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Key Themes Beyond the Hype: IoT at MWC 2015

by Andrew Brown | Feb 26, 2015

Running between aircraft-hanger sized halls, back-to-back meetings, endless drinks receptions and sore feet: yup, it’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) time again which takes place in Barcelona, Spain, between Sunday 1st to Thursday 5th March, 2015.

MWC is the world's most influential tradeshow for the mobile industry and our IoT analysts will be on the show floor.

Tradeshows like MWC provide attendees with a virtual barometer and much needed reality check about what’s hot and what’s not. Certainly IoT is one of the most prevalent and pervasive topics of 2015. One might even say that IoT has been hyped-to-death over the last year.

So in the interest of providing context, below you can find some of my “non-exhaustive” thoughts on themes you should look out for at the show in IoT. Be warned, everyone will be talking about an IoT solution…this chart helps give you an idea of the path from M2M to IoE

Key Themes Beyond the Hype: IoT at MWC 2015
  1. Enterprise and the IoT: One of the key topics will be enterprise adoption and use of IoT to improve business processes and offer competitive differentiation. Currently penetration for IoT among business is relatively low (or basic M2M on/off type commands), as many companies seek compelling Return on Investment (ROI) arguments. Organizations are also grappling with the challenge of ensuring interoperability among potential IoT devices and systems with their legacy systems and data stores. Expect to see companies attempting to offer assistance in solving that complexity and overcoming IoT interoperability hurdles via their managed services solutions.
  2. Innovative sensor developments and edge devices: Lots of new innovation is happening in sensor network and technology to capture information at source to relay it as part of a mesh network via a WAN gateway will be a source of much interest. Companies like Rambus with its lens less smart sensor or Thin film with its printed sensor labels are pushing the envelope on how information can be captured and shared. Expect to see edge devices and fog computing get plenty of mentions as well, as more processing moves from the cloud to the edge of the network.
  3. Context-aware initiatives: From Google’s physical web specifications to Beacons, expect context-aware IoT to be very much in evidence throughout MWC. Specifically, information tailored to context will become considerably smarter (from mPayments to tailored advertising and offers for consumers).
  4. Wearables get serious and BANs: Yup, Body-Area Networks will be part of the contextualised offering you will see at MWC-and all things wearable on your face, wrist and how they interact with your phone or read a sensor on an industrial oil pump! Despite the flop of Google Glass, there will be more emphasis at the show on how to get wearables to pay in a business context as much as consumer. 
  5. Security: As always, security will be in the spotlight. This is especially the case give the recent spate of highly publicized stories around GCHQ and Gemalto.  Rarely a day goes by where there isn’t a hacking or cybersecurity-related story. How to secure data in transit, at rest, encryption and edge network security will all be huge topics
  6. Privacy: Whose data is it anyway?  Expect the topic of who owns customer data to be as much a topic at MWC as big data and analytics. Just how much privacy are users prepared to sacrifice for greater convenience or new services? And are they even aware how their data is being used in the mash-up of data sources that is creating the new IoT world? For example, did you consent to have your profane tweet about the latest traffic jam on the M25 becoming part of a traffic flow system? And what are the social, personal and potential professional implications of what happens when your data gets used and posted without your knowledge and consent. Just ask Pope Francis, whose private letter to an Argentinian official that seemingly criticized the Mexican government for its challenges in curtailing drug related activity, was posted on a Web page; Vatican spokespersons were left scrambling to apologize to the Mexican government which formally protested the Pope’s “private” views.
  7. Service providers finding their feet in IoT: SPs will be touting their initiatives to move up the value chain from connectivity into services, especially in the smart home, smart city or automotive space. This is a concerted effort on the part of SPs to take a larger piece of the of the very lucrative service business, which traditionally features high profit margins. Expect to hear about “fully-fledged solutions” for end user customers and less about platforms.
  8. Enterprise Software and Hardware vendors in IoT: From Microsoft’s Azure to Oracle, SAP and Cisco, expect to hear lots of buzz around how enterprise cloud and networking solutions are already delivering IoT solutions for customers.

There will be many other topics at the show around IoT. I would personally like to see less hype and more serious discussion about how the industry moves beyond M2M and aggregates different data sources to create really useful systems of systems that offer new services as well as reducing costs and improving efficiency. What are the big topics you expect to see? Let us know. And pace yourself. It’s going to be a hectic week!

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