Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – Drones – Hawks in the Dawn of the IoT Era?

In March 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it will start testing the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) like drones at 300 air traffic facilities covering 500 airports in the US on incremental manner on April 30.  This deployment is scheduled for completion by September 13, 2018.  Commercial drone usage is expected to surge. This surge is being made possible in part by the LAANC system that is expected to automate the approval process of airspace authorization requests for operations in the entire US. In addition, FAA rules and regulations that clarified previously identified as potential issues are also assisting this growth. The FAA expects commercial drones to grow fourfold within 4 years from 110,000 to 450,000 units in the air in 2022.  But the impact on IT and cloud service providers is expected to be much larger.

Drones have long been in a trial phase for business use in various industries – delivering foods, packages & medical goods, monitoring agricultural crops and fields, responding to disasters, inspecting facilities, monitoring worker safety and mapping/surveying landscape to list a few. Powered by cloud platforms and the increasing availability of software applications, drones are able to function as robots in the air generating an enormous amount of data to feed cloud storage space and big data analytics.

Growing Usage of Imaging Apps

Photography and video are major drone applications. According to the FAA, 43% of commercial drone usage is for taking aerial photos, films and videos.  Photos and videos are already must-have items for almost all industries for marketing materials, brochures, how-to-use videos, and so on.  Increasing usage of social medias for marketing among businesses in any size has also been fueling the trend.  In the realm of social media today, eye-catching visual materials are must have while the role of language is decreasing.

Virtual reality (VR) is still in the nascent stage.  But it should be easy for everyone to foresee that it will play an important role in various fields in the near future – not just gaming, but we have already started to see its usage in tourism, entertainment and industrial design. The role of drones in the VR field is almost limitless.

The significance of these trends for cloud service providers is the data volume that drone operations will generate. Generally, image files are much larger than regular document files. In addition, an increasing number of commercial grade drones are equipping 4K cameras with 360-degree view for superior image quality. Drone photos will be a key driver for cloud storage consumption as, on average, a 4K video file is nearly 10 times larger than that of the standard definition.

Vertical Expansion and Applications

The core functions of drones in the traditional sense are transporting and monitoring. But their operation areas are widening. Power and energy companies, manufacturers and insurance companies are using drones for inspecting facilities.  Telecommunication carriers are using drones to carry cellular network, especially in the isolated remote areas and disaster sites.  Also, drones are convenient tools to manage inventory in huge warehouse facilities.

There is even a case where drones are used for time management by monitoring employees and work sites within an office building to reduce unnecessary overtime. This may look a bit awkward and employees may feel uncomfortable to be monitored but as insider threats by malicious users or employees are increasingly recognized as a major security concern, it will not be surprising to see drones hovering overhead in offices in the future.

Drone-Related Solution Providers

There are several players providing cloud-based drone tools for commercial use. Most of such tools are equipping functions of autopilot, data management, processing, analytics, planning and reporting. Most pricing are subscription models and quite affordable even for small businesses.

Key ISVs specializing in drone-related solutions include:

Flight/Operation Management

AirMap Kittyhawk
Drone LogBook NV Drones
Everdrone Skyward
Flyte
Microsoft UAV simulator (an open source aerial informatics and robotics platform for engineers/designers to test and train machines)

Mapping and Data Processing

3DR DroneMapper Raptor Maps
Agribotix Esri Sentera
Airware Gamaya Skycatch
Avision Robotics GeoCue Group Skydio
Bentley Maps Made Easy SLANTRANGE
Botlink Pix4D Uplift Data Partners
Datumate Pix Processing WebODM
DroneDeploy PrecisionHawk  

The market landscape is already quite crowded and M&As and vertical expansion strategies have already taken place. Verizon acquired Skyward in February 2017. This pairing is a good marriage of a wireless network and the aerial app.  DroneDeploy is pursuing vertical expansion via launching App Market to integrate its solutions with external apps such as Audodesk and John Deere to appeal to manufacturers and farmers.

Commercial drones are clearly becoming a key market dynamic in the cloud landscape at the dawn of IoT era.  IoT solution vendors and cloud service providers should gear in on these players.

~ Yuki Uehara, Senior Director

IoT 101

Internet of Things (IoT) is a popular buzz word around town. What is IoT? Why now? What are the growth elements?  How do I even segment these IoT devices?

Too many questions and too many ‘things’ to answer.

Let’s start IoT 101.

Definition:

Internet of Things refers to the networking of physical objects using embedded sensors, actuators, and other devices that can collect or transmit information about these objects (excluding smartphones and computers). As humans directly interact with the device for information exchange, therefore smartphones and computers are not considered IoT.

Tesla’s self-driving car is considered a partial IoT device as it has thousands of sensors and motors which can move without human intervention and take people from one place to the next.

IoT Market:

Murphy’s Law can be helpful to describe the IoT concept with a little tweak: Whatever can be connected, will be connected.

  • By a recent estimate there are over 20 billion devices connected to the internet as of 2017 and that number is forecasted to reach over 75 billion devices by 2025.
  • According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, small, medium and large businesses spend on IoT technology reached over $800 billion worldwide in 2017.
  • There is a huge potential for IoT in developing economies in terms of adoption. Also, nearly half of the value is expected to be generated from developing countries.

Growth Elements:

Technology, being the root of all development, is at the center of every new breakthrough. The driving factors behind the development and adoption of IoT is the widespread availability of all the technical components and infrastructure.

  • Hardware: Many IoT devices rely on multiple sensors to monitor the environment around them. The cost of these sensors has dropped 30-70% in the past decade and prices are expected to drop further leading to more cost-effective sensors.
  • Internet: The expansion of the internet is another major growth element of IoT. Approximately 45% of the global population is connected to the internet. This increase in connectivity is paving the way for higher IoT adoption worldwide.
  • Smartphones: Smartphones can be a major driver for this segment despite not being an IoT device. IoT relies heavily on “remotes” to monitor and manage IoT devices. Today smartphones account for over 65% of mobile phones sold globally. These can be used as remotes to control IoT devices. According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, businesses have installed over 4 million smartphones and over 1.3 million tablets as of last year.

IoT Segmentation:

IoT is very tricky in terms of segmentation because of various components involved and there are many gray areas between just being another tech product and an IoT product. Also, in terms of market adoption, it is difficult to identify IoT penetration in businesses and hence difficult to track spending. Here at AMI, we have identified 3 distinct segments for IoT to simplify tracking.

IoT Hardware:

Hardware is considered a building block in the IoT ecosystem. IoT Hardware includes spending on standalone components as well as those installed in devices, sensors, appliances, vehicles, machinery and many more. According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, hardware components within IoT accounts for 50% of overall spending within the IoT segment. As we are in the initial phase of IoT growth, companies are setting up the necessary infrastructure for IoT thus increasing hardware spend.

IoT Software:

Some areas included in IoT software spend are IoT OSs, platforms, end user applications and cloud services (which is still in the early development phase). Software provides an integrated set of capabilities including mobile application libraries, analytics, security and device/services management.

IoT platforms include Cisco Jasper, Windows 10 IoT, Azure IoT Suite, Uptake, and Ayala.

IoT Services:

IoT services include solution design consulting, implementation, deployment, and management services as provided by service providers of all sizes such as Datatrend Technologies, Softweb Solutions, Accenture, IBM, AT&T and Verizon.

The IoT services market has wide reaching potential for one simple reason: IoT in business is well connected with other disciplines like security, data management and other vertical specific elements. No company can do everything alone and that’s where IoT service providers can help these companies achieve efficient results.

Finally, IoT will give birth to all new business models based on technology. Remember the Tesla car? Now imagine, Tesla selling just car service and not the actual cars. Anything-as-a-Service, selling transportation service rather than automobiles.

In a nutshell, companies are spending more on infrastructure set up and deployment. This is due to the initial growth phase of IoT being hardware centric. In the next few years, the market will experience an incredible growth in the IoT Software and Services industry. We will see companies spending more on platforms, security and analytics because of IoT expansion.

~ Ankit Mehta, Associate

Got MSP?

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are upping the stakes in the current cloud land grab. By rapidly expanding their portfolio of service offerings they expect to capture larger share of wallet. Their customers are aligned with this approach as they seek out full-service providers able to meet all their technology needs.

A Growing Market

By 2021 MSPs will deliver close to 25% of all technology products and services globally, up from 18% today. This is an impressive business transformation story – thousands of IT resellers and systems integrators (most of them small companies with less than $10M in revenues) have displayed a clear vision and competent leadership in enhancing their organizations’ capabilities and infrastructure to keep revenues growing in this challenging business climate.

The number of MSPs worldwide will grow from 50,000 to 75,000 between 2016-2021, with the total IT products/services they deliver growing from $500 billion to over $1 trillion during the same time.

Their services portfolios, which initially included pure infrastructure services such as storage, security essentials, compute power, web hosting, and application hosting, have now grown to include value add and higher margin services such as disaster recover/business continuity, e-discovery, vulnerability assessment, compliance management, application management, SaaS, and mobile device management among others.

Business Challenges

Despite being in a high growth business, MSPs face tough challenges which require constant attention and fine tuning of their business models. Some of the top challenges are:

  • Differentiating their services from those of other MSPs is a top priority to counter margin erosion and hyper-competition.
  • Absorbing newer technologies, tools, and solutions, packaging them for client consumption, and providing follow up services requires a constant learning and training.
  • Investing in datacenters is yet another critical challenge, which is often detrimental to smaller MSPs.

How Technology Vendors Can Help

Technology solution vendors that are supplying to MSPs can often play a big role in helping MSPs address these challenges. By fully understanding the nature of MSPs operational and business needs, vendors can design their products and programs to enable their MSP customers to win in the market-place.

Key features can be built into products and programs to make them a nuts-to-bolts solution, or packaged to work with other third-party solutions typically used by MSPs. Examples of the types of features that MSPs would like vendors to include in their solutions are:

  • Automation of overall solutions architecture.
  • Automation of customer on-boarding and migration processes.
  • Dynamic and predictive throughput/capability scaling.
  • Performance monitoring and predictive dashboards and controls.
  • Vertical industry-specific sales, marketing, and technical know how.
  • Vertical industry-specific compliance and reporting features.
  • Online university – modular online training videos and certification.

These are some of the insights we have uncovered in our tracking of the worldwide MSP segment. For additional insights and a detailed description of our MSP tracking service and various deliverables click here.

Alternatively, please email John Rezac (jrezac@ami-partners.com) for more details or to schedule a webinar that will walk you through our MSP coverage and insights.

~Deepinder Sahni, SVP

SAP SAPPHIRE NOW – May 2017

SAP Leonardo Tackles Digital Transformation 

SAP has made digital transformation less amorphous by announcing Leonardo – a collection of tools, technologies, and methodologies branded under the “Leonardo” umbrella, that allow for structure in the way businesses can begin to envision and plan for being more digital.

With SAP S4/HANA at its core, Leonardo aggregates IoT, Machine Learning, AI, Design Thinking, Big Data, and Blockchain into a complete system with accelerators (pre-packaged frameworks) for various vertical industries.

Leonardo is clever packaging and branding of multiple technologies and solutions, which will allow businesses to envision and plan the nature of digital transformation they want to undertake and shape. It is an important first step in getting conversations started, and moving business executives away from a state of digital-confusion to structured digital-exploration and activation.

SAP’s Digital Boardroom solution encapsulates how a highly digitized business may work and make data driven decisions in real-time at the highest levels of management.

The go-to-market on Digital Transformation will entail Continue reading “SAP SAPPHIRE NOW – May 2017”

Global Model 2017

Your intrepid blogger wanted to take some time out to give you an update on the Global Forecast Model that AMI uses to track everything from small business spending on IoT hardware in the UK to shipments of smartphones in Brazil. For brevity, we simply refer to it as the GM. Each year, the GM is updated to give actionable insights on the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) space.

Highlights

Aside from the SMB space, which is our primary focus, the GM also provides insights across the entire commercial spectrum as well as the public sector. Home Based Business (HBB), large enterprises (1,000+ employees), and the government and education sectors are analyzed to provide granular insights into the industry. As long as a person is involved, AMI tracks the business. Granted, once Skynet finally goes online, Continue reading “Global Model 2017”

IBM PartnerWorld 2017

Last week, AMI-Partners attended IBM’s PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, held at the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino. The trio AMI dispatched to the desert came back with new insights and information on how IBM is working with business partners to deliver solutions to customers of all sizes. On a less technical yet allegorical front, we also heard stories ranging from catching a cow to hitting an olive tree with a stick. Keep reading to the end for those accounts, but for now, a brief recap from our trip with highlights from a few breakout sessions.

Viva Las Vegas!

As we entered the opening general session, the lighting rigs were shining bright, the music (Elvis of course) was deafening, and the stage was set for speakers to address the crowd comprised of IBM business partners (more than 1,300 from 78 countries), IBM-ers from various units, the press, and analysts – some of whom very closely follow the SMB ICT space. IBM Chair, President, and CEO Ginni Rometty shared her vision for the future of cognitive business and how Watson will touch some 1 billion people by the end of this year. General Manager for Global Business Partners Marc Dupaquier shared highlights of the partner network and IBM announced several new initiatives to help promote success across all partners in what it dubs “The Cognitive Era”. Without the efforts of business partners, IBM is limited in getting its solutions to end users. The need to work with, nurture, and educate partners is critical to success, not only for Continue reading “IBM PartnerWorld 2017”

2017: An SMB Odyssey

Happy New Year! The start of a new year often brings reflections on the past and forecasts for the future. Resolutions and changes abound but are often discarded before the calendar turns to February. Hopefully you’ve noticed the new layout for our blog and AMI-Partners assures you it will not change back come Groundhog Day.

Keep on Writin’…

Moving forward, we will do our best to post regular updates, to keep the writing style as informal and conversational as the subject matter permits, and to offer more in the way of knowledge sharing as we strive to enhance our reputation as a leader in the SMB ICT space. Our work helps leading organizations to better understand the small and medium business landscape. We believe this Continue reading “2017: An SMB Odyssey”

Layered Security Solutions

Earlier this week, AMI-Partners joined a call hosted by Trend Micro Inc. that discussed the firm’s collective capabilities in security, covered in three categories titled Hybrid Cloud Security, Network Defense, and User Protection. With security threats becoming more sophisticated, targeted, and frequent, having a layered security solution can prove beneficial in the SMB space. Yearly subscription prices per user range from $38 – $62 for this layered approach to security, which does not put it out of reach for the SMB market. These security solutions (Standard and Advanced packages) are available for both on-premise and hosted delivery.

Competition & Worldwide Spending

Trend Micro, a global security software company that develops products for servers and the cloud computing environment for consumers, governments, and the SMB market, competes in a crowded field with such well know names like McAfee, Microsoft, and Symantec. With an eye toward increased market share and profitability, the company is working to provide business customers with multiple solutions for cybersecurity. The firm is ranked as the top worldwide content security provider for small business (4 years running) by Canalys and claims to block 250M threats each day.

According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, total worldwide SMB security spending Continue reading “Layered Security Solutions”

SMBs at risk of a Distributed Denial of Service attack?

Last week, Dyn, a cloud-based interest performance management company, was the target of a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks interrupted service on more than 80 popular websites including CNN, The New York Times, Twitter, Electronic Arts, Airbnb, PayPal, Visa, Slack, Yammer, and Pixlr. The variety of the aforementioned sites illustrates the central role a traffic manager can play in the critical infrastructure of the internet. The company released a statement concerning the attack. The SMB market is vulnerable to such attacks, although on a smaller scale to the Dyn attack, and it pays to safeguard against such incidents.

 What is a DDos?

A DDoS is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. In the case of Dyn, the attacks were coordinated via numerous Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices such as cameras, routers, and even baby monitors. They were infected with malware that allowed for the IoT devices to be controlled remotely and send millions of malicious requests to Dyn. An analogy would be to the single toll booth that needs to collect fares from every car in several queues, converging from all lanes at the same time. The system becomes inundated and traffic grinds to a halt. A DDoS attack can be targeted at a small business that relies heavily (perhaps solely) on web traffic to generate revenue. If customers cannot reach a website due to heavy traffic, they cannot engage in commerce and a business loses out on revenue.

SMB Security spending (US)

 According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, total security spending by the SMB market in the US is heavily directed toward Continue reading “SMBs at risk of a Distributed Denial of Service attack?”

Science, Technology and Innovation at the Holiday Spectacular Event

I had the opportunity to attend the Holiday Spectacular event presented by Pepcom last week which showcased many of the latest gadgets and gizmos. It was a hall full of technology and innovation. There were products and services catering to all segments –consumers, small and medium businesses, and large companies.

Here are a few that caught my eye:

  1. The HP Instant Ink replacement service

The IOT (Internet of things) is slowly transforming everyday devices into smart objects. It is a concept where machines and devices are connected to the internet and with each other. What makes the devices smart is their ability to communicate with each other. There are over 5 million connected devices in the world and this figure is expected to quadruple by 2020. Its penetration in the business landscape is increasing rapidly and changing the way business is being conducted.

Most small and medium businesses look to increase profits and reduce costs. To gain the benefits of IOT, finding the device/application suitable for your business is essential. HP has introduced a line of smart printers. The printer senses when the ink is about to run out and it automatically places a request on the HP website (https://instantink.hpconnected.com/us/en ) for ink to be delivered to you. HP offers 3 monthly plans depending on how frequently the printer will be used. Services like the HP Instant Ink replacement can not only help small businesses reduce printing expenditures but can also help cut manpower costs.

HP1

 

  1. VidMob – Professional video editing service

Video Ads are gaining importance as a strong marketing medium for small and medium businesses. A video’s ability to provide sight, sound and emotion at the same time makes it a powerful advertising model. For small businesses, boosting brand awareness and increasing customer base are two major challenges.

VidMob (http://www.vidmob.com/getting-started/for-your-business/) is a platform that connects video content creators to video editors in a bid-based marketplace.VidMob can be useful for  small businesses with limited advertising and marketing budgets to create video ads at a low cost. A video could be created by a smartphone or tablet and then sent to Vidmob for editing. In addition, there is an option to choose your own editor.VidMob will soon be available in appstores.

  1. MacKeeper – Track my Mac

New and expensive devices in the workplace usually come with security risks. There are many applications which help in tracking stolen or lost phones, but the soon to be lauched Mackeeper will be able to track your MacBook.

MacKeeper (http://mackeeper.com/ ) is a software company that creates Mac optimization and security solutions. They showcased their new anti-theft application at the Pepcom event. The app is called “Track my Mac”. It is activated after the first unsuccessful login attempt. The app then sends a snapshot of the devive’s location details to your iphone. Also, the app has a feature called iSight, which sends back the picture of the person using the stolen or lost Macbook.

Technology can play a big role for small and medium businesses. As per AMI’s research, in 2015 the top goals for SMBs include leveraging technology to reduce costs, making processes more efficient and improving employee productivity. There are many devices, services and applications in the market. The key is to choose the ones which are most appropriate for your workplace/business. They will not only help in achieving cost efficiency, but will also help in smooth day to day functioning.

~ Mansi Bhatnagar, Associate