The Internet of Things (IoT) is a massive business opportunity. Never before has technology offered such a hugely rich, diverse – and yes – complex – array of possibilities for organisations to collaborate, innovate and offer new services to employees and customers.
Yet the core of the IoT remains simple – the transmission of data between IP addresses. In short, it’s about communication. And that means that Communications Services Providers (CSPs) have tended to be the first port of call for businesses wishing to explore how the Internet of Things could work for them.
As a result, CSPs have tended to shift from focusing on what’s often termed ‘M2M’ – machine-to-machine communications – towards delivering bespoke, scalable platforms for supporting an expanding Internet of Things. If M2M communications is all about individual devices, then the IoT offers a much more holistic approach, with scalable cloud storage supporting an ever-expanding selection of communication channels.
But while the Internet of Things has been discussed for years, it’s still a new idea. According to the IDC, only 1% of connectable devices are currently part of the network. New potential applications for these connected devices emerge every day. And consequently, there are question marks being placed over the ability of some CSPs to offer a truly sophisticated, IoT-ready approach. After all, many CSPs started life as installers of telecoms hardware. How can they adapt, and demonstrate that they are ready to be Internet of Things specialists?
At SIPCOM, we think there are four key areas to consider:
Information Age has published a convincing article arguing that ‘Internet of Things innovation all hinges on whether CSPs can crack encryption’. Data protection and security is recognised by IT directors as a hefty barrier to IoT deployment in the workplace, and if CSPs are to offer truly appealing solutions, they need to demonstrate watertight information security credentials, in conjunction with the limited processing power of IoT sensors. As Information Age underlines, encryption from a central point is one potential response to this challenge. But CSPs need to get it right as a core service, not an add-on or afterthought.
The Internet of Things, as we’ve highlighted, offers almost countless possibilities for communication between humans and devices. Journalists may have been preoccupied with smart fridges, but offices, factories, warehouses and shops could use the Internet of Things to enable anything from remote collaborative working to guerrilla marketing.
This complexity is exciting, but it also means that no CSP can possibly be a convincing Internet of Things generalist. It’s going to be vital for Communications Services Providers to demonstrate a ‘narrow but deep’ focus; as this article points out, ‘no CSP, no matter how large or global, has the resources to pursue the full breadth and depth of M2M and IoT’.
This brings us to the third rule of Internet of Things offerings for CSPs. ‘Global scale’ isn’t to say that CSPs will need to be international behemoths in order to survive – far from it. But, just as the internet made it easier for businesses to communicate across geographical borders and time zones, so the Internet of Things will open up the possibilities for international information-sharing and collaboration. Even when CSPs are working with small or single-site businesses, they will need to be considering how the IoT can connect them with suppliers, customers and partners globally.
Part of what makes the Internet of Things so exciting is an overriding sense of ‘the sky’s the limit’ – the sense that science fiction is going to manifest in front of our eyes. As such, CSPs that follow the status quo will quickly seem staid and unimaginative. Not everyone needs to be an inventor – but they do need to be brave.
SIPCOM offers impeccable unified communications credentials and innovation and creativity at the heart of everything we do. If you want to start exploring how the Internet of Things could be used in your organisation, contact us today.