide. Such partnerships can make or break a technology company’s relationship with a customer—it’s really the industry experts that are creating the algorithms that will generate the savings or reduce waste. 

See on Scoop.itInternet of Things – Company and Research Focus


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