Despite the incessant marketing buzz connected to it, the Internet of Things (IoT) is still very much an early-stage phenomenon, and Verizon is treating it as such.
"When you really step back, there is a tremendous amount of confusion about what are the best investment opportunities, complex and costly business models, big integration challenges, and ROI that isn't clear," Mark Bartolomeo, VP of IoT Connected Solutions for Verizon, tells Light Reading. "We still see it as a very nascent marketplace," he adds, noting that less than 12% of large corporations have deployed any IoT solutions.
In an effort to gain more insight into how the IoT might evolve, Verizon Enterprise Solutions recently sponsored a report by Harvard Business Report, titled "Internet of Things: Science Fiction or Business Fact?," that surveyed business leaders across a wide range of industries and global regions about their IoT intentions. More than half of the survey's 269 respondents (in North America, Asia-Pacific, EMEA and Latin America) said they are using IoT solutions to improve customer service, and 62% said IoT solutions are improving their customer responsiveness.
In these early days, Verizon is placing its IoT bets on large sectors that are proving to be early adopters -- like smart cities, energy and intelligent transportation. Those are the areas where innovation will begin, first at high levels and ultimately throughout organizations and industries, Bartolomeo predicts.
"The way we're looking at it is that it's an evolutionary process," he says. "We're not going to see these big huge transitions occur. We'll see leaders continue to adopt IoT deeper into their organizations. Automotive will move from telematics to infotainment, for example. And as the standards begin to evolve and as service providers begin to deliver complete solutions, you'll see the mid-market adopt. It's a transitional thing."
Developing and delivering those complete solutions is, of course, exactly what Verizon aims to do. Like other carriers that want to play a major role in the IoT, Verizon believes it can transcend connectivity and provide both enterprises and consumers with integrated solutions.
"What we're doing today is taking our assets -- our network connectivity, our network management, our device connectivity and management, our security services and our cloud -- and building them into a common, integrated IoT platform," Bartolomeo says.
And as that platform develops, he says, one of the most integral -- and most frequently overlooked -- parts of the offering is security.
"One of the areas people tend to talk about after the fact is how to secure the IoT," Bartolomeo says. "Verizon is the largest provider of cybersecurity in the world, and we're bringing the same security focus to the IoT. It absolutely has to be end to end -- at the device level, at the network connection level and at the monitoring and reporting level."
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading