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Telenor makes it clear – IoT value is in the enterprise. Others should take note.

In a strange way, some of the bullish IoT forecasts regarding device proliferation in recent years have, conversely, devalued and created doubt about the IoT industry. Because forecasts have been so outlandish – typically differing only by the number of billions of devices expected to be deployed, and when – it’s easy to suppose that the market in general is overhyped and will fail to materialise.

This overlooks what’s really happening and what real value is likely to be generated by IoT. Critics are quick to seize upon the notion of a billion connected fridges or kettles and use this as a strawman to beat the overall trend. Because these are essentially of low value, the argument goes, IoT in general will be of low value.

However, in a recent report, cited here, Telenor suggests that IoT is maturing and that there is something of real significance developing in the industry. According to Telenor Connexion, the division responsible for IoT innovations, the value that IoT applications and services will deliver will largely be found in the enterprise, in part due to privacy concerns regarding the use of personal data from consumers.

Given the relatively trivial nature of many domestic IoT offers, this should hardly be a surprise – but it’s worth stating, because it’s time that the industry really focused on delivering value, not just enabling new forms of connectivity or data transfer.

This is particularly important given the growing momentum behind 5G. Yes, it’s important to recognise device availability and the likely advent of consumer services but, as many have argued, the real value will come from B2B use cases and opportunities. In this context, stating the obvious is a timely reminder that, when commenting on IoT, analysts and media need to look beyond eye-catching, but essentially useless, applications and dig deeper into more meaningful use cases and examples that are being driven by industry and enterprise.

We’re seeing more and more of these each week, as our customers explore new IoT opportunities, none of which are anything to do with connected homes or other media-friendly applications, but instead concern such cases as hyper-connected factories, 4K live streaming from Formula 1 racing cars, synchronised medical applications, and so much more. Yes, there’s a lot of hype about IoT, but that’s because many have simply been looking in the wrong direction. Interesting and headline-grabbing connected homes and smart toys may be, but they are not going to generate the revenue the industry expects.

Telenor is right – if the IoT is going to deliver real value, it’s time to understand the real progress being made in industry and the enterprise, and start delivering the appropriate levels of connectivity needed to drive future revenue and market growth – which is why many in industry are calling loudly for the next phase of 5G – URLLC. If MNOs won’t or can’t deliver this, then industry will take a leadership position - leaving MNOs to the connected fridges.