8 ways IoT is redefining the telecommunications ecosystem


The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing how we work, how we live, how we get value from our belongings and assets, and even how government and society function. And the connectivity layer for the IoT is usually provided by the telecommunications system, which means it will consequently become part of an ecosystem.

Looking at the way analytics is reaching deeper into the telecommunications industry, it seems IoT is one of the strongest forces for reimagining long-held beliefs. Here are my top eight:

The industry will need to move from revenue generation to value generation

This may sound like playing with words, but I think there is a genuine difference, and it is about focus and philosophy. Up to now, the telecoms industry has, as a whole, focused on making money out of its customers. It has not been thinking long-term, or about cost, control, convenience and co-creation. In the emerging IoT-enabled world, companies will succeed by working in partnership with customers to generate value for both parties by thinking about all these issues, or rather possibilities. This requires a change in mindset, sooner rather than later.

To be cost-competitive will require data-driven network decisions

Crucially, telecoms operators will need to improve their analytics capacity to generate insights into network issues faster, or even before they happen, to enable predictive maintenance to improve network quality and keep cost down. Reliable network services delivery requires rapid assessment of the situation and effective decision making, followed by action. Automation and real-time analytics capabilities will be even more essential in the networks based on new technologies like 5G, SDN and NFV, where quality and dynamic intelligent capacity allocation are core requirements for services like autonomous cars, heart rate surveillance or diabetes pumps.

The telecoms ecosystem may turn out to be much broader than originally envisaged

When we talk about the telecoms ecosystem, many people may still be thinking about operators, infrastructure providers and customers. However, the data generated from mobile devices and wearables connected to mobile and other telecoms networks has huge potential in other sectors, which some operators have started to explore. This means that the traditional concept of the “telecoms ecosystem” may soon become as outdated as the idea of only having a landline. Already the telecoms ecosystem for some operators’ partners in insurance and smart homes are all connected via the IoT, and I think the potential to find many new ways to increase value is endless.

The watchwords maybe both “freedom” and “control – but for customers, not operators

Telecoms networks look likely to be the glue that cements together the IoT. The mobile interface is increasingly the choice for customers around the world to connect and access services, giving telecom operators the opportunity to drive real value. By connecting devices and services through a single interface, a hub, the telecoms system provides customers with both freedom and control over their lives. Now that’s value!

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Generating value requires experimentation, and that means frequent failures

None of us likes failing, but a crucial part of succeeding in a fast-moving and ever-changing world is being prepared to take risks, try out new things and move on swiftly from failures, learning from experience to drive new ideas and innovation. The use of the IoT – and even more, artificial intelligence – will require everyone, including telecom operators, to adopt a “fail fast and learn” mindset that accepts and embraces the importance of experimentation.

There are still a lot of “unknown unknowns” for the telecoms industry

We know there will be a lot of changes in telecoms with the IoT, and particularly that there is likely to be some disruption. It is easy enough to predict moves from selling products to selling services or capacity. We do not, however, know exactly what will change, and particularly not what new business models we might see. Tolerance of uncertainty will be very important over the next few years and is linked to the idea of experimentation.

We know that closer collaboration and integration will be vital

Wherever you look in telecoms, people are talking about the value of integration, cooperation, and collaboration. Whether it is the value of an integrated enterprise analytics platform, improved collaboration across industries like telecoms and insurance, or convergence between the IoT industry and the telecoms ecosystem, there is no question that increased cooperation and breaking down silos are seen as essential parts of value generation. I would even state it is a MUST to be part of this for the future.

Shared data ownership will be especially important

One area that has generated particular difficulties in the past is the question of data ownership, and who has the right to use data. There have been complex discussions about whether data belongs to the customer, the telecoms operator, the app developer or the device manufacturer. Some of these may become academic as the General Data Protection Regulation comes into force, but this is not an argument that is easy to resolve. I think, however, that success in the new world requires a willingness to move beyond this type of discussion into consideration about how everyone can work together to generate the most value for everyone and societies going forward. Using data and analytics for goodwill ensure a bright future for the whole world.

What are your experiences with IoT? Are you seeing a new role in the telecommunications ecosystem?


About Author

Mari Nilsson Björkman

Senior Advisor

With almost 20 years’ experience in the Telecom space from many different perspectives, I am still intrigued by the fast change this segment is constantly undergoing. Everything that can gain from being connected will be - affecting us all both professional and privately. Right now I am amazed by how applying Analytics on the Data created brings so much value, insights and support in this huge digital transformation we are all participating in. Seeing proof of this almost every day I strongly believe in #analytics4good!

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