Over 50 billion “things” or devices are projected to be connected to the Internet through wired and wireless networks, generating zettabytes of data, all powered by cloud computing. This Internet of Everything (IoE) will fundamentally transform businesses, generate enormous economic wealth and create immeasurable social value. Cisco is discovering that successful IoE implementations require a solid technical and business platform into which different vertical solutions can be easily plugged to efficiently and effectively achieve the promised business, economic and social benefits. The cornerstone of this IoE platform includes a robust connectivity and technology infrastructure, operational and management services, to accommodate a range of vertical and horizontal solutions. Details of this IoE platform are outlined in Building the Platform for the Internet of Everything. The ideal IoE platform leverages common requirements across all vertical solutions to create a scalable, “build once – deploy many”, technical and business architecture. But, who is going to build and deliverable this scalable platform? Cisco believes that service providers are well positioned to lead the development and implementation of the IoE platform. Not only do they have years of experience building and running networks, operations and customer services, but many SPs now offer extensive cloud and systems integration services. Not to mention, their strong brands, vertical sales and solutions and a history of complex technical implementations. Service providers need to consider their strategic options for developing and operating the IoE platform. Although it varies by provider, the strategic options build from an inherent, more technical, strength for providers at the bottom of the platform, to less core capabilities in the services and management layers at the top. A SP’s strategic options are:
- Core – Network Connection – extension of the core networking business.
- Closely Aligned – Network Access, Technology Platform – leveraging capabilities in deploying and operating network access and cloud services.
- Stretch – Vertical and Horizontal Solutions, Shared Operations Platform – likely partnering/acquiring to create IoE solutions; extending internal NOC and customer care operations as a service.
- New Areas – Professional Services, Program Management – while some SPs have some SI capabilities most will need to partner or organically grow consulting and services capabilities.
- Monetization – extension and growth of existing capabilities in advertising and data analytics to create vertical-specific monetization opportunities.
Our detailed analysis of the revenue potential for providing an IoE platform for Smart Cities (Smart Cities Are a $7.5 Billion Annual Opportunity for Technology Providers) provides a good example of the value that can be created by providing the technical and operational requirements for successful IoE deployments. Roughly one-half of the platform revenues come from the core or closely aligned areas – areas not very distant from a service provider’s current business. We are starting to see SPs around the world chasing the significant IoE platform opportunity. However, they are typically focused on their core business of providing network connectivity. The big opportunity exists to move up the IoE platform stack to build and deliver new sources of value. Service providers should start by expanding beyond connectivity to the closely aligned areas of network access and technology platform. From there explore stretch and new areas by building off existing capabilities, seeking partners or considering select acquisitions. In parallel, investigate areas where you can create new monetization opportunities in select verticals leveraging existing and new business capabilities. Building and delivering a scalable IoE platform that can be deployed across multiple vertical solutions provides a compelling business case for SPs to capture a significant portion of the $20 trillion that IDC estimates will be spent over the next three years to realize the promise of the Internet of Everything. Service providers are well placed to take a leadership role as the providers of the IoE platform. But, they better act fast. Technology vendors, services companies, start-ups and niche players are all circling the waters to see how they can grab a piece of this tantalizing $20 trillion business.