The Internet of Things is reaching fruition thanks to improvements in technologies -- such as better security, the deployment of CAT-M1 networks and advent of low-cost silicon and devices -- as well as an improved regulatory environment, according to Verizon's Mark Bartolomeo.
According to research by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), 73% of executives are either researching or currently deploying IoT, with manufacturing, transportation and utilities enjoying the largest growth. Overall, the Internet of Things (IoT) is catching up to the early hype now that it's being deployed in verticals such as healthcare, the energy industry, agriculture, the pharmaceutical industry and in smart cities, according to Verizon's third annual State of the Market: Internet of Things report.
In part one of this Q&A, Bartolomeo, vice president of IoT Connected Solutions, spoke about how Verizon is easing some of the security concerns around IoT and deployments were ramping up. (See Verizon's Bartolomeo: IoT Is Picking Up the Pace.)
Here in part two, he discusses the improving regulatory environment for IoT, the use of drones and the importance of analytics.
Telco Transformation: Can you talk about the progress on the regulatory front for IoT?
Mark Bartolomeo: So, what we saw this year is the implementation of the standards for interoperability in the Drug Safety Act, and the same thing with the Food Safety Act. The big one that we're tracking right now is with the FAA, and the regulatory environment around the use of unmanned aircraft. One of the things that they've done well is the definition of the FAA Part 107 for commercial drone operators, but there's a lot more coming down the road. Then we start looking at things like beyond visual line of sight, you know, other regulatory opportunities with unmanned aircraft.
I think that one of the interesting things right now is that people are seeing the value of drones like they've never seen before, typically in the insurance industry, disaster recovery, FEMA and public safety agencies. Getting into disaster areas during the past months' unfortunate events, looking at what the damage has been. Getting insurance companies actively engaged in assessing the damage, improving customer service, reducing time to pay claims, but also from a public safety infrastructure management standpoint, understanding where the ingress and egress is so that they can get vehicles to sites to be able to do repairs. We're seeing a lot of this begin to occur.
TT: Have there been any unexpected use cases with drones, something you didn't expect?
MB: So I think with drones overall, it's about the insurance industry. It's not just about the claims, but also the ability to inspect. It's looking for things like investment monitoring at work in progress for construction sites, faster surveying and sight safety. This whole sort of safety element is intriguing to me when we talk about UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles].
So, even in our business -- and I'm only mentioning this because I've seen it first hand -- we have thousands of cell towers where cell techs have had to climb up these towers to do inspections and look at these things. Now we're using UAVs to go fly to the top of the cell towers and stream back 4K high-resolution video to provide visibility to the cell techs that are now on the ground. It's much safer, much more efficient and it proves that if you get tools in the hands of people who are really subject matter experts in their field, they're going to find a way to use those tools to improve safety and efficiency.
TT: So we've talked about the progress of IoT, but one of the obstacles the report mentions is that there's a need for better analytics for it to reach its full potential. Can you talk about the importance of analytics?
MB: The way that we've been looking at it has been that it is a transformation for many of our customers, where many of them are new to deploying IoT and M2M. They're getting the data. They're using the data to make decisions. The next step is to get familiar and comfortable to trust the data to be able to use more predictive and prescriptive data analytics to start making some decisions for them. I think that probably everyone is looking at this and thinking about this but they're not ready to give up that control yet.
I think this year a lot of people validated their business cases and said that this implementation will reduce cost, or this implementation will improve customer service by reducing the time between discovery of an issue and resolution of an issue. We're carrying that over now into data analytics where people are looking at business cases to see how data analytics integrated in with M2M automation is going to give us better outcomes, but people are probably saying, "Prove it. Show me." I think that's fair.
TT: The report also suggested that no matter the size of the business, it's best to start small with the first IoT project. Why is that important?
MB: I think that people are conservative by nature when it comes to the deployment of technology. But I think that having a well defined business case and proving the value proposition is a very prudent approach.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation