Forbes recently updated last summer’s article on the best IoT companiesto work for in 2019. Once again, the results are clear – the best IoT companies to work for are not IoT companies!
The listed winners are the usual large enterprise technology players (SAP, ARM, Siemens, Bosch, etc.) who approach IoT as an important, additional capability in the context of their traditional business lines. IoT is a critical part of digital transformation, and these larger business transformation activities are what provide the ROI to justify large technology investments. Adding connected product and services capabilities is a natural adjacency.
Investing in IoT alongside a mature, cash positive business allows companies to weather the slow but steady growth in IoT opportunities and deployments. Sales cycles of 12-24 months are extremely difficult for companies exclusively focused on IoT and for those that do not have another business line to support the investment. As part of my advisory work, one of the biggest challenges for emerging IoT suppliers is being able to afford the cost of a sufficiently large pipeline of customers without running out of cash during the long sales process.
A notable exception on the list is Samsara. Launched in 2015 by the co-founders of Meraki, their previous track record has enabled them to raise a huge sum of money ($230M+) and to build a 1200 person IoT company in just four years. Samsara’s incredible growth curve is impressive, and it was partly enabled by having deep pockets for investment.
Many smaller IoT companies can be great places to work, but they will not show up on Glassdoor simply because they do not have enough employee reviews to qualify for this article or to be noticed by Computer Reseller News. These smaller IoT companies survive and grow by remaining very focused on solving specific customer problems. IoT is still an immature space, and it is composed of thousands of specific use cases across industries. Broad, horizontal approaches tend to struggle, but offerings solving specific pain points tend to do very well. IoT companies with a few million dollars a year in EBITA are in great demand by both financial and strategic acquirers.
The bottom line is that opportunity in the IoT space exists in both large and small companies. Great, fulfilling careers are available in many places. In the words of Thomas Edison, “ The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work.”