The rise of general-purpose over single-purpose IoT

Mark Lambe


Asavie’s CTO Tom Maher was interviewed for Tech Target: It is the Internet of Things, but with an enterprise angle. Take that to mean industry vertical applications, development ecosystems, product design, hardware, deployment and more.

When we look at the industrial IoT landscape, much of the early industry attention had been centered on single-purpose use cases. However, we’re now beginning to see the various components of the IoT ecosystem evolving to enable general-purpose use cases. In reality, it’s the general-purpose use cases that underpin the potential for digital transformation, which is where the real long-term business value lies. If companies fail to adopt a general-purpose approach to IoT, they will fail to evolve the digital capability in their enterprise, which ultimately enables the innovation and business model optimization that digital transformation promises.

Single purpose for a single problem

Single-purpose (or at least limited purpose) yields highly vertically integrated platforms which solve very specific problems at scale. The purchasing decision in enterprises for such technologies tended to be mainly the domain of the operational technology (OT) folks. Many segments start out single purpose for the obvious reasons; there’s a very specific return on investment argument (i.e.,” if we can do this, it’s worth that”) and being specific reduces the scope to being something achievable.

However, over time, enterprise IoT architects will encounter multiple single/limited uses cases and will need to assemble a robust architecture that addresses use cases where the specifics aren’t known, i.e., general purpose or programmable. Over time, the general-purpose architecture becomes more attractive and the “legacy” single-purpose use cases get ported to the general-purpose architecture. When this happens there is also a natural handing over of responsibility to the IT teams within the enterprise. Increasingly, we are witnessing this shift of responsibility for IoT projects from OT to IT.

Read full interview in the IoT Agenda here:

Article originally published 16 November 2017 in Tech Target