IoT Strategies

Will 2015 Bring IoT Resolution for Operators?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is exciting, there's no doubt about that. Where there is doubt, however, is in exactly what role communications service providers will play in the IoT realm.

Granted, the IoT sector overall is still taking shape, and it's one still driven largely by excitement and a lot of hype. But for service providers, it's time to make a play -- time to clarify how they plan to expand their role beyond that of connectivity providers and pursue revenue-enhancing efforts in areas such as application enablement for enterprises. (See IoT: The Future Is Bright for Operators and Telcos Target a Piece of the M2M Action.)

With that in mind, here are five proposed IoT challenges for service providers to address in the coming year:

Articulate an IoT strategy
As experienced providers of services, you know full well how to formulate and execute a service creation and delivery strategy. So integrate the IoT into that strategy -- or, better yet, create an entirely new strategy, because the IoT is entirely new. Will you connect cars? Healthcare apps? Wearable devices? Will you make homes smart? Will you make whole cities smart? Will you do all of the above? Tell us how you'll do it. Then do it. (See For Verizon, IoT Is All About Evolution and For Sprint, IoT Is All Business.)

Be better than the 'things'
You have the means to bring it all together, so don't let the device makers or the app developers eat your lunch, steal your thunder, or do anything else to which I can assign a hackneyed expression. You own the networks, and you have the expertise to conceive, create, deliver and charge for services. Advance the conversation beyond devices. There will be new ones on the market by this time next year anyway.

Make applications happen
On a related note, you, as a service provider, have the opportunity to be an applications foundry -- and in that regard, the IoT is ripe for development. That doesn't necessarily mean creating the applications, but rather fostering their creation by providing platforms for application enablement, delivery and control to help your customers facilitate, customize, and manage the IoT. Facilitating applications will create new opportunities for you, the service providers, to extend beyond undifferentiated connectivity and into new lines of business and revenue. (See Aeris Launches IoT Marketplace, RacoWireless Opens App Store for the IoT and IoT: More Things, More Challenges.)

For all the insight into where service providers fit in the Internet of Things, visit Light Reading's dedicated IoT content channel.

Get the word out
Assuming you're already a provider of some kind of communications service, you've already opened a channel into the home or business. But who doesn't have that channel? Best Buy, for one. Yet 43% of respondents to a recent survey said they get information about the so-called "smart home" from in-store retail employees. You own the network, and (for now) at least a piece of the customer relationship. Shouldn't you let those customers know how else you can help them? (See Survey Says Smart Home Gaining Traction.)

Pick a side
A bit of a protocol battleground is shaping up in the IoT world, albeit a very nice and polite one thus far. But it's time to pick an alliance -- or join all of them, if that pleases you. Just join up. The IoT industry organizations -- Thread Group , AllSeen Alliance Inc. , Open Interconnect Consortium and the like -- are largely devoid of service provider participation at this early point. Whatever you decide, just make sure you take part in the conversation. (See AllSeen Attracts More IoT Hopefuls, Thread Connects With UL for IoT Testing and Intel, Others Form Another IoT Alliance .)

The hype surrounding the IoT shows no signs of letting up. Here's hoping 2015 is the year service providers transcend the rhetoric and demonstrate the real power of the IoT.

— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading

mazlan 1/7/2015 | 4:13:55 AM
Re: IoT Opps for Operators I believed in your article. That's why we setup a new business entity just for IOT alone i.e. to become an IOT service provider.
DHagar 1/5/2015 | 12:56:55 PM
Re: IoT Opps for Opperators Jason, makes sense.  Also, it seems to me that the market will be driven by consumer use.  The CES show this week will be interesting to watch!

Agreed, service providers will miss the boat if they don't develop a viable service package.  It's their opportunity to lose.

jasonmeyers 1/5/2015 | 9:57:12 AM
Re: IoT Opps for Operators "Are you declaring 2015 the year of IoT?"

Sure -- why not? I believe it will be the year of the IoT anyway. It remains to be seen whether service providers will seize the IoT opportunity this year. 
jasonmeyers 1/5/2015 | 9:56:07 AM
Re: Service providers have the expertise? I agree. That's the challenge -- can they create and deliver those products and services? We'll see. 
pdonegan67 1/5/2015 | 5:19:57 AM
Service providers have the expertise? "You own the networks, and you have the expertise to conceive, create, deliver and charge for services."

Oh yeah?

We can probably all agree that the service providers own the networks and that they know how to charge. Whether they also have the expertise to conceive, create and deliver in the IoT space is much more open to debate.

One of the issues with the M2M market until now has been that in many cases vertical industries have had little choice but to drive the market largely themselves. This is because many service providers haven't had the expertise, creativity or long term vision to custom design compelling products and services for them.

The big U.S service providers do seem to be distinguishing themselves with their commitment to the IoT space, though. Per your headline, 2015 is going to be a big year.
DHagar 1/2/2015 | 6:37:24 PM
Re: IoT Opps for Operators Jason, great suggestions. 

You are absolutely correct, I believe the apps and device makers will "define" the value if service providers do not develop a deliverable service strategy, claim that space, and deliver to customers.  They are a natural to provide the service networks and claim that space with the apps and device makers; thus enlarging the system and ensuring their space.

Your suggestions are a roadmap for success - it will be interesting to see who gets there first?

Are you declaring 2015 the year of IoT?
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