2015: What is in Store for The Mobile Industry & IoT
Those following the mobile industry over the past few years would readily admit there has been more hype and rhetoric than actual deployment and implementation when it comes to the Internet of things (IoT) and 2015 might be the same. Not that the mobile industry and businesses benefitting from the IoT aren’t moving forward with plans and strategies, but the obstacles and issues to be addressed before broad acceptance and adoption are many.
“By streamlining mobility into on total communications strategy, business can integrate fixed and mobile communications into a single, intelligent, complementary service”
IoT is not much more than machine-to-machine (M2M) functionality – connecting, moving, and sharing information among devices, storage facilities, and people. Many say since M2M wasn’t being adopted at a rate amenable to the mobile industry some marketing folks renamed it the IoT. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, conversations and presentations tossed IoT references like acrobats in a Cirque du Soleil performance.
The benefits and opportunities of the IoT are undeniable and 2015 could actually be the year that lays the foundation to deliver on the promises we’ve heard over the last several years. It will depend on when the IoT ecosystem can join forces and agree on the best way to make it possible.
Unlike several years ago, we live in a “mobile app-based world,” where everyone uses smartphones, tablets, and computers to access and share information. Furthermore, the mobile industry has wrapped customers in ‘carrier-defined’ as opposed to ‘customer-designed’ mobile service plans for connected devices. Whether for a business or a consumer, managing this information flow among apps, people, and services throughout the world is not a simple task. IoT is not confined to a single company, industry, or mobile network and like the Internet, must work on a global scale.
Three obstacles to overcome
From a technical perspective, the first issue to be addressed is standards. As with any new technology or technological solution proprietary systems can offer early adopters some benefits but IoT involves linking and managing devices, applications and services from a variety of companies on a broad scale. Global standardization across several layers is essential for IoT to work as it has been portrayed. Several mobile industry and technical groups, led by the International Telecommunications Union, are working toward developing standards, hopefully leading to meaningful decisions that address standards implementation throughout the ecosystem.
Security and privacy concerns are also being addressed and for the majority of people, this is of utmost importance. The continued hacking of personal and business information that has been constantly reported on almost a daily basis is a major concern and obstacle of adoption of IoT. A 2014 HP report, “Internet of Things Research Study” cited, “70 percent of devices along with their cloud and mobile application enable an attacker to identify valid user accounts through account enumeration.” It also stated that “80 percent failed to require passwords of a sufficient complexity and length.” Every device, app, or service attachined to the IoT must have its own encryption and protocols - especially mobile networks - that utilize certified international standards to ensure the highest levels of security and privacy.
And to ensure the proper standards, security, and privacy are in place, federal lawmakers are already signaling to regulate the IoT. This could be the most onerous issue as each industry intending to use the IoT – communications, utilities, transportation, health/medicine, security, and data protection–are already regulated by knowledgeable people and not those who want to use as a slogan for re-elect ion. Over - regulation normally leads to delays in implementation and stymies in innovation.
Opportunities for the iot ecosystem
The obvious winners in the IoT race are those in and around the mobile industry. There are more connected devices, more traffic carried by mobile carriers, more traditional and non-traditional devices available, more network equipment sold by infrastructure vendors and more applications and services developed to support how people live, work, and play. Opportunities are endless as we become a society more reliant on interacting with devices than people.
When you get passed the mobile pricing plans designed to steal customers from other carriers, over the past several quarters, the standout financial statistic reported is the number of connected devices attaching to mobile networks. In the past, the majority of subscriber additions were made up of phones. Today, tablets, computers, wearables, connected cars, and fitness devices make up a substantial portion of customer additions. Market saturation of phones has given way to carriers focusing on IoT, even as it remains in its infancy.
Andy Castonguay, principal analyst at Machina Research, a research/ consulting firm focusing on the emerging opportunity for new connected devices and applications, estimated in a Global M2M/IoT Trend report that by 2023, more than 34 billion connections will be implemented and generate nearly $2 trillion in revenue across a number of industries including consumer electronics, intelligent buildings, manufacturing, and healthcare.
“The IoT is about creating an application-friendly framework that leverages M2M connections to generate new services that improve people’s lives, delivers better customer experiences, improves efficiency, and reduces costs for services,” said Castonguay. “Considering the positive impact IoT can have for companies, their products, their operations, and their customer relationships, many businesses around the world will need to develop an M2M/ IoT strategy as a key component of their future business plans.”One of the earliest benefactors of the IoT is the connected car. This is a very competitive market for mobile carriers as it has the potential to add hundreds-of-thousands of new subscriber accounts annually. Mobile connections now run apps for in-vehicle entertainment systems, link to smartphones, provide remote access to vehicle diagnostics system, offer navigation, connect to insurance company, and even transform the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot for passengers. The opportunities and challenges for the IoT and the mobile industry are fully understood by people who need to take action. 2015 can be a banner year for moving forward or another year of delays due to the failure to act. Let’s hope this year at least some of the hype around IoT will turn into reality.