This exponential growth in IoT will herald the rise of industrial IoT, smart cities and smart homes, and consequently touch nearly every aspect of our lives. IoT can be broadly classified in 5 main categories:
- Consumer IoT: Light fixtures, home appliances, and voice assistants
- Commercial IoT: Smart pacemakers, monitoring systems, and vehicle to vehicle communication (V2V)
- Industrial IoT: Innovations in production processes such as farming, smart agriculture, and industrial big data
- Infrastructure IoT: Infrastructure sensors, management systems, and user-friendly user apps
- Military IoT: Robots for surveillance
From consumers to cities to enterprises, IoT will steadily become an integral part of our lives. Some of the aspects where IoT plays an important role in the lives of consumers are smart cities and homes. Telecom is a key enabler in this aspect of IoT.
Today, citizens (especially the urban population) are using sophisticated devices based on latest technology for their daily usage at homes. We know that this ecosystem is heavily dependent on high-speed internet. Therefore, telecom service providers need to ensure there are no data packet drop, as it results in a poor experience for the consumers. Telcos need to invest in network operating centers (NOC) to be able to predict network failure and manage a proactive network rehabilitation.
According to Cisco, M2M (machine to machine) connections is estimated to grow to 15 billion by 2023, from 6 billion in 2018. The connected home applications are expected to be 48% the total M2M connections.
The objective of smart cities is to optimize how a city functions and promote economic growth while also improving the quality of life for citizens by using smart technologies and data analysis. This could include smart surveillance cameras, waste management, and predictive and proactive healthcare. However, for a successful execution of the smart city project, it is imperative for the city to have a strong telecom network. The local authorities need to work with telecom service providers on ensuring a robust network planning and optimization.
Data collected from IoT devices is expected to reach 73 ZB by 2025. Most of the data will be obtained from security and video surveillance, industrial IoT applications, notes a report by IDC.
Opportunities for service integrators to make IoT successful
Monitoring and maintenance
Key opportunities include IoT enabled remote monitoring and maintenance of equipment such as backup generators, air conditioners, and energy meters. IoT enabled access management and intrusion detection systems help eliminate the threat of theft and property damage. Many remote sites exist in harsh environments; hence, fire, water, and air quality sensors play a vital role in avoiding long term exposure to elements that may irreparably damage core infrastructure.
Network planning & designing
For the success of IoT, it is essential that network planning is seamless. Service integrators need to bring in their strong network practice into play for efficient network planning and optimization.
With the increased demand in device installations, companies need effective project management for sourcing and procurement of devices and sensors to strategically install these devices. IoT devices need integration with the data storage platforms to be able to provide insights on the real time health of the devices.
Order management/ fulfilment
In addition, companies need to procure SIM cards install them on the devices. These could include self-installation kits, or may require field support for installation. Service integrators have a huge opportunity in the area of order management spanning across their supply chain management practice and telecom domain.
One of the most common IoT telecom use cases is asset management and remote system monitoring. By using an IoT platform, telecom companies can connect their diverse physical assets to the cloud and remotely manage their operations, investigate malfunctions, run firmware upgrades, and keep track of inventory.
Big data and artificial intelligence (AI)
It is expected that more data would be generated by the IoT enabled devices and this data can be used by the telco carriers and service integrators for analysis of consumers’ consumption patterns. With application of AI, telcos can use this data for important business insights and appropriate decision making.
What does it mean eventually?
Telecom companies are likely to further promote their IoT services across various industries, including medicine, retail, agriculture and more in the near future. Industrial IoT has seen an exponential rise in the recent times, which is expected to expand in future. The technology will offer a significant competitive advantage - optimizing performance, increasing service quality, and opening up additional opportunities. As mentioned earlier, IoT’s success depends on data network and we envisage that telecom will act as a horizontal for all the other industry verticals, aided by IoT. IoT adopters will need to work with telecom providers in seamless network planning and execution especially with the adoption of 5G. A collaborative effort between the OEMs, IoT platform providers and telcos is essential for the success of IoT, especially when IoT is touching nearly every aspect of our lives.