The future of Internet of Things and what it means for Australian business


From bike locks that can be opened via an app to light switches that can be flicked off from your computer and phone, the Internet of Things is well and truly changing the way we do things. But it wouldn’t be possible without the innovation from companies far and wide. And one of the companies leading the way with IoT is telecommunications provider Vodafone.

At CeBIT Australia 2017, Vodafone will take the stage to discuss the latest and greatest IoT has to offer. We had a chance to get an early insight into what they’ll be discussing on the day - and our biggest takeaway: do not miss out. Their interest in Narrowband IoT is going to be a big game changer in the next 12-24 months. If you’re not sure what that is (like we were!) read on as Vodafone’s Executive General Manager for Enterprise Stuart Kelly tells us more.

The explosion of IoT consumer devices in recent years has made it clear that constant connectivity is more and more moving into the realm of reality. In your opinion, what were the game-changing developments in this space? What else can we expect in the next 5 years?

While consumer developments are exciting and will hit households everywhere, where we really see the game-changing developments are in the enterprise space. As more devices become connected, and new technologies such as Narrowband (NB) IoT come in place, it will unlock new capabilities in just about every facet of our lives. We will see cars that can talk to each other, sewerage systems that don’t need remote maintenance, trucks which can be monitored, even health devices which can be remotely accessed and changed. NB IoT is going to be massive and will allow devices to be connected where it was previously impossible, thanks to its extremely long battery life, which can last for years at a time.

How are these developments impacting daily life?

We will see things such as smart cities, where cars and trucks will be able to talk to parking spots and traffic lights. Small business owners will be able to connect remotely to different machines and objects, increasing efficiency and bringing valuable time back into their personal life.

Australia tends to be an early adopter when it comes to new technological developments. How are we shaping up when it comes to IoT adoption?

Vodafone’s IoT Barometer 2016 states that APAC leads the way in seeing significant return on investment (ROI) from IoT projects:

  • 70% of respondents reported seeing significant ROI in APAC.
  • 96% of adopters in APAC are increasing their spend on IoT projects.
  • 97% are increasing the number of connections on their IoT projects
  • 95% are increasing the number of IoT projects they have.

We don’t have specific figures for Australia, but Vodafone supports IOTAA (Internet of Things Alliance Australia) who are doing research into the Australian market and will give a great view of the adoption in Australia.

IoT devices also expose consumers and businesses to new levels of security risks. Is data protection and privacy keeping pace with the speed of technological advancement? Why/why not?

Security, data protection and privacy are top of mind for our customers, especially when addressing major IoT deployments. However, it’s the consumer IoT devices which grab the headlines - whether it’s a baby monitor or a connected car, it’s the edge device that’s most visible and exposed as a target for hackers.

The business value of IoT lies in the data it gathers, often mission-critical data on a large scale. In any IT system, data protection is achieved by encrypting data, by isolating systems from each other; and by restricting access through authentication. All of these mechanisms (and more) are used in Vodafone’s IoT infrastructure.

Vodafone takes a holistic view of the risks facing customers security, data and privacy. All Vodafone IoT deployments are designed with security built in from the ground up. Our IoT subscribers are separated from public internet traffic and we encrypt data that passes over our mobile networks into the network core by default. As an additional layer of protection, we support and strongly recommend application-layer end-to-end encryption from the device to your applications.

IoT devices require a certain level of mobile network coverage. What role do network providers play in enabling an IoT connected society?

IoT devices don’t necessarily require unprecedented levels of mobile network coverage. Providing the right mix of connectivity technologies for different applications and balancing the bandwidth and capacity needs of these applications is the role the network providers play in enabling an IoT connected society.

For example a static smart meter only communicates small amounts of data infrequently, and consumes very little network capacity. Whereas an autonomous car needs to communicate continuously with the infrastructure and other vehicles around it, consuming significantly more network capacity.

The evolution of complementary new technologies such as Narrowband-IoT and 5G will address these different application needs.

Vodafone will be presenting at CeBIT Australia 2017. What can conference attendees hope to gain from this talk?

We’re a global leader in IoT, with some of the best minds in the industry. Attendees will be able to learn how to best take advantage of IoT and how it can transform their business, as well as where the industry is going and how they can keep up with it.

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