Vendors look to IoT for digital momentum at MWC 2017
The exhibitor list at Mobile World Congress was extensive this year and apart from traditional consumer focused players it attracted many enterprise oriented ones as well, from IT services providers, to software companies, hardware companies and even management consultancies.
The main topic of the event in one word was Digital, and under the digital umbrella there were offerings and demos based on emerging technologies such as Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and cyber security. PAC attended the congress, and from a series of 1:1 meetings discovered that many of the IoT projects are still small in scale and at the proof-of-concept stage.
Overall, the exhibitors mainly focused on telecom sector, which is hardly surprising given the telco heritage of the event and its organiser GSMA. Value propositions presented are mostly developed to help telecom providers transform and survive in the digital world, in which data and connectivity is becoming commoditized, and quad-play services are pretty much standard. Thus to stay relevant, telcos need to think outside the box if they want to maintain or increase their value in the value chain and become less dependent on selling SIM plans.
Telco oriented providers such as NEC showed offerings based on Software Defined Networking (SDN) or Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) concept which could bring down telcos' operating costs. Ericsson on the other hand revealed the partnership with WeDo Technologies, a Portuguese revenue assurance and fraud management platform provider. The two companies plan to help telcos get the most out of their digital initiatives with a revenue streams protection and assurance services. Digital ecosystems is also important for telcos and making their management easier can be done via digital platforms from the likes of BearingPoint.
Other than telecom, sectors that also caught an attention from vendors is financial services. IBM announced the partnership with Santander to develop a new suite of business apps that should boost its employee experience. Oracle, on the other hand is working with MasterCard to develop digital payments services, whereas French giant Orange is about to launch a bank.
From an IoT perspective, a lot of noise was made around connectivity, especially from the operator side but chipmakers as well. For example, Deutchse Telekom is working on smart city solution based on NB-IoT, whereas Orange opted out for LTE-M to do some trial work in smart metering and wearables. ARM is also working on building NB-IoT based solutions with its partners.
Solution wise there were many interesting use cases showcased, such as for example Citrix's Workspace IoT concept for meeting rooms that makes it easy to convert any room into a meeting room with a touch of a button aiming to make collaboration easier. Japanese giant Panasonic showcased its connected airport offering which includes a suite of solutions aimed to boost passenger experience as well as airport operations, featuring customer engagement tools for public spaces, beacon technologies and retail screens.
Another interesting proposition came from Sierra Wireless which presented the world's fastest connected car capable of going 1,000 mph that uses Sierra's connectivity modules and gateways to stream and visualize the vehicle data.
Vodafone also presented its work with suitcase maker Samsonite on the luggage tracking solution based on NB-IoT technology that longer battery life of their tracking devices.
Accenture presented Ducati Racing Analytics platform, developed in collaboration with Ducati via Accenture's newly announced Innovation Architecture which integrates its various business capabilities and units, such as for example research, ventures, labs, studios and innovation centres making the prototyping of solutions easier with the help of smaller player like start-ups.
Telcos have an opportunity to transform their business and position themselves higher in the IoT value chain. To do this, taking a more important role than providing the connectivity in the IoT projects is needed, and to get there being a part of a wider IoT partner ecosystem is critical.
Within the ecosystem they can team up with niche IoT solutions providers that work on specific use cases in the sectors of their interests. The timing is good as many of the IoT projects are still at the proof-of-concept stage and even some of the big players do not have many large scale IoT deployments in the field.