Aug 3, 2014

Do consumers trust mobile operators, Internet and media companies?

The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) in the UK recently launched its findings from a survey [1] of the UK population. The study examined the attitudes of individuals towards the use of (their) data and the appeal of data sharing. The study is based on a survey carried out by Ipsos MORI for the RSS and covered adults in the ages 16 to 75 age range in Great Britain.

The RSS study found that media, Internet, telecommunications and insurance companies, all come at the bottom of a ‘trust in data’ league table. Is any of this relevant to companies in the M2M and IoT markets?

Jul 14, 2014

Telenor and Vodafone show ways ‘beyond connectivity’

A couple of recent developments are symptomatic of how the M2M market has matured beyond device connectivity. These developments involve Telenor Connexion and Vodafone. The two companies have entered into partnering and acquisition deals which signal a shift in their historical activities and the basic, subscription business model.

Their actions are a leading indicator of the strategic challenges faced by mobile network operators (MNOs) [1] and other players in the value chain. Put simply, how will companies capitalise on the commercial opportunities that arise from more widespread connectivity (IoT, IoE etc.) and the eventual merging of wide- and short-rage wireless technologies to connect all manner of connected devices?

Jun 19, 2014

LTE to spur IoT?

A few years ago, it was standard practice to associate M2M with low data rate characteristics that could be served using 2G networks. In fact, there was quite an uproar when some operators started to announce 2G network shut-down plans. Ignoring the economics of operating cellular networks, some industry commentators also talked of retaining a portion of 2G spectrum for M2M devices.

Recently, a representative[1] from Google reiterated the special characteristics (low bandwidth and inexpensive) of IoT applications and the need for a brand new network. Over the past few years, several initiatives have been launched to address the potentially massive, low data and low power requirement segment of the M2M/IoT market; Neul and SigFox are two examples that spring to mind.

It was therefore interesting to hear of a development that has been working its way through the 3GPP standards process. LTE, traditionally associated with high data-rate mobile services, is now being engineered to address M2M/IoT applications. This is not a case of data-intensive video surveillance or digital display applications but the use of LTE in moderate data rate, low cost and long battery life scenarios.

May 15, 2014

IoT Platform Trends

Earlier this year, I was invited to give a presentation on strategic trends in M2M and IoT platforms. The group I was briefing was particularly interested in the rise to prominence of horizontal platforms that enable the delivery of M2M and IoT applications.

This development coincides with the market evolving from M2M towards IoT, and is accompanied by a reduced emphasis on vertical-specific application opportunities. One of the key issues to arise is an analogy with the ‘maker’ culture in the IoT arena. Loosely defined, the ‘maker’ term applies to pioneering individuals who have literally been making connected devices using readily available, and often low-cost, technology components.

An important characteristic of the IoT applications is one of much greater access to data (in terms of quantity and frequency) from connected devices and sensors. This is giving rise to a ‘self-service’ culture where individuals are able to create innovative applications from disparate, inexpensive and easily accessible data sources. In a sense, the market is primed for a new class of user - the data 'takers'.

This is where a potentially disruptive class of horizontal platforms comes into play because they simplify the economics and ease-of-use in creating IoT applications.

Apr 21, 2014

IoT Product Development - Planning Strategically

The IoT (Internet of Things) has been hugely popularized by companies, such as ARM, Bosch, Cisco, GE and Intel. Their marketing campaigns speak of new and massive business opportunities along with their respective IoT market offers. So what do users of such offers need to know in order to manage their IoT product development plans strategically?

Mar 23, 2014

PTC-ThingWorx dual-aggregation business model

I was recently in discussion with an executive from an M2M service provider who was marveling at the sizable sum - $112m plus a possible earn-out of $18m - for which ThingWorx was acquired by PTC.

By way of context, PTC supplies software and service solutions to discrete manufacturing organizations to help them create and service their products; example products include heavy machinery, medical devices, air-handling and fire-protection systems. While PTC has been in business for over 25 years, ThingWorx was established as recently as 2010. Its aim was to create a platform to speed up the process of developing applications for smart, connected services involving people, systems and devices.

The acquisition should not come as a surprise to readers of this site. The pattern of corporate initiatives in the connected devices market and the rising role of end-user companies were anticipated at the end of 2012.

Mar 3, 2014

Commercializing the Internet of Things

This article was commissioned by Telit Communications PLC and appeared in telit2market magazine, February 2014

The IoT phenomenon has superseded the traditional market for M2M applications, primarily by embracing a wide variety of Internet- and consumer-connected devices. This is what accounts for long-range market forecasts of billions of connected devices.

Early experiences with IoT applications have focused on novelty – such as connected household appliances – rather than long-term commercial prospects. Many of these implementations simply involve the application of silo-like, M2M concepts to new types of devices and sensors. For companies that aim to develop an IoT strategy, however, failure to distinguish between M2M and IoT is a risk to long-term business strategy.