Traditional industrial manufacturing & energy suppliers are faced with the challenge of lowering operational costs so they can continue to grow in Industry 4.0. Digital transformation solutions leveraging IoT, 5G, Secure Device Onboarding and other exciting technologies can help them on this journey. 

Big industry companies are increasingly adopting large-scale IoT monitoring solutions as part of their transformation. Forecasters agree there will be tens of billions of connected devices worldwide by 2025 (up to 75 billion)¹, with 5G set to speed up proliferation. And while there has been much discussion on how IoT will create value, much overlooked is, how will all these IoT devices be securely provisioned and managed?


Scalability is becoming an urgent industry IoT challenge!

Each of the devices need to be connected to an IoT platform. Manual provisioning of each device typically takes around 25 minutes, which would represent a total of 1.25 million hours of effort - the equivalent of over 500 person-years of work! Additional effort (equating to 25% of total project budget)² is required to provide in-life device management - especially challenging because until now it has been a bespoke activity involving many different devices and different vendors – with few standards enabling it to scale.

And faced with a plethora of IoT devices – supplied via a complex chain of partners such as manufacturers, SIs, resellers, distributors, and solution providers – not to mention the device management platform and the required connectivity potentially from several CSPs, how can industry companies even hope to effectively source and efficiently manage their large-scale IoT solutions?

Two necessary ingredients for CSPs to offer IoT at scale

i.    Zero-Touch onboarding & management
Manual and proprietary IoT device onboarding and management methods are costly, time-consuming, and do not scale. IoT devices are typically deployed across vast geographic areas, so the ability to deploy once and not to return to the device is paramount. To offer cost-effective, secure & scalable solutions in the IoT market, CSPs must have the capability to deal with the onboarding of millions of devices in an automated and secure manner to deliver assured and fully trusted end points from the factory to the end user. Zero-Touch IoT onboarding and management is a way to meet large-scale IoT solution requirements whilst keeping deployment and management effort and costs to a minimum. 

ii.    Digital Business Marketplace

CSP’s not only can help resolve the complexities of secure IoT onboarding and management but can also play a more central role as a digital business marketplace enabler, thereby creating a cost effective and frictionless trading ecosystem for industry IoT solutions where multiple parties contributing to the value chain. The marketplace is effectively a partner ecosystem approach where the CSP can centrally offer its own and any third-party services. CSPs can select the right partners required for scalable, secure IoT devices and zero-touch services, quickly onboard their products and services to the marketplace, and then bundle them with own- and other-carrier connectivity – thereby offering a complete industry IoT solution.

For the enterprise customer, the marketplace delivers a one-stop-shop for complete industry IoT solutions at scale, and presents an elegant digital self-service customer experience, despite the complexity associated with delivering products and services via a complex ecosystem of partners.

Digital Business Marketplace – enabling industry IoT at scale

TM Forum catalyst winnerSegueing from this, the TM Forum proof of concept catalyst project, Digital Business Marketplace, showcases the use-case Industrializing Secure IoT Devices to demonstrate cost-effective, secure, scalable solutions in IoT, and shows how a marketplace approach can address the secure onboarding of IoT devices at scale. This is a multiple-award winning project, evolved over 4 years into a mature, commercially hardened production platform, through commitment from many high-profile champions and participants. It has covered a range of smart IoT use cases including healthcare, manufacturing, energy and utility, mining, smart cities, as well as drone and video surveillance.

The issue of how massive amounts of devices will be onboarded is not something the industry has thought about enough to date, as services have typically been procured in silos – focusing individually on smart parking, lighting, waste, etc. In a smart city context, for example, it is noted that as many as three million devices may be required with each device needing to be provisioned to an IoT platform, before any applications can be added. A Zero Touch, instant onboarding approach is the only way for CSPs to make provisioning scalable, whilst at same time delivering secure and manageable IoT devices – and this requires standards and trust between all the parties involved.

The Digital Business Marketplace illustrates that by having a Infonova Digital Business Platform at the hub - to manage the technical complexities of partnering, product and service on-boarding, service delivery & management - creates a blueprint for a commercial and secured ecosystem for the trusted, frictionless orchestration of complex IoT digital service offerings provided by different partner organizations. The champions of the Digital Business Marketplace catalyst are Agile Fractal Grid, BT Group plc, Digital Elite, Digital Twin Consortium, Etisalat UAE, Maxbyte Technologies Pv, NTT Group, RSA Tailings, Telenor ASA, TELUS, and Vodafone Group.

Digital Business Marketplace catalyst

Beyond Now is taking insights from its earlier award-winning TMF Smart City catalysts (Smart City on the Edge) and has engaged with this catalyst team to explore what CSPs need to do to support companies take the next step in IoT and securely grow their IoT solution deployments to digitally transform their business at scale. The Beyond Now Infonova Digital Business Platform is the hub at the center of this catalyst ecosystem, connecting the multiple products and services and orchestrating the assets from the different ecosystem partners supplying and consuming the services and enabling companies to frictionless trade with new digital businesses in other ecosystems. 

Given that from 2019 over 85% of enterprises are expected to increase their IoT spending³, there is certainly opportunity here! We believe that by taking one step forward from only providing the trusted network communications infrastructure for the IoT devices, to playing a more central role as a digital business marketplace enabler, CSPs are ideally positioned to grab the full opportunity for IoT business at scale.

1.    Source: “IoT Platforms: Enabling the Internet of Things” IHS 2018
2.    Source: BT analysis 2019
3.    Source : “Intelligent Enterprise Index 2018”, Zebra Technologies

Andrew Thomson, Beyond Now, and Mohammad Zoualfaghari, BT, at Digital Transformation World

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