The internet of things is large and growing, creating more possibilities for the ways we do business. This was reinforced when I had an opportunity to attend the IoT World conference in Silicon Valley, and I’d like to share a quick report on some of the trends from the show.
Many devices and IoT solutions were developed before the availability of today’s advanced connectivity solutions, including the future technologies coming with 5G. While the ecosystem of devices, chipsets, and hardware components has matured, the companies using these devices have been forced to choose from a fragmented market of networks. These companies have had to make hard choices between using multiple networks or having connectivity that has device-level dependencies.
Use Cases Drive Demand for Better Network Connections
During the conference sessions, I heard regular requests for better network solutions to support specific use cases and industries. Several key areas include banking, smart utilities, smart cities, and connected factories and stadiums, among a range of others like industrial automation and augmented reality.
One unique area highlighted in an industrial automation session was the need for IoT network solutions in agricultural technology.
At first glance, agricultural technology doesn’t seem to represent the typical corporate enterprise, but IoT needs were highlighted at both the large industrial enterprise level by equipment providers and at the rural farm level. The agricultural technology industry offers a valuable lesson: Maturing IoT use cases offer unique opportunities for advanced network solutions beyond our current view.
The greater lesson for connectivity and communications services may be this: If we can solve ubiquitous problems related to next-generation connectivity and interoperability in these fragmented ecosystems that deliver at scale, then we may be able to develop multiple, additional applications that can be leveraged for other industries.
Two additional themes at the conference related to IoT scale included the following:
- Higher volumes of data transactions will dominate. According to Juniper Research, by 2020 we should expect to see 20 billion connected devices driving transaction volumes to new heights. These volumes increasingly will need to be supported via highly secure and reliable networks capable of providing global reach across devices and network environments.
- 4G and 5G connectivity is predicted to become the global standard for high-speed machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. As machines increasingly connect to each other, Wi-Fi will simply not be adequate to meet demand for low-latency data usage at scale. Instead, 4G and 5G mobile networks will be the preferred option for delivering quality at scale.
New Opportunity for Connectivity Providers
The IoT community places so much emphasis on the device and the data analytics that somehow the need for reliable network connectivity has been taken for granted. As a result, many companies in the IoT ecosystem have been left to figure this out on their own and are forced to use basic solutions for connectivity, like the public internet.
This situation raises a big question: In a mature but fragmented market for competing networks, how should the IoT-focused enterprise choose a network provider? My response is, when there are inter-networking and interoperability experts like Syniverse, why should these enterprises need to choose a single network or depend on a Wi-Fi solution?
Syniverse’s attendance at IoT World continues an area of focus for us that I touched on in a blog post earlier this year, regarding the need for enhanced network security.
If you have questions or thoughts on these next-generation networks and the IoT, we would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Erin Linch is a former Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy at Syniverse.