The IIoT platform market is crowded. We drilled down into it to understand which vendors have the best offerings and what they bring to the table.
C3.ai, an AI software startup, stands out among the crowded field of industrial IoT platform providers for its focus on analytics. Though it failed to meet the criteria for inclusion on our Top 10 list based on its size and market reach, the company was one of the top 50 disruptors CNBC named in 2019 for its focus on connected things.
C3.ai, which is based in Redwood City, California, also stands apart for the more inclusive way it leverages other companies’ cloud offerings, including AWS and Microsoft, and implementing its analytics applications on top, analysts said.
“The company is not locked into a particular IoT platform and creates a model-driven data abstraction layer across multiple systems,” said Ian Hughes, senior analyst for Internet of Things with 451 Research.
“This is then made available to data scientists, programmers and business applications to have analytics and AI-style processing applied across multivendor platforms,” he said.
C3.ai is a so-called unicorn, valued at more than $1 billion and having raised more than $243 million in the last few years, and it has a relatively small staff of a few hundred employees, a fraction of the size of its competitors.
C3 was founded in 2009 by CEO Thomas M. Siebel, who sold his CRM application company to Oracle for $5.85 billion in 2006. Siebel is also the author of the newly released Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction.
Siebel added IoT to the C3 brand in 2016 and recently adjusted again to the current C3.ai moniker.
Hughes said renaming to C3.ai indicates the company focus on understanding and dealing with data across IoT systems. “It fits with the maturing of the industry,” he said, “where brokering the connection of things is only part of the challenge.”
Hughes said elements of AI such as machine learning are increasingly a differentiator to make IoT impactful for any business process.
In June, C3.ai was named a Leader in the IDC Marketscape: Worldwide Industrial IoT Platforms in Energy 2019 Vendor Assessment. “C3.ai software enables leading organizations to rapidly design‚ develop‚ deploy and operate enterprise-scale AI‚ predictive analytics and IoT applications,” according to the IDC assessment. “C3.ai’s growing list of customers includes 3M‚ Shell‚ Enel‚ New York Power Authority‚ the United States Air Force‚ Con Edison and ENGIE.”
IDC said C3.ai “enables customers to build models and deploy applications in less time with limited risk. These tools have enabled C3 customers to capture value from proof of concepts quickly, with some customers reporting value in under three months.”
In addition to the C3 AI Suite of software, the company provides configurable‚ prebuilt AI
applications for solving a range of challenges‚ including predictive maintenance‚ fraud detection‚ sensor network health‚ supply chain optimization‚ energy management‚ anti-money laundering and customer engagement, according to the company.
Also in June, C3.ai announced a joint venture with Baker Hughes, a large oil and gas service company. IDC calls it a “significant win” for C3.ai to “leverage Baker Hughes’ size and reach to scale its business” and for Baker Hughes “to leverage the new IoT/AI solutions it will build with C3.ai to create market differentiation.”
Forrester named C3.ai a Leader in its roundup of IIoT platforms for 2018. The company received 5 out of 5 for analytics and data (the only one besides Microsoft in that category) and 5 out of 5 for security/identity and access management (only Cisco and Microsoft shared the top mark). C3.ai got a 5 for professional services strategy (along with Atos). But it got marks of 3 or under for installed base, dedicated employee resources and geographic customer distribution.
Forrester also noted the company has shifted its focus “to prioritize on analytics to drive tangible business outcomes” and has strong relationships with public cloud platforms and device makers.
And though it has relatively few customers, Forrester said, the deployments tend to be very large and with positive results. Still, some of C3.ai’s existing customers wondered whether the “high-touch and high-value customer engagements” will continue as C3 continues to grow rapidly.
Read the original report here.