Connected worker platforms – market evolution and the current vendor landscape
To understand the present, it is always very helpful to have a look at the past. We started to evaluate platforms for connected workers back in 2019 and have adapted the scope of our evaluation over time to keep up with market evolution. The starting point of our evaluation was pretty simple - we asked ourselves: “What does augmented reality (AR) technology mean to the industrial world?”.
The initial vendor landscape we observed around AR-based platforms for industrial purposes included companies like PTC, Reflekt, Daqri, and Upskill. However, as we always try to take a user perspective, not a technology perspective in our market evaluations, we shifted our focus toward the main AR-related use case we identified in the market at the time, which was centered around the visualization of work instructions for mobile workers. We therefore called the topic ‘connected workers (AR)’. This allowed us to also include other vendors, such as Ubimax, which provided low-code platforms to create mobile work instructions without a dedicated focus on AR (such as for picking in logistics).
It has probably been a bit of a surprise that over time we have also included several big vendors, such as Microsoft, AWS, Google, and Apple, as they offer more horizontal AR capabilities that are not explicitly dedicated to the manufacturing industry. We have done this for three reasons: First, clients can of course use horizontal AR capabilities for industrial purposes. Second, we observe that these vendors have ambitions around AR hardware. Third, we believe that the hyperscalers (Microsoft, Google, and AWS) are planning on further verticalizing their offerings. This is why we keep them in our scope, even though their offerings do not seem to be perfectly tailored to the evaluated market segment. However, this may change quickly.
We are also aware that leading vendors such as PTC have more and more extended the scope of their platforms. Beside the work instructions use case, remote expert capabilities have become increasingly relevant. As a result of this development, we have extended the scope of our research to evaluating connected worker platforms which address the needs of various use cases. This means we now have to include more and more of the dedicated platform vendors for remote expert services, such as oculavis, Librestream, and SightCall, as they have extended their scope beyond being remote experts and have moved into the work instructions space. This describes the market evolution so far and explains the vendor landscape we see today.
In summary, we basically observe three groups of connected worker platform vendors today. The first group started with a focus on the work instructions use case (PTC, TeamViewer, Scope AR, Atheer, Diota). The second group (AWS, Microsoft, Google, and Apple) offer industry-agnostic capabilities for different purposes and focus on the development of their own AR hardware. The third group of vendors include oculavis, Librestream, and SightCall, who focus on the remote expert use case. While we observe different starting points among the vendors, it is evident that existing connected worker platforms are increasingly able to offer solutions for multiple use cases. Vendors that do not follow this trend will most likely become irrelevant.
If you are interested in more details, we recommend having a look at our recent PAC RADAR report on this topic.