How Mobile Is Driving IoT Growth

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 14, 2015

phones

Mobile is expanding beyond the proliferation of smartphones and tablets and will play a decisive role in the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), predicts a recent report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). While a number of IoT activities will be industrial in nature, mobile will be a core piece of IoT, says the study.

Mobile Enabling IoT

The report cites significant growth in wireless automation systems, which contains a mix of networking technologies, equipment and systems including enterprise and automation systems, network equipment, control devices and field devices that will be key to the rapid growth of the IoT.

The machine-to-machine (M2M) market is already demonstrating how operators are providing long range connectivity across of range of different verticals, leading to greater cross-industry cooperation and new revenue opportunities.

The knowledge and expertise that operators will develop through working in a multiplicity of markets and industries will further consolidate their position in the IoT ecosystem and enable them to further shape the future direction of the IoT.

The report also predicts that the IoT will have a $4.5 trillion impact on the global economy by the year 2020 and thus presents mobile operators with a key opportunity to sustain and accelerate growth beyond consumer voice and data.

Another report by Berg Insight, a research firm with a machine-to-machine focus also stated that shipment of wireless devices for industrial automation applications reached 4 million units last year and will reach 13 million within five years.

Deepening the bond

Many companies are deepening the integration between industrial automation systems and enterprise applications, including the Industrial Internet of Things. However, mobility is the core of all these efforts.

A number of joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions are well underway. One of the early examples that took place in last year was Zebra’s acquisition of Motorola’s enterprise unit for $3.5 billion, that are expected to drive the two trends: mobile workers and the Internet of Things.

“Mobile commerce will become increasingly important as mobile technology and smartphone apps that continue to have a positive impact on the lives of consumers and employees and brands and companies will adapt to this new channels,” says Ryan Goh, Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific vice president and general manager.

Goh believes that as an increasing number of workers become less confined to a physical work space, enterprises will adopt tools to allow them to use cloud-based applications fed with real-time information about assets in their environment. 

“The same goes for workers’ demand for real time intelligence about all of their critical assets increases, and retailers will turn to cloud-based platform software that provides integrated visibility and connectivity solutions to make their processes more efficient, and improve the consumer journey by making sense of enterprise asset intelligence,” he says.

There are several other examples. Like, PC and mobile major Acer in Taiwan is partnering with U.S. chipmaker Marvell to develop IoT create solutions to connect household devices to the internet. 

Ericsson, the telecom network provider, has also extended its venture with KT on 5G technology to focus on IoT. While 5G isn’t expected to be commercially available for in the next few years, the companies are conducting several test networks and making it future-ready.

Read more: Major Factors Influencing The IoT Market Growth

There are several other examples. Hitachi Data Systems acquired data integration company Pentaho to boost its IoT efforts in the area of analytics, machine-to-machine (M2M).

Other technology majors are betting big on mobile’s push for IoT development. IBM recently announced it is investing $3 billion to launch its IoT business unit. Cisco has spent $1 billion to set up several Internet of Everything data centers as well as creating an innovation fund.  

The challenge ahead

While experts point out that several connected objected including wearables, tablets and smartphones will pose a host of security issues, the market is already getting ready for mobile-IoT vendors who are focusing on security of the network and apps.

The integration of mobile devices and sensors will become critical to track employees who are mobile and have the “anytime anywhere” tag with them. This will require the real-time management of very big data and the means to use that data to serve a customer which can be done only through their mobile device, says the PwC study.

Agrees  Poonacha Machaiah Founder & CEO – Above Solutions, who believes that IoT will change everything about how we live our lives and conduct our business. “It is probably going to be one of the largest technology trends and the key factor responsible for its rise is the proliferation of mobility.

With data being collected from an ever growing eco-system of networked devices and sensors, we are now able to analyze the data on the cloud in near real-time and provide innovative solutions to consumers and enterprises,” he says.

However, the challenge for CIOs is to link and integrate all of that back end activity and data collection all the way through the system to get to the mobile device, which experts believe is an uphill task.