It has been a few weeks since Convergia was at InnovaTech LATAM as an official sponsor in Santiago, Chile, presenting demos of IoT solutions with technology partners. We demonstrated that in the innovation ecosystem of the Internet of Things, connectivity is the gateway.
Although this solution represents only 6% of the total market turnover in Latin America (*) versus 16 % globally (**), opening the way for the development of solutions based on customer demands, and bringing awareness to the operational efficiencies that IoT generates, produces new lines of business and improves customer experience. However, these statistics vary as time moves forward. The millions of connected devices or billing in exponential growth are indicators confirming that the opportunity within the market is great. In the local market for 2018, it is mentioned that there is a turnover of 168M USD, which will grow to 523M USD by 2022 (***). From our experience touring the market, we can affirm that we are in a stage of education rather than adoption, where industries such as mining, followed by fisheries and agronomists, are already progressing.
For this, the different connectivity options offered such as GSM 3G / 4G, Sigfox, LoRA Wan (Low Power Wide Area Network Network), ZigBee (Low Power Digital Radio Signals for Personal Area Network) and satellite (a cheaper one than the other) points to different market segments depending on the volume of data required to transmit:
- GSM 3G & 4G: when the data ratio is very large (e.g.: CCTV, geolocation).
- LTE-M: when the ratio is less than 5Mbps (e.g.: traffic lights, logistics, payment methods).
- NB-IoT: when the ratio is less than 250Kbps (e.g.: vending machines, energy management in smart homes, parking lots, transport fleet management).
- LoRA WAN (LPWAN I): when the ratio is less than 10Kbps (e.g.: equipment monitoring, valves).
- UNB (LPWAN II): when the ratio is less than 600bps (e.g.: garbage dumps, doors, gas and water meters), the best example being SIGFOX network.
It is said that with the arrival of 5G, the IoT will consolidate due to the high connectivity speeds that 5G will offer. As previously explained, most IoT solutions transport low data volume over extended periods. In this context, we believe that users can benefit from the increased availability of bandwidth in 3G / 4G networks, released by the adoption of 5G by the mass consumer market. However, the 5G network is going to make a difference for smart city as well as logistics and distribution solutions. This is because the volume of data generated is high, and the availability for decision-making occurs in less time, even more so with the use of Artificial Intelligence for analysis and immediate action.
Connectivity provides the means through which the information collected by different types of sensors or digital reading devices travels. This information is sent to repositories, which can be on physical servers or in the cloud, the latter being the most used for several reasons:
- Convenience through access
- Variation of developments hosted for analysis,
- Flexibility to increase storage in real-time
- It’s offered under a service model that allows cost efficiency versus the purchase of on-premise (physical) storage.
At this point, we enter a very wide market of solutions that involve licensed software developments, sensors, communication gateways and management platforms. We can summarize that the IoT provides the ability to reduce the access times to the information generated by the connection of two or more devices, for decision making in real-time, generating benefits to the business and positively revolutionizing the customer experience.
An example of the solution that each of the components of the IoT comprises is ‘Managed Wi-Fi (As A Service) with Analytics’. This solution is in high demand by shopping centers and retailers globally. But what exactly is this solution about?
When the Public Wi-Fi infrastructure is mounted in an open or closed space, customers make use of it due to the need for connectivity (not all mobile operators in other geographies provide unlimited data plans, which is why Wi-Fi spaces in public are very important). We connect to Wi-Fi via a captive portal (where they ask us to register with one of our social media accounts, LinkedIn or through personal email) or via an application on Android or IOS (where we are asked to deliver information on our personal email and / or mobile number).
In all these cases, the provider requests the user to read and accept the Terms and Conditions, where the scope of the use of the generated information is explained, and the personal information of the user is protected (according to the laws of the country). When the user registers and uses Wi-Fi, the provider can generate heat maps (also known as coverage maps) that represents the strength of the wireless signal in the different areas of the premises (For example; shopping centers, educational institutions, hospitals, retail stores, etc.). These maps allow the analysis of retail variables such as the number of people per zones in a given time (rush hour or opening hours of the premises), new visitors versus regular visitors, traffic patterns between zones as well as where visitors spend time between others. This improves customer experience because, with this information, the provider can optimize the areas of the premises, send offers and promotions in real-time from the different tenants to the clients, send important information to the clients, and even send internal security notifications.
Therefore, here is where the biggest challenge for the provider lies; Generation of greater adoption to Public Wi-Fi while competing with unlimited data plans. This is achieved by analyzing and understanding the data generated for marketing campaigns, then offering promotions and / or exclusive offers for those who register for Public Wi-Fi. While this solution uses Wi-Fi as a means of connectivity (it does not use a mobile network or any other type of network explained), the Internet serves as a means of connecting and transmitting data to improve the customer experience.
In conclusion, the Internet of Things (IoT) has no limits but should be used properly as it generates a high volume of data. Adequate tools are needed for the correct analysis of data as well as work teams with the experience necessary for decision-making, as IoT requires a large investment in technological resources and takes a long time to be implemented. So, to all the business out there, good luck in this idIoTization process!
CEO of Convergia Peru. Industrial Engineer with more than 20 years of experience in the telecommunications, technology and corporate communication industry. It has two MBAs, one studied at the San Ignacio de Loyola University (Peru) and the other at Manchester Business School (England). He is an expert in corporate restructuring of telecommunications and technology companies, especially in emerging markets; He is also an active consultant on issues of digital transformation and strategic planning