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How to find the value in the IoT: Key focus areas for the telecoms industry

Monetisation of new systems, services or technology is always a concern for the telecoms industry. Monetising the IoT has proved a big talking point in recent months and there are plenty of reasons why the industry is finding this challenging. After cutting through the noise at MWC, here is what we have found to be the most prominent issues facing the IoT today:

  1. Standards
  2. Interoperability
  3. Security

The mainstream point of view is that all of these need to be considered to achieve the industry’s ultimate goal of monetising the IoT.

However, the IoT ecosystem is extremely broad. It spans industries, application groups, technologies, locations, and users. Each stakeholder within these areas probably sees the key focus of the ecosystem differently. Some may focus on security, others reliability and service assurance, while others may see data gathering as the key.

These are all equally important considerations, but there is something missing from the equation. Ultimately, it is the user's perception of their product/ service/ device that really matters – ensuring they are delivered real value from the service they are provided.

Yes, the IoT must deliver on security and reliability promises, and others, but most of all it must show users real value in their lives. You could compare this scenario to the 3G fiasco – operators tried to sell 3G on the promise that it would be the next step for humanity in networking standards. However, people simply didn’t care because they were interested only in the value it would give to them and whether or not they saw the promised access rates.

On several occasions we heard operators, vendors and analysts complain that the IoT should not be a buzzword that becomes lost in the midst of conference hype. Instead it should be something tangible for the end user.

True, but it isn’t. There is a huge opportunity for the telco industry in the IoT and there are real projects already in action around the world that show just how the IoT ecosystem can work effectively. For example, one leading industry body, the TM Forum, uses its catalyst programme to provide a space for telco companies to come together to solve some of the industry’s common problems.

Within the programme are a host of projects that aim to demonstrate all kinds of solutions, from Agile IT to eHealth. One project in particular has involved the transformation of a Brazilian city, Águas de São Pedro, from a small municipality known for its mineral springs, to Brazil’s first smart city. This is an excellent example of the IoT ecosystem at its best – providing real value to those who could benefit from it.

Even though there are many complex layers comprised of many different stakeholders that make up the IoT environment, people don’t really care. They simply want a product or service that works.

Ultimately, for the telco industry, the perception that users have of the value of the IoT is of the utmost importance. IoT offers nothing in and of itself, but only in the context of other things. So when in debate about the importance of addressing the IoT’s key challenges, it’s also worth mentioning the emerging case studies of companies that have already built effective solutions that solve everyday problems in a creative way.