The report opens by noting that IoT initiatives have continued their rapid growth from 2016 and 2017. According to a 451 survey, the biggest year-over-year application growth occurred in facilities automation (+8.2%), followed by mobile device management (+4.5%), fleet management (+4.3%) and smart city projects (+3.7%).
It points out that the hiring IoT talent is expected to rise 19% in the next 12 months, and that 93% of organizations plan to increase IoT project budgets by more than 30% in 2018.
The report also reveals, unsurprisingly, that edge computing has emerged as the dominant locale for IoT analytics, with more than 86% of survey respondents indicating that they use edge or near-edge compute for initial and secondary analysis.
A further general finding regarding network operators notes: “Network operators continue to commercialize low-power networking technologies (LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, SIGFOX) as customer applications develop, and are also laying a foundation for broader rollouts of 5G. Multi-access edge computing has surfaced as a key potential revenue driver for both 4G/LTE and future 5G networks.”
The report then goes on to discuss key trends and suggests some of the potential winners and losers in the IoT future, with some specific advice for operators and telcos.
One of the key trends suggests that IoT adoption will continue to grow across all industry sectors, a point not missed on those operators that are already honing their IoT offerings to specific verticals.
With that in mind, the report author Christian Renaud, an influential analyst in IoT and autonomous vehicles, suggests that the ‘Winners’ here are likely to be: “Enterprises that begin digital transformation efforts with the end in mind and with executive sponsorship and broad organizational participation. And network operators that enable these digital transformations with broad portfolios of connectivity offerings and multi-access-edge enablement.”
Whereas the ‘Losers’ will be those vendors that stick to the outmoded ‘box sales’ model of delivering value to customers, and operators that cling to mobile connections and don’t diversify into other licensed and unlicensed technologies, as well as value-added vertical market IoT services.”
A further key trend pertaining to operators, the report continues, is the accelerated buildout of operator and alternative networks optimised for (LTE and low-power) IoT applications and devices. Here, ‘Winners’ are likely to be operators that provide value-added services and outcomes tailored to specific verticals, and enterprises that are first to market with differentiated offerings that utilise these new technologies.
Conversely, it names those network operators that fail to move away from “shovelling SIMs” to offering services and outcomes based on specific vertical market needs, and their customers’ cost structures, are likely to end up as ‘Losers’.
The overriding messages in the report are what the industry already knows, and we at Redmill Marketing Associates have been outlining for some time. Clearly, the old ‘telco’ world of connectivity, voice and messaging is history. Only those operators and providers that adapt to the IoT future and provide solutions tailored to the needs of different verticals and other, new stakeholders – and do so quickly – are likely to survive. If they cannot adapt and shape to embrace this expanding ecosystem, then they will fail to capitalise on opportunities that are even now beginning to emerge.
But, we’d go further. At the very least, they must ensure their networks can support the growing range of service levels that such stakeholders will require, and create processes to ensure the efficient onboarding of such partners. Any operator that thinks it can go it alone by offering an exclusive range of its own vertical service offers in this context is deluded. Partnership is key!