This is part 2 of the blog series "Can Communications Service Providers Turn Dumb-Pipes to Differentiated Services?" Read part 1 here.
Ok so let’s start this blog with a definition. The Internet of Things is “the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.” Based on that simple definition, I’m starting to understand the absolute “chaos” the market is experiencing from IoT devices flooding the shelves at BestBuy and other retailers. And I have a feeling we are just starting to accelerate in this area.
I will not resort to poking the industry and calling it “Internet of Crap,” but in many cases I already have many of these wonderful devices gathering dust for many reasons; company that makes a connected device goes broke and out of business, firmware gets out of date, security holes, the next version needs new hardware, and few other weird reasons (you know who you are). Some of these devices perhaps made sense to purchase at one time but have ultimately proven to be completely useless in reality.
Back to the topic. So, we have an absolute avalanche of cool and wonderful connected devices that are starting to absolutely flood the market. For the purposes of this article I will focus on consumer/home devices, but the challenges outlined here are equally complex in the industrial, smart city, smart enterprise, and other IoT verticals.
Each of the smart device vendors has a few decisions to make as it releases its products. The most important decision (apart from differentiation of the device itself) each vendor has to make is to pick which smart device eco-system with which they will align themselves. Will it be Apple and their HomeKit environment? Will it be Samsung and their acquired SmartThings cloud? Will it be one of the lesser known but perhaps more established eco-systems like Wink or will they go into a channel strategy and ride along with someone like IKEA with their new-found line of IoT devices focused on the kitchen? The really smart of the smart devices (hmm – starting to sound like Austin Powers) will support few of the eco-systems to maximize their sales. Under the covers most devices pick a communication protocol so in many cases users can integrate new devices into their homes if their hub plays nice with whatever protocol.
Ah yes, hub. Wow! I now have 8 hubs from different vendors of smart devices. I’m starting to think someone should be buying a new larger, meatier Ethernet expander of sorts as we will quickly run out of Ethernet ports to plug these wonderful hubs into – now that would be SMART! Can we not deliver smart devices that do not need YAFH (Yet Another Freaking Hub)? If in doubt, check out the new Nanoleaf freakin’ cool lights – no hub needed, works with Apple HomeKit, Samsung etc. Well done guys!
Ok – so above was a bit of a setup. The stage is set – enter the Communications Service Provider. You know – your Verizon, Bell, Telefonica, Rogers or “insert your favorite provider here.” What if they wanted to insert themselves into this wonderful world of IoT for fame and fortune? How would they need to deal with above challenges in order to deliver solid, secure, well designed, differentiated and valuable IoT solutions to their customers? Can you imagine now the pain of calling in to your Service Provider to discuss why your light bulb in the kids’ bedroom will not stay off after issuing a command to your Amazon Alexa, or why your garage door all of a sudden opened up in the middle of the night? Good times.
I’m clearly pointing out some challenging situations, but it can get much worse. Scroll up and re-read my “box of dead IoT things.” Security will be a huge challenge, and users will always want to add new devices coming onto the market. I do not think IoT eco-systems or IoT protocols will consolidate anytime soon thus making everything pretty complicated. Service Providers are just not setup for such chaos. They are barely trying to keep afloat with sending you the correct bill and making sure you do not get too upset about your roaming charges as you travel.
Now imagine end user applications with impeccable user experience interfaces perhaps driven by voice, by messaging, and by a context sensitive graphical user interface allowing you to interact with your house full of IoT devices regardless of the brand, the eco-system supported, or the IoT protocol used. Now imagine these applications are delivered to you by your Service Provider, the same company who gives you the Internet, phone, TV and perhaps other communication services. Would you not think they could have all the ingredients to deliver these to you in a consistent, solid and secure way? I definitely think they can and we are already working with the innovative few. This stuff is extremely cool!
Dialogic is focused to help Service Providers break into new applications and solutions quickly with our DialogicONE suite of solutions. We work on next generation solutions that bridge the silos, provide integrated platforms and create innovative applications quickly.
We are experts in telecom with over 30 years of experience as well as architects of next generation applications and services built for Service Providers globally. We have solutions to the above challenges and a proven track record working with Service Providers to leverage the past and move aggressively into the future.
Next time I will look at the new user interface paradigm called Conversational UX and suggest how Service Providers could utilize this interface framework to create the next generation of applications.
Cheers - here’s to the future!