Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, another massive global enterprise is entering the IoT cloud market. This week, its global manufacturing giant Robert Bosch GmbH. For those that aren’t connoisseurs of their top of the line home and industrial products, the Company makes high end dishwashers, ovens, cooking tops, ranges, microwaves, refrigerators, ventilation systems, washers & dryers, coffee makers, mixers, and a whole host of things for industrial applications. And inevitably, all of these devices will be smart devices, connected to the Bosch IoT cloud, as will billions (yes, billions) of other devices from other manufacturers (in theory anyway). Through that, in theory too, Bosch will transform itself from a manufacturing giant, to a manufacturing giant selling software and services that leverage the massive amounts of data it can collect to create or enable new business models (ahem…forgive me if I’ve heard it before).
This move reflects the growing convergence of competitors coming at the IoT space from different angles and puts Bosch in the direct line of sight of massive software companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Samsung , Intel, Cisco (is this boring you yet?) and many smaller companies that are providing IoT cloud infrastructure. Gone seem to be the days when software and services company and products companies stay in their respective lanes, as every day we’re seeing software companies building or buying manufacturing and marketing competencies, and manufacturing and marketing companies buying or building software competencies (See, e.g. The General Electric Digital Industrial Company!)
At IAT, we love watching the attempts of these massive market leading manufacturers transform themselves through the lens of IoT, asking themselves what they could be and what they could enable if they owned a massive amount of networked sensors and actuators, massive cloud computing power, and commercial relationships. Unfortunately, most attempts outside of Samsung (and it is arguable whether Samsung is the bellwether here) seem to be falling flat, as the cultural differences and competencies between software businesses and manufacturing and marketing companies are almost by definition incompatible. In other words, for every Amazon and Apple, there will be 10 LG’s (e.g. manufacturers that made a bunch of early pronouncements about IoT software and services then realized who they were and quickly partnered with Google and Microsoft).