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February 25, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 1:15pm

The five key areas that will drive the IoT (Internet of Things)

Here CBR outlines five areas of expertise to build the Internet of Things (IoT).

By Amy-Jo Crowley

1. Analytics

Real-time analytics is an area to take advantage of, according to Lionel Lamy, VP of European Services Research at IDC.

"Maybe the most crucial part, of the IoT ecosystem. It enables the transformation of data into actionable information, sifting through vast amount of data to find the right info and decide on an action," he explains

Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK research, has pointed to companies with real-time analytics capabilities such as SAP, Oracle and IBM as potential leaders because of all the information that’s created from sensors "has to be data-crunched full-time by somebody".

"SAP’s harp platform is one of the best analytic platforms out there," he says.

IBM recently teamed up with US carrier AT&T to help cities and utilities analyse large volumes of data by extracting it from meters, cameras and sensors. It also brought to market an IoT Starter Kit last year to ease application development, testing, and scalability of wireless sensor networks, while Oracle released a Java ME Embedded solution.

2. Mobile operators

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Mobile phone operators are crucial in the delivery of real-time analytics, says Angela Salmeron, a research manager of Mobile Enterprise Strategies EMEA at IDC.

"And their SLAs and QoS are paramount in the complete offering," she says.

"Although analytics is still in early stages of development in IoT, most leading mobile operators are investing in targeted vertical sectors and partnering with software or solution providers for the provision of data analytics."

Potential players include mobile operators such as Telefonica, Verizon and Orange, depending on the geographic market they’re in.


3. Low-energy sensor technology

With Bluetooth Low Energy, Radio Frequency Identification (RFI), Near Field Communication (NFC) and other sensors becoming cheaper and more available, it’s easier to get relevant information about an object on our finger tips.

Bluetooth is set to spark an "extraordinary explosion" of connected devices in 2014, according to business intelligence firm MicroStrategy. Michael Saylor, the firm’s CEO, predicted that this year would see many new Bluetooth applications rolled out as things like credit cards, business cards and keys become redundant.

The iBeacon, Apple’s Bluetooth LE-based technology, was recently introduced at the iPhone maker’s stores and is currently being trialled by UK retailers.

NFC has co-existed fairly peacefully with Bluetooth since 2004, and many predict that relations will grow hostile as the IoT takes hold.

Sylvain Fabre, analyst and research director at analyst firm Gatner, says: "A wearable may simply connect to the user’s smartphone over Bluetooth, while a vehicle may need 3G or 4G. For home automation, protocols like Zigbee may also apply.
So embedding a variety of wireless protocols into "things" is one of the key enablers of IoT."

He adds: "And we know from the history of mobile networks that most radio access outages occurred because of excessive signalling load, rather than the voice and data capacity of the access network.

"So as machines using wireless networks ramp up in numbers, signalling capacity on networks will need to improve significantly."


4. Chips

Chip manufacturers, such as Intel, which recently unveiled Xeon processors aimed at supporting up to 15 processor cores per chip, also have a role to play, says Mike Cansfield, VP of European Telecommunications and Networks at IDC.

"Chips and sensors are central to this process, providing the physical means to undertake analysis (the chip sets) and the remote sensors to trigger the initial need for remedial action," he explains.

Qualcomm, another chip maker, introduced the Qualcomm Internet Processor to support data transfers on routers and media servers, expected to be available later this year.

5. Business language

Last and certainly not least, if you want to be relevant in this market, you need to have an understanding of the industry as a whole. That is according to Vernon Turner, the SVP of IDC’s Enterprise Infrastructure and IoT.

"The language that IT companies speak today tends to be towards CIOs and CTOs, they’re not talking to city planners when you build a city," he explains.

"They’re not talking to utility companies, which layout grids for energy. So it’s a different language. You’ll have to be able to understand those industries, those needs from cities for example. You’re talking to different people who may understand IT but don’t necessarily see IT in the same light as an enabling solution for their problem.

He adds: "Cisco has to learn how to talk to government, energy, transportation and all of these constituents, so that if you want to make a city that is very well managed through IoT, you have to be able to talk to all these different parties at the same time."

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