Next-generation connectivity: Jeff Travers, Head of Ericsson Internet of Things


I mean Ericsson builds connectivity
out for the world’s networks, and in the IoT team we make sure that things are
connected and that’s a new angle to connectivity. Connecting things is going
to bring huge demands on the network, but in fact the networks are adapting quite
fast; with adding 5G capabilities soon this will add faster response
times, much higher capacities. But we’re also adding capacity at the low end with
low power coverage which would be good for when you need batteries or things
and places where no one’s going to go for 10 years, right – so the capability’s
being stretched. I think networks are absolutely going to
be able to cope with the capacity needed, but where we see a need to
develop further is – if you look at your smartphone that sort of apps you
have and the massive amount of apps available, that’s not working the same
way in the IOT world. And that’s because there is not the same standardisation in
the operating system or the chipset as we have in the smartphone world.
We need to get to that point where app developers want to develop things for
things or applications for things. Well, we see that digital transformation’s
really a hot topic in the boards and the C-levels of industries all over
the world right now, because they’re looking at how can they evolve their
product beyond what it is today. Today, products are manufactured – they tend to
be, sort of, physical things but inside it’s software-driven and
increasingly it’s the software which adds value to the product. Now companies
want to be able to add new functionality more frequently to the product; it means
your product need to be connected over the air for over-the-air updates. And the
second thing you might want to do is then, instead of a seller product, you
might want to be to lease it on a monthly basis provided as a service – and
that offers a whole new way of engaging with your customer too. So I mean now, if we
see everything connected to each other, this raises sort of opportunities and
issues. In terms of opportunities, IoT world is not yet scaling in the same way
as the consumer world had, so it means costs are a little bit higher. We’d like to
see us reach the point where there are more standards in the operating systems
on devices or the the semantics used for programmers to
address devices. Once we get that critical mass going I think there’ll be
enormous fast take-up for IoT connectivity and one of the turning
points might even be augmented reality. When we get glasses or things which
which are really convenient, suitable and do the job and we can overlay the
digital world as we walk around, I think that would be a game-changer
and would boost things quite quickly. So I mean, when we talk to
companies we see quickly that they first want to connect their products but
that’s for to pull up the transactional data that the product generates – and this
is huge amounts of data, what the report calls the data deluge. But it’s not the
data alone – yes, it can be used for analytics and insight, it can be used to
improve the product – the real value comes from data when you
share it with other companies and share it with your customers to enable
innovation. So really it’s all about ‘what data can we share’? And then we need to
balance the need for innovation, which needs the sharing, with ‘what data do
we need to protect for our company confidentiality?’, and balance that with
‘what do we need to protect of our customers privacy’? So that discussion
needs to be had with all the players and and it’s a very important topic right
now. The benefit of next-generation connectivity is probably things we don’t even know right now. What has happened in the past, is
we’ve had the digital world made available to us. Then we’ve started to
overlay the digital world onto the physical: so now fleet cars have have map
systems sort of cars on the dashboard that enables the the ride-sharing which
is now transforming the logistic industry, not just the taxi industry. But
what’s coming next is embedded connectivity: where the digital and the
physical world really come together and I think that’s just going to open up a
whole new bunch of capabilities from our products which we can hardly even know
yet.

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