A significant number of businesses have started incorporating IoT technologies in their processes and operations. Those that haven’t already done so will likely have plans in place for the future.
Healthcare providers have been trialling remote patient monitoring, utilities companies have been deploying smart meters, logistics firms have been tracking assets and the automotive sector has been experimenting with driverless vehicles and fleet management.
And these are only a handful of possible use cases. The benefits? Cost-savings, time- and energy-efficiencies, enhanced QoS, better visibility and management of operations, improvements in health and safety; the list goes on.
According to a report by IDC, by 2021 global IoT spending is expected to total nearly $1.4 trillion, as organisations continue to invest in the hardware, software, services and connectivity that enable the IoT. It may sound obvious, but it’s this last factor – connectivity – that will prove crucial in ensuring the success of – and delivering the RoI on – IoT projects. The IoT ecosystem will by its nature be global. As such, devices, machines and infrastructure must be ‘always-on’, with robust, reliable, connectivity wherever in the world they’re operating and traversing.
By providing and managing critical mobile infrastructure, telcos will continue to stay relevant in the communications ecosystem in the future, so long as they adapt accordingly. With the IoT ecosystem already established – and growing – action must be taken by the operator community now. This includes moving to virtualised infrastructure and offering services and solutions which recognise mobile as the beating heart of communication and interactions.
Throughout 2018 we’ll see MNO and MVNOs moving to become global connectivity providers, and gaining a number of core capabilities. These will include the management of device/infrastructure connections in real time, at scale, as well as provisioning 2G/3G/4G and SMS mobile data services for M2M connectivity. Crucially, operators need to be able to offer roaming SMS and data services, requiring partnerships with network providers across the world.
The ‘as-a-service’ business model has been adopted by multiple industry sectors in recent years, providing customers with pay-as-you-go, scalable, and often cloud-based services. 2018 will be the year of ‘connectivity-as-a-service’, as more enterprises look to managed connectivity services to help them launch and monetise global IoT projects. Following this route will help democratise the IoT, allowing all parties to access and enjoy the benefits of a secure, reliable and robust network architecture.
Growth in the provision of such services will allow companies of all sizes –with varying budgets – to partake in the IoT and deploy services to multiple mobile networks on an international level. This will in turn open up new business opportunities in analytics and intelligence tools, as both operators and businesses will have to manage multiple data sets; new services and network architectures; and a growing customer base. Business analytics and intelligence services will become a vital part of the global IoT ecosystem, helping to optimise network performance; ensure the delivery of appropriate, relevant, profitable services; gain more insight into customers; and reduce churn.
Until relatively recently, it’s been the consumer IoT that has dominated national press headlines and hogged the spotlight, with quirky devices, novelty start-up ideas, and mass panic over unsecured home appliances. Yet 2018 will see the IIoT (industrial internet of things) assume a dominant position, with everyone from telcos to the general public realising the immense economic value of globally connected business and industrial applications, and real-time insight of ‘things’ and processes.
The global IIoT market is expected to reach $933.62 billion by 2025 – so, all that’s left in the intervening eight years is for telcos and vertical industries to adopt the services and solutions which will democratise the marketplace and allow businesses of all sizes to unlock this opportunity.
Author: Daniel Kurgan, CEO, BICS, charts the predicted changes the IoT will bring over the coming year, and examines how various industry players can make the most of the opportunities it will deliver