Photo: Adaire Fox-Martin
Enterprises, governments and small businesses across geographies and industries are being confronted with similar overarching market and socioeconomic forces—consumerisation of IT driven by internet and smartphones, rising 'end-customer' awareness and expectations, margin and budgetary pressures.
Organisations continue reworking internal structures, processes and systems to better allocate resources, to do more with less, to stay ahead. A fresher, more innovative perspective may sometimes be required—finding the right problem rather than solving existing 'known' problems.
Technology advances spanning cloud, big data, analytics and mobility offer welcome respite in terms of process automation and optimisation, cost reduction, agility to reining business focus back to core competencies, gaining agility to drive new business models.
Coincidentally, these are the core elements driving what is commonly termed as Internet of Things (IoT) or Machine to Machine (M2M). Smart cities, smart grids, smart vending machines, smart cars—the list is long. Whilst the applications and use cases are many, the process of actually embarking on this journey and making continued progress is daunting for most organisations. High associated costs, major internal change management and significant investment and execution risks of driving such initiatives internally remain major impediments.
Telcos (including communications service providers or CSPs) have a tremendous opportunity here to carve themselves an enviable niche in this rapidly expanding domain, delivering value to enterprises through cloud and M2M offerings. Existing assets and expertise that telcos possess provide the necessary foundation and edge to become M2M and cloud platform and service providers:
- Infrastructure (connectivity, networks, data centres)
- Proven high-volume service delivery
- Access to both enterprise and consumer customer bases, and
- Multiple and mature routes to market
Key considerations in developing enterprise strategy for M2M and cloud:
- Business Viability
- Form strategic and tactical partnerships in providing industrialised, standardised, and end-to-end services to businesses
- Nurture innovative business models that cater for evolving metrics, complex multi-party payouts/charging/settlement, matrix of value players and partners
- Cloud-based platforms to reduce capital expenses, achieving low investment for entry and operation to drive towards critical mass
- Dedicated business units with an independent charter to drive necessary business growth
- Fragmented marketplace, evolving standards, changing ecosystem
- Early stage in maturity process, competing 'standards' amidst highly fragmented marketplace
- Need for standardisation to reduce integration, delivery costs
- Actively participate and drive in key M2M communities (e.g. Global M2M Association)
- Proactively engage with hardware/device, software and service partners within the ecosystem to deliver optimal business value
- Security and trust
- Governance and regulatory compliance
- Data and process security—additional measures for ongoing protection of customers' data and privacy
- Access control—centralised tools to enforce policy compliance and remotely lock, control or erase devices
- Robust platform with affordable and scalable IT infrastructure to handle speed and volume of M2M , managing expected scale of processing and storage
- Leverage mobility, Big Data, cloud and analytics as value multipliers for M2M use cases
- Hybrid operating landscapes
- Private, hybrid and public clouds—leverage mature or open/non-proprietary technologies for more effective scaling, reuse
- On-cloud co-existing with on-premise
- Device and software agnosticism
- Cross-boundary—active monitoring of relevant policies in operating territories (e.g. data privacy laws)
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