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MWC 2019: Is IoT becoming a reality, or is it still hype?

A recent survey of exhibitors at MWC by specialist tech PR firm, Babel, highlights the main categories in which exhibitors are listed. This provides interesting insight ahead of MWC, as it reveals the number of exhibitors represented in specific areas. It tells us what we can expect to see, although it cannot tell us what will attract the most attention. That remains to be seen, of course – on which, more when we return.

So, what does the review tell us? Well, there are not too many surprises. According to the survey of the major exhibitors at the event, more than 400 of them indicated that IoT/M2M would be a key focus in Barcelona.

IoT was followed by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Smart Cities and Cloud Services, each with over 250 exhibitors suggesting they would be focusing on these topics. Mobile Enterprise Solutions and Services, Devices, and Big Data make up the remaining top areas that will comprise the major trends on display at MWC.

The important question is, however: Are these trends still in the hype phase or finally becoming reality? For example, RMA is hoping to see evidence that the IoT ‘froth’ is finally moving into reality with clear evidence of large-scale deployments of valuable services. So, it will be interesting to find out who, if anyone, is able to show that they have evolved to real solutions that can scale. And, where things are not scaling, what’s holding that back?

Of course, IoT will impact all the expected sector topics outlined above. For example, enabling and connectivity technologies such as 5G, LPWAN and LTM all have a huge role to play in the development of the IoT. How are other, complementary layers of the stack, such as blockchain and EDGE computing, gaining traction and what impact are they having on, for example, the supply chain? Hopefully, providers will now be able to provide an answer.

RMA also expects industry-specific IoT solutions to play a prominent role in the announcements made at MWC. Hopefully, another year on, the value propositions in this space have become a lot clearer. Ideally, we would like to see concrete examples of Industrial IoT, such as Utilities and Manufacturing, being pulled together by groups of partners working closely together and actually finding a place in the market.

Another major topic will be Big Data and, of course, IoT will play a part in generating large volumes of data. Importantly, we expect much discussion around how organisations and partners can monetise that data securely and safely, and in a way that respects the privacy of customers.

Finally, we’re also expecting all of these trends to require conversations around new business models – how can providers drive ROI from IoT? Is it just another form of connectivity, or can MNOs derive new value? Or, will this accrue to other stakeholders? This may require more creative business models and contracts – not just usage-based contracts but also outcome-based contracts. For example, will customers be willing to pay on the benefits provided, such as improved efficiencies or benefits such as energy savings, rather than simply on usage? And, who will they pay?

MWC always shines a light on the ‘real’ state of play in the industry, and here at RMA we expect 2019 to be no different. It will be exciting to find out!

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