Even as operators work out their own internal big data strategies, they are making use of the data they have to help third parties -- and turn a profit. A good example of this comes from AT&T and IBM today.
The tech giants are combining AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s network connectivity in much of the world via its global SIM with IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)'s software, security, and analytics to add insights to machine-to-machine (M2M)-powered devices with the goal of giving cities, utilities, and other businesses new ways to collect and use their data. (See AT&T, IBM Form M2M Alliance.)
The team, which have been working together on cloud services for awhile now, says they will initially focus city governments and midsize utilities, which both ingest hoards of data around mass transit vehicles, utility meters, and video cameras. The hope is using AT&T's network and IBM's software, they'll be able to better evaluate traffic patterns and improve urban planning or, in the case of utilities, better manage their equipment to reduce costs. (See 2013 Leading Lights Finalists: Most Innovative Carrier Cloud Service.)
Rick Qualman, IBM's VP of strategy and business development for the telecom industry, said in a release that collaborating with AT&T will offer cities "insights from crowdsourcing, mobile applications, sensors and analytics on the cloud, enabling all organizations to better listen, respond and predict."
It's easy to see why operators are excited (and building huge demo houses) to show off the potential for M2M, or the Internet of Things. It represents incremental revenue with little impact to the network. But, the opportunity becomes a lot more exciting when predictive big-data analytics are in the mix. (See GSMA Predicts 250 Million M2M Connections in 2014 and Big-Data Is Key to Consumerization of M2M.)
AT&T is an early leader in the M2M movement, and IBM certainly has the software chops to make the partnership payoff for their city partners, which will make this an notable venture to watch once trials start this year. Both companies will also be showing off at Mobile World Congress next week, so we'll report back on what this ambitious combination of big-data analytics and M2M looks like in action. (See AT&T Clinches M2M Market Lead With GE Deal.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading