As organisations look to transform and improve their business models, many are turning to the Internet of Things (IoT) to deliver greater efficiency and insight. Indeed, recent research suggests that investing in the IoT is now the number one priority for businesses undergoing digital transformation.
With two third of IT decision-makers planning to increase their IoT spend over the next 12 months, and with annual revenues predicted to reach more than $450 billion by 2020, there is a clear opportunity for service providers to capitalise on this increasingly popular technology.
To realise the IoT’s full potential, however, operators will need to become more than just the ‘dumb pipes’ or networks that provide the connectivity, and evolve their business models to move up the value chain.
Harnessing IoT’s Potential:
Operators can dramatically increase their stake in the IoT by offering value-added service such as security, analytics, data storage and brokerage, business consulting and systems integration.
They have the experience required to deliver connectivity at scale, for example, interconnecting billions of devices with analytics engines and massive data warehouses. Similarly, there is an opportunity to offer quality-of-service guarantees and pricing plans that support the IoT, as well as to run analytics engines in their network to manage data flows and improve response times.
In addition, operators can harness the unprecedented amount of data generated by the IoT and, by gleaning actionable and meaningful insights from this wealth of information, become smarter.
Rather than simply offering basic data plans for connectivity, operators will be in a position to provide ‘smart data’ – real-time, scalable metadata, imbued with user experience derived from network traffic. Providing information for security, lighting and parking in smart cities, for example, this smart data can be monetised as part of the operator’s metering, geo-location and usage charges.
Taking a smart data approach can also provide operators with the visibility they need for security and service assurance, allowing them to pro-actively monitor inherently un-secure devices and networks, and offer robust service level agreements; after all, you can only assure what you can measure.
What’s more, by accessing and analysing data in real time, operators themselves will gain valuable new insights into how the connected IoT devices, services and applications on their network behave, how they interact with the network, and the type of traffic patterns they produce.
Access to smart data will ultimately put operators in a position from which to make more informed decisions about how to optimise their networks, where to allocate capacity, and how to boost performance. The visibility smart data provides also makes it possible for operators to identify anomalies within the network; significant changes that could indicate issues such as network congestion, which could have a potential impact on hundreds of thousands of connected devices.
Visibility and Intelligence:
By expanding their approach into new IoT device and service payment schemes, operators will open up vital new revenue streams, relieving them of their traditional dependence on flat rates and unlimited data plans for connectivity, and enabling them to make essential investments in their network to support the IoT’s ever-increasing data traffic.
However, visibility and intelligence will be essential if operators are to successfully harness these new revenue opportunities. With businesses continuing to embrace the IoT, and with the technology underpinning more and more aspects of both our business and personal lives, there can’t afford to be an ‘off’. Not only will smart data help operators become part of how IoT solutions are actually delivered, it will also afford them the visibility they need across their entire networks, enabling them to assure their services and realise the full potential of the IoT.
John English, Senior Product Manager, Service Providers, NETSCOUT