Bosch ConnectedWorld — Bosch’s premier customer and partner event held annually in Berlin — has become a destination event for European internet of things (IoT) professionals. What started several years ago as a hands-on-type of event where lots of practitioners demonstrated Bosch’s most innovative solutions has now become a more typical conference, with polished marketing messages from Bosch executives and partners appealing to a broader international audience — some Chinese companies appeared as “Platinum” and “Gold” partners this year. In this post, we’ll review the event’s evolution and then give our analysis of the product strategy as shown at the event.

ConnectedWorld — The Conference

The evolution of any company’s customer event into a broader industry conference is bound to bring challenges. Compared to previous years, the messages feel less bold. This is perhaps a reflection of the fast-paced evolution of the IoT market. To succeed as a global IoT conference, ConnectedWorld must:

  • Further embrace customer success. An international IoT event must be more than a showcase of all things Bosch. It also must be more of a celebration of company achievements in IoT. While ConnectedWorld did discuss issues relating to cultural and change management, we feel that more use cases demonstrating business benefits from a customer perspective in greater detail and with clearer business-outcome-specific metrics would be valuable.
  • Expand exhibitors to embrace a wide range of IoT ecosystem vendors. This will include more floor space dedicated to other IoT vendors and their customer success stories, even as capabilities are added to the underlying Bosch IoT platform. It would also be useful to have a session dedicated to Bosch’s IoT ecosystem, highlighting where partners can be found at ConnectedWorld.
  • Create a broad portfolio of world-class conference sessions. For session content, there needs to be a good balance between technical IoT enablement and business outcome stories that highlight clear business value for investments made. To compete with premier international events, Bosch must evolve the overall presentation quality beyond the levels demonstrated at some sessions at the 2019 event. (Though, in fairness, we believe the overall quality of sessions at many events is pretty low — if people are paying for event tickets, they deserve TED-quality presenters.)

Bosch IoT Product Strategy

To succeed in its own digital transformation, and stay relevant to an ever more demanding customer base, Bosch must provide more compelling answers to the questions customers and prospects are asking:

  • “What value do I get from using your platform to connect IoT devices instead of someone else’s?”
  • “What additional value does your platform offer above what’s already built into the cloud platforms?”
  • “How will your platform help me achieve my business goals better than your competitors?”

Our analysis of the Bosch product strategy on display at the 2019 event is that Bosch must:

  • Double down on analytics. The 2018 Forrester Wave™ evaluation for industrial IoT software platforms indicates that, as IoT moves beyond the early adopters, new customers need much more than basic device connectivity and management. They need analytics. They need solutions. They need applications. But they value outcomes. In short, Bosch (and competitors) must design solutions designed to deliver business outcomes that move KPIs out of the box.

The Bosch IoT Suite was an early entrant to the IoT platform market — and strong. And Bosch has added analytics capabilities. But the analytics in the IoT Suite appear bolted on as an afterthought rather than purposefully designed and integrated into a solution. Hence, as the market is growing ever more crowded, the Bosch IoT Suite needs more differentiated capabilities that deliver a clearer value proposition.

  • Be more clear on data ownership. Bosch did the right thing to move the IoT Suite to run on public cloud infrastructure. But we believe Bosch still needs to be more specific about how and where Bosch delivers its own value-add in addition to what AWS, Azure, and its other public cloud partners increasingly offer as part of their cloud platforms. Bosch customers expect this clarity.

Bosch’s answer must be strong, clear, and believable. Forrester clients already express concerns that Bosch will require data to flow through components of the IoT Suite. Such a strategy will not work for customers seeking flexibility and choice in their IoT platform strategy.

  • Accelerate IoT Suite development. Today, Siemens is communicating a MindSphere story that’s more about digital twins for the life of an industrial asset or a MindSphere marketplace that’s welcoming to partners. And GE is telling a Predix story that’s more about services, outcomes, and management of processes in utilities, oil and gas, manufacturing, and more.
  • The Bosch IoT Suite story hasn’t evolved enough over the past two years. Running on AWS is no longer new, and simply adding an analytics layer to the platform diagram isn’t enough. As Bosch looks for a greater share of the international IoT business, product managers must pay closer attention to international IoT platform competitors. For instance, there is a growing gap between Bosch’s IoT Suite and what’s already available from competitors in China.

Why Bosch? At Bosch ConnectedWorld 2019, the answer to the question “Why Bosch?” too often seemed to be: “Because we’re Bosch. Because we’ve been doing this stuff for ages. And because we have some cool demonstrators.” And to be fair, that approach has brought the company a long way on its digital transformation journey. But to succeed in 2020 and beyond, Bosch needs to double down on digital and be more, well . . . #LikeABosch.