By Nitin Karmarkar, senior vice president, Globetouch
The Internet of Things (IoT) market is undoubtedly experiencing huge growth that is showing no signs of abating; IDC has stated earlier this year that the market for IoT devices is poised to explode from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020. However, the same report also states that while there are currently 200 billion connected things, only 20 billion of these have been actually connected to the internet so far.
Despite these statistics, with the cost of wireless networks decreasing it’s becoming inexpensive to connect these ‘things’ to databases and applications on the internet. Subsequently the market is in a strong growth phase. This growth will be underpinned by machine to machine (M2M) operator alliances, mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) solutions for M2M niches, improved return on investment models, open development initiatives to accelerate solution development and supportive regulation (such as in automotive and utilities).
Yet while M2M connectivity presents huge opportunities, the ecosystem remains complex and poorly understood by enterprises. Network and chipsets compatibility and the limited number of high bandwidth services being demanded pose challenges which must be addressed for businesses, operators, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and consumers to unlock the full benefits of global connectivity.
Connecting the dots
Universal connectivity can provide a means for OEMs and mobile network operators to unlock new revenue streams, while simultaneously enhancing user experience and providing a global solution for coverage and connectivity. Through the convergence of mobile with a wide range of other industries, mobile operators are now able to access new and exciting markets. At a time when operators throughout the world are being confronted with stagnating revenues and declining margins, providing such revenue opportunities is vital.
OEM and M2M sectors have the opportunity to create new revenue streams via a universal connectivity solution and improve supply chains. The M2M market is undeniably growing, however the landscape is changing; connectivity and associated revenues are the bulk of market revenues today, however these are expected to fall over time in favour of business intelligence, service level management and professional services and infotainment.
Unlocking revenue models
In spite of the clear advantages global connectivity brings, the existing IoT ecosystem remains overly complex, with many players focusing in assembling and delivering M2M solutions to the market, making execution much more challenging than for basic mobile services. Furthermore, roaming challenges have remained a barrier to delivering a truly global solution, especially at cost effective rates.
However, to avoid roaming issues, operators are now able to provide local coverage rather than permanent roaming, which would require a device to be permanently connected in a country other than its nominal ‘home’ territory. This can be achieved with a local international mobile subscriber identity, through a partner who can supply data capacity on a global basis and take away the burden of negotiating with multiple mobile network operators in each target market.
The full promise of IoT lies not just in vertical applications like vehicle tracking, but in the convergence of sectors, such as the airline industry for connected in-flight entertainment systems and smart home. This will only be possible when there is an underlying global infrastructure built on agreed standards both for basic connectivity and higher level interoperability. It is therefore vital that IoT is viewed through a global lens, and smart devices are able to connect wherever they are in the world.
Through adopting a universal approach to connectivity, OEMs, enterprises and mobile operators will be able to create new revenue opportunities and access new markets through removing supply chain barriers, while simultaneously enhancing user experience, allowing them to unlock the IoT’s full benefits.
Globetouch is a global connectivity solution for businesses worldwide.