At Aria, we care a lot about IoT. Advance Warning: there’s a primer below as to why we care so much. Read it if you wish (I hope you will), but the real point of this article is to call out the technology forces outside of Aria, forces that will soon cause IoT to cross its likely-final chasm. There are specifically two such technological shifts that can’t be ignored and which, at risk of being hyperbolic and overly metaphorical, will massively broaden and deepen the already-growing pool of need in which Aria swims.
SPOILER ALERT: The two technologies are 5G networking and Artificial Intelligence. In ways that might surprise you.
WARNING: Before talking about them explicitly, that forewarned primer:
WHY IoT IS CRITICAL TO ARIA
What Aria has already known and seen for several years is that the Internet of Things is the single largest force driving adoption of services like ours. With the Aria Crescendo platform, we specifically re-designed our object model to provide a system that could truly deliver the sophisticated, device-level monetization structures that IoT needs, and that no other billing system on the market offers. We focused on “true IoT readiness” for three fundamental reasons.
First, the very nature of almost all IoT applications, whether consumer- or industrial-based, is that they demand a different monetization model than what has traditionally sufficed for “things”; a wearable health device with entirely localized functionality might be sold in a retail outlet at a price point that provides one-time profit margin to the various entities in the supply chain, but a connected wearable device delivers its primary value via the remote service provider(s) to which it’s connected. Such services require a virtual and perpetual ‘tethering’ to such service providers, which in turn demands a monetization model that is perpetual or ‘recurring’ in nature, whether a simple subscription or a variable usage-based model or a hybrid of the two. In short, IoT applications need recurring billing capabilities to work commercially.
Second, given that the genesis (not surprisingly) of connected “things” springs most often from companies that know how to make “things” (connected vehicles are primarily provided from vehicle makers, connected wearables from wearable makers, connected home security systems from home security system makers, etc.), there is a nearly universally applicable divide in both a cultural and infrastructure sense between what that “thing maker” knows regarding the historical way in which they have monetized their business and the way that a perpetual service provider does the same. Simply put, “thing makers” are compelled to transform, at least partially, into “service providers”, and they predictably lack the corporate mindset and supporting systems to do so when they first embark on that journey.
Lastly, and most importantly, “IoT” as a term is best considered a pre-cursor name for a world that will very soon no longer need such a term at all. ‘Connection to the Network’ and ‘Everything as a Service’ will be de facto attributes of nearly all that we humans consume. They’re very nearly there already. In a sense, IoT should be viewed as a harbinger that’s applicable to… everything. What IoT teaches us about coming monetization needs applies to, well… nearly everything.
But despite these truisms that have informed Aria’s product and marketing strategies around IoT, broad market penetration of IoT applications across all sectors has not yet reached the scale many predicted, myself included. There are many viewpoints as to the ‘why’ of that fact… I have my own. Thankfully, though, there are two general technological advances which promise, more than any others, to most dramatically accelerate that long-awaited adoption. It would be unfair to characterize them as ‘on the horizon’; They’re both here: 5G and AI.
WHY 5G IS CRITICAL TO IoT
Within the next couple of years 5G will begin to replace 3G and 4G LTE globally. With its more elegant deployment model, distributed architecture, lightning-fast speeds and incredibly low latency, 5G will massively accelerate a host of new IoT applications that have been stunted thus far in their go-to-market efforts. Not only will it simply make it easier and cheaper to deliver IoT solutions across all industries (not to mention improving the performance of those solutions across the board by at least an order or magnitude), it will actually permit brand new applications that simply wouldn’t be possible without it. Functions like remote surgery and comprehensive autonomous vehicle management that demand extreme precision and/or split-second responses simply don’t work without the elimination of network latency, and 5G delivers on that vision.
5G will be the most important game-changing catalyst for true widespread adoption of IoT, which in turn will demand solutions that can deliver on the recurring monetization capability that IoT requires.
WHY AI IS CRITICAL TO IoT
Artificial Intelligence, specifically Machine Learning which recognizes patterns and continuously and automatically tailors actions and outcomes based on those patterns, is now being “injected” into systems and services of all kinds at an unprecedented rate. This adoption, most notably, includes IoT applications of all varieties. As the capabilities of Machine Learningcontinue to mature and its footprint expands, AI-infused IoT services will in turn enjoy ever greater adoption and retention thanks to the greater value they will deliver to their end users. It’s a simple formula: The more intelligently tailored the action/outcome of a service, the greater its value, the greater its adoption, and the greater its retention by consumers. Consumers will often need to pay for that service, directly or indirectly, and almost always in one recurring model or another.
Like 5G, ubiquitous use of AI will drive adoption of connected services across the board, services that inherently gravitate toward recurring monetization models, thus further broadening the addressable market that Aria was designed to serve. And it’s shortsighted to call that the ‘IoT Market’ or anything like that. How does the ‘Connected Things that Connect Us to Service that We Want to Consume and Pay for as We Use Them Over Time Market’ sound? Makes a crappy acronym, admittedly… come up with a pithier one if you’re so inclined, by all means. But it’s not going to be long until we won’t need such a label at all. Not when it potentially applies to almost everything.