Jun 23, 2019

Mobile IoT and Adjacent Industries

How time flies! Over 10 years ago, I was part of a GSMA strategy team that looked at new growth markets for the mobile industry. Our report – entitled ‘Embedded Mobile: M2M and Beyond’ – identified opportunities for growth in adjacent industries. This would need the GSMA to promote the collective interests of the mobile industry in several ways. One recommendation was to work with supply-side partners. This would lower the barriers to adoption of mobile in non-mobile industries.

A second recommendation focused on stimulating demand by fostering a dialog with non-mobile industries. Besides highlighting the value of connecting assets, it would provide a channel to feed user needs back into the mobile eco-system.

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, the GSMA’s initiative survived and thrived. Soon, senior executives from the automotive and pharmaceuticals sectors became keynote speakers at Mobile World Congress (MWC). And, the composition of MWC attendees changed with an influx from non-mobile industry sectors.

Why does this history matter now?

A few weeks ago, I was explaining my consultancy work to a former colleague. It dawned on me that all my projects are now in adjacent-to-mobile industries. These projects also focus on topics that map onto the upper end of the mobile stack. From being a regular speaker at MWC, I now appear in non-mobile venues [2].

Nowadays, it is common to see IoT technologies (the modern label that has overtaken M2M) in smart city, intelligent transport and mobility-as-a-service applications. Some of the underlying technologies involve mobile, but not all. That’s because there are many channels to source connected device and sensor data. Many times, data comes from enterprise and open-data repositories. Mobile communications are one of several media alternatives.

Value-add, besides IoT connectivity 

Looking higher up the IoT stack, there is a lot of industrial IoT activity surrounding data. One area involves data exchanges, a form of sharing of IoT data among several operational units and supply-chain partners. Another area applies to data marketplaces. These enable any-to-any exchange of IoT data, with additional capabilities for data monetization and licensing controls. The latter help in managing downstream uses and encouraging service-provider innovation.

I see the UK hosting groundbreaking work on data trusts [3] where there are roles for custodians with a reputation for trust. Trust is something that mobile network operators aspire to. They have large-scale relationships in the consumer sector. They also seek to deliver dependable communications services to the business sector. These should be topics on the mobile industry's agenda. Let’s not overlook the fact that there is a roadmap that links IoT connectivity to a data stewardship business model [4].

Once strategy takes hold … 

So, why does history matter now? Firstly, with the IoT industry booming, it takes time for industry mega-trends to take hold. Strategy plans need to address the 5-10-year window with regards to IoT as well as new opportunities around AI and payments.

Secondly, one unfortunate concern for mobile operators is absence in the fora where these new issues and business opportunities are being developed. That may be just my perspective, although I try to keep a look out and request audience feedback at industry events.

Perhaps the competitive intensity between individual MNOs is clouding the opportunity. They may not see the opportunity or value of collaborating to deliver mobility services in adjacent industries. That overlooks their competitive strengths for affordable and interoperable solutions, at scale.

Whatever the issues, the mobile industry needs to tackle a common refrain I hear often – “We can solve this without the telcos. We’ll just call them in when we want to buy connectivity”. And, in a more recent example, here's a municipal authority talking about deploying its own assets to collect city data for an always-on data service. Their intention is to draw on MNO data on an occasional basis to validate patterns their own data are picking up [5].

[1] https://www.gsma.com/newsroom/resources/embedded-mobile-m2m-solutions-and-beyond-0-71-mb/ 

[2] Public-Private Data Marketplaces for Intelligent Transport Innovation https://itswc.confex.com/itswc/2019/meetingapp.cgi/Session/3456 

[3] Increasing trust in data: could ‘data trusts’ help? https://theodi.org/event/could-data-trusts-help 

[4] New business models for Connected Living https://www.gsma.com/iot/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/New-business-models-for-Connected-Living-exec-summary.pdf 

[5] Transport Data Initiative #10 https://youtu.be/9LBQLNIO!28 (panel discussion commencing approximately 2:47) 

1 comment:

  1. 6 July 2019 update

    Bike-share companies team up to share data

    Eight of Europe’s leading bike-share operators and suppliers have teamed up to form an expert group to promote the bike-sharing industry in European cities and foster collaboration.