IoT evolution: Entering new business dimensions
Guest blog: Stefan Gubi, Senior Vice President Cross Industries & IoT, T-Systems.
In 1986, when I started my first job in the telecommunications sector, mobile communication as we know it today was still far away. The GSM network and the first “pocket phones” – for around 1,400 euros – didn’t come until 1992. 20 years later – by 2012 – 160 million short texts daily were being sent over the fourth-generation network every day. And then, suddenly, SMS volumes declined sharply: WhatsApp had achieved mass uptake by consumers. Since then, OTT (over-the-top) providers have really shaken up the telecommunications industry – with free phone and text services that not only compete with the telcos’ own services, but also demand enormous network capacities.
Driven by new technologies and new customer demands, today’s network is growing faster than ever before – adapting to the needs of the digital world. After all, no network means no digitization. The ultrafast 5G network and narrowband IoT, for data transmission over great distances and into the depths of buildings, are just around the corner. And we’ve only just begun to explore the opportunities of big data analytics. One thing is clear to everybody, however: digitization means competitiveness. But how can we succeed in riding the wave of digitization without being swamped by it? Part of the answer lies in an entrepreneurial mentality.
Today’s winners don’t build their products in isolated labs and then present them to customers after one or two years of development time. Instead, they work quickly, close to customers and with partners, to create their solutions. Openness, speed and the courage to completely realign your business model, be as adaptable as a chameleon, are the most in-demand virtues of the digital age. Deutsche Telekom has also evolved, from a mere network operator to an IoT provider that offers all components for digitization – individually or as a full package; from integrated networks to cloud services and from cybersecurity solutions to end-to-end packages for the IoT and Industry 4.0. If these components are assembled correctly, enormous gains in efficiency and economy are possible.
Yet IoT is easier said than done: when companies try to use data to save money and get closer to their customers, many things can go wrong. Digitization has to be planned beyond departmental boundaries, and often between companies; the IT systems have to speak a common language from procurement and production to customer service. Believe it or not, there are even companies that use different CRM systems at their different locations – and they aren’t even compatible with one another. A connected value chain isn’t possible without harmonized IT. Today, conventional workloads from the private cloud, public cloud applications, big data analytics and CRM software have to go hand in hand.
That’s why I can say from experience: IoT is always teamwork. For Industry 4.0 to come true, the various departments at a company have to work together just as closely as the IT service providers. Apropos digital virtues: a willingness to take off the blinders is needed. Because when it comes down to it, no single provider can serve all of a customer’s needs. Instead, modern IT service providers have to form partner networks behind the scenes – but offer customers everything from a single source. It’s the classic marketplace principle: everything’s on the shelves, but there’s only one shopping cart and one register. T-Systems, Deutsche Telekom’s corporate customers arm, is also pursuing this strategy: in addition to its own services, it also offers some 100 partner solutions – from major players like Microsoft, SAP and Salesforce alongside solutions from IoT startups.
Digitization often involves pioneering work. Whether connected refrigerators, parking spaces, elevators or food containers for caterers, many different industries are testing the IoT and extending their feelers into entirely new business areas. If a fridge manufacturer equips its products with a large display and smart software, like the Smart Cooler from Huawei, the former one-purpose device is instantly transformed to an entertainment or marketing platform – one that can play our favorite songs when we’re standing in front of it or play advertisements if used commercially in a bar. New networks, cloud computing and data analytics software are a springboard for companies to reach new business dimensions – but they have to plan and prepare very well before they take the big leap.
Gubi will be opening the Connected Industry conference on the 1st June at the IoT Tech Expo Europe as a key note speaker. His session ‘Keynote: What is the best route into Industry 4.0?‘ will explore the extent to which organisations need to redesign partnerships & operations in order to realise the value of Industry 4.0 and the IoT, identifying and working with new ecosystem partners and how to support your products and processes through the entire product life cycle.
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