Operators are at a literal crossroad. One direction will take them down the path of being relegated to a bit pipe provider – however, most of the ones we talk to don’t want that to be their future, and are exploring ways that focus more on innovation and services.
The IoT Opportunity
So naturally, service providers are seeing opportunity in the IoT space, and their network and service delivery expertise puts them in a prime position to take advantage of this opportunity. But while the IoT ecosystem is broad, what we hear from customers is that there is a lot of interest to focus on the consumer side which includes health and fitness wearables, home automation and security, and connected cars; all of which are seeing a lot of growth.
The number of connected devices in the home is growing. This opportunity is a global phenomenon as well. 69% of consumers will own an in-home IoT device by 2019. And Ovum predicts that by 2020 there will be almost 9 smart devices in the average home.
Gartner is going a lot further out on a limb, predicting that the family home will contain more than 500 smart devices by 2022.
Regardless of whether you believe the magnitude that Gartner is predicting, the thing to consider is that even if it’s a fraction of what they are proposing, it still represents a growing number of connected devices coming on line, and there will be the need to help consumers deal with this proliferation of end points that make up their smart home.
What Do Consumers Want?
So what are the things that consumers ask for when it comes to managing this growing number of IoT devices in their homes? Besides security concerns of course, they desire ease of use, automation, and a single app instead of multiple silos of apps. They also want integration across different devices and ability to interact using natural voice user interface.
But right now, we see a lot of movement, consolidation, starts and stops to various platforms that make up the connected home, much to the consternation of consumers.
There is also still a lot of fragmentation out there with connected devices. Here’s the reality; the focus should not be on silos of connected devices, but rather on intelligent systems. And the future really lies with smart services and applications that leverage these intelligent systems.
Currently, each one of these silos of connected IoT devices has its own management that is to some extent exclusive from other devices.
The connected car does not care about the temperature in your house, or whether the lights are on in your bedroom, or if your kids are at home or at school. In a future where a lot of the things you own and everyone you communicate with - whether it’s in your inner circle or family - is connected, the management of these connections, the context, and continuous data from these IoT devices can become overwhelming.
The value service providers have is the position of their network in the overall service delivery supply chain. It’s a position that allows them to help the evolution of the user experience - that can combine Real-Time communications and IoT - from being overwhelming to simple, separate to integrated, and from being passive to being active.
An IoT Application Framework
What is needed is an application framework that provides the ability to allow a subscriber and family members to be part of a group and share information on location, presence, schedules, and transactions that makes the data coming from connected devices more meaningful. It should incorporate a continuous feedback loop that not only interprets, anticipates and learns from the environment, but also can then activate, modify and change the connected devices in seamless way, with an experience that makes it appear easy to consumers whether they are at home or remote.
The key is to tie together all the different devices, the different activities, things you’ve ordered on line – the people, places and things that make up a day in the life of a consumer - and then bring them all together with real-time communications and an intelligence agent.
We recently showcased such a platform at Mobile World Congress called Dialogic One that was developed by the Dialogic Application Labs. We built a concept app on top of it to show a different perspective of a user experience that ties together the people, places, and things that make up a day in the life of a consumer and that helps address the problem of managing the growth of disparate IoT platforms and devices in the smart home.