Today’s innovations have the ability to change the world at an unprecedented breadth and pace. Cloud, social media, and now smartphones and wearables. We have seen how these disruptive technologies can transform the way we conduct business and live our lives. The next big wave in our technological and cultural future includes a world where all devices are connected and working together to improve the lives of consumers and the efficiency of organizations. This wave is being driven by rapidly declining cost of sensors, widespread network connectivity, and software that ties together the physical and digital elements of our lives.
Frequently dubbed the “Internet of Things” or IoT, this growing sector offers the potential of making our lives more seamless, efficient and enjoyable. IoT enables services to help us take better care of our loved ones, save us money through more efficient utilization of energy, and save us time by automating and anticipating tasks. It has been projected that there will be 50 billion Internet connected things by 2020, and that profits and cost savings from IoT will reach a staggering US$19 trillion over the next 10 years.
The Internet of Opportunities
IoT has significant implications for businesses too – enabling them to become virtual service providers, enjoy new ways to connect to their customers, drive additional revenue streams and build customer loyalty. Companies like Philips are innovating in the lighting world, delivering app-controlled color-changing bulbs that bring the Philips brand front and center, enabling Philips to differentiate itself in a commoditized lighting business.
Most of all, IoT presents a significant opportunity for telecommunications companies (telcos) – to ride the wave of increased consumer awareness of the smart home IoT category to deliver differentiated services that enable higher customer stickiness and increased ARPUs (Average Revenue Per User). Consumers expect telcos to be the providers of smart home solutions, to be the “go-to” guys who can bring together best-of-breed devices and services under one roof2. However, this opportunity comes with risks: the IoT market is fragmented, with many different protocols and standards. Selecting the wrong standard could result in unplanned service obsolescence and upset customers.
The platform of possibilities
Some of the most successful global organizations in the telco and consumer electronics industries are turning to IoT platforms, and not standalone applications, in order to ensure that their devices connect and interoperate with one another. The ideal approach is to utilize platforms that everyone can participate in.
These are platforms that can solve the hard problems across design, development, management and security, allowing users to engage with – and easily control – any device from anywhere, and on any screen. Services can then be built on these platforms without requiring developers to have an in-depth understanding about the underlying technologies used by different sensors within a home or business environment. Such platforms create the best IoT user experiences possible by resolving critical issues across both hardware and software, at home and away from home. The right platform will free up developers to build differentiated applications and enable operators to monetize a service that adds real value to end users. Clearly, the key is in a horizontally-designed platform that manages the complexity of connectivity.