Showing posts with label Market Dynamics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Market Dynamics. Show all posts

Oct 30, 2017

Innovation at ETSI IoT Week 2017

Last week, I attended ETSI's IoT Week, an annual event to explore the IoT standardization landscape and to see how industry and academics, around the world, are testing IoT implementation ideas for the future. Not surprisingly, the oneM2M standard featured prominently in the program and the display zone of demonstrator projects given that ETSI is one of 8 standards development organization (SDO) partners in the oneM2M project.

However, not everything on the agenda centered on oneM2M. Other standardization efforts were also represented including: ESMIG (energy); SigFox and LoRA Alliance in the LPWAN sector; ZigBee Alliance; and, international organizations such as ISO, IEC. And, several companies, including MNOs, demonstrated how they are addressing new business and revenue opportunities beyond IoT connectivity.

Aug 23, 2017

Structural determinants of Smart City strategy

Once viewed as a futuristic aspiration, the smart city concept is now firmly on the operational agenda of government officials and private sector solution providers. The evolution towards grounded solutions means that adopters and solution providers require tangible strategies along with workable frameworks and planning tools to initiate their smart city initiatives. For evidence, look at how the emerging smart city industry acts as a host to multiple smart city reference architecture initiatives in parallel with multiple check-list criteria that aim to rank cities on smart city implementation roadmaps.

In the spirit of practical solutions, let’s focus on two structural features about city planning and management to illustrate the real-world challenges that city authorities will have to overcome. The first deals with differing economic profiles that characterize individual cities. The second concerns existing commercial models that cities and their private sector service providers will have to adapt to foster viable and enduring smart strategies.

Jul 2, 2017

IDEAthons – connecting IoT ideas, execution and funding

As new technologies become commonplace, there is a case for exploring new value creation opportunities in the realm of application ideas. Put differently, should the ever-popular hackathon give way to a new type of event – the ideathon? This notion cropped up when I attended my first ever ideathon to explore innovative service and business model opportunities in the IoT and intelligent
transport solutions markets.

The intent of an ideathon is to bring together individuals from different organizations to form small teams that work through new ideas. Teams don’t just focus on technology; they consider factors such as drivers of demand, the value proposition, the service delivery business model and its economics.

The event I attended included a mix of entrepreneurs, public-sector representatives and technologists who were exploring new ideas, building on the oneTRANSPORT regional intelligent transport system trial [1] and the Transport Data Initiative [2].

May 25, 2017

IoT Complications for MNO Business Units

Mobile operators, it would appear, remain captivated by connectivity solutions. Most recently, low-power technologies (e.g. LoRA, NB-IoT, SigFox etc.) have dominated the industry agenda. This outlook is slowly starting to change. Ian Huh, SVP of SK Telecom’s (SKT) IoT business described fees on its LoRA network as amounting to just 10 per cent of those on 3G/4G networks [1]. He pointed out that this would need at least a tenfold increase in the number of connected devices in highlighting the potentially destructive impact on revenues.

SKT’s comments are timely and show that the debate is shifting from shiny new technology to earning commercial returns. MNOs need to do something, over and above the sale of SIMs and connectivity, to capitalize on the wider IoT business opportunity.

May 1, 2017

IoT and Smart-building opportunities

What are the important industry dynamics in the smart buildings sector and is there a role for the IoT? Last week, I attended the 6th Building Energy Summit [1] to hear from building owners, building operators, real-estate portfolio managers and corporate-sector tenants.

As in all other industrial sectors, much of the discussion highlighted the established processes and the conservative nature of this sector. Most notably, procurement and architectural design processes make it difficult to introduce truly innovative construction ideas into the sector. In existing buildings, the challenge is to introduce new technologies and working practices in a highly cost conscious environment. The sector is however becoming more technology-friendly and data driven in its decision making.

There is growing acceptance of the idea that IoT is the way to improve decision making and deliver innovative services. Among the IoT use cases discussed, successful projects typically received approval, after considerable financial scrutiny, and realized a return on investment within a period of 1-2 years.

Mar 29, 2017

Making an Impact with IoT and Digital Transformation

A few weeks ago [1], I wrote about the potential for telcos to take advantage of digital transformation opportunities to boost industry growth. At present, much of what passes as digital transformation in the telco sector focuses on new technology (NFV, SDN, 5G etc.). This is understandable given the desire for innovators and vendors to sell new technologies that help service providers adopt more agile and flexible operational models.

However, these ideas do not correspond to transformation in the sense of entering new markets or, of driving revenue growth in new service categories. NFV, SDN and 5G are more likely to lead to juggling between CapEx and OpEx budgets which will have an impact on profitability and depreciation financial metrics rather than driving top-line revenue growth. The Internet of Things (IoT) does have the potential to open up new growth markets and is starting to be recognized as an enabler for digital transformation.

So, is there much evidence that will encourage telcos to enter completely new markets and drive meaningful revenue growth? What characterizes such opportunities and how should telcos approach them?

Feb 4, 2017

Will digital transformation save the telco industry?

Over the past few weeks, McKinsey [1] and the World Economic Forum (WEF) [2] have weighed in on the debate about long term growth prospects in the telecommunications sector. They have valid concerns which arise from projections for low revenue growth and shrinking margins for telecommunications service providers. The near term prospects for many telcos involves the sale ever increasing volumes of data and cloud services to consumer and business customers on the assumption that price elasticity effects will work in their favor and not undermine top-line, revenue growth.

The McKinsey and WEF ideas rely on optimizing the core business and building at the periphery to support digital services and enhanced customer experiences. These approaches take a narrow view of the market for telcos and one and define competition in terms of other telco service providers. Is that really the right way to address the strategic challenge that faces the industry?

Nov 29, 2016

Mass-market data monetization

The motivation for this article comes from several recent and groundbreaking announcements relating to the commercialization of consumer data. In one of these, Proximus [1] launched myAnalytics, a service that sells aggregated customer data as a ‘market research’ service for businesses such as tourism agencies, event organizers, marketers and those in charge of mobility management.

Telefonica, one of the larger communications service providers, announced plans to create a personal data bank for each of its 350m customers [2]. This will allow customers the means of storing, managing and selling their own data. When questioned about Telefonica’s plans, Vodafone’s CEO expressed puzzlement as to whether this is any different from everyday protection of customer data [3]. This reaction should set a few alarm bells ringing.

Oct 5, 2016

SK Telecom’s IoT strategy looks beyond Connected Devices

Over the summer, Korea’s SK Telecom outlined its strategy to capitalize on the IoT opportunity. From a networking standpoint, SK Telecom has invested in a nationwide LoRa network. It plans to offer a hybrid offering in parallel with LTE-M over its conventional mobile network. This combination allows SK Telecom to span a wider spectrum of coverage and cost-structure alternatives. Its technology choices use licensed and unlicensed spectrum, support differing data-rates, and, offer a broad range of embedded module costs to deal with barriers to adoption in low price-point (or low perceived value) devices.

Aug 2, 2016

Comparative advantage in IoT standardization

Last year, I wrote a post about the landscape of standards development organizations, industry-alliances and company consortia [1]. Several recent developments have led me to revisit the topic. There are signs that the IoT market is maturing. Users and service providers are well beyond the first hurdle of understanding a new capability and set of enabling technologies. And, businesses are exploring the longer-term road map for IoT solutions and the underlying enablers they will need.

Nigel Upton, Worldwide Director and GM IoT/GCP at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HP-E) encapsulated the issue, from a business standpoint, in a recent conference presentation [2]. He advised companies that they could simplify their IoT strategies by using a common platform, a common data model and an IoT standard. It so happens that HP-E chose oneM2M, viewing it as the best supported standard on offer.

May 29, 2016

Rumble in the IoT Jungle

I recently participated in a debate, hosted by the IEEE Communications Society, about the pros and cons of IoT standardization. My debating counterpart was the North Americas President of SigFox, a company that has so far raised over US$150m. SigFox is in the process of deploying its proprietary networking technology in 18 countries specifically for the purpose of energy-efficient and low-cost IoT applications.

Much of the debate and several of the audience questions focused on the worry about standards proliferation in the IoT market. This creates a confusing picture for business that have to make long-term product development decisions. My observations on the issue of IoT standardization were fourfold.

Apr 27, 2016

A tweet to IoT’s low-power, wide-area networking proponents

It’s amazing to think that Twitter recently turned ten years old. This milestone came on the heels of a rumored, CEO-level assessment [1] of whether to relax its longstanding 140-character limit on tweets. Some of the reaction to this development questions how Twitter, a major influencer of condensed, bite-sized communications, could pull the rug from under its core proposition.

There’s a timely lesson in Twitter’s evolution for the rapidly growing band of companies developing low-power, wide-area and small payload IoT applications.

Jan 11, 2016

2015 in Review: The strategic balance between IoT scale and value

Corporate activity in the M2M/IoT market continues to grow in line with the roughly 30% growth rate that many market analysts forecast for connected devices. Acquisition and investment activity grew at a much faster rate over the past few years and reflects a positive corporate attitude to this important market.

Mobile network operators (MNOs) were very active especially in the low-power, wide-area networking (LPWAN) arena which is positive in terms of driving industry scale. Companies in the platform services segment were even more active highlighting the scope for value creation higher up the industry value chain. The industry dynamics between MNOs and platform service providers will set up an interesting strategic challenge – that of scale vs. value – which will affect all market participants over the coming years.

Oct 4, 2015

IoT growth options for service providers

Do mobile operators and M2M service providers have a role in the emerging IoT market? This is a hot topic in corporate boardrooms, industry journals [1] and IoT conferences [2]. It’s also one where MNOs, M2M service providers and technology providers hold opposing opinions, even within the same company.

It’s clear that companies are keen to capitalise on the IoT opportunity. This should be no surprise given the drum-roll of multiple billions of connected devices from different analyst firms. What holds companies back is their relatively incomplete grasp of:
  • how the market will develop along different dimensions,
  • where the innovative commercial opportunities are crystallizing,
  • and, what strategic initiatives will help companies to position themselves to capitalize on market opportunities (as distinct from worrying about where the next tranche of connected device sales will come from). 
One way to simplify the IoT strategy challenge is to step back and visualize the emerging market landscape. This provides the map against which individual companies can plot their IoT strategies. It’s a bit like a person sitting on top of a tall hill, surveying the surrounding countryside and deciding on the best route between points A and B, taking account of his/her own resourcefulness.

Just like the countryside below our strategist on top of the hill, it’s useful to think of the IoT map in terms of a cube to illustrate three avenues of growth.

Jun 21, 2015

IoT alliances and interoperability

I have recently been consulting on the topic of IoT Platform strategy with a particular focus on the recently issued oneM2M standard. As part of this work, I researched the activities of different IoT alliances and industry groups because there is a lot of industry discussion about competing standards.

In discussions with company executives, a recurring theme is that nobody wants to take a bet on any single ‘standards’ approach. As a result, many companies choose to hedge their bets and participate in multiple initiatives. Having examined several of the leading initiatives from different dimensions, it’s debatable whether companies are getting a strategic, product-development return on their participation (setting aside brand-building and corporate networking benefits).

There are many different ways to look at each of initiatives. For this post, let’s begin by concentrating on their mission and primary objectives.

May 21, 2015

Roadmap for IoT strategy

Over the past few weeks, there have been several industry conferences, magazine articles and webinars dealing with the IoT market opportunity and the role of different companies across the eco-system. The topics addressed in these events have generally highlighted M2M use cases (vertical-specific applications) and the promising role for telecoms operators.

In many respects, the subjects under discussion have been disappointing. They indicate that many parts of the industry are still coming up the M2M learning curve and some way off dealing with the commercial implications of the IoT market. In terms of the competitive landscape that is forming around the IoT, company executives who are coming to terms with M2M are not yet in a position to plan sustainable IoT strategies.

So, how do you tell if your organization is working with an M2M mind-set and whether it has embarked on the transition from M2M to IoT?

Mar 18, 2015

IoT is not the end game

Over the past few months, I have been working with the Telco2.0 initiative who originated the concept of a 2-sided telco business model. Our collaboration focused on the evolution of the M2M market. Where is it going? And, what strategies can companies apply as M2M evolves into the Internet of Things (IoT). Here is a link [1] to their recent research report which includes extracts from some of my previous essays.

The central theme of the report is that M2M service providers need to adapt to an IoT world as characterized by:

  • billions of devices, connected via a variety of (short- and long-range) technologies which interact with applications that draw data from a variety of sources including other applications.

  • a convergence between ‘Digital’ and IoT which arises because many M2M/IoT devices will rely on smartphone/tablet interfaces and associated identity-mapping relationships.

How will mobile network operators (MNOs), who are at the nexus of these changes, react in relation to the new addressable market opportunities and the organisational models necessary for commercial success?

MNOs have three choices.

Jan 4, 2015

2014 Corporate Initiatives; market rules are changing

Following several years of rapid growth, the 141 corporate initiatives in 2014 almost matched the 147 events that occurred in 2013.

In 2014, companies in the M2M eco-system were less active in several areas. As illustrated below, there were fewer recorded events of companies either: expanding into new market segments; promoting new technology; and, entering into partnering agreements. Product innovation saw a rise in activity as companies launched new products and services. In general, these addressed the needs for specific customer applications.


Nov 11, 2014

Business innovation at IoT speed

Having worked on the topic of M2M value chain structures in 2012, a couple of relevant market developments caught my attention over the past few weeks. These involve: Aeris, an M2M service provider, Cisco, and Deutsche Telekom.

Each of these company initiatives aims to simplify the process of implementing M2M and IoT applications. They provide guidance to (non-technical) companies that are seeking to implement M2M solutions while also providing an organising structure for complex application situations. These examples hold lessons that companies can apply to improve their sales performance in M2M and IoT markets.

Oct 3, 2014

Long term prospects for IoT and 'digital'

Last month, I was invited to chair a panel for the eponymously named company, Apigee. Although it was billed as an API event, Chet Kapoor (Apigee’s CEO) opened the 2-day conference by framing today’s market in terms of the transition to ‘digital’, with APIs being a key implementation enabler. His opening remarks summarised the situation as follows:

  • Every business is a digital business
  • Every business needs a digital platform
  • Every business has a Chief Digital Officer 

In the past, I have written on the topic of telecoms operators launching ‘digital’ strategies [1]. It was therefore reassuring to hear this development being so firmly validated. It was also positive to witness several enterprises discuss their digital strategies and early implementation successes.

As the market develops, enterprise demand will continue to drive demand for enabling services. These are opportunities that telecoms operators and specialist M2M/IoT platform providers can capitalise upon. There is early evidence of this trend in the recent investment activities of companies like SingTel and Telstra.