Keeping Pace with the Internet of Things

internet of things drone

The IoT has already begun delivering on its promise

The exciting possibilities which the Internet of Things (IoT) have already delivered and those which it promises are helping drive a growth in connected devices at an accelerating rate.

By 2020, Gartner expects the total number of IoT devices to reach almost 21 billion and a joint report by DHL and Cisco expects this number to be as high as 50 billion.

With such growth, how can traditional Telco’s and Communication Service Providers (CSPs) maintain pace with and nurture the industry? I talked with Adrian Ugoni from our Services and Solutions group, for his view.

Arye Zacks: The Internet of Things is starting to make good on the technological predictions made in the twentieth century. We don’t yet have robot housemaids like Rosie from the Jetsons, but we are close.

Adrian Ugoni: A lot of those futuristic predictions have failed to hit their mark, but a number have come true and are at least as compelling as the fantasy.

Jetson style teleconferencing and flat screen TVs have been around a long time now and iRobot introduced the Roomba in 2002, so some Jetson era technology has already been delivered.

Douglas Adams predicted the advent of tablet computing with ubiquitous access to a knowledge base when he wrote the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in the 70s. The Nupedia went online in 2000 and morphed into the Wikipedia in 2001, Apple delivered the first iPad in 2010… Sadly, Douglas passed away in 2001 and didn’t get to see his vision fulfilled. I’m sure that with the 1993 release of the Apple Newton and the palm computing revolution, he knew that his vision was coming to fruition.

We still don’t have flying cars, automated personal hygiene robots or automated food preparation and dispensing robots, but these are coming and the rate at which these new technologies is arriving continues to increase.

Our generation has seen more technological advances than the sum of every generation that preceded us

We should be conscious that our generation has seen more technological advances than the sum of every generation that preceded us and even though most predictions have not become reality yet, more of them will see the light of day as their underlying technologies mature or are invented. We are on the threshold of an exciting time.

AZ: Consumer electronics connected to the cloud is an area that is booming at the moment. Do you see this as a strong growth area for the telecommunications industry?

Adrian: That’s a complex question. Historically, Telco’s in the consumer space mainly sold selected telephony devices fitting their business model. These days they are selling technology: Fitness trackers, smart home systems, entertainment and more. If they are to continue to focus on the sales role for the growing range of devices arriving on the market, they may find themselves extended to limits that may be difficult to sustain.

Consumer devices are just the tip of the iceberg. They are exciting because we can easily see how they affect and improve our everyday lives, but the IoT origins are actually in industry under the guise of Machine to Machine or M2M. Every industry is experiencing rapid growth in this area… Agriculture, Healthcare, Logistics, Entertainment, Automotive, Extractive industries, Chemical, Military… Industrial IoT devices will certainly outnumber consumer devices

The common elements of all IoT devices, whether they be consumer or industrial are Connectivity and Lifecycle Management.

Telco’s and CSPs have experience in both of these areas and are perfectly placed to offer this experience in the form of solutions to the IoT world. I see this being an important offering which Telco’s and CSPs will need to make to the market in order to capture a larger portion of the connected device market.

AZ: Where do you see the growth in IoT coming from?

Adrian: The types of devices brought to market will certainly continue to increase rapidly. This is inevitable and can be forecast to some degree.

Growth is also being realized by the provision of integrated solutions rather than the invention of new products. Let’s talk about some specific examples.

Health care: We already have fitness trackers, connected scales, connected blood pressure monitors and many other health related devices. These are mostly purchased individually and operated in isolation of each other. We are now seeing creative companies combining such individual products into single holistic solutions for remote health and vitality monitoring.

Automotive: Vehicles are already being sold with telematics packages to monitor vehicle status. Often these vehicles have in-car entertainment capabilities also. Vehicle manufacturers are speaking with us about bundling their telematics with other services such as music streaming services, news feed subscriptions, video streaming and mobile internet subscriptions. These bundled offers extend the value proposition of each customer and each unit sale.

So, we now have products sold as bundles through new channels with the provider needing some way to manage inventories, device lifecycles, ordering, provisioning, billing, revenue settlements and collections. Telcos and CSPs are already experienced at these things.

AZ: What does this mean for Telco’s?

Adrian: Inventory and lifecycle management, ordering, provisioning, billing, revenue settlements and collections services all need to be exposed externally and offered as a service to allow third parties producing IoT solutions and products to manage market offerings for themselves, or alternatively, contract the Telco or CSP to do some or all of these things on their behalf.

A complete IoT strategy needs to be formulated in harmony with a digital strategy. This should be more than just the creation of a new transaction layer on top of legacy systems-that’s a patch, not a solution, and won’t withstand the projected IoT device growth or market requirements.

Inventory and lifecycle management, ordering, provisioning, billing, revenue settlements and collections services all need to be exposed externally and offered as a service

The IoT represents an entirely new paradigm for Telcos and CSPs and requires the underlying technology stack to be engineered appropriately. Patching existing environments will throttle IoT growth, which of course will translate to slower revenue growth.A complete IoT strategy needs to be formulated in harmony with a digital strategy. This should be more than just the creation of a new transaction layer on top of legacy systems-that’s a patch, not a solution, and won’t withstand the projected IoT device growth or market requirements.

Now is the right time to start consolidating and modernizing underlying systems and moving toward digitally capable systems designed to scale to the projected IoT volumes.

AdrianAdrian has spent 20 years in the global telecommunication industry across Europe, South East Asia, North America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand. 10 of those years in Amdocs’ service. He is a member of the IoT Alliance of Australia and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science. You might find Adrian with a soldering iron in one hand and an Arduino in the other.

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