Subscribers no longer need to settle for simple technological tools but can instead look forward to advanced technological tools, pushing the demand for telecommunications to review their offerings and transform, or risk being left in the tracks of their competitors.
The big advantages of IoT (Internet of Things) will mean changed lives; not only in our homes where we may employ voice-assisted technology and remote control of household goods but also in our businesses; the Telecoms industry included.
IoT allows Telcos to derive revenue not only on the functionality and performance of their networks, products, and services but also from them.
How Telcos derive value from IoT information
Deloitte provides a framework to realise the full potential of IoT from the information it generates: Let’s break the framework down into a summary:
The framework is a loop; in other words, an action that gives rise to information, that impacts future action. For information to become valuable, it needs to pass through each stage which is enabled by a specific technology.
A sensor creates information that passes to a network for communication.
Standards allow and dictate what information to collect.
Augmented intelligence captures data for analysis.
The loop is completed via augmented behavior technologies that enable action for improvement.
The key to deriving value is to get information around the Value Loop, and how much value is a function of the value drivers; magnitude, risk, and time.
The Value Loop starts with creating and communicating. Sensors result in data, which is the creating stage.
A brief outlook on Telecommunications and IoT
What can the Telecommunication industry expect with regards to IoT over the next few years?
The rise of 5G
When 4G arrived, it moved the internet off our desktops and into our pockets and palms.
5G however, will move us beyond carrying around a device and instead become a lifestyle we never knew we needed until we had it.
We know that 5G boasts benefits beyond fast connectivity, and we have an idea of what that can look like, but the full picture remains largely unknown at this time.
Today, Telcos and corporations are determining which “killer apps” will be for 5G and it’s likely that up to now, we won’t have experienced them.
We can expect to see the next decade’s solutions being based around 5G.
Gartner predicts that revenues for worldwide 5G network infrastructure will reach $4.2 billion in 2020; showing year-after-year growth of 89%, and Telcos are set to benefit from the windfall.
To attract and retain users, Telecom companies are issuing unlimited-data plans increasingly, and 5G will allow them to increase both monthly data capacity and download speed on unlimited plans.
Major Telcos have started targeting 5G applications for industries, such as healthcare, retail, transportation, education, and manufacturing. Telcos are able to use 5G as a public or private network enabler.
Enterprise applications will increasingly rely on edge computing which is enabled by 5G, and in the next few years, we believe about half of all IoT generated data will be managed either close to or at the edge of networks. Further, data aggregation and processing at the edge will provide bandwidth savings and at the same time, reduce latency and improve reliability.
Although some countries already boast 5G and we are already utilising some of the power of IoT at this point, when 5G is installed the world over, it will move IoT into a full-steam global reality.
Security is a priority
The idea of smart cities is what’s driving the rising demand for IoT security.
This is because sustainable development is becoming more of a reality as the population grows, and smart cities are more able to handle dense populations and control thereof and provide the security that people need in this age.
Installing IoT devices in smart cities will enable better security.
Blockchain technology to enhance security
A new trend for the protection of IoT data is blockchain technology, which is integrated into IoT networks to ensure enhanced privacy and security; essential especially as more “things” are connected.
- Reduces processing time and cost.
- Records and streamlines transactions.
- Tracks and coordinates connected devices.
- Allows for compliance efficiency.
- Does not duplicate entries.
- Minimises data leakages and fraud.
- Ensures cryptographic security.
Industrial IoT growing rapidly
Industries are increasingly adopting smart devices as a way to streamline and reduce time in operational processes.
The focal point of Industrial IoT (IIoT) is the technology backend for cross solution connectivity and interoperability.
The major benefit of IoT is improved productivity, hence the market demand and growth.
According to Market Watch, the global industrial IoT market is predicted to reach around USD 751.3 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 23.88% from 2017 to 2023. Holistically, the future of Internet of Things is filled with endless opportunities and market growth.
IoT opportunities for Telcos
The most obvious way for the largest Telecoms operators and MSOs (Multi-Service Operators) to gain advantages of IoT is the provision of connectivity via their networks.
But it does not have to end there. In fact, IoT opens up huge opportunities for operators and MSOs to reposition themselves and create new business models.
An annual Statista survey conducted in 2019 showed that 81% of Telecoms who were surveyed say that after home automation, the next biggest IoT area for Telecom opportunities are smart cities, followed by utilities and industrial IoT.
Image Credit: Statista survey
What are the greatest Telecommunications opportunities other than home automation?
In order for Telecoms to monetise and benefit from these emerging opportunities, they must develop innovative methods and applications; both internally and externally:
Telecoms internal use of IoT
As in any industry, Telecoms may use IoT internally in order to streamline their business. Increased productivity and process efficiencies, and improved asset utilisation, can save on expenditures.
Optimise operational efficiency
IoT allows the collection of real-time data to be transformed in order to optimise efficiency, reducing the number of resources needed, and eliminating human error. The IoT data has the potential to impact the following processes:
- Inventory management and other relevant data around it.
- Customer satisfaction; analytics show behaviour of customers so that Telcos can optimise their customer facing processes in line with the data.
- Asset maintenance. Predictive analytics allow for predictions on how long assets will stay functional.
- Personnel management; for example, what breaks employees take and when.
- Optimising locations by rearranging things.
- Energy savings. For instance, certain lights can be activated to switch on at certain times.
Using IoT for data analytics to develop prediction models
Advanced Analytics techniques; for example, Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics, process huge amounts of data with less effort and cost.
Advantages of IoT data analytics include:
- Enhances service quality.
- Predicts churn rate.
- Obtains a competitive edge.
- Making better business decisions.
M2M (Machine to Machine) is most commonly used where data needs to be collected from remote sources. It is peer-to-peer connectivity via mesh network protocols, i.e. Bluetooth or Zigbee, requiring no human intervention.
Benefits to Telcos include:
- Operational efficiency.
- Quality of services.
- Improves decision making.
- Improve cost efficiency and ROI.
- Unlimited scalability.
Offer location-based services
Location-based applications allow your customers to broadcast their current location coordinates to their customers.
An example is store locator apps.
IoT Security for your brick and mortar buildings
Security and alarm systems for offices are connected to the internet and controlled through apps instead of humans, making IoT security systems more secure and reliable.
Monitor remote sites more effectively
More advantages of IoT internally include remote monitoring, which involves gathering, analysing, and monitoring information from a remote location using the cloud.
Smart management solutions
As IoT progresses, so will the need for data, which also needs to be managed. Optimise cloud infrastructure by developing smart cloud operation management solutions.
Because IoT is designed to connect a myriad of devices, applications, servers, databases, and networks to the cloud, the technology offers Telecom providers real-time access to the type of data that has never previously been accessible.
However, this also increases the complexity of infrastructures and ecosystems, with more concern of security as well as data management.
IoT allows for advanced performance monitoring tools to track performance and reliability of devices, applications, and connections, helping operators to:
- Monitor the end-to-end network and performance of connected devices, applications, servers, network components, and databases.
- Keep an eye on and identify vulnerabilities and threats around security.
- Set up performance measurements of foundational equipment.
- Get detailed insights on IoT transmission and communication patterns to pinpoint the source of bottlenecks, whether existing or potential.
- The coordinate device, applications, servers, databases, and network performance.
Telecoms external use of IoT
External advantages of IoT allows Telcos to offer a range of services and assets that extend far beyond their core products and services.
Instead of their focus remaining on their networks, they can leverage their experience and systems to offer OSS and BSS platforms externally to IoT users.
Since IoT is really about turning data into action, Telcos can monetise their data to drive and grow.
Because IoT is the basis for automation and transformation, Telecom providers can use it to:
Improve customer satisfaction
By using technology to collect the vast amounts of data that are generated by Telecoms operators and analysing it, the business can find trends and behaviour that allow them to make the best marketing, sales and product creation decisions that foster customer retention and new business.
Get more information about using IoT to improve customer satisfaction.
Create new revenue streams
As IoT progresses, it will create demands that were never conceived of before.
Suddenly people and businesses will require new services, which will provide opportunities for operators to create new revenue streams and services on top of their primary functions.
In an analysis of top Telecoms operators who implemented IoT initiatives, Huawei found the following three models to provide the most benefits:
- Cloud services. Offer basic bundled cloud services that saves money and improve customer satisfaction.
- Integrate solutions. Integrate services between SaaS and devices and work with industry players for mobile money and to provide other services.
Track and trace
Major Telecom companies use IoT to track and trace products in transit, customer satisfaction levels, engagement levels of both employees and customers, and assets, to name a few.
A good example is Telecoms giant Telkom and partners who have very recently created a track and trace platform to help fight against the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa. The app can track an infected person’s location and those they have been in contact with.
Another example of IoT tracking and tracing technology in Telecoms is devices lookup; locate devices anywhere, anytime, lock and unlock them remotely and manage upgrades remotely.
How analytics and IoT work hand-in-hand
The IoT connects objects, apps, devices, appliances, wearables, etc. These all generate a massive amount of data to the internet 24 hours a day, non-stop.
But on its own, it’s just meaningless raw data. Raw data is only transformed into meaningful insights by analysis. And when analysed, these insights are unparalleled for helping Telcos make the best business decisions around products and services, customer satisfaction, operations, sales, and marketing.
Data analytics provides operators with the ability to easily pick up trends or patterns in order to take action for improvement, or even to know how to bundle products and services or create new ones.
Telcos usually see the value in investing in IoT technology upfront because they know that it’s likely the investment will quickly pay for itself by:
- Pinpointing wasted resources or saving them time and effort with automation of tasks that were previously performed manually.
- Valuable insights provides management with key metrics to make powerful business enhancements in many areas.
Telecoms organisations are currently at risk of being viewed as providers of basic utilities rather than innovative solutions for their customers, but IoT and data analysis has the ability to change that.
In order to use data meaningfully, Telcos first need to understand its potential value, and employ four key components to develop the most basic data analytics capabilities, which are:
- Clean data.
- One centralised hub, or dashboard for all sources of data to point to (this can either be developed in-house or bought ready-made and customisable).
- People with the right skills to process and analyse data.
- The right tools.
However, according to STL Partners, one of the greatest challenges by Telecoms today, are issues with the collection and management of data:
Image Credit: STLPartners
It is for this reason that Adapt IT｜Telecoms developed CDRlive analytics technology specifically for Telcos. It’s the product of more than 18 years of expertise in the Telecommunications industry.
The technology is AI (Artificial Intelligence) and AR (Augmented Reality)-ready, to track and manage the profitability of the entire customer lifecycle.
CDRlive is used by small companies as well as giants like Telstra, Vodafone, and MTN to extract, transform, analyse, report, etc. It’s the only one of its kind and includes an auditable ETL process to ensure that data is both accurate and complete.
Find out more about our entire analytics product range in order to get prepared for 5G and IoT.
The role of IoT and analytics
Analytics is key to making IoT generated data valuable, and which should drive the business decision making process.
As more and more “things” are connected and lead to IoT growth in Telecoms, the subsequent data generated is increasing at a rapid rate, and as with many areas of business, IoT is pushing us to do things differently.
As such, conventional data storage technology is already being pushed to its limits, and this demands advanced and innovative solutions.
IoT generated data that is analysed is useful to:
- Examine areas of the business.
- Reveal patterns and new information.
- Find unseen trends and hidden correlations.
By analysing IoT data, operators can understand how it affects business results.
Data analytics fuels benefit through multiple layers:
- The human management of operational performance
- AI to control automation.
Analysis of IoT data can be used for both existing and new services.
Increasingly, Telcos are understanding that the key to building new revenue streams and keeping costs down, is to find ways to make better use of the enormous amount of data they work with on a daily basis, and which makes up the backbone of their core operations.
Up to this point, for the most part, less than 53% of companies utilise their data, even though McKinsey reports that if they were to adopt a data-driven approach, they could reduce church rate by around 15%.
The reason many have lagged behind is largely that the amount of data is overwhelming and difficult to manage let alone use meaningfully.
The good news for Telcos is that with data analytics technology, they are now able to extract and leverage insights from data more accurately, easily, and quickly to improve processes and unlock new data-enabled service areas that accommodate the progression of IoT.
The data generated from IoT devices only becomes valuable if it is subjected to analysis for:
- Volume to extract trends and patterns.
- Structure of data sets.
- IoT investments for ROI for insight around customer behaviour, preferences and choices in order to improve customer satisfaction and for the development of services and offers. In turn, this increases profit.
- Actionable insights provide a competitive edge in the market.
The combination of IoT and analytics means increased ROI from added value. In addition, IoT and data will drive self-service analytics, automation and integration. Analytics-as-a-Service will become more of a self-service type.
IoT plus data analytics also allows Telecom companies to build predictive models that can help them predict upcoming trends in the industry or in their business.
The biggest advantages of IoT can mean a total transformation of a Telecoms operator. IoT provides Telcos with opportunities not only to derive revenue from the functionality and performance of their networks, products, and services but also from the information that is generated by their core offerings.
IoT benefits companies in their internal processes as well as external, and is set to positively impact the quality of service, sales, and marketing initiatives, and most importantly, ROI.
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