Innovation trends in IoT

Author: Ricardo Tavares
Published: 2015-02-02

The 20th Global Mobile Awards organized by the GSM Association (GSMA) are the most prestigious international awards recognizing innovation in mobile communication. I am honored this year to be part of the judging panel for The Best Mobile Innovation for the Internet of Things. This is a first year for the category and we received a large number of entries from all types of players across the globe—mobile operators, consumer brands, financial institutions, and all sorts of technology companies.

There is a lot of work involved in reviewing the entries and scoring them, but this comes with the reward of getting an inside track on what innovators are doing. I did a simple classification of the IoT entries and found most of them are enablers (50%), followed by process improvement cases (29%), consumer products (16%) and complete solutions for the end-user (5%). This to a large extent reflects the current stage of IoT development, in which a number of enablers are still evolving to make sure new services can be delivered, from low-power chipsets and short-range technologies to device-management tools and more-flexible billing systems.

A majority of those enablers are IT platforms for managing connected devices. The capabilities of the software management tools for machine to machine (M2M) connections matter. Some of them are specialized — on Smart City Solutions, for instance — while most are general. Entry barriers into the platform space are low, as many small and large players have developed new platforms. Mobile operators themselves are developing their own platforms to gain more flexibility in addressing M2M verticals.

Process improvements encompass how new tweaks enabled by the IoT make things work better than before. Cargo-tracking solutions, for example, can now include not only terrestrial coverage but also air cargo. Indoor air quality control can be managed remotely. Trash bins can tell when they are full and need emptying.

Solutions enhancing both business productivity and people’s lives are the most transformational aspect of IoT and their delivery requires broad business alliances. That said, however, few entries for 2015 directly claimed significant benefits to businesses and individuals.

Many of the innovations at this year’s Global Mobile Awards are general, but some are vertical-specific – with the transportation and home/building management verticals coming out on top. A variety of innovations in transport are taking full advantage of IoT. These include reducing the insurance premiums of good drivers, taking the connected car to the next level of convenience and entertainment, and even introducing new types of electric bicycles. Most energy consumption takes place inside buildings, and this is an area where IoT can greatly contribute to the environment by reducing energy consumption via the smart management of buildings.

Stay tuned in as the top five IoT entries will be shortlisted this week, and the winner will be announced on March 3 during the 20th Global Mobile Awards ceremony, which is part of the Mobile World Congress 2015 (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain.

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