The Business of Building Smart Societies

For consumers, the definition of “next-generation technology” is pointedly different than what it was just a few years ago. Artificial intelligence has become a practical tool in the home – think Siri or Alexa – and the number of connected devices that power the Internet of Things(IoT) continues to grow. In fact, according to CSG’s recent Future of Digital Excellence: IoT Edition research report, nine out of 10 consumers already have some type of IoT connected device. The proliferation of these intelligent technologies has far reaching implications. These now everyday tools are the building blocks for seismic global change.

As connectivity spreads, Smart City initiatives are becoming more common. This concept marries the traditional ideas of urban planning and development with the awesome power of technologies like data analytics, AI, machine learning and the IoT. Together, there is an incredible opportunity to improve the lives of citizens and solve the problems which typically plague urban centers. From transportation to healthcare, cities can monitor and analyze everything from water levels, energy usage, traffic flows and security cameras; or help residents navigate traffic, report potholes and vote. Committing resources to an analytics-first approach to city planning and development will be crucial in the coming years, as the majority of the population is projected to migrate from rural towns to cities by 2050. Cities will need to take on an entirely new level of self-sufficiency.

This societal shift is important to how businesses will operate post-digital transformation. As organizations look to build multi-year strategies to prepare for interconnected societies, they will need to fully understand the scope of effort required to bring it to life.

Today’s Systems Are Building Tomorrow’s Societies

With the mass adoption of the IoT, businesses are keen to update their business models for optimal monetization. Change, however, isn’t necessarily simple. Business models must be designed to reflect the flexible nature of the IoT. Organizations will require cloud-based digital business support systems to manage a tremendous amount of data collection, mediation and analysis processes. In fact, according to Gartner, in 2018 alone there will be 2.3 billion connected things used in smart cities. With so many systems that need to operate seamlessly, the cloud enables the flexibility required to ensure effective movement and analysis of information.

The cloud is not only the optimal host for this massive data ecosystem, it also supports evolving technology standards. Through Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) functionality, regular updates can be deployed in highly scalable, geographically dispersed environments. The integration with cloud-based provisioning, activation, collection and analysis solutions will provide the framework to build the smart city, and ultimately, smart society.

It Takes A Village

Supporting the devices, people and services that are connected by the IoT requires a multi-dimensional business model comprised of an increasingly complex web of partners and ecosystems. IHS projects there will be 125 billion connected devices as part of our daily lives by 2030. As many businesses are learning today, IoT-enablement is a truly massive endeavor, one that shouldn’t be tackled alone.

Many of the companies looking to move into IoT have never had to think about the onboarding, management and monetization required to deliver an integrated experience. As the IoT changes the world and introduces new complexities, ecosystems of partners must align to enable digital services to the global community, to reach new customers and to compete with borderless tech giants like Amazon and Google. From collection and analysis, to ensuring privacy and ultimate value to the consumer – there are a thousand moving parts that need to work together cohesively. The job is simply too big for a single actor to own.

Monetizing Connectivity

To reach the goal of Smart Societies, businesses need to rethink their approach to monetization opportunities. The key mentality shift: ‘everything as a service.’ Consider the futuristic example of parking. A couple drives their car in to the city center for an afternoon and finds a paid parking spot. Rather than plugging in quarters to a meter, they swipe a card in a central hub that automatically charges their preferred account. This can even apply to public transportation. In a smart city model, transit vehicles can be summoned at will, much like today’s popular ride sharing services – with the same flexible pricing that reflects real-time demand.

That said, there is no one-size fits all solution. Companies that embrace a “fast” mentality when it comes to launching, learning, failing and scaling, while also experimenting with a variety of innovative B2C, B2B and B2B2X business models, will experience the most success.

Stay Tuned

There is an ever-expanding universe of connected devices in today’s marketplace. As it grows, and consumers relationship with these devices deepens, it lays the foundation for a complete overhaul of the way people can and will live. However, to bring this possibility to life, requires a commitment by organizations today to infusing digital flexibility into their DNA. Smart Societies are the future, and preparation brings us all the closer.

To hear more about CSG’s perspectives on how IoT will impact consumers, governments, ecosystems and beyond, join us at Mobile World Congress Americas, IoT Talks.

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