The promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) took the world by storm around 2012. Spurred on by evangelists and entrepreneurs, the idea of embedding sensors in objects and harvesting real-time data from them was compelling enough that IoT rapidly became a mainstream concept. However, as is the case with any new technology, market developments came with ups and downs.
Indeed, IoT followed the Gartner hype cycle to the letter, from a peak of "inflated expectations" through deep "disillusionment" and now - finally - towards "enlightenment" and "productivity". Today, the world is moving full speed ahead towards large-scale adoption of IoT networks.
A few strong indicators back up IoT’s gain in popularity. First, the number of connected sensors has passed the billion mark and will continue to grow over the next few years. IoT insights provider, IoT Analytics, predicts there will be over 27 billion connected devices by the end of 2025. Gartner, on a more optimistic note, estimates the number of connected devices in 2025 will be closer to 80 billion.
Furthermore, at WMW Hub we can clearly feel the shift in the type of projects and questions we receive from the market. Here are a few telltale signs:
We see proof of concepts from years ago move into production phase
We see an important evolution in the way RFPs (request for proposal) are issued. They are more realistic, with a scope based on operational experience on the client's side.
Now that the market is maturing, we can see hyperscalers join the IoT alliances. Microsoft joining the LoRa Alliance® six months ago is a good example.
Government organizations are becoming more comfortable with the technology, which removes an important barrier for adoption. LoRaWAN®, for instance, is now an officially approved standard in the US which means that it has received the blessing of government and regulators in terms of safety and (cyber)security.
Finally, system integrators and telcos are creating true business models around IoT, fully mapped on their teams' capabilities.
All these signals point into the same direction: for its stakeholders, the business case of IoT is clear.
Smart metering for utilities and monitoring of infrastructure across industries are among the first large-scale IoT projects. New markets, like healthcare, are starting to adopt the possibilities and opportunities of connected devices. Before long, connected devices will be everywhere.
IoT will increase quality of maintenance of infrastructure and machines, improving working environments and increasing safety. It will also allow businesses and consumers to become more aware of their environmental impact and optimise all of their processes. This will help them become more efficient and sustainable.
Why now? Better, cheaper, safer IoT
This mass adoption of IoT is, in large part, due to the fact that IoT has become more affordable, reliable and secure than it was in its early stages.
Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) technologies (i.e. LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, Sigfox,...) were instrumental in this evolution. Compared to more traditional technologies such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, LPWAN networks offer complementary value to the traditional wireless protocols. So how do they do that?
They offer superior range and longer battery life. LPWAN allow data signals to travel further over the air, and they are optimised for minimum battery consumption. That makes LPWAN solutions ideal for collecting both close and remote data.
They are versatile. LPWAN technologies can run on both public and private networks.
They are secure. LPWAN networks were developed from the ground up to be secure. This allows them to be used in the most demanding (mission) critical environments / use cases.
They offer good value for investment. Most IoT networks have an open architecture, making them very accessible. This also reduces set-up and management costs.
They are scalable. Once an IoT network is in place, adding new use cases while maintaining low monthly charges is easy. This enables faster deployment and a better return on investment.
The WMW Hub model: speed and scalability
At WMW, we strongly believe three factors are crucial in any IoT deployment: speed, scalability and adaptability.
The basic trade-off that businesses too often need to make is the one between depth and breadth of IoT solutions.
Deep, single use case IoT can work and scale beautifully. Think of Fitbit, which perfectly delivers on its promise of tracking people's heart rate. Philips, on the other hand, delivers solutions that can help consumers dim the lights in their homes and, on a much larger scale, hundreds of thousands of street lights in cities. Hence, as a user you must accept the constraint that each player only solves a single issue.
To build a range of IoT solutions, we must build on multipurpose platforms. Unfortunately, adapting these platforms to your desired use cases feels a lot like building a new software application from the ground up, or like implementing a large-scale ERP solution. As the saying goes: "It takes twice as long and twice the budget you had hoped for".
At WMW, we solve that IoT puzzle through our development and commercial model.
Our development model relies on a homegrown library approach that grows with every project. We have worked for years on all types of use cases, in all kinds of industries, with all types of devices, networks and locations. When we start a new project, we can reuse code snippets from earlier projects.
This “reuse approach” is the core of our business model. We want to remain flexible to the actual use case but still scale to the maximum level. The more applications we develop, the larger our library becomes and the faster we can develop new applications. We can literally develop new IoT solutions in days, whereas other suppliers might take months. This also helps when we need to make quick adjustments, making us a flexible and trustworthy partner.
We’ve also chosen to work exclusively through resellers, like System Integrators and Telco Operators. This approach guarantees that we are surrounded by experts in all types of industries. While we focus on the development of the solution, our resellers ensure that the implementation stage is seamless and the solution is a 100% fit to the problem of their end customers.
The strength of WMW is not (just) a library of software modules, it is the in-house knowledge and experience to build successive solutions in a fast way. We enable insights through connections. As the market matures, the library does as well, ending up in components that are answers to real world problems, not just lab grown potential problems.
Our ambition: to enable sustainable progress around the globe
IoT is a technological marvel - through connected devices, we can track activity and movement around the globe in real time. But the true significance of IoT is what we can do with that knowledge. IoT has a huge potential to do good for our planet and people.
IoT helps businesses and governments become more sustainable, protect the environment by understanding processes in real time and make more efficient use of resources and energy.
Our ambition at WMW Hub is simple but huge: we want to support the transition to a safer and more sustainable world, one IoT solution at a time. If you want to help in any way - as a partner, as an employee, a client or a reseller - don't hesitate to send us an e-mail, we're happy to chat!