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Enterprise IoT rollouts still need outside assistance -- but new software can help

Enterprise IoT rollouts still need outside assistance -- but new software can help

IoT specialist Bsquare is adding a modular software stack to its engineering services

The industrial Internet of Things doesn't just show up in a box at the door ready to use. It takes integration to deploy IoT systems and get the maximum benefit.

That's because IoT isn't one thing, but many linked together in pursuit of a business objective. For example, making power consumption data more accurate and up to date may require smart meters at customers' homes, networks to carry the data collected, and analytical software in the cloud.

"There is no full, end-to-end IoT anything out there," Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Eugene Signorini said. That will probably always be true, even though big players like IBM and General Electric are trying to build or acquire as many parts as they can.

Many enterprises hire outside engineering firms to help with integration. Bsquared is a small player in that game, but it's branching out into building IoT infrastructure software. The company says its DataV software stack can make IoT deployment easier.

DataV includes modules for things like connecting devices, monitoring them and analyzing the data they generate. Users can roll the software out across an infrastructure or just in certain parts of it, integrate Bsquare modules with software from other vendors, and get results from IoT more quickly, CEO Jerry Chase says.

Chase is under no illusion that IoT can be plugged in and booted up like a PC. Bsquare still offers its services, which customers can take advantage of even if they don't buy the software. But by offering DataV as a software product, the company hopes to streamline enterprises' deployments (and glean higher profit margins for itself). DataV is available on a perennial license, by subscription or on a SaaS model.

Some companies have pieces of IoT infrastructure in place, like devices that send data to a central repository, but aren't getting full value from it, Chase said. DataV is designed to help them implement specific systems that are good for business, like predictive maintenance to cut down on expensive equipment failures. Bsquare is working with partners that include Microsoft, Intel and embedded systems maker Aaeon.

The company says early adopters are reaping the benefits. For example, a maker of smart power meters is using DataV to provision and manage applications embedded in its meters, which are deployed across multiple utilities. A commercial truck manufacturer is putting sensors in vehicles to predict component failures and tell technicians what needs to be fixed. A candy company that operates its own vending machines is using DataV to manage inventory and cut down on service costs.

Few enterprises are using IoT yet, but a sizable number want it, analyst Signorini said. An ESG survey of 633 IT folks in midsize and large organizations showed 19 percent have IoT initiatives under way and 39 percent are developing projects for launch within two years. These may run the gamut from just monitoring industrial equipment, to aggregating data to predict overall performance, to combining internal data with inputs like weather predictions.

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