Monday, December 28, 2015

The 4 Main Challenges to Become an IOT Service Provider

Why there is none or lack of IOT service providers around? Why it takes so long for incumbent telcos that already operate M2M as their primary line of business to adopt IOT as their natural evolution from their M2M? We have seen many IOT platforms being developed by various companies. These platforms can be divided into two - connectivity platform and applications platform. M2M used to be at the connectivity layer where it connects to the various devices but mainly telcos are interested in devices which utilize Sim-cards. Nowadays, the proliferation of applications platforms for IOT makes it easier for IOT solutions provider to create new applications to suit the end-user needs. These platforms are more "open" for devices to connect to any Internet applications using "RESTful" etc. But still the initial question remained - where are these IOT Service Providers?
Here're my first thoughts and wishes to hear more from the readers. These are some of the reasons:-
1 - M2M business is not equal to Internet of Things Business. Traditionally, telcos are interested in M2M because they felt that every sensor or connected devices must be dependent on 2G/3G/LTE network either via simple GPRS or SMS or 3G/LTE mobile. Imagine billions of devices connected via this network. That would generate Billions of Dollars of revenue, right? Wrong - IOT is similar to OTT. They don't require the Simcard to get connected. Anything that supports TCP/IP can be connected to Internet easily. Then, how does a telco charges this "OTT" service?
2 - M2M is like LTE and IOT are like WiMAX. We still remember the days of the "4G Battle between LTE and WiMAX". WiMAX claimed to be an all-IP based network. Flat infrastructure. LTE is a natural evolution of 3G which still requires Simcard to activate the service. Thus, incumbent telcos with 3G/LTE infrastructure "think" differently from the Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Connectivity vs. Applications if you want to think that way. Thus, it requires a change of mindset and skills if current and incumbent telcos want to embrace IOT.
3 - Cloud and Big Data Analytics are new Game Play. It requires a new way of a business model and thinking approach. It's no longer selling "pipes" but the value of the "water in the pipe".
4 - B2C vs. B2B - All this while, telcos are in the business of providing services to the consumers. Only recently they have tried to provide mobility solutions to their enterprise customers. No longer packaging smartphones with new enterprise voice tariffs, no longer selling enterprise mobile data packages, no longer selling leased lines. IOT requires them to understand the actual pain points of the enterprises. They must know how business operates and how they can provide solutions that can either enhance their revenue or become more productive and efficient in their operations.
The list above might not be exhaustive enough, but I wish to listen to the readers views regarding this topic. You are very welcome to provide comments and share this article for further discussion. Thanks!
You can contact the author, Dr. Mazlan Abbas via the below Social Media links:

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Why Internet of Things (IOT) Adoption Will Not Be As Slow as IPv6?

The most common used Internet Protocol IPv4 was first developed in 1970s and the main protocol standard RFC 791 that governs the IPv4 functionality was published in 1981. The impending shortage of address space was recognised as early as in 1992, and thus IETF initiated as early as 1994 to design and develop a suite of protocols and standards now known as IPv6. For example, basic protocol (RFC 2460) was published in 1998, Mobile IPv6 (RFC 3775) published in 2004 etc. It took almost 20 years after the initiation of the project to get a slight traction. Not many organisations and service providers are actually implementing IPv6. There is no urgency until lately when there is no more IPv4 address to be given out.
Thus, will the Internet of Things face a similar fate? It was in the year 1999 when the term IOT was first coined by Kevin Ashton (Executive Director of Auto-ID Center). It was only a day after the IPv6 basic protocol was published and it seems that only the past couple of years, we can see some IOT products appeared. Mainly in the form of IOT Development Kits (can be seen in Kickstarter website).
  1. More Than Just Device or Hardware Players - IOT is only meaningful when its coupled with the right Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics and Semantic industry players. Google, HP, Cisco, Ericsson and many others are openly supporting the idea of IOT. The Company strategic focus is aligned to the idea of Things communicate.
  2. M2M or Internet of Everything or Web of Things - It does not matter what names was given to the IOT but the end game of IOT actually the lives of the people. Unlike IPv6 where it tries to find the so-called "killer apps", IOT is actually "the app".
  3. High Cost - Not all things like your home fridge, microwave, lights have the capability to communicate. However, we are now seeing many companies such as Nike, Withings, Reebok are launching new IOT devices. Expect there will be more to come very soon. The economy of scale will certainly bring the price down.
  4. Sensors Everywhere - M2M and WSN are the earliest forms of IOT i.e. to get things connected and communicate. And these communications devices have specific sensors attached to them such as temperature, humidity, GPS etc. But these devices are application specific. Nowadays, smartphones have various built-in sensors such as inertia, compass, GPS, microphone, camera, proximity and light sensors - suddenly a whole new span of applications can be created. Furthermore, smartphones are very user-centric. It extends the human senses to the device - movement, direction, location, sound, hearing, sight, closeness etc.
IOT era is here and "things" will never look the same again. Agreeable?

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Next Cloud Service - Sensing-as-a-Service

We are aware that "X-as-a-Service" is the concept that came from the Cloud Computing. We heard about IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) etc. In the IOT world, we collect various kinds of data from different kind of sensors. The data can be in the form of:
  1. Spatial - location, speed and orientation
  2. Temporal - time and duration
  3. Environmental - temperature, light, noise level
  4. User characterisation - acitivity (mobility pattern) or social surroundins (friends and interactions)
  5. Resource availability (batter power, computational and storage)
All these data are being collected to either several databases or a single big database. If the data is not being used, it will be useless. The question is - can we monetise this huge amount of sensor data that has been sitting around for ages and unattended? Thus, came this concept of providing "Sensing-as-a-Service". Let's open this data for further analysis so that different set of applications can be develop for different kinds of scenarios.
For example in the area of Aquaculture whereby we have sensors in the ponds that collect data about the Dissolved Ammonia (NH3), Dissolved Oxygen (DO) or acidity (pH). These data are helpful in determining the "health" of the pond. But what if we couple with external information from weather station, market condition etc. It will further help in predicting the best time to sell the fish or prawns. But its also important to monitor the environmental condition of the neighbouring river whenever the water wastage from the pond are being discharged to the river. Sensors from the river are also being collected by the cloud and can be use by other environmental authorities. 
Another example is when we installed different sensors in the City. Visual sensors connected to the traffic light to see the extent of the traffic jam, sensors in the car updating traffic condition in different roads, environmental sensors attached to public buses, GPS sensors connected to taxis and buses to indicate the location of these vehicles. What if - these data can be shared in the cloud and being used by many parties - example the city municipal and transport authority to plan their buildings and roads. Public can plan their travel using their new apps that display the nearest taxi or when the next bus to arrive.
What is your opinion about this concept? Will it be an opportunity to create new business models? Are we going to see new service providers being created specifically to provide IOT service to all?
[NOTE: Article originally published in LinkedIn - Sensing-As-A-Service - An IOT Cloud Service]

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Year 2015 is the Year of IOT

  1. Internet of Things - The Gold is in the Sensor Data”, Adjunct Professor Talk, UTHM, Feb. 9, 2015
  2. Sensing-as-a-Service: Prepare for the Next Business Model for Internet of Things”, IOT Global Innovation Forum 2015, 21-22 April 2015, Dallas, USA
  3. “M2M/IoT success – Overcoming industry fragmentation and a lack of standards”, Panel Session, M2M/IOT Business Platform Asia 2015, 26-27 May, 2015, Bangkok, Thailand
  4. IoT is Here: Where do Service Providers Stand in the Age of IoT?” - CommunicAsia 2015, 2-5 June, Singapore
  5. Measuring the Impact of IOT Business - What Are Your Business Strategies”, CommuniAcAsia 2015, 2-5 June, 2015.
  6. Internet of Things - Connecting and Aggregating the Innovative Minds”, International Conference on Electrical and Electronic Engineering 2015 (IC3E 2015) 10-11 August, 2015, Malacca
  7. Internet of Things - Open the Innovation Gate”, IEEE Conference on Open Systems (ICOS 2015), 14 August, 2015, Melaka
  8. Empowering Smart Citizen to Sense” - ASEAN IoT Innovation Forum, 25-26 August, 2015, Hotel Istana, Malaysia
  9. CitiAct -Empowering the Citizens to Sense”, KL Converge, 27 August, 2015
  10. “Living Lab to Catapult IoT Adoption”, Panel Session, ASEAN IoT Innovation Forum, 25 August 2015, Hotel Istana, Malaysia
  11. Internet of Things and Big Data - The Perfect Marriage” - International Conference on Soft Computing in Data Science 2015 (SCDS2015), 2-3 Sept. 2015, Pullman, Putrajaya
  12. “IOT - Better Insights with Data Blending”, Multimedia University IAP Seminar, Sept. 17, 2015
  13. Listen to the Pusle of the City Using IOT”, Adjunct Professor Talk, UTHM, Sept. 21, 2015
  14. Building Smart Cities with Smart Citizens”, GeoSmart Asia 2015 , 29th Sep - 1st Oct 2015, PWTC, KL
  15. “IOT - Smart City and Smart Citizens”, Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) IEEE Circuits and Systems Malaysia, Oct. 28, 2015
  16. Sensing-as-a-Service for Smart Cities”, 2015 IEEE 12th Malaysia International Conference on Communications (MICC 2015), Hilton Kuching, 23-25 November, 2015
  17. Current and Future Trends in IOT”, Industrial Talk, 3rd Thundercloud Mini Symposium, MMU Melaka, 14 Dec. 2015

About the Author:
Dr. Mazlan Abbas is the CEO of REDtone IOT Sdn Bhd since 2014 that provides Smart City Solutions.



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