The Internet of Things is really an Internet of data about things, and combining that information with other kinds of knowledge could add to its impact.
At Mobile World Congress this week, data is starting to come together in new ways. One of the most powerful combinations may emerge from partnerships between IoT veteran Jasper Technologies and two software giants: Salesforce.com and SAP.
Jasper sells a SaaS platform that companies use to monitor and control products or equipment in the field. It's designed to handle all the functions involved in making money from a device or just using it within an enterprise, including setup, ongoing service and data collection. Jasper sells its SaaS through mobile operators, and the platform can be deployed through multiple carriers to give customers global reach.
Connected devices can turn one-time hardware purchases into ongoing services, like when offices rent copiers instead of buying them. It can also allow manufacturers to keep collecting service fees from things they already sold, as when an automaker sells a roadside assistance and concierge service. Enterprises, and some consumers, now want to buy things the same way they used to buy software: as a service, said Macario Namie, Jasper's vice president of strategy.
A device that constantly reports back to its maker can provide real-time data on its condition, its operation and how much and when it's being used. Today, a sales person may know that a sale was made but not know whether the customer is using the product or whether it's ever broken down, Namie said.
Information like that could give the vendor a much deeper understanding of its customers and their situation, helping them improve service and products.
"It's a missing data set within Salesforce today," Namie said.
Jasper and Salesforce are making their products work together, but neither will resell the other's product. Ultimately, the Jasper data set and user interface will be built in to Salesforce, Namie said.
The company is also forming a partnership with SAP in which its platform will be integrated with SAP's Hana system for big-data analytics. This deal will give engineering and support teams more information about how their products are performing in the field and conduct root cause analysis on problems. Last year, Jasper collected more than 7 billion data points and events for its 1,900 enterprise customers, Namie said.
Through APIs (application programming interfaces), Jasper will also have access to other layers in SAP's application and services stack, he said.
Also at MWC, Jasper announced a partnership with China Unicom through which it can extend its reach into mainland China. The partnership will also allow Jasper's multinational customers to expand their services into the country.
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