Internet of Things or IoT is being touted as the biggest IT revolution of our time. It is the new buzz that follows you everywhere just like the Vodafone Network - Wherever you go, our network follows. Really? We can debate on that later. But the larger question is, what is IoT? A demon, some technological innovation, or just a term for communication between connected devices? Let’s first figure this out.
What is IoT?
According to the United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technologies Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), IoT has been defined as a global infrastructure for the information society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting physical and virtual things, based on existing and evolving interoperable information and communication technologies.
Confusing, isn’t it? So, let me simplify that for you. IoT is nothing but integration of any device/thing (cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices etc.) to the Internet or to each other where they can exchange data. They can use this data to extract meaningful information through data analytics and share it on the cloud, transforming our businesses, medical systems and even our lives. Simply speaking, IoT is moving from people-to-people communication to people-to-things and things-to-things.
But, why should you care?
A good question, with a very simple answer! You should, because it will become a way of life for you. Just like you can’t imagine a day without social networking sites and cell phones, which have become a major part of your life, IoT will become an integral part of your daily routine. Everything you use in your daily life, from the coffee maker and refrigerator, to the shower or door can be connected to the internet, helping simplify your life and businesses in more ways than one.
How is it going to transform your daily life?
Imagine this, you get up in the morning and the wrist band you are wearing sends an alarm to the coffee maker, notifying it to start brewing coffee for you. So, by the time you get to the kitchen your coffee is ready. As you are pondering breakfast, you get a notification on your cell phone from the fridge that there are no eggs. So, you opt for toast instead. While you are getting ready, you remember that you have a meeting lined up for today. The car that you are taking is linked to your calendar and it knows, where and when the meeting is. It also knows which is the fastest possible route to your destination. Plus, it can tell if your car has enough fuel to take you to your destination or not. It will not only send you a notification that your car is running out of fuel, but also where the nearest fuel station is. After you finish the meeting and are returning home, the car senses that you are nearing home and alerts the AC in your house to turn on. Once home, you start feeling a little uneasy. Your wrist band senses a change in your health and sends a notification to your cell phone to call for an ambulance. The ambulance is at your doorstep in no time and you are taken to the hospital where the doctor examines you and tells you that you were saved of a potential heart attack because you were brought to the hospital in time. So, IoT can not only transform your life but save it too.
How is it going to transform businesses?
IoT can transform businesses across sectors like manufacturing, automotive, medical, public safety, transport etc. IoT is set to bridge the gap between companies and end consumers. Imagine knowing exactly what the consumer entering your service center needs before they even walk in the door. Or, imagine you are going on a road trip with your friends and your engine light flashes, notifying you that there is a potential problem in your engine that needs immediate attention. The sensor in your car not only sends this information to you but also to the manufacturer. The manufacturer analyzes the information and sends the most relevant repair information to the nearest service station, and sends your car the service center’s address. When you arrive, the mechanic has already taken note of your problem and fixes it in no time. It saves time for you as well as the manufacturer. It increases customer satisfaction which is key for growth in any industry. The information also allows the manufacturer to analyze why the problem occurred, and compare your problem to trends, to help prevent the problem from happening again or determine if a recall should be issued.
How CSPs can benefit from the IoT revolution
For communication service providers, the IoT revolution is a blessing in disguise. At a time when revenue is decreasing from voice and text messages, CSPs are looking for new revenue streams, and innovative business models. IoT is a perfect platform for CSPs to launch themselves with greater vigor. CSPs can take advantage of the IoT revolution by providing IoT platforms to help businesses launch and support their IoT offerings. Monetizing IoT effectively and launching new use cases in the market with greater agility will grow CSPs’ revenues.
With government incentives for smart cities and public safety increasing, IoT will play a major role. CSPs need to take advantage by focusing on the IoT value chain, including networks, applications and connected devices. Moreover, they will need to create the most robust technology platform and strategy for IoT, providing full end-to-end integration, and develop the right business models with respect to partner management and charging. This will require them to move from selling SIM cards and connectivity plans to focus on large-scale partnerships in order to provide true end-to-end solutions with greater value.
Challenges of IoT
As we have witnessed with every technological innovation, IoT too comes with the concern of potential security glitches involving devices connected to the internet of things. With so many devices communicating with each other, there is always the concern of personal information leaking into the wrong hands. Privacy and security are two major concerns surrounding IoT. As more things become connected, the amount of sensitive information that could be compromised will continue to grow.