IoT: Making Connections, Breaking Barriers, Innovating Everything
Bennet Bayer, former CMO of Huawei Technologies- the Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company and the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world- discusses behind the times marketing techniques within many telco companies. Bayer believes the secret sauce for telcos lies in dissolving boundaries to enable more collaboration with the world, thereby creating a symbiotic business ecosystem that thrives on shared success.
He compares the current telco methods to a plumbing system where the focus lies on the connective pipe between two sides, and not yet towards the systems at each end. He believes telcos today need to develop access to their channels, which are currently plagued by gaps that occur due to the lack of assistance around the functionality of each system connected by these channels, and deteriorate the telco’s customer relationship management.
He explains the flaw as such: “A customer comes to a portal hosted within the infrastructures of a large telco. If you take a company like Telefonica, which has 400 million mobile users, you can imagine these portals are incredibly large. The telcos can see the flow of traffic within the channels, but they do not have any connections to the traffic until the traffic enters their customer relationship management tool. The connections start to break down from there.” He believes that this gap creates an opportunity. “We have an opportunity to rethink channels as networks evolve into software-defined networking. IoT is an important stepping stone redefining all communication channels. The systems, the user interface, and the experience will change dramatically over the next 10 years.”
This IoT-enabled ecosystem means the future of telcos will be more collaborative, according to Bayer. One innovation of significance is software-defined networking and how it changes the way service providers operate. Most telcos provision their network at 110 percent of capacity to ensure traffic can travel through their channels, but many issues can occur when attempting to forecast the demand of traffic. With new predictive and real-time data analytic tools however, telcos will soon share compute cycles, MIB, storage and bandwidth. It is that sharing which will be a paradigm shift in the traditional business model.
“There needs to be a blending or merger of the CRM data. It must be transparent. It must be secure. Telcos must have a willingness to shift from banner-type or programmatic advertising to permission-based marketing.” He elaborates, “Telcos are taking steps forward and becoming more digital to streamline traffic and personalize interaction across the omnichannel for the service provider, thus increasing outsourcing to share the load of the customer relationship management data. That will lead to many new capabilities for customer care because the customer care systems of any service provider are the heart and soul of the business. And those systems are $100 million investments. It is something that no enterprise has anything even close to approximate.”
Bayer believes IoT is just the starting point on a road towards a fully-integrated technology-enabled environment. “The Internet of Things is a point-to-point solution, and in fact IoT has existed for more than 35 years. It started with RFID tagging and AIBC. Today there are incredible advantages enabled by IoT technologies, whereby for example a mobile network can turn down the cell tower during the night when nobody is using it, and save up to 30 percent of operational costs to keep towers running when no one is using them. In the future, IoT will set the stage for the Internet of Everything.”
He explains, “The Internet of Things will evolve into the creation of nanites, or small, sand-sized grain processors, that are going to be mixed into the paint on walls, and be woven into the fabric of your clothing. You will walk into a store and the nanites will recognize who you are, because the wall is the screen, and the computer and end device. There are no more cell phones. You will just turn to the wall, that already knows who you are, and say ‘Call mom.’”
While this idea sounds like something out of a James Bond film, Bayer affirms that this reality is only about 12 years away. The question is, with the Internet of Things rapidly evolving into the Internet of Everything, where does that leave telcos? Who will own this new connectivity ecosystem? The Internet of Things is setting the stage for a battleground, and it is unclear who will come out on top. Bayer advises that telcos must begin moving towards the communal path enabled by IoT technologies, to develop a collaborative ecosystem that will shape the future of the industry. Without that willingness to collaborate, they could very well be outpaced by new digital startups.
Bennet is optimistic about the future capabilities within IoT, and is confident telcos are moving in the right direction. The increase in connectivity will enable greater collaboration, and augment current and future technologies. Telcos will gain control of the data and help the user realize and shape the data into a comprehensive aid to their experience. The future telcos will utilize the Internet of Things, Internet of Everything, and any number of future technologies to enable this ecosystem, but that future must begin today.