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Guiding Clients through the Wild West of IoT

June 9, 2016

 Engage PR has supported several companies in the Internet of Things (IoT) market and we’ve gained an understanding of this diverse market based on working with clients that have approached it from different perspectives. These companies include: Golgi, a cloud-based IoT platform provider for developers that automatically creates APIs; Bsquare, which offers a software stack for device connectivity, real-time data monitoring and automation and holistic multidomain analytics; and Covisint, a cloud based platform for building Identity and Internet of Things (IoT) applications that connect global networks of people, processes, systems and things.

 

A unique feature of this diverse market is that IoT is actually not one market, but several in a very complex ecosystem of consumers, providers, vendors and requirements. Working with clients to generate mindshare and ultimately market share in this area, the IoT market is really the Wild West.

 

The IoT Media Landscape

Take the media landscape, for example. Whether you look at business media, tech media or IoT trade media, there are no clear influencers as there is little organization to the broad IoT ‘market’ in general even though there are specific segments that have been defined such as eHealth, Connected Car, Smart Home, Smart Grid, etc. In effect, this means that speaking to the IoT ‘market’ actually requires focus and market definition. This is based on our experience pitching media as well as through conversations we’ve had with media and analysts. There are common themes within the different media covering IoT, though.

 

Business media tend to cover the largest players, they like security angles, write about industry consolidation and favor consumer IoT topics. But, what if your company isn’t one of the big players, doesn’t have a security angle and is focused on the Industrial market? Your PR department and/or agency need to get strategic and creative, such as figuring out how to bring value to reporters through unique insights and data.

 

Within the tech media, reporters cover vendor product news, but they typically require customers or use cases for ongoing vendor coverage. If your company doesn’t have referenceable customers, there are ways to get around this issue, especially as more tech media are offering opportunities to contribute content.

 

In the IoT media, some outlets cover product news while others do not. Most welcome contributed content from vendors. However, the window for true thought leadership in IoT publications may be quickly coming to a close. Based on what Engage PR is seeing, some outlets are moving to a paid model, which will favor larger companies with big budgets.

 

PR Program Imperatives

Guiding clients on their PR programs through the Wild West of IoT takes a combination of keeping our pulse on the industry, strong focus, a strategic mindset and creativity. Getting positioning and messaging right is critical for companies in this market. Industry analysts like to classify IoT vendors by what type of platform they offer. But, your customers may not think of their technology need as a platform. In many industries, customers don’t even talk about IoT solutions; they talk about what business problem they need to solve with technology and their entry point is often analytics. Should a company change their positioning to be a platform just to ensure industry analysts can easily categorize their offering? In many cases, the answer is yes as industry analysts provide validation for vendors and enterprises consider analyst rankings when making purchasing decisions.

 

Another aspect companies should think about is how much money to invest in IoT tradeshows. There are many IoT conferences with new ones popping up all the time. Which ones, if any, are critical for companies to participate in or simply attend? While the answer often depends upon a company’s target audience, we’re hearing that companies are getting IoT show fatigue from going to conferences that are too general and not seeing the value of sitting next to someone who is approaching IoT from a completely different perspective.

 

Understanding the challenges of the IoT market is important. For companies just entering the market, external communications can be confusing. The definition of IoT can be different depending upon who you talk to since some in the industry believe that M2M is IoT.

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