Hilton: Internet of Things progresses at Mobile World Congress 2014

Steve Hilton - MachNation

There were plenty of internet of things (IoT) products on display at the 2014 Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain.

We at MachNation were particularly impressed with some of the non-traditional enterprise products, many of which were high quality and extremely relevant for private and public sector entities. In addition, the products clarified for us areas of future emphasis in the IoT ecosystem.

At the beginning of 2014, MachNation wrote about the three hot IoT trends for 2014. Let us review them below and see if exhibitors at MWC addressed these topics.

Industrial sector connected products
There were certainly great industrial sector IoT products at MWC. A particularly interesting set up was a connected construction site service from Dubai-based SK Solutions. By connecting site assets, personnel and various back-office systems, construction companies can minimise business risks associated with construction errors, injuries, equipment failure and botched asset logistics.

SK has a fascinating service built in partnership with SAP and Cisco -- a partnership that brings together hardware, platforms, analytics, applications and services.

Productised IoT services
Today, it generally takes 4 to 6 technology and services partners to create one enterprise IoT product. This combination of customised hardware, software, platforms, connectivity and services is a inhibitor to the efficient and cost effective rollout of IoT services globally.

MachNation is beginning to see more productised services. A good example are services displayed by Vodafone for home and commercial sector security and surveillance, and some of its smart city services like connected parking meters and parking management.

Undoubtedly there were many custom-developed IoT products at MWC. Virtually every communications operator at the show was delighted to talk about, and display, its IoT and machine to machine (M2M) services. These operators--from North America, Europe, Middle East/Africa and Asia--highlighted their experience in myriad sectors, including automotive and transport, industrial, connected cities, security and surveillance, healthcare, energy and utilities, retail and others.

Some of the most customised services were those for the automotive sector. Although most operators and vendors made the services seem productized, they were highly customized for the unique needs of each automotive OEM.

The exhibit halls at MWC looked like automobile showrooms. There were connected cars from virtually all the major automotive manufacturers. In addition, various vendors like Qualcomm and ZTE were showing their connected car applications and platforms.

Increased focus on operations technology buyers
Operators and vendors need more focus on providing a consistently high-quality customer experience for operations technology (OT) departments as these departments engage with suppliers.

In discussions with operators and technology vendors, we did not get the sense that much focus has been placed on unique selling and support messages to buyers of IoT services. While enterprise IT departments are the normal buyers of connectivity and technology services, generally it is OT departments--various technology teams inside a business unit--that drive the purchase of IoT services.

There is a lot of emphasis on the creation of services, but less on the selling messages, support tools, and reference architectures.

MWC 2014 highlighted some of the strengths and weaknesses of the current IoT ecosystem. We have created a market that can effectively put together innovative and relevant IoT services, but we do not yet have enough focus on creating a consistent, high quality end-to-end customer experience for enterprise IoT buyers in operations roles.

We anticipate a strong showing in 2015 as operators and vendors refine their go-to-market approach and share with us their IoT success stories.

Steve Hilton has 20 years experience in the technology and communications sector, and has specialized in IoT for 7 years. For more information, visit: www.machnation.com