The importance of interoperability in unlocking value from the IoT

Much of the data generated by the IoT is currently retained in different vertical silos, making the value of the data limited

The addition of network connectivity to a new or existing product, for example, may be primarily concerned with hardware, but this connectivity will need to be coupled with a typically cloud-based tool for its basic management. A service-based model involves the transformation of traditional product offerings into recurrent service offerings, while an ecosystem-based model sees the focus shift from an end-to-end product or service offering to the delivery of a shared platform which enables an operator’s partners to monetize their own unique capabilities. The final model is based on data insights, in which operators generate revenue by monetizing aggregated and anonymized data generated by the wealth of connections across the IoT and, if required, providing analysis of that data. 

Breaking up silos

Data, as we know, is “the new oil.” One of the most valuable tools for any business, data’s value will only increase following the connection of millions—and even billions—of devices, and access to the intelligence and insight that can be derived from the data they generate.

High among the benefits that interoperability offers operators is the ability for them to understand and analyze the vast amount of customer and transactional data they collect and, by quickly and easily sharing it with their customers and partners, monetize it.

By performing real-time analytics on the subscriber data they hold, operators are able to improve their own operational efficiency. Data analytics allow operators to create new business opportunities too, by personalizing and more accurately targeting their service or product offering based on greater insights into consumer behavior. Of course, the opportunity to make these analytics available to their commercial partners is also important.

Much of the data generated by the IoT, however, is currently retained in different vertical silos. The value of the data collected is limited when it is siloed for use only by certain applications and developers. After all, the true value of the IoT lies in unfettered access to rich data sets from multiple sources, organizations and verticals, regardless of the format in which that data is held—and for what purpose.

While it makes some commercial sense for individual operators to lock customers into their own unique set of standards, they are missing the wider opportunity identified earlier, in which that data and the insight that it offers can be shared with customers and partners—for a price. Using a cloud-based platform, for example, will provide them with the flexibility and scalability they need to do just that.

What’s more, the telecoms ecosystem must work together to define a set of standards that will enable this universal access to data, no matter which device it originated from, or how or where it has been held. 

Transforming telecoms

The Internet of Things is probably the most significant technological development in many years and is set to radically transform the way in which businesses everywhere operate. The telecoms industry plays an essential role in this transformation, providing the connectivity that underpins the entire IoT infrastructure.

So far, however, this role has not fully translated into a competitive advantage for network operators themselves. With traditional revenue streams being eroded by OTT players and largely operating on outdated legacy business models, operators have seen their profits dwindle. Now, though, the IoT offers them the opportunity to reclaim some of this lost ground. Whether they look to maximize the potential of new partnerships and business models or build upon existing relationships, operators themselves must undergo a transformation of their own if they are to unlock the full value of the IoT.

No longer must they be solely focused on monetizing the connectivity and additional services they offer their customers. Now they must consider the bigger picture. The billions of connected devices that make up the IoT will create a whole new ecosystem, one that contains multiple vendors, multiple operators, and multiple formats and systems. These too, must be connected if the IoT is to succeed.

By eliminating data silos and enabling interoperability across the entire ecosystem, operators will establish themselves as key players in this success, delivering additional ongoing services to new and existing customers and partners and enjoying the associated revenue that the IoT can offer.


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