The Business of Things

Designing business models to win in the cognitive IoT

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Succeeding in the changing Business of Things

As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes ubiquitous and the cost of embedding connectivity and intelligence gets cheaper, companies are now focusing on how to successfully compete in the IoT. The new “Business of Things” is moving beyond selling connected, intelligent products and beyond selling new services. It is expanding to deliver compelling experiences over the life of a product.

Throughout the electronics industry, executives need to focus on IoT strategies and business models that: enable “things as agents” to create more valuable experiences; co-operate through the complexity of evolving ecosystems to deliver these experiences; and establish a new order of business that aligns the organization with an IoT strategy.

Few inventions have affected society as profoundly and universally as electricity. When Edison invented the electric light bulb, he saw electricity as a “field of fields,” giving the opportunity to “reorganize the life of the world.”1 Indeed, it was more than just electric lights replacing gas lights. As electricity gained economies of scale and became commercially available, “things” from streetlights to stovetops became plugged in.

The commoditization of electricity spawned many countless industries and businesses that would otherwise be inconceivable and electricity became fundamental to life in the 20th century. Still in its infancy, the IoT is similarly at the threshold of another tremendous, transformational opportunity. Connecting things with unique IP addresses has been possible for over a decade, but the commoditization of sensors, processors and memory now make it commercially viable to make everyday things significantly intelligent and not just connected.

Across industries, the IoT is making it possible for companies to move far beyond merely selling connected, intelligent products and services. They are expanding their offerings to deliver compelling experiences over the life of their products: It’s what we refer to as the new Business of Things.

To explore how businesses can be successful in this new era, we conducted the 52-hour IBM Business of Things Jam. The online event garnered over 38,000 page views. More than 1,900 registrants in 70 countries engaged in online polls and over 1,100 discussion threads. One hundred eighty-three C-level executives engaged in this exploration of the challenges related to monetizing the IoT.

Our analysis of Jam findings led to this executive report, which is the fourth in the IoT thought leadership series from the IBM Institute for Business Value.

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Meet the authors

Scott Burnett, Director, Global Electronics Industry, IBM Global Markets

Bruce Anderson

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, Global Managing Director, IBM electronics industry

Veena Pureswaran

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, Global Blockchain Research Leader, IBM Institute for Business Value

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