Why do companies invest in IoT?
Verizon Wireless earned roughly half a billion dollars in IoT-related revenue during the second half of last year, and the company hopes that’s just the beginning. At the Enterprise IoT Summit in Austin, Texas, Uzair Siddiqui of Verizon’s product management team for IoT and ThingSpace outlined the reasons companies are investing in the internet of things.
“From our perspective there are three main reasons why customers deploy an IoT solution,” Siddiqui said. “Either to save money or make money or to be compliant with government and industry regulation. Our job at Verizon is really to make it easy and remove all the friction in terms of deploying IoT solutions.”
To that end, Verizon launched its ThingSpace platform last year. ThingSpace is a web-based IoT development platform that includes access to application program interfaces, educational resources for IoT developers and certified hardware.
“We have certified an enormous amount of devices,” said Siddiqui. The company has created an open device certification program to help developers get their devices certified for the Verizon network.
At the end of the first quarter, Verizon launched the first nationwide Category M1 LTE network in the U.S. and said it would offer IoT data plans for as little as $2 per device per month. Category M1 LTE caps the amount of data per second that the network can transmit, which means Cat M1 modems are much less expensive than smartphone modems and can run for longer without recharging. Lower component costs enable connectivity for new classes of devices, and when the data collected from those devices can be analyzed, new business cases start to emerge.
“As you take the sensor data and move that over the network into the cloud you can use the ThingSpace platform to analyze the data and make that data actionable,” said Siddiqui, who added that enterprises can also use ThingSpace to manage connectivity and push updates to hundreds of thousands of devices.
Siddiqui said Verizon is also creating IoT solutions that target select verticals, and sees demand for smart city solutions, including smart lighting, traffic management and smart parking, as well as for smart grid solutions. Siddiqui also said Verizon sees opportunity in agricultural technology and in fleet management. Last year Verizon bought Ireland’s Fleetmatics for $2.4 billion. Fleetmatics has more than 42,000 customers and approximately 826,000 subscribers, according to Verizon.
Verizon is well aware of the value that its network can bring to fleet management, smart cities and agricultural technology, but the company’s leadership also knows that some of the most valuable IoT use cases have not yet been discovered. Verizon wants those use cases to develop on its network, so it’s investing heavily in the developer community.
“We can make it easy for the developers to use the IoT technology to take their idea and turn it into a prototype,” said Siddiqui. “We have over 15,000 developers currently and we are participating in hackathons and developer workshops and developer education. … Being able to harness these developer communities, we are able to bring those ideas into the fold of ThingSpace.”