Can 2G networks play a role in IoT? Actually, they can. Vodafone's head of IoT, Andrew Morawski, explains how while also discussing how Vodafone will roll out Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) next year to provide additional scalability for its Internet of Things (IoT) platform.
In Part 1 of Telco Transformation’s Q&A with Morawski, he discussed the results of Vodafone's recent IoT Barometer 2016 report. In this second installment, he spoke about the importance of planning in regards to tapping into IoT’s great potential. (See Vodafone's Morawski Checks IoT's Pulse.)
IoT has the ability to completely transform business processes as it enables decisions to be made on the basis of big data analytics. The cloud makes it all possible for data storage, analytics, mobile access and IoT integration with core systems. The possibilities are already there, but it's up to the businesses to identify their own targets and communicate their vision to their service providers to make it happen, according to Morawski.
Telco Transformation: Is Vodafone working on changes to its own platform to provide the increasing number of IoT adopters with what they need?
Andrew Morawski: As far as our IoT platform goes, it was built for scalability from the start. We had a vision of what the IoT market could become and designed our platform to scale.
As far as networks go, at Vodafone, we see NB-IoT as one of the major technologies that will drive connectivity and the growth on IoT. We see NB-IoT as such an important part of IoT adoption because it can help provide connectivity to new classes of products -- like utility meters, smoke alarms, or even parking spots -- that have an impact on society. As such, Vodafone will roll out NB-IoT technology in multiple markets during 2017. That will be truly scalable IoT connectivity for a vast majority of "things" which don't require a significant power or data transmission.
Our 2G networks are already connecting devices that only require low levels of data transfer, like smart meters. A large proportion of our network hardware only requires a software upgrade to support the technology, which means the job of getting it ready for widespread NB-IoT deployments can be completed extremely quickly. We estimate that 85% of our basestations will be able to support NB-IoT with a straightforward software upgrade. However in some markets, such as the Netherlands, the figure rises to 95%. We've already started the process of upgrading our core and radio network and we expect to launch services across Vodafone markets during 2017. While there is still work to do, we believe it could be one of the fastest rollouts of new technology that we’ve ever completed.
TT: In what ways is IoT enabled by the cloud, big data analytics, and other tools?
AM: Cloud and analytics are essential to the foundation of IoT, and they are being used in new ways to make IoT even more transformative for businesses. Businesses are integrating IoT with business systems. Globally, more than 90% of adopters say they store IoT data in the cloud, use analytics to support decision making, integrate IoT data with core systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP), and use mobile devices to give employees access to IoT data.
IoT is all about data: 81% of all businesses globally say that IoT can only deliver real value if you effectively use the data it generates. And, IoT data is informing business strategy in new ways, as 64% of businesses consistently use big data and analytics platforms to support decision-making. Data is also essential for building IoT ecosystems that will ultimately deliver the most value to customers. More than two-thirds of those that use IoT globally say they feel safe sharing their IoT data with other organizations. Our barometer report also found that a third of IoT adopters in the Americas are using the technology to connect multiple organizations and/or industries, creating new ecosystems through IoT.
TT: Is there anything else you identify as essential for the working relationship between enterprises that want to make IoT a part of their business strategy and service providers?
AM: The ability to have a clear target or true goal for IoT within your organization is an essential part of the process. It's important to understand how IoT can affect many different aspects of your business and to determine where you may find the most value for your organization. For example, even just starting out small to use IoT to trigger manual processes can result in a better customer experience or reduced costs. A larger vision and scope, such as implementing IoT to connect organizations and industries together, can lead to more benefits such as staff productivity, informed decision-making, new revenue streams, and more. Either way, it's important to nail down where and how you want IoT to help your business. If businesses have this vision and can communicate it with their service providers, then they can both execute and achieve successful IoT projects.
— Ariella Brown, Technology Writer, Telco Transformation