Analysis from Ovum maps out trends and recommendations around 4 key IoT vertical markets: connected cars, smart homes, smart cities and insurance.
Written by Alexandra Rehak
27th July 2017
The smart home market is still largely centered on individual retail products. Providers that know the consumer retail market well are likely to be the most successful – as Amazon is amply demonstrating – while telco-led efforts to deliver integrated devices around their own platforms have thus far shown less value. We expect to see service providers continuing to innovate and experiment as they try to find the right place in the smart home value chain.
Vendors and service providers are embedding voice-activated AI assistants into their individual smart home solutions. Over the next few years, their functionality will increase, going far beyond simple interactions based on commands and actions, and enabling digital assistants to become a key control point for the smart home and the extended smart personal environment.
Insurers are now well aware of the IoT and fear the disruptive impact of new offerings such as usage-based insurance, as well as potential new competitors. Many, though, have not yet seriously begun to develop IoT-based offerings. Car insurance providers in the U.S., U.K., Italy and Canada are the leaders thus far. Meanwhile, technology giants and telcos are establishing dominant positions in areas such as smart home and connected cars, which may eventually displace insurers.
On the demand side, consumer appetite for usage-based insurance offerings has been slow to develop. Even in the vehicle insurance market, Ovum’s research indicates that take-up has plateaued at between 2% to 5% of total policies sold. Similarly, life insurers have seen limited adoption, and this has been almost exclusively among already fit-and-active customer segments. It is not yet clear whether low take-up to date reflects limited consumer demand, or whether the issue is more that insurance carriers are not seen by consumers as the natural source for such products.
On the supply side, the difficulty of accurately quantifying the investment needed in this nascent and uncertain market, particularly with competing IT priorities (such as mandatory regulatory compliance requirements), is also delaying things.
In Ovum’s view, the long-term viability of insurance-provider-led IoT offerings is questionable. Partnership strategies will be the best option for many, creating good opportunities for telcos and vendors to work with insurers on usage-based and other IoT-linked insurance offerings.
As smart cities offerings and partnerships evolve in 2017, both service providers and vendors need to consider, and be ready to support, the different ways cities are approaching the “smart journey.” We break these down roughly into “pragmatic patchwork” and “central control” approaches. The former is by far the most common, with individual smart city projects being deployed for specific applications such as smart lighting and smart parking, often with little or no coordination between projects.
Budget constraints and slow decision-making processes, departmental silos, political pressures and the challenge of legacy IT systems are all significant challenges impacting the enthusiastic but generally fragmented approach to smart city development, in most markets.
However, necessity drives creativity, and both governments and providers are keen to find new ways to develop sustainable and coordinated smart city initiatives. Ovum expects to see creative vendor-led and telco-led approaches to smart city financing and public/private business models starting to become more standardized over this year and next.
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