The conference hall was full, the opening keynote was setting the scene on the Enterprise IoT market in the Philippines. It was my first time back in Manila for over 18 months and it was fabulous to see some familiar faces.
The conference unlike many IoT events was focused on Business Platforms - refreshing indeed not to listen again to the generic 50 billion IoT hype.
A cross section of the IoT Industry was there, Government representatives from SE Asia, MNO's, enterprise customers through to manufacturers and vertical service providers - a key theme highlighted throughout the conference was the end application; 'turning a key business process into a digital representation and maximizing for efficiency' was predominant. Maximizing the adoption of remote patient monitoring to reduce the need for hospital visits, tracking vehicles or cargo to avoid theft and to be constantly aware of location, energy usage and utility planning through to organising the productivity of people..!
An amusing video that was shown highlighting a real problem in the Philippines is still stuck in my mind; a very ordinary looking car mechanics shop was transformed for an hour each morning into an illegal fuel syphoning facility! Lorries would drive in, have gallons of fuel syphoned from their tanks and drive off to continue their daily route. The syphoned fuel was distributed and sold as soon as it was syphoned and within the hour no trace of the activity could be seen. It obviously caused a significant loss in profit for the logistics company! With 200 Metric tons of cargo; 15M containers, 7.5M registered vehicles, 350,000 trucks and 35,000 buses in the Philippines this is a very real issue. Tracking or connected fuel tank locks could make this very difficult for the entrepreneurial thieves.
The MNO perspective as always is; 'it is not about the connectivity',' it is about the service', however the underlying connectivity is not always ubiquitous, especially in geographies like the Philippines and then there is the question of cost models and ARPU for IoT connections - a potential challenge for networks that have been designed for voice: low latency and large bandwidth. TVWS adoption in the Philippines is moving beyond the trial phase with Government regulations for commercial roll outs due later this month. The need for alternative connectivity options to cellular was often mentioned as a way to deploy sensor networks from both a coverage and cost perspective, TVWS networks are already deployed here providing WiFi, backhaul and monitoring and the regulations will make these networks commercially viable when they scale.
This highlighted the fact that the IoT needs multiple connectivity options. These vary depending upon the application requirements, the cost of deploying infrastructure if there is not any already in place and the availability of 'off the shelf' sensor products. Cellular for applications that requires QoS, high bandwidth or national mobility, WiFi for in house PAN applications; assisted living, smoke alarms and white goods and Low Power Radio in TVWS or the ISM bands for applications that need long battery life and long range - remote environmental monitoring, parking sensors, utility metering. The Stream IoT-X platform can provide a Unified Access Connectivity Environment, that is agnostic to device, network and data type so my new Boss, Nigel and I were very busy discussing how it works and how it could be utilized by both MNO's and Enterprise customers to deploy IoT networks in the Philippines.
As I sat on the Stream stand, eating the 3rd offering of delicious food during the day, cake, well it is my birthday! I look around the room and there is a vibrancy that makes me smile. It is not the Scalextric set; which was disappointing as the cars stayed on the track, the fabulously attractive models in very short skirts or the connected covered bicycle that had people grinning, it is the opportunity that the IoT represents and the innovative conversations that it enables.
Conclusions from this conference for me are; the IoT is 'almost' here, the technology, the platforms, the service offerings and the applications; applications that solve real world problems will lead the way. What we now need to do is answer the security question, turn the zettabytes of data that will be generated into SMART data that adds value in a tangible way to 'real' people's lives and generates new business models for Organisations, SME's and Service Providers alike and the definite need to partner, the ONLY way to deliver end to end IoT solutions.
A super conference, now another plane to Singapore with Nigel and a well-deserved glass of wine :)
Conference highlights can be found here...