The IMC Brings Buyers and Sellers Together on Common Ground


Earlier this month, the IoT M2M Council (IMC) announced it has established a program to verify and validate compliance with open-source benchmarks created in concert with IMC members including PTC, HPE and Intel’s subsidiary, Wind River. Over 100 end-users also participated in the development of this new assessment process, which is manifest in a Request for Proposals (RFP) template, available to enterprise IT teams as a free service online.

The IMC is a fast-growing trade association with over 25,000 members, representing companies providing solutions from all parts of the global IoT and M2M industries. This enterprise-focused community has brought together connectivity service providers like Verizon and Vodafone, as well as dedicated network operators already famous in the space, including Aeris Communications and Kore Telematics, to support the industry group’s efforts as sustaining member-companies. Sustainers also include systems integrators, equipment manufacturers, chipware makers, software developers, cloud and virtualization service providers, and more.

Essentially, this is a watering hole for all the ecosystem players who wish to share their wares and ideas, promoting use cases across industries including automotive, manufacturing, energy, healthcare, public infrastructure, retail, and more. The organization also publishes research on everything from early adopters on what they need in terms of connectivity, as well as the changing functions of IT, operations and DevOps, as IoT continues to pervasively enter the enterprise domain.

“We didn’t anticipate the response to the IMC when we started this community just a few years ago, said Keith Kreisher, Executive Director. “We tapped into how enterprises are looking at IoT, and it’s not really as much about IoT as problems they need to solve. We talk a lot more with our members and the community at large about infotainment in the automotive industry, smart grid in the energy industry, POS in the retail industry, and all in the context of real world use cases.”

This practical way of thinking feed into the RFP project, which Kreisher said helps all parties – the buyers and the sellers, the vendors and service providers, the systems integrators and more – but primarily – the enterprise. “We have collected a vast amount of data based on the demographics of our rank-and-file members – primarily enterprise users and OEMs – provide us. We were initially surprised to learn that it’s not the IT teams who are driving connected things in the enterprise, but rather,  it’s primarily the operations group, or product and marketing leaders.”

The IMC also brings groups and committees together to continuously discuss standards and approaches, which is of great importance to the growth and sustainability of larger scale deployments, and includes a few policy wonks, who are passionate about important public issues including privacy and security in the IoT/M2M sector, to help shape the work and legislation of governments and other industry groups focused on regulations and standards.

“What’s different about IMC is our down-to-earth approach,” Kreisher continued. “We follow and genuinely appreciate the great work being done by other organizations – open source, vendor-focused, technical standards bodies, test bed organizations. They concentrate on the very important horizontal layer and groups like EdgeX Foundry, for example, on harmonizing edge and fog computing in IoT. We just took a different approach, and it really resonated with the enterprise world.”

IMC kicked off with a modest 10 sustaining companies providing solutions and quickly learned that they needed to know more about the people who buy IoT sensors, equipment, software and services.

Kreisher credits all the companies whom they’ve interviewed and the tens of thousands of members with the development of extensive demographic information covering 24 vertical markets.

“The plurality of people who are buyers are not from IT or R&D – they self-identify as operations. They are not the typical technical people we used to think of as buyers, they are given problems to solve, like saving money, or securing buildings, reducing inventory shrinkage, tracking fleets. They have real-world problems that can be solved with connectivity and they just want to know that whatever solution they select is going to work.”

While Kreisher says there are hundreds and even thousands of different use cases, very specific to the vertical industries they cover, there are commonalities – more than originally forecast. “There are very common needs, so our coordinating our work with all the great organizations working hard to create standards to accelerate businesses profitability is extremely valuable as we continue to put all the intelligence and advice together. These verticals do, however, each have their own language and they appreciate being part of our non-profit organization where they can more easily find colleagues who speak the same language.”

Back to the RFP templates, as part of the growing IMC library, the organization stated in their announcement in early August that vendors will pay a fee to have their software assessed and to be validated as “Model IoT Providers” by the IMC. “Vendor reviews will be included in the RFPs, which will be broadly circulated, and participating vendors will receive a detailed validation report, which they can use for their own purposes. The impartial review is intended to credibly differentiate for software buyers those platforms that provide functions agreed as necessary by a multitude of vendors and users.”

“There’s been an explosion in the number of software packages for IoT applications. Our members buy software, and they’ve made it clear that there is a need for these kinds of ‘hands-on’ buying tools,” said Joel Young, IMC chairman and CTO of IoT technology provider Digi International, in the same announcement. “Even those buyers that don’t use formal RFPs in their procurement process tell us that they would find them useful.”

The IMC’s RFP and validation program will cover technical issues related to software platforms, including connectivity, device management, data analytics, applications development, and security. Young points to recent IMC polling of IoT members that buy software, indicating that 100% of them would find general-purpose RFPs useful, and over 80% would use integrated reviews of platforms to do their vendor sourcing.

Plans call for the IMC to open the RFPs to its membership at the Mobile World Congress Americas, 12-14 September, but software vendors are now undergoing the review process for validation at that launch.

You can learn more here

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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Contributing Writer

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