The Three I’s of the IoT for Businesses and Service Providers

It seems that each day the internet of things (IoT) becomes a bigger and bigger topic in the business world. This new frontier presents almost unlimited possibilities as well as multiple new risks for businesses and communication service providers as they embrace today’s rapid digital transformation.

Unlocking the emerging potential of IoT is one of Syniverse’s major areas of focus, and we’ve been leading the way for our customers in this area with our Syniverse Secure Global Access, our private global network that enables companies to protect their data in age when the IoT and other technologies are creating unprecedented levels of risk on the public internet. We’re now expanding this effort with services and research in the newest network technology standard, 5G, which will provide the speed and capacity necessary to pave the way for a more fully IoT-powered world.  

We recently had an opportunity to advance our work with the IoT when I joined a panel session at the mobile industry’s featured event of the year, Mobile World Congress Barcelona. The session, “Unlocking the IoT Revenue Opportunity,” moved beyond the more visionary possibilities of how the IoT will revolutionize our lifestyles and zeroed in on how the revenue opportunities emerging now will shape the next phase of IoT growth for businesses and service providers.

For my part, I focused on two areas related to IoT connectivity, which I’d like to share here, and which you can also watch me explain in the video recording here.

I. Moving beyond Basic Connectivity
Getting up and running with a secure and reliable connection is an important first step with the IoT, but this just represents the basics. The more important connectivity requirements for realizing revenue opportunities with the IoT involve three areas, or what I refer to as the “three i’s” of the IoT:

  1. Identity – The first of these involves security and the ability to identify the rights and privileges of the devices accessing a network, as well as identify that the individuals or machines behind the keystrokes or actions are exactly who or what they are supposed to be.  
  2. Integration – The second connectivity requirement concerns partnering and the ability to integrate with a diversity of partners and industries. One of our mottoes at Syniverse is that in today’s highly diversified but interdependent marketplace, a company is only as strong as its connections, and to this end, it’s crucial for any company using the IoT to be able to build relationships with strategic vertical markets and channel partners.
  3. Interoperability – The third connectivity requirement for being able to fully realize revenue opportunities with the IoT is in the area of compatibility, and having the ability to interoperate with the whole array of technologies connecting companies to today’s IoT, ranging from global 3G, 4G, and, now, 5G networks, to more local sources, like Wi-Fi and private LTE (Long-Term Evolution). These multiple connectivity sources make it essential for communication providers and enterprises to be able to share the value in the revenue stream and have maximum interoperability.

II. Ensuring Secure Connectivity through Private Networks
A second important area related to realizing IoT revenue opportunities is providing network security. What’s often overlooked in the enthusiasm for the IoT is that the “I” in IoT is also an internet of shared data and networks. As a result, we remain dangerously reliant on public internet connectivity to underpin many of the IoT’s new services, without fully grasping the security implications.

The public internet, in fact, was originally conceived as a network with built-in redundancy for academics to share data within a known community, not protect itself from unknown users and malicious actors. As a result, the explosion of IoT devices able to collect and transmit massive amounts of data poses a systemic risk for all the sensitive transactions that need to happen at the speed of business.

To this end, as businesses explore new revenue opportunities with the IoT, they must acknowledge that the public internet is no longer fit to provide the global connectivity that is imperative to fulfill its promise. Instead, the use of a private, isolated network has emerged as an alternative and more practical answer to protecting online transactions in an age when the IoT is creating greater risk. This private network can minimize business risk by running devices and processes completely independent from the public internet. Ultimately, smart companies that want to conduct business and transact at speed with the highest security and privacy must integrate the use of this private network to protect their data.

New Era of Global Connectivity and Vulnerability
All in all, our session led to a fascinating discussion that I invite you to check out in the video here. The rise of the IoT and the growth of IoT devices and applications are opening a new era of global connectivity – and vulnerability. At Syniverse, we look forward to continuing to help our customers, companies and services providers, navigate the opportunities of this new frontier to make it successful for their businesses.

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