Each day, the world around us gets smarter. Devices are continually joining the internet of things (IoT), making us more connected, streamlined, and effective. As the new wave of IoT devices hits the market, organizations are feeling the strain to keep up with the pace of technology. This trend will continue, as the types of devices we see connecting to the internet become increasingly diverse. While this presents unprecedented opportunities for consumers, it also worries some businesses.
It’s only natural for entrepreneurs to want to maintain their competitive edge and lead the market in technological advancement. But it’s time to face the reality that it may no longer be possible for companies—particularly smaller ones—to accomplish this on their own. Partnerships will be the key to success for businesses that want to remain innovators in their fields.
Breaking Down the Walls
In the past, technology maintained separate spheres. While businesses such as Apple profited immensely from a culture of exclusivity, the “walled garden” model is no longer a viable plan. That’s the reason that Apple is closing the doors on its mobile advertising initiative, iAd. While in 2010 Steve Jobs predicted iAd would reach approximately 50 percent of the market, the numbers have been closer to 5 percent. By making the platform available only to iOS users, advertisers and marketers were reaching only an estimated 13.9 percent of the worldwide smartphone market.
Today’s consumers demand connectivity and integration. Technology firms can no longer stand alone and refuse to play nice with competitors. Those that form strategic partnerships will be the ones that will ride the wave of IoT innovation.
Disconnected smart devices will not meet consumers’ needs. As new devices hit the IoT mainstream, consumers will expect them to be compatible with their phones and tablets. In the near future, I envision a world where an average citizen can remotely start a car, preheat an oven, double check a security system, and set a thermostat to an ideal temperature before starting his or her evening commute. This scenario relies on applications that play nicely with their smart devices.
To expand on the notion of the walled garden effect, imagine a world of intranets instead of the internet. Each family has their own dedicated access to online information, but people don’t have the ability to connect with one another. What’s the value of the internet if we can’t collaborate? The same principle applies to partnerships in light of the IoT movement: connectivity will determine the value of your product. That’s the current evolution of technology.
Increasing the Marketability of Your Devices
Closed thinking will only hinder the marketability of your devices. Leveraging partnerships will extend your product’s useful value or service without development issues.
Interoperability is the new goal for businesses. In the past, IT infrastructure was siloed and monolithic. Today’s customers demand ease of use and easier ways to interact with their vendors.
Microsoft and Salesforce provide compelling evidence of the power of a strategic partnership in action. In 2014, the two companies discovered that if they worked together instead of against one another, they would better meet the needs of both companies and their customers. While these two companies were once in the business of suing one another, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadalla spoke at a Salesforce conference about the decision to bind together.
“I don’t think of this as a zero sum [game] with any one competitor,” he said. “We are going to compete vigorously in certain domains, but the total opportunity for us to take the power of digital technology and empower every person and every organization is so huge that these partnerships really only help amplify that.”
Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Gone are the days of operating in a vacuum. Going beyond the scope of your product and fostering strategic partnerships will only improve your company’s bottom line. Consumers demand products that are faster and more connected than ever—the only way for today’s businesses to respond to consumer demand is to embrace the value of partnership, even if it’s with a competitor. IoT is already breaking down the walls between companies in Silicon Valley; I think it’s time the rest of us follow suit.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.