The number of connected things – the Internet of Things (IoT) – grows each day. Many IoT things are low-tech and unlikely to stimulate a business model revolution (tracking personal belongings through a Tile device, or remotely turning off your home lighting), and many others are downright silly (does anyone remember the connected fork that transmits your eating pace to a smartphone app?). But these are surpassed by IoT use cases that offer the potential to transform entire industries and individual lifestyles.
Smart meters are transforming the world’s power industry, connecting homes and appliances for remote monitoring and control. This interactive grid will stimulate more efficient consumption and shift generation from a centralized to a distributed model with individual sites able to supply energy to the network. This distributed bi-directional system will better address localized demand in a cost effective and, more importantly, environmentally-friendly way.
The health care industry is similarly poised to transform when monitoring and control sensors can be embedded in Things to improve the patient’s health, to deliver health care to areas where it previously has been unavailable, and to improve the care process. For individual care, devices like remote heart monitors ensure the patient receives the right treatment at the right time, and miniscule devices embedded in medication can track that it is being taken as prescribed. To improve the health care system overall, Things like hospital bed monitors work in conjunction with staff to rotate patients on a regular basis, reducing the incidence of bed sores dramatically and delivering significant savings on the billions spent annually in the US on treating bed sores.
These types of devices drive the IoT forecasts; Gartner calculated that 12 billion of them were shipped in 2012 alone. And while consumer use will drive industry adoption and change, the industry business transformation that will generate a return on investment will almost certainly come from business-to-business relationships. Device manufacturers, network providers, and industry players will form an ecosystem to deliver, operate, maintain and intelligently manage the IoT services.
The Communications Service Provider’s (CSP) role in the IoT goes beyond providing the connectivity for these devices. The CSP will become an enabler for the industry IoT services, partnering with industry to service the connected devices and, more importantly, the consumers and businesses at the other side of the device. CSPs have unsurpassed expertise in customer, device, service and revenue operations to create end-to-end IoT platforms that enable IoT service creation, device management, data collection, monetization and revenue sharing, and analytics.
To lead the charge in IoT enablement, CSPs must manage their existing operations and extend these to the IoT platform realm cost-effectively, and one way to do this is to avail themselves of cloud-based operations.
- Transitioning legacy infrastructure into the cloud facilitates optimization and consolidation of the old and the new;
- Cloud-based capabilities for customer, revenue and service management accelerate time to market as new IoT use cases are envisioned, trialed and launched at scale;
- New and expanding industry partnerships are struck and developed easily through cloud-centric processes that cross corporate boundaries with reliability and securely.
With cloud-based operations spanning legacy and new services, today’s CSP can deliver a flexible IoT platform incorporating industry partners, business users and myriad devices and transactions.