International IoT Opportunities – Beyond North America!
International IoT Opportunities Panel
As North America-based companies look for opportunities to expand, this panel explores the IoT opportunities in Asia, Latin America and Africa — and how wireless carriers can act as expansion enablers for technology companies. The panel consists of international wireless carriers to highlight the growth areas (industrial, housing, energy, etc.) within their respective markets.
Lisa-Anne Uhrmacher said Vodafone mainly works with two types of companies: a company that starts its business in the US and then expands to English-speaking markets, then to others that are more culturally challenging, and the other type is companies that are global from day one.
Angel Mercedes said there is a trend of customers looking for a global SIM. The customers don’t want to sign multiple contracts with mobile incorporators; they want to be able to connect to more than one mobile network operator when in different countries. E-SIM is able to be re-encrypted and switched from one operator to another.
Per Erik Ångman said their company has been working towards not treating Europe as one country because of new roaming regulations and a lot of operators. People can use roaming SIMs. One of the biggest changes they will see is that you have to use national SIMs or use someone who is already approved. Telenabler is not into the tech side in the European market, but it gives them clear niches to pursue and focus their business on.
Lisa-Anne Uhrmacher said Vodafone has launched narrowband IoT. They have networks launched in Spain, Ireland, and other parts of Europe. A 4G overlay allows them to leverage their large LTE global network. CAT and MVNE could live side by side, and there is a use case for each. 2G and 3G are in different parts of the world, so 4G gives lots of options. She said they are excited by low power and advantages it brings to the table. They hope to see exponential growth.
Angel Mercedes said their recent Numerex acquisition helps them even more in the US market because of their existing infrastructure and services provided, and the revenue associated with it.
Per Erik Ångman said one of the biggest challenges Telenabler is facing is coming back to staying focuses and providing good delivery. He said there are a lot of opportunities and companies shouldn’t take on too many at once. They want to stick to doing a good job at a few tasks, over a couple countries. Price is definitely an issue, but it is becoming less of an issue for most applications.
Angel Mercedes said Sierra Wireless has had the same issue since day one: integrating different components. Sierra Wireless had device to cloud integration and is preparing for narrowband IoT and 2G. They are working towards a single device that can work globally.
Lisa-Anne Uhrmacher said one of Vodafone’s problems is the business is not simple. Part of the challenge is identifying what you want in an IoT solution, what is the business model, and what is the customer journey — then step back and figure out how to get there. What are you trying to achieve?
Security has also been a big focus for companies as they develop and innovate. Per Erik Ångman said there is needed regulation and certification to prevent total mayhem. Angel Mercedes said Sierra Wireless has a chief security officer and a group dedicated to security. With many components used in their solution, more security is needed. Lisa-Anne Uhrmacher said she hears from customers who are nervous about security. They built an IoT platform isolated from the consumer world and security is taken seriously, especially with applications like finance and healthcare.
Steve Brumer asked the panelists if they had $10 million for IoT, how would they use it? Per Erik Ångman said he would try to set up a single point of integration for as many countries and networks as possible. Angel Mercedes said he would develop a global SIM for devices that could go anywhere and connect security. Lisa-Anne Uhrmacher said she would invest in development to see innovative use cases without parameters around it to use in globally underdeveloped networks, like Kenya.
For standards, Per Erik Ångman said it is something that should bring in vendors, users, and government agencies. Standards are in place for the traditional mobile industry, but needs to be adapted. Angel Mercedes said the GSMA model for standards has been successful. Lisa-Anne Uhrmacher said engagement with regional bodies is an option worth pursuing.
For pricing strategies, both Per Erik Ångman and Angel Mercedes said the price has come down quite a bit. Lisa-Anne Uhrmacher said the conversation should switch to what value is provided rather than costs. What are you providing the customer?
For next steps, Per Erik Ångman said companies need to partner with people in different markets and different environments, so you don’t get stuck. Angel Mercedes said it is important to choose a company that can provide global support and provide you as many parts of the solution. Lisa-Anne Uhrmacher said partner with someone with global connections and global perspectives.
Steve Brumer, Partner at 151 Advisors