Last week we at Transforma Insights wrote a White Paper sponsored by Sierra Wireless entitled ‘How to achieve best practice in a 5G-enabled IoT world’. The last few years have been complicated for IoT connectivity, as discussed in great depth in previous blog posts (including this one: ‘IoT connectivity has never been so complex’. Changes such as 2G/3G switch off, new LPWA and 5G networks, eSIM and many other technology (r)evolutions have created a very different set of choices for enterprises deploying IoT. Richer tools, but tougher choices.
At the same time as all these supply-side factors have been changing, the demand-side has also evolved. Over the last two years the dynamics of the manufacturing sector, healthcare, transportation and retail have all changed dramatically. Changing patterns of behaviour, not least the shift to working from home, have also moved the goalposts (perhaps permanently so) for IoT sectors such as smart buildings, smart cities and connected car. The White Paper digs into many of the changing dynamics, including the increased demand for higher bandwidth applications, particularly using video.
The lion’s share of the report looks at best practice in how to adopt next-generation IoT (i.e. the newly evolved set of capabilities that the last few years has provided). Many are similar challenges to that ever faced by IoT. Security, for instance, has always been the #1 concern of anyone deploying IoT, as it should be. The growth of IoT has almost made it a victim of its own success as hackers turn their attention more and more to IoT. The availability of enhanced tools, and the recent pushes for IoT security regulation around the world, have all helped to boost security.
Other major trends that now need to be on the radar of any company deploying IoT relate to how data is delivered from the device. The first is the increasing importance of cloud and edge, and particularly the hyperscalers (AWS, Google and Microsoft) that dominate the space. The ability to put processing in many different locations (device edge, network edge, cloud data center etc.) will enable IoT applications to be much more effectively delivered. Similarly, network function virtualization (NFV) provides the capability to deploy dedicated networks for IoT, with improvements in security and flexibility of service delivery.
The other significant area of change relates to how the devices are connected. 5G and LPWA technologies such as NB-IoT, LTE-M and LoRa offer new networks which will have characteristics that will make them more or less applicable to different use cases. The arrival of embedded SIM (eSIM) also provides a capability that simplifies device manufacture, onboarding and supply chain logistics.
Other recommendations in the report address device testing, certification and simplification.
A copy of the White Paper ‘How to achieve best practice in a 5G-enabled IoT world’ is available to download on the Sierra Wireless website.