IoT Partnerships

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Case Studies of IoT Partnerships

Over the past two years, seven US-based IoT companies such as IBM, Cisco, GE, Microsoft, Salesforce, AT&T, and Amazon have formed partnerships to develop their IoT solutions and products. In January 2018, French company Sequans announced that it would be partnering Japan-based SoftBank to develop an IoT project in Japan. An extensive search did not reveal any recent collaborations between American and Japanese IoT companies that involved either the development or marketing of solutions and products. It would be interesting to note that on October 30, 2017, SoftBank along with NTT Communications, PCCW Global, PLDT, Facebook, and Amazon signed an agreement to build and operate JUPITER, a 14,000 km trans-Pacific submarine cable system that will connect Japan, the US, and the Philippines. Please note that not all financial details for every partnership are not available in the public domain. All available financial details are included and discussed below.


On June 2, 2016, it was reported that IBM and Cisco had signed an agreement to integrate Watson IoT technology into Cisco’s edge routers. The goal is to develop a platform that is capable of providing “analytics services for networks of autonomous and unmanned connected devices,” allowing businesses to conduct analyses in remote locations that do not have Internet access. Cisco’s edge analytics would host the Watson technology to collect IoT analytics data and then transferred in real time into the cloud-based network. As part of the deal, the sales team in each company worked separately to bring in new customers. Harriet Green, GM, IBM Watson IoT, Commerce, and Education stated that the partnership would not replace the cloud, but would augment it by “offering businesses the ability to have more intelligence locally, while also benefiting from the vast scale and power of the cloud.”


On July 11, 2016, GE and Microsoft announced that they had signed an agreement to make “GE’s Predix platform for the Industrial Internet available on the Microsoft Azure cloud for industrial businesses.” The deal would allow customers of both platforms access to additional capabilities such as natural language technology, artificial intelligence, advanced data visualization, and enterprise application integration. Microsoft Azure would offer Predix customers access to the largest cloud footprint, data sovereignty, hybrid capabilities, and advanced developer and data services. Along with Microsoft business application, Predix was integrated with the Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite. The integrated Predix-Azure platform was released in North America on November 30, 2017, and would be expanded worldwide in 2018.


On September 22, 2016, Cisco and Salesforce announced a global strategic alliance that involved both companies jointly develop and market solutions that "combined Cisco's collaboration, IoT and contact center platforms with Salesforce Sales Cloud, IoT Cloud and Service Cloud. The deal comprised of integrations in three categories: collaboration, IoT services, and customer service. The IoT services integration involved Cisco’s Jasper, which is capable of providing “real-time visibility into launching, managing and monetizing IoT devices at every stage of their lifecycle” and Salesforce IoT Cloud, which allows users to connect “billions of IoT events with Salesforce, unlocking insights from the connected world that empower anyone to take the right action, for the right customer, at the right time.” Cisco acquired Jasper Technologies, a platform that allows users to manage web-connected cars, refrigerators, and watering systems, for $1.4 billion in February 2016.


On October 6, 2016, AT&T and Amazon Web Services (AWS) signed a multi-year, strategic alliance agreement to “optimize delivery of integrated solutions built on the companies’ respective cloud and networking capabilities.” The partnership focused on three business areas: business cloud networking, IoT, and threat management. In the IoT segment, AT&T IoT-connected sensors and devices are preconfigured to seamlessly and more securely send data into the AWS Cloud. As part of the strategic alliance, the AT&T IoT OBDII Kit was launched in November 2017 to provide AWS customers with access to the AT&T Asset Management Operations Center.


On January 24, 2018, Sequans announced that it had established a technology collaboration with SoftBank to accelerate the development of LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies in Japan. As of the deal, the companies would conduct “interoperability testing of Sequans’ Monarch LTE-M/NB-IoT platform with SoftBank’s network equipment,” and develop a “dedicated implementation of LwM2M technology designed to streamline the device level testing process.” This partnership is in-line with SoftBank’s IoT strategy after acquiring chip architecture designer ARM Holdings for $32 billion in 2016. In 2017, SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son stated that ARM would deliver a trillion chips designed for the IoT over the next 20 years.


In conclusion, the five partnerships described above involved each partners leveraging on each other technological capabilities to develop new solutions and products or integrate existing software into a shared network. These partnerships have resulted in providing their customers access to products with more features and also allow each partner to increase their customer base by leveraging on each other customer network.