The problem with IoT isn't the backend. There are plenty of companies that figured out the servers, ingestion, security, dashboarding, etc.
The problem is all the nodes. Customers aren't going to replace equipment with newer systems just because it has IoT capabilities, which means you're attempting to retrofit machinery with sensors and connectivity. Or else you wait until the major chain customer has refreshed every single piece of equipment in every store. Set your calendar for 7-10 years and check back in.
For retrofitting, every single case is different, it's custom, and 90% of the time it's not easy. And, no, slapping a Raspberry Pi to the side of a milkshake freezer isn't the answer. Some products like Helium are closer, but an array of open-collector GPIOs isn't the answer either.
The only way to win here is to be highly vertical and close to your customers not only in business knowledge but actual integration with the equipment makers. I certainly don't see GE, MS, AWS, Google or anyone else really making the commitment to that kind of stuff.
Going from $10 to $1 a sensor didn't trigger any change. Not surprising when yearly maintenance/battery replacement/shipping/installation/network fee is circa $50/y per sensor and this economics didn't change. Big data didn't change anything, as the cost of storing info was already peanuts before.
>> 90% of the time it's not easy
And maybe the right approach is a marketplace approach ?
Say i'm an someone who have created a node for fridge X, at my local town. allow me to upload designs of hardware(or maybe standard programmable hw, what makes sense), software, cables, documentation, maybe verification - and to sell them to anybody, easily.
And when someone orders such designs, the marketplace sends him everything fully working with simple installation instructions ?
Quite a bit of industrial stuff is one offs, were you have the only one(s) in existence. I've made devices for industrial use were the customer only needed 1-5 of them.
Making electronics survive those conditions is expensive and most people don't need that level of protection.
In my line of work, that's the complete opposite of what goes on. Ecosystems are closed for a number of reasons including patents, warranty, and liability.
Unless you work directly with the equipment maker and their circle of suppliers and customers, getting full approval along the way from every party (including the end customer who has no idea what's inside that black box), you're pretty much going to be on the outside.
What does this mean ? being a certified field engineer, with the explicit permission of IOT retrofitting ? And if so why ?
And assuming the equipment manufacturer is interested in a way of doing this, wouldn't he be interested in scaling and maybe some profit and other benefits(we'll probably find some benefits along the way) ?
First off, it will invalidate the warranty and cause many headaches for service personnel. Customers depend on that warranty and service network and many times it's part of the purchase contract.
Secondly, a lot of equipment is validated and approved by the customer before installation. For example, any piece of kitchen equipment that goes into a McDonald's has been validated and tested in their corporate kitchens before it's even allowed to approach an actual store. Modifications and retrofits are, again, not allowed without their permission. So unless you have a business relationship with McDonald's beforehand, you won't get the time of day from them.
Thirdly, there's no profit motive in it for the manufacturer. I've worked on systems where IoT subsystems can help with predictive maintenance (thereby minimizing emergency service calls and expensive downtime), but the cost of that system typically isn't passed on to the final customer price.