The Internet-of-Things (IoT) Ecosystem is a network of organizations developing and adopting IoT products and services through both competition and cooperation. Each actor in the ecosystem affects and is affected by the others, creating a constantly evolving relationship in which each entity must be flexible and adaptable in order to succeed, as in a biological ecosystem.

To deliver maximum value when creating specific IoT products and services it is necessary for each actor to specialize in their field of expertise and to contribute with this specialized knowledge to the other actors in the ecosystem collaboration

As more product manufacturers IoT enable their products, they become part of the ecosystem and potentially become suppliers of more components available to the ecosystem. Thus, enabling the ecosystem to evolve with new and more IoT products and services.

The model is specifically beneficial for IoT client advisors and IoT contractors as an analysis model for clarifying requirements to the roles of actors engaged in Ecosystem based IoT development.

Lastly, the model can be used by organisations that want to develop, operate or adopt IoT solutions but can also be used by organisations that are performing activities into advancing IoT from a societal perspective, to analyse the roles that the actions needs to target and interact with.

Primary part of the IoT ecosystem

For simplicity the first mapping of the roles in the ecosystem only contains the first three groups of roles. These are the roles directly involved with the technical realisation and application of the IoT solution and are shown in the figure below. The challenge for the product manufacturer is apparent from the model as they need to understand and coordinate the responsibilities of many different roles.

For the development these are the Mechanical Developer, Electronics Manufacturing Services Provider, Electronics Developer, Software Developer, and Data Solution Developer, who base their solutions on Component Supplier, Test Provider, Software and Data Development platform Supplier, and Data broker roles. For the operations these are the Network Services provider, Computing Provider, and Support & Service. For the Usage of the IoT-enabled solution these are the Market Distributors, Service Provider, Utilizers and End Users.

It is therefore also apparent why many Product manufacturers are challenged when creating IoT-enabled solutions as they need to competences to understand, and communicate with the actors performing the roles and manage the development, operations and usage adoption process. Therefore two additional roles are introduced in the model: The IoT client advisor and the IoT contractor – both of which are inspired by the construction industry. Where both roles are used to design, plan, coordinate and manage the construction process as many building owners does not have the needed competences for all of these aspects. And at the same time does not have a comprehensive overview of the contractors and subcontractors suited for the specific building, which may have specific requirements for the masonry, carpentry, electrical installations, etc.

Similarly for IoT, the Product manufacturer, needs an advisor who can aid the process and be their partner in the dialogue with the other roles. In some cases the requirements to the solution is simple, such that the Product Manufacturer can engage directly with an IoT contractor, but this often also requires and analysis of the IoT concept with respect to technical and market requirements.

The IoT Client Advisor may assist in several tasks:

  • Process Advisory – designing and planning the whole process or parts of the process
  • Project Management – managing the planned process with all its suppliers, stakeholders, deliveries, communication, etc.
  • Suppliers Selection – the selection of the right IoT suppliers (e.g. a selection between the actors in the different supplier roles in the ecosystem) for the different parts of the process.
  • Orchestration of suppliers – the ongoing orchestration of the cooperation between the selected suppliers
  • Architectural Advisory – advising on the right solution architecture of the envisioned IoT Solution
  • Orchestration of deliveries – the ongoing orchestration of the different solutions parts to achieve the best possible technical integration
  • Handling of an IoT Contractor – assist the Product Manufacturer in the ongoing management and control of the IoT Contractor

 

The IoT Client Advisor should possess a complete and current overview of the IoT marketplace with the IoT Suppliers including their primary domains and strengths.

The IoT Contractor takes the full responsibility for delivering a specified IoT Solution (or a major part of it) with all its different parts and their integration – contractually and legally – to the Product Manufacturer. Thereby, the IoT Contractor lifts the burden of the Product Manufacturer of having to deal with many part suppliers in its development process. The IoT Contractor is comparable to the “System Integrator” role known from software development.

 


Anders Struwe Mynster

Senior Specialist
FORCE Technology


Alexandre Alapetite

Senior Software/ICT Engineer
Alexandra Institute