Back in 2010, the expectations for the then-emerging technology, Internet of Things (IoT), were vast. Ericsson and Cisco predicted over 40 billion connected devices would be in use by 2020, but in reality, the number is almost a quarter of that today. Many in the industry recognize that accessibility issues have limited the adoption of IoT, but Carsten Ahrens, CEO at G+D Mobile Security, and Sam Colley, CEO at Pod Group, believe this can change. Following G+D’s acquisition of Pod Group, the two companies now have one clear objective: delivering easily managed simplified connectivity, securely. I had the pleasure of catching up with them both on the latest episode of Accelerators to find out how they are addressing the challenges and the opportunities of IoT.
Comparatively to the predictions set out by industry leaders over a decade ago, there is concern in the market that the IoT sector is yet to deliver on its promises. G+D, an industry veteran operating for over 170 years specializing in developing secured technologies – with 50 years of experience in connectivity, including creating the first SIM 30 years ago – and Pod Group, experts in IoT connectivity, provide a very interesting point of view on the challenges affecting IoT adoption.
According to G+D and Pod, the IoT ecosystem is growing at rapid speed; as Sam points out, “Every day you see a new piece of technology, which is great, but then how does this fit in with what already exists?” This technology can be difficult to adopt for enterprises if ecosystems don’t work seamlessly together; as Sam explains, “The ecosystem is still really fragmented… even if you just look at the IoT silo, that in itself, is really complex.” G+D and Pod believe that not enough attention has been given to the enterprise perspective.
Enterprises looking to build an IoT application are faced with silos and complexity. Instead, businesses need simple and accessible solutions. Talking with customers has helped G+D and Pod understand what enterprises face when approaching the IoT industry; Sam summarizes it as, administrative burden, security fears, and challenges when trying to ‘monetize and have a centralized data view.’ With this information in hand, Pod and G+D hope to create simple solutions which they describe as the ‘turnkey suite of products’, enabling enterprises to develop and deploy applications – without any burden.
The backbone of IoT is data, as Carsten puts it, “At the end of the day, IoT is just about data, the rest is plumbing and heavy lifting.” Every enterprise deploying IoT right now wants to gather and analyze data. However, it’s only possible to unlock the full capabilities and value of this data if it is retrieved securely. Carsten askes, “How can you take for granted that data is coming from A to B uncompromised?” without securing your IoT connectivity first.
“If we really want IoT to scale, like all of the predictions, then SMBs also need access to all of the latest technology. But it needs to be affordable, simple, and accessible.”
Carsten and Sam believe that complexity in ecosystems and the lack of uptake in smaller enterprises both have a part to play in the lower numbers of IoT out in the field today. While many larger enterprises have now adopted IoT, many SMBs have felt underserved, leaving countless businesses unable to access its benefits, so for Sam, understanding how to serve SMBs is one of the biggest challenges the industry must overcome to accelerate adoption worldwide.
Sam explains that the use cases are ‘pretty vertical’ with customers in sectors ranging from telematics and retail to healthcare, manufacturing, and industrial IoT. As he puts it, “Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) do a great job serving the large customers, but there’s this whole long tail of SMBs that sometimes feel a little underserved; they can’t afford to pay pretty huge price tags.” And neglecting this market is only hindering the IoT industry from reaching its full potential; as Sam adds, “There’s a huge market there in the SMB space… the access needs to be simple and cost-effective and affordable.”
Even though the acquisition strengthens both their offerings, ecosystem collaboration is still critical for the success of IoT. G+D partners with over 400 MNOs that provide them with the connectivity to accompany their technology. Another crucial partner for G+D is device makers and application developers – while G+D has been at the forefront of innovating the eSIM and dual SIM, they need partners to develop these chips and controllers.
While 2G, 3G, and 4G have all accelerated the evolution of IoT, Carsten believes that 5G opens a whole new world of possibilities for IoT. Referencing it as a ‘game changer’ he believes the sky will be the limit with 5G, enabling millions of devices, per square km, to access secure connectivity.
It’s tricky to predict what use cases will look like in the next few years when working with such a fast-paced technology, however, Pod and G+D hope that alongside 5G, IoT will play a part in addressing the climate crisis, making industries and governments across the world work more efficiently. To achieve this, Sam predicts that information will need to be shared more freely, creating an accessible data pool that aids innovation.
Crucially, as the IoT sector evolves and grows to meet and then exceed its predictions, solutions must be secure. While simplified solutions and managed platforms may increase accessibility and accelerate deployment of connected devices, without a secure device and network, IoT will become increasingly complicated to manage. And eventually, security risks could hinder the achievements of the technology. So, while overcoming IoT’s challenges, providers must focus on security too. As Carsten puts it, “IoT is probably the biggest machine mankind has ever built – or will ever build. And so, we better make it safe.”
To hear more from Pod and G+D, listen now to the latest episode of Accelerators, and discover how to unlock IoT’s potential to take it further, faster, and beyond its 2010 predictions.