May 2021

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Harbor Research Creates insight into Building Digital Family

This article provides great insight, please read complete article. The extract below speaks well to our May theme and the need to carefully create our building digital family

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For all their sophistication, many of today’s IoT systems are direct descendants of traditional “remote monitoring systems” where each device acts in a “hub and spoke” mode. Individual spokes don’t speak directly to their “peers”; everything goes through the hub. This heritage leaves many of today’s evolving data management tools unable to interoperate and perform well with distributed heterogeneous machine and sensor environments.

What’s required instead is a shift from the simple device monitoring to a model where device data is aggregated into a shared environment. The many “nodes” of a network may not be very “smart” in themselves, but when they are networked to connect and share data, they begin to give rise to complex, system-wide behavior, and the Smart Systems world needs to benefit from this new order of intelligence.

Graphic-Evolution of Data

Source: Harbor Research, Inc.

Users and providers of today’s custom-configured IoT and Smart Systems solutions—which are designed to address specific applications and use cases, including asset tracking, equipment monitoring and predictive maintenance—will increasingly be pressured to migrate these focused solutions across as many platforms, marketplaces and ecosystems as possible. In order to remain competitive, system providers will need to evolve toward business models that address a larger and more impactful scope of value. Getting to this future state requires that players act more as orchestrators of data and data services in an expanded ecosystem of peer contributors and participants.


Data ecosystems organized by players such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Netflix have demonstrated that they can create enormous value for B2C businesses. Google, Facebook, Amazon and similar peers have a unified usage and data relationship with their respective users—so much so that they don’t require additional data sources to create value within their business models. Mobile phone data-feeds come from virtually everyone today and provide consumer Internet players with just about everything they would ever want to know about the user.

B2B alliance and ecosystem development for smart systems today looks nothing like the mobile and consumer Internet worlds. Why? The mobile phone business spent years looking for its killer application and, as things turned out, the killer application ended up being the ecosystem of application developers, exemplified by the rapid growth of the iOS and Android platforms.

Data and apps are the core value creation mechanisms within the Smart Systems and the IoT.
But the B2B world that comprises so much of the IoT doesn’t have the same unified sources or monolithic usage tracking and analytics that the consumer world utilizes to make money. Reliable sources estimate that they lack half the data needed to inform new application values and fulfill on artificial intelligence and machine learning opportunities. How should B2B players think about creating equivalent value with data?

Given the environment they’re in, we at Harbor have long maintained that B2B players should create data ecosystems.

However, ecosystem development in B2B domains has been much slower in its evolution than in the consumer world. Product OEMs and machine builders work with software developers and solution players in a much more “command and control” mode and have largely forged only simple relationships with wireless carriers, enterprise applications or professional services providers.

Graphic-Future Info Architectures

Source: Harbor Research, Inc.


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