Internet of Things (IoT) managed service provider Aeris Communications is attempting to further streamline the service providers' path to IoT profit and expansion with the launch of a program called Jumpstart IoT that offers operators quick access to more than 30 ready-made vertical apps.
The initiative is a partnership between Aeris Communications Inc. and Tech Mahindra Ltd. and leverages the technology stack of Aeris -- which itself has been operating a machine-to-machine (M2M) network for decades -- and Tech Mahindra's established position in supplying vertical IoT apps. It is aimed at a broad swath of service providers globally, but in particular at those that might need a push to get over the IoT hurdle and into a potentially revenue-generating position quickly.
"The understanding of the Internet of Things is being framed by a couple of large operators in the world -- AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, Telefonica," says Dan McBride, head of operator marketing at Aeris. "The other 200 or 300 mobile operators in the world are probably selling SIMs for data connections to be put into devices, but they're waiting for more direction on what to do."
Jumpstart IoT aims to give them that direction, leveraging the theory that it's not just technology platforms but also proven, revenue-ready applications in bustling M2M sectors like fleet telematics, healthcare, point of sale and utility communications that will… well, jumpstart communications service providers into IoT success most quickly and profitably.
"They believe that having a platform is the strategy," McBride says. "A lot of them found that wasn't really the case. The platform wasn't the strategy -- it's just the technology piece. Operators feel they can figure out technology platform; what they have trouble is trying to figure out what applications will sell -- how to enter the market. Jumpstart brings that together with ready-to-go applications."
The strategic justification for a program like Jumpstart IoT is valid in the context of the need for service providers to identify and own a definitive role in the IoT -- a now wildly popular and highly hyped concept that envisions a world of open, interoperable, connected devices ranging from cars to thermostats to watches to industrial machines. The modern IoT concept is a byproduct of the more mundane and more closed but equally important M2M sector, which -- like Aeris -- has been around for decades.
The challenge for communications service providers is to find IoT business models that propel them beyond purveyors of network connectivity and drive both value for their customers and profit for their companies. (See IoT: The Future Is Bright for Operators and IoT: More Things, More Challenges.)
Aeris believes very strongly that it -- together with Tech Mahindra -- can help service providers realize that vision. Very simply, its goal is to help operators make money on every connection.
And in fact, McBride says, service providers are in the catbird seat when it comes to playing an overarching (and profitable) role in the IoT: Not only do they have the M2M expertise already, and not only do they provide the connectivity piece via their networks, they also have the ability to collect and store and process data from all connected devices and applications envisioned by the IoT.
"The Jumpstart IoT program helps operators create and execute on M2M, while also helping them transition to IoT-style apps and data collection," he says.
That part is accomplished by technology. Aeris's AerCloud platform -- part of the Jumpstart IoT platform -- is the infrastructure the company is leveraging to help operators using big data from connected devices in ways that can help them accomplish that differentiated value proposition in the IoT ecosystem.
"In the Internet of Things space, you'll have applications consuming collected data where the applications aren't necessary the owners of the devices -- applications decoupled from devices," McBride says. "AerCloud represents this highly scalable data repository for device data. It has flexibility on how data gets into this cloud-based storage facility, and how data gets out."
Tech Mahindra, meanwhile, brings a broad range of proven vertical apps optimized for operators' market targets, along with support services -- a boon to the operators, but also to Tech Mahindra itself as it extends beyond the enterprise realm and moves its offering into the service provider world, says Udayan Joshi, the company's head of digital enterprise solutions.
"Now the operators can differentiate their offerings and provide more than just connectivity," Joshi says. "And this enables Tech Mahindra to accelerate our market reach into additional channels."
The companies are at the MoU point with an operator yet to be named, and "integration discussions are proceeding," McBride says, adding that he hopes to be able to name the customer in time for next month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Meanwhile, the companies will continue to position Jumpstart IoT as the way to address ongoing barriers to IoT entry and the way to IoT profit for all service providers.
"The operators' concerns are that they have salespeople and channels who know how to sell phones to enterprises," McBride says. "The question is, how do they feed the feet on the street with manageable chunks of info to help grow new revenue areas?"
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading