Why is it the Right Time to invest in Internet of Things?


The “Internet of things” (IoT) is becoming a hot topic of discussion now a days. It has the potential to impact everything we do and how we live. Despite its intensified role in today’s connected digital world, many people are still trying to grasp the foundation of what internet of things is all about. In the most basic sense, any device that has an on and off switch to the internet and/or each other is part of IoT ecosystem. This includes everything, from a small device like trackers to big things like jet engine of an airplane. Based on cloud computing networks, data gathering sensors and prompt connection, IoT is set to change everything in our lives.

Internet of Things (IoT) is not just a buzzword anymore rather it has become a real world reality. The technological developments have set the floor for IoT boom around the world. With Broadband internet widely available and cost of connection decreasing, smartphone penetration is sky-rocketing with more devices now being invented with Wi-Fi capabilities and built-in sensors. The ecosystem today is perfect for IoT growth. The new rule for future has been rightly written as, “Anything that can be connected, will be connected.” This is not just based on money saving or about building bridges and cities rather it’s about making things intelligent, it’s going to be a major engine for creating new products and new services.

All of these things are creating a “perfect storm” for the IoT. The 5th generation wireless revolution is also near that offers far better service, promising data speed 50 to 100 times faster than 4G LTE networks. It’s not just about improved smartphone technology; analysts believe that 5G’s biggest impact will be on IoT proliferation as it will result in billions of connected devices around the world.

This IoT revolution facilitated by 5G will take the internet era in to new territories. This is why IT and telecom companies including chipmakers, network equipment makers, application developers and telecom service providers are investing heavily in the technology. But at the same time, other industries are also adopting IT trends in their products and services, making them smarter and efficient. According to Boston Consulting Groups (BCG) market analysis, by 2020, $267B will be spent on IoT technologies, products, and services, where the greatest two sources of revenue growth in the IoT market will be generated from services and IoT applications investment.

Realizing the Full Value of IoT:

The impact Internet of Things will create on our lives will be enormous. It will result in increased efficiency and productivity by better utilization of resources. It will bring a wave of change for businesses and the way they develop their business models that will be outcome based and enable new revenue streams through data driven services.

With machine to machine communication enabled by specialized sensors can provide huge opportunities to optimize activities from small to everyday tasks to start a whole range of new services. The effect Internet of Things will create is not limited to machines only. Rather it is redefining the potential of everyday items. In recent years, we have seen basic jewelry transformed into real time fitness trackers, light bulbs switching off when no one is around, clothes that have built-in cooling and heating system. Infusing technology in everyday products to increase efficiency and effectiveness is the core of all IoT interventions.

Based on cloud computing networks, data gathering sensors and prompt connection, IoT is set to change everything in our lives

The true value of Internet of Things is much more than making things intelligent. It will be at the center of value cycle which not only involves gathering data from things but also optimizing complete processes to change people’s behaviors hence, improving overall productivity.

IoT in Pakistan:

Pakistan is one of the emerging markets for telecom and technology where digitalization is still at early stages but the momentum that has been built over the last five years is quite impressive.

Through its Vision 2025 strategy, Pakistan aims at completing its transition to a knowledge-based economy and mobile is at the heart of this vision. It is the most well suited technology for creating the digital society that is being aimed for. It not only provides the connectivity foundations but also facilitates the delivery of content necessary for other components of digitalization. Internet penetration, which is of monumental importance for IoT is only possible through mobile broadband as it can cover wide area with greater efficiency and provide affordable  connectivity to the people.

In the recent years, Pakistan’s IT and Telecom industry has gone through remarkable development while securing 6th position in the smartphone market for growth potential.   At the end of January 2017, the tele-density in Pakistan reached 71.66 percent whereas, there were 137 million mobile subscribers and 38.2 million mobile broadband (MBB) subscribers. According to GSMA’s latest report on Pakistan’s digital landscape, 3G and 4G penetration in Pakistan will reach 90% and 80% respectively by the end of 2020. This evolving communication landscape holds unlimited opportunities, including Internet of Things and smart cities.

With the ground set for further developments in the country, IoT based research and development is starting to gain momentum and is promising to bring in investments from home and abroad.

Analysts believe that 5G’s biggest impact will be on IoT proliferation as it will result in billions of connected devices around the world

The unique opportunities created by IoT have motivated many young entrepreneurs to launch startups on their own. Whereas, incubation centers like Plan9, NEST i/o, i2i, NIC etc also provided special platforms for technology startups. The immense young talent of Pakistan is gradually coming to the limelight with amazing and unique IoT projects.

The immense young talent of Pakistan is gradually coming to the limelight with amazing and unique IoT projects

There are numerous companies that have entered the IoT market in Pakistan. Zaheen Machines, Smart Devices, XGear, Cowlar, IOTechnica, Save my Scope, Trequant, Eye-Automate, Smart Security Solutions, IoT Lab are just few of the names. The focus of these IoT companies varies from health and security to smart homes, transport and urban planning.

IoT is not the future. It is here!

There is no doubt that Pakistan is moving towards a complete IT revolution. The contributions that public and private sectors are making, no matter how small or how big will take the country to a truly digital era and that’s exactly what our focus should be on. We are currently at the initial stage of that digital revolution therefore; the need of the time is to drive IoT adoption.

Adoption of IoT is a long process that you have to go through step by step. The real focus should be on defining our strengths and weaknesses that will eventually help us to create an IoT supportive ecosystem. Along with other tech companies, mobile operators in Pakistan have also recognized the importance of IoT and have started to rethink their business models. They have started to work along the lines of internet companies and have started to build platforms that enable Over-the-Top (OTT) based services and have also expanded in to the digital financial services.

Telenor and Mobilink are among the frontrunners to promote digital technology in the country.  Both have started dedicated projects for IoT and digital transformation in the country. Consequently, this transformation will enable them to successfully ride the next big wave of the IoT.

IoT does not focuses on just a single industry rather it will create impact on all industries where technology and machines are used or will be used in the future

To completely harness the potential of Internet of Things and extract maximum benefits, laws and regulations need to be established that govern the development and use of such technologies. How IoT will be used in medicine, education, security, entertainment, agriculture, transportation etc is a delicate matter that needs to be planned out. More importantly, how safety and security of its users will be maintained is an even greater matter of concern. IoT does not involve just a single industry rather it will create impact on all industries where technology and machines are used or will be used in the future. Therefore, a comprehensive roadmap needs to be planned out, with inputs from all stakeholders.  Addressing the importance of Internet of Things is not only important for realizing digital inclusion in Pakistan but also to gain economic benefits of IoT solutions through service optimization and cost saving. These will also bring improvements in productivity and automation but will also create value addition. MoITT has recently approved its IT Policy that outlines the framework for technology developments but due to the significant importance IoT and the impact it will create on ICT industry, It should be handled exclusively and with utmost care while also keeping in view the changing trends in the industry.

Of all the technology trends that are taking place right now, Internet of Things is the biggest  among them. Next generation mobile technology, greater smartphone and broadband penetration would mean nothing if we don’t use it to make our lives smarter and better. It is IoT that’s going to provide us with the most opportunities in the next five years.

An additional responsibility on government is to create a framework of governance for Innovation, and risk management because that’s what will drive the journey forward

Therefore, this is the right time to invest in Internet of Things and be a part of digital revolution. This is the time when we have to establish clear national level goals for IoT programme and identify processes that could be streamlined to realize efficiency. Also, government and private sector will have to create partnerships to build a responsive IoT ecosystem. But an additional responsibility on government is to create a framework of governance for Innovation, Risk Management and Change Management; because that’s what will drive the journey forward.

Rizwana Khan

Dreamer by nature, Journalist by trade.
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