The Internet of Things
Dr Ali Baghdadi, president & CEO, Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Ingram Micro’s Aptec, discusses the Internet of Things (IoT) and opportunities for savvy solution providers in the regional channel.
As with all new and exciting disruptive technologies, there may be a lot of hype and different understandings of what machine-to-machine (M2M) really presents as an opportunity.
I use the term M2M rather than Internet of Things (IoT), as machines may not be connecting via the Internet, although every machine or sensor will need an IP address. M2M is not new and visionaries have been predicting for years that fridges are going to start ordering food. However, the emerging opportunity is great and new applications for almost every vertical industry and even consumers are taking shape.
M2M is the connection between machines or appliances to computing power in data centres and private clouds through the Internet, carriers or satellites. Such connections will positively impact many aspects of our business and daily life. Rapid developments in sensor technology, increases in bandwidth and emergence of Cloud platforms are all contributing to the meteoric growth of this market segment. Some estimate that nearly 50bn devices around the world will benefit from M2M communications.
According to Gartner, the world will have 2.6bn computers, tablets and smart phones by 2015. When you compare this to the 50bn M2M connections, you will understand why this technology presents an opportunity of a different magnitude. Among the many applications, one can cite a few like vehicle tracking, smart meter management (energy and utilities), agriculture, health and fitness, retail, industrial and home applications. These applications will also spur developments and opportunities in cyber security and many private cloud opportunities.
E-services for the tracking and maintenance of sensors throughout their lifecycle will become a major component to secure the flow of live and critical data. One of the fastest growing needs is in the utility sector where the measurement and control of gas, electricity and water is attracting attention and creating significant opportunities for both users and service providers.
New companies are emerging to meet the need that already exists. We have seen this in the GCC and Europe where smart city programmes have attracted the attention of the usual software giants and some smaller software companies who are able to react faster to market needs.
In fact, over 400 new companies have entered the European and Middle Eastern smart grids market in the past 24 months. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, EMEA is considered the ‘sleeping giant’ of smart grids and the investment figures speak for themselves: European grid operators need to invest Eur 150bn in high voltage power lines by 2030; over Eur 50bn will be invested in smart meters by 2020.
Health is another major segment seeing M2M developments, ranging from automated dispatch systems for ambulance and emergency services to management and monitoring of diabetic and hypertension patients. Water management and agriculture and food productivity is an area of fast rising demand. Vehicle tracking has been around for some time. However, new developments in the automotive world are going beyond basic vehicle tracking. Applications for entire fleet management, emergency services, moving assets and military, demand a new and complex type of application, all these presenting opportunities for solutions providers to play a role.
The immediate opportunities for the IT channel lie in building a knowledge base that will help in identifying opportunities and projects. Initially, the channel would need to identify trusted partners who have the knowhow, the software and the design capabilities. These capabilities can be acquired in time.
Design, deployment, installation and e-services are just some of the value additions the channel can provide. Mobile operators and ISPs should also look at the opportunity and identify the market segment they wish to tackle. M2M applications are data generative and will make a handsome revenue stream for mobile operators.
Dr Ali Baghdadi is president & CEO, Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Ingram Micro’s Aptec. The views expressed in this article are his own and not necessarily those of Channel Middle East magazine.