The IoT's emergence from the shadows could be the phenomenon of modern communications, according to Steve Best, Managing Director, Product Management, Strategy and Regulatory Affairs at BT Wholesale.
At the conference, he delivered insights into Platinum sponsor BT Wholesale's strategic momentum, and presented a portfolio structure that is in place to deliver end-to-end digital transformation across the full spectrum of communications.
It was especially significant that he spotlighted the IoT, by far the biggest disruptive technology of the day cited by 41% in a BT CEO survey.
BT's research offered a strong guide to the state of the communications market right now, with the following categories rated as the next most transformational technologies: Cloud computing (35%), mobile computing (30%), social media (28%), Big Data (26%), and AI/ML (22%).
The evidence suggests that the traditional order of communication services is hardly fit for a modern purpose. Small wonder then that Best delivered his Comms Vision keynote under the banner, 'How to become a competing force in the new digital enterprise'.
He gave insights into what makes BT Wholesale tick, and its evolution is a sure sign of the times, evolving to help the channel respond most effectively to the new ICT ecosystem and on-demand world, driven by the rise of M2M, the IoT, growth in bandwidth, 4G, and virtualisation technologies such as Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN).
"BT Wholesale is undergoing a period of transition," stated Best. "The consistent theme is building networks and connecting customers, but the methods of connecting are changing. Therefore we are investing in NFV, SDN, flexible bandwidth services, cloud UC, mobile, contact centres and IoT technology.
"The IoT is nothing new. We've been talking about it for over 20 years. But it's no longer just an idea, it's about turning ideas into reality and adoption will only increase."
BT Wholesale is investing in IoT through the channel where deep insights into verticals will play a key role in its success. "Only then can we pull the IoT layer of together, based on analytics, connectivity, sensors and actuators," added Best. "BT is focusing on low bandwidth spaces where the cost of sensors is less and battery life can run between five to ten years."
Best cited research that showed 57% of companies worldwide have already adopted IoT technology, rising to 85% by 2019. "We're combining our expertise, network and partnerships to create innovative IoT solutions," he added. "IoT transforms our approach to market, but it is not a case of one size fits all."
Key IoT markets for BT include Intelligent Retail where insights can be leveraged to boost profits; Intelligent Data that powers faster, better decision making; Intelligent Assets that provide global inventory visibility; and Intelligent Cities which are fast becoming more sustainable places to live. "We provide the foundation that makes the IoT possible - connectivity," added Best. "That's just the start."
From the IoT to mobile to NFV and all else in between, the channel has to see that sticking to old technologies won't work, pointed out Best.
"Traditional markets are in fixed pipes and fixed capacity," he stated. "We are now moving towards flexibility and bandwidth control through our portal. We offer the capability for customers and consumers to use the bandwidth they need when they need it. We are focused on virtualisation and new value propositions."
The virtualisation of customer site hardware brings greater service provision agility and operational cost reduction. And Best revealed that BT is poised to kick off customer Proof of Concept projects that put control and visibility into the hands of CPs, supported by enhanced systems integration via its portal.
As well as this, BT is leveraging its acquisition of EE, a significant mobile player offering MVNO services, and plans to launch a mobile office capability. BT Wholesale's mobile strategy sits alongside other key focus areas including UC, hosted SIP trunks, Avaya Aura cloud solutions and fraud management in the cloud space.
Best also pointed to a new SIP Trunking proposition aimed at migrating SMEs from ISDN, which offers a single and common customer user experience irrespective of the SIP or centrex technology deployed.
Investments continue at pace in professional services, additional fibre expansion, extended data connectivity coverage and 4G, with the promise of more Ethernet in data centres to improve the speed of connecting up customers. 10G Ethernet Access Direct (EAD) is planned for next spring; while 4G access will hurry along Ethernet lead times and provide a solution for business continuity.
"This is the changing nature of our business," stated Best. "The time is ripe to drive innovation and value."