4 Key Takeaways from TMForumLive2015
Last time I wrote about my experience at MWC2015, I was already looking forward to TMForumLive. Not because the event took place on the French Riviera in Nice (though that certainly was a big part of it), but mainly because I was curious to see the latest developments. The promise of IoT is simply fascinating, with all its possible applications as we understand it today in 2015. However, there is also a more mundane side of it all- the network. The good news for operators is that exciting things are happening with the network today as we start talking about virtual networks and software defined networks.
IoT & Networked Society
Just like at MWC2015, IoT was a very hot and widely discussed topic. It is clear that today’s networks need to evolve to enable IoT. Furthermore, latency needs to be dramatically improved in order to support real-time mission-critical devices that affect human health and safety. Unfortunately, this does not come cheap. Significant investment from network operators are required, along with cost-effective innovation from network suppliers.
Network operators also need to make their networks “open” with APIs to allow IoT industry applications to access network resources. This will require a change in the network providers’ mindset, as well as a stringent security architecture. Only then can we talk about new business and monetization models that IoT promises.
It seems that the arrival of connected cars is imminent. According to the CIO of Volvo they are re-thinking the entire customer experience of vehicle ownership. Volvo is working to improve the ‘convenience factor’ of car ownership – using IoT coupled with Volvo’s proprietary innovations, customers will be able to have e-commerce shipments delivered to their cars, or exchange data with their insurance providers in real-time. I’ve included a link to a 5-minute video interview with Klas Bendrik, Volvo’s CIO – it’s well worth watching.
Facebook was a first time exhibitor at this year’s TMForumLive, promoting their internet.org initiative. Currently, 2/3 of the world’s population does not have access to the internet. Along with six other businesses (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm), their aim is to make internet access available and affordable in less developed countries. The message centred around 3 major themes: ‘affordability’ (make access cheap), ‘efficiency’ (compress data), and ‘business model’ (innovate to help more people get online).
SDN & NFV
SDN (software-defined networking) and NFV (network functions virtualization) continue to be hot topics as operators strive to improve cost-effective control and develop their networks. These improvements help enable more rapid innovation, network diversity and service proliferation in support of IoT and global digitization.
Providers and suppliers expect SDN and NFV to be live on operators’ networks beyond pilot stage in 2016. Early wins with these technologies will likely be in the access networks where operators strive to expand customer services and applications to improve the overall customer experience. Increasing the relevance of the operators in the new app-centric digital economy should reduce customer churn, as well as generate new revenue streams that are now owned primarily by 3rd party developers.