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IoT: Opening Up Vertical Opportunities

Steve Bell

The Internet of Things (IoT) presents both an opportunity and a challenge for senior executives across enterprise, industrial and services segments. The possibility to increase business agility, better utilize resources and assets, as well as to extend products and services, utilizing sensors and data analytics, are exciting prospects.

However, knowing the right approach to take at the right time and being able to rapidly adapt in a secure way, while meeting the data and privacy compliance requirements on a global basis, are huge challenges.

The opportunity space that's presented at the point of intersection between the edge of the enterprise and service providers' networks is where the primary focus of attention will occur. Within industrial enterprises, operations areas that have had remote and siloed machine-to-machine (M2M) installations are looking to leverage low-power wireless networks to connect these M2M subsystems and the power of the cloud to facilitate interaction between different protocols, in order to gain valuable insight from the combination of data available.

This interplay between communications service providers, IT departments and operations management is an embryonic environment in which all three groups speak a different language, and bring different experiences to the solution of these IoT challenges. From a service provider's perspective, it's essential that each one of these interactions does not result in a purpose-built solution. What is required is a scalable and flexible platform that enables cross-learning for industries to accelerate adoption, and to avoid fragmentation.

These platforms must be designed to take advantage of the emerging capabilities within operators' networks at the radio access network level as well as the core. The ability to use SDN and NFV-based solutions to flexibly and securely deploy services that can be tailored to specific segment and customer requirements will not only increase customer satisfaction, but also ensure ongoing profitability.

The edge of the network will also be where wide-area networks interconnect with capillary networks, using other short-range wireless connectivity, such as WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave, WirelessHART and other 802.15 solutions. The requirement is to provide a gateway that has the ability to interface with all of these protocols. This gateway will ultimately organize the network and provide device management services to address the diversity and complexity of these networks as the number of devices increases.

These gateways will also provide the vital component in the provision of security as data transitions from within the enterprise across the network to the cloud and back. The ability to validate the endpoints of the capillary networks, and to use analytics to monitor the data flow and any anomalies in the traffic patterns, will be essential to the provision of end-to-end security.

The ultimate benefit of this approach for service providers serving vertical industries is the ability to share knowledge and experiences with customers. This will deepen relationships and help customer organizations to more rapidly re-engineer their business processes in order to achieve the transformational business performance that executives are looking for. In addition, where these industries provide services to cities, the possibility to enable better collaboration through standardized interfaces, service platforms and analytic tools will result in faster economic impact and better social outcomes.

This blog is sponsored by Huawei.

— Steve Bell, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
2/12/2016 | 4:48:24 PM
Think 'horizontal' to drive the economics of 'verticals'
It may seem counter-intuitive but enterprises need to plan for horizontal platforms to improve the viability of vertical applications. This is not just a technical matter but one of commercial inter-operability. In other words, enterprises need to consider how they deal with the potential lock-in with proprietary and/or single-sourced sensors, machines and application-enabling platforms. It's worth studying the ISO/IEC JTC 1 report on IoT and work in the oneM2M standards bodies. Ken Figueredo
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