The future of the IoT is inextricably linked to the performance of next generation networks. These must keep pace with the exponential growth in network traffic that the IoT will inevitably create as mankind, machines, and everything else in between become interconnected and on an unprecedented scale.
To some this may seem very obvious, especially the network operators themselves already struggling to keep up with existing demand. However, for many, the criticality of scalable, secure, resilient and high speed communication infrastructure is perhaps overlooked in all the excitement about the end game potential of the IoT realising all kinds of new and previously unimaginable possibilities. And in all kinds of areas from smart cities, industrial automation and transportation, to medical, media and entertainment applications – the IoT will touch anything and everything!
Without fit for purpose networks the IoT would be analogous to buildings without foundations and cities without utilities or transportation links!
In the end, the IoT can only be as good as the weakest link in the chain. So let us not forget that the ‘Internet’ part of the IoT is in fact a giant ‘patchwork’ of fixed and wireless networks spanning the globe, many of which are already bursting at the seams trying to cope with existing traffic demands.
Of course, convergence means carriers and network operators have been upgrading and building out network capacity for years. But this has merely kept pace with current demand created by broadband voice, video and data traffic, not to mention mobile and social media data volumes. Like motorways, just as soon as they build out new network capacity or add extra ‘lanes’ to existing ones, they are quickly consumed and congested again with traffic.
Media and entertainment is a perfect example of such high bandwidth consumption where content providers and their users are pushing networks to the limit as they seek to deliver and consume media in new and more interactive ways – mobile video content is one such high growth area.
It’s therefore a daunting prospect for the many network operators now having to contemplate handling the unknown quantity of IoT generated traffic on top of what’s already out there. And they’ve got to figure out how to make money from the increasing traffic.
The IoT offers operators a huge market opportunity by bringing a whole new set of subscribers
These will be in the shape of billions of ‘things’ (objects) that will require connecting as part of the new IoT world order. This has got to be good news for operators now that mobile device usage is reaching saturation point, meaning they are now contending with an increasingly stagnant subscriber base pulling more and more bandwidth per user – hardly a profitable business model.
To capture the new wave market opportunity served up by the IoT, carriers and operators must be innovative, agile and prepared to adopt new business models to service these new connected ‘customers’ – as well existing ones.
To further leverage and monetise their network infrastructure investments savvy operators and service providers will learn to perform a crucial role in capturing and analysing ‘oceans’ of IoT generated data from a multitude of applications and different devices. Such market intelligence can then be marketed to enterprise customers seeking new and innovative ways of creating fresh services. But to achieve this, operators will require total interoperability between these IoT connected applications and devices with security being a top priority.
For sure operators will need to deploy faster and highly scalable networks
Without doubt, for operators and network equipment providers the promise of an IoT enabled world is making it a necessity for more rapid innovation. This means the virtualisation of networks to flexibly deploy bandwidth where it’s needed as well as being able to create and expand new services without custom hardware appliances. In turn, there needs to be a rapid migration of communications infrastructure towards public and private clouds which ultimately will lead to replacing communication-specific platforms with IT standards.
Increasingly the IoT will drive many network operators and service providers to transition from being pure-play network developers into value-add players, either enabling or creating whole new end to end solutions for a wide range of markets and industry sectors. As part of their Go-to-Market Strategies they will forge more partnerships with complementary partners, technology platform providers and device makers who can leverage them into an ‘A – Z’ of market opportunities. Some are already doing this with IoT solutions for Industry Automation, Retail/Ecommerce, Automotive (vehicle infotainment), Healthcare, Smart City (smart street lighting, parking and mobility management) and Public Sector services being just a few examples.
Real Vision for a New World
As a global IoT technology platform provider working in close partnership with major OEs, Systems Integrators and Device Manufacturers, Kontron is already at the forefront of enabling open, interoperable, highly secure and scalable solutions for operators and service providers preparing to move into the new hyperconnected IoT world.
But our vision of the IoT extends far beyond increased machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, and bringing data to the cloud. It’s built on solutions which add intelligence to the networks of sensors increasingly used for gathering raw data from machines, objects and people; aggregating and analysing data in real-time so that it becomes meaningful and actionable; and transmitting it securely to those who need it over virtual, cloud and mobile infrastructures – instantaneously.
With this in mind we base our IoT hardware and software product development strategy around the following core principles:
- Datability: Engineering intelligent products capable of transforming data into actionable information
- Security: Embedding a multi-layered approach which protects data and builds user trust
- Manageability: Ensuring solutions are capable of scaling and delivering guaranteed services, accessible from anywhere
- Agility: Providing built-in flexibility which allows users to adapt and respond quickly to changing business needs
What is your vision of an IoT world?