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New investments and corporate units dedicated to the Internet of Things are making it clear that IoT is not about connecting random objects, but rather a key component in the evolution of digital transformation.
US technology provider Dell Technologies recently announced R&D investments of US$1bn in Internet of Things projects over the next three years, while tapping VMware CTO Ray O'Farrell to head a new IoT division. The company also said it will invest US$100mn per year on start-ups, IoT, AI and machine learning. In September, Hitachi announced the launch of a new IoT unit called Hitachi Vantara to provide data-driven solutions for mostly industrial clients.
IoT is also transforming industries such as agriculture. According to satellite communications provider Inmarsat, 66% of surveyed agritech companies plan to spend from 10% to 20% of their IT budget to develop IoT applications over the next five years. Market research firm Vanson Bourne interviewed executives from 100 large agritech companies around the world for the Future of IoT in Enterprise 2017 report and found that 62% had fully or partly implemented IoT-based solutions, exceeding adoption levels in the mining, transportation and energy sectors. Another 27% planned to do so over the next six months.
Earlier this month in São Paulo, IoT was the talk of Futurecom, Latin America's largest telecom and internet conference. The CEO of Telefónica's operations in Brazil, Eduardo Navarro, said carriers cannot simply be providers of connectivity, which is becoming commoditized. When providing SIM cards or chips to a company, telcos should also offer a management platform, becoming a sort of "micro IoT operator," Navarro said.
About four years ago, Telefónica decided to invest in its own platform, focusing on specific sectors in Brazil's economy. "We're focusing on fleet management, energy management. There are also urban projects: lighting, niche management," he added. "In short, offering just connectivity is not an option."
At Futurecom, the Brazilian government said it will develop an IoT national action plan to go along with its digital transformation agenda.
Think tank Competitive Intelligence Unit believes these types of public policies and programs are essential in deploying and safeguarding the information, data and connectivity generated by IoT. But citing the case of Mexico's national digital strategy (EDN) as a missed opportunity – calling it a very general framework that is just starting to be implemented five years after being introduced – CIU says policies need to be very specific and fast-tracked.
"Imagine what would happen if autonomous cars lost connectivity for a moment or lost control because road infrastructure is not adequate. Many lives could be at risk," says the (CIU).
Pictured: German automotive manufacturer Continental presented its new self-driving taxi in September.