Over the past several weeks I’ve been talking about the transformation of the telecom industry; telcos having to come to terms with the fact that being the supplier of wireless networks and other traditional communications services is simply not enough to stay relevant in this rapidly changing market. In order to become digital telcos the industry needs to find a new niche, a place where its comprehensive networks and detailed consumer profiles can be deployed and monetized, and that’s exactly where the growing Internet of Things (IoT) comes into play.
Most analysts agree that our burgeoning connected everything existence provides the largely stagnant telecom industry with a unique opportunity for reinvention; a chance to evolve into an industry of the future, instead of being little more than the dumb pipe that facilitates the evolution of other industries.
In fact, given that IoT cuts across multiple industries (automotive, aviation, healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, security etc…) and involves almost every facet of our lives, there are few companies better situated to provide a comprehensive platform to unify this disparate market than telcos themselves.
I might even go as far as to say that the Internet of Things will define the telecom industry going forward…that is if the industry can evolve fast enough to capitalize on this opportunity of course.
There are telcos already well-situated to deliver the unified foundation IoT will need to truly draw together every doodad and gadget of our existence into one comprehensive system. Just last week AT&T released an statement regarding its own IoT efforts, revealing some surprising numbers regarding the exponential growth of the connected everything industry.
AT&T is connecting more people, processes and machines with the Internet of Things (IoT). Since January 2015, AT&T has struck IoT agreements with more than 136 companies across numerous industries… The AT&T network had nearly 22 million IoT connected devices worldwide as of March 31, 2015. More than 945,000 smart devices connected during the first quarter of this year. That’s 70 percent more than the same quarter a year ago. Of those devices, 684,000 were connected cars. AT&T is leading the industry, working with eight of the top automakers.
As AT&T’s CEO of Mobile and Business Solutions Ralph de la Vega went on to say, the company is seeing interest from companies in almost every industry. “They want to connect their machines, fleets, factories, shipping containers – even pallets – to our network,” de la Vega said. “We’re helping businesses solve real problems by building custom solutions that automate operations, reduce costs, and save time. With our highly secure and reliable network, there’s no limit to what can be connected.”
That, my friends, is the future of the telecom industry, as IoT not only creates “an endless array of opportunities and possibilities,” as Disruptive Views writer Jonathon Gordon explains, but helps solidify the varied roles telcos can have in the digital world, from everything from a traditional retailer of network connectivity solutions to more involved partnerships with any number of industries.
While IoT stands as but one avenue for telcos to remain relevant in this digital age, I would say it serves as the most promising; a virtually endless field of disparate possibilities that telcos have the tools and resources to help unify going forward.