Tele2 outlines IoT strategy: working with partners to grab the opportunity

Monday 3 October 2016 | 15:17 CET | Background
The roll-out of IoT networks is laying the basis for a wide range of services and solutions that will launch in the coming years in any number of sectors, as well as for households. Mobile operators are eagerly seeking a role in the emerging connected society. Many of the major telecom operators have announced plans for IoT services, and Tele2 Group has just presented its strategy at a special event in the Netherlands, the Tele2 IoT Talks. 

In the past year, Tele2 has been raising its profile as a provider of connectivity and services for the Internet of Things (IoT). In May, the company announced that it will work with IBM to help businesses develop and implement IoT applications and business models. This is based on the ‘IoT Starter Kit’ developed with IBM, which offers businesses an easy way to start work on IoT projects. 

The value of the IoT is often not clear to businesses, according to Nicola Villa, IBM European IoT Leader. Speaking at the Tele2 event in Utrecht, she said most businesses are still in the early stages of strategic planning. "We must realise that IoT is completely changing the business model, but its models and use cases are often still unclear."

This month Tele2 announced a similar partnership with Microsoft and the sensor manufacturer Libelium. Together, the three companies will deliver a complete IoT "plug & play" developer starter kit, containing Libelium hardware, the Microsoft Azure IoT Platform and connectivity from Tele2. Tele2 also just announced an extended partnership with CSL to deliver connectivity in Europe for IoT/M2M devices. The aim is to help companies make the transition for analogue to digital systems. According to CSL CEO Phil Hollett, around 13 million systems in Europe need to make the transition, including 1 million in the Netherlands. 

Tele2 also announced this summer an agreement with 1-Fleet Alliance, a group of seventeen telematics service providers from across Europe. Over the course of the three-year contract, Tele2 expects to deliver more than 150,000 SIM cards to enable the 1-Fleet Alliance member companies to deliver on their core business. 1-Fleet Alliance has a combined total of more than 24,000 customers with in excess of 403,000 tracking units currently in operation. In the Netherlands, INmatix is a member of the alliance.

Kinnevik: more, quicker innovation

To further strengthen its IoT strategy, Tele2 bought last month the Swedish company Kombridge. Since 2010 Kombridge provides security services, connected device management and application management for IoT devices and services. 

Tele2 aims to grow in the IoT market not only through acquisitions, but also organically. Anders Borg, board member at Tele2's main shareholder Kinnevik, has called for more innovation to drive the full realisation of the IoT. The speed of technological change is accelerating, and innovation is now coming especially from small companies - start-ups with their finger on the pulse, he said. These means other companies need to look at entrepreneurship in a new light. In Europe there are few unicorns yet, start-ups worth over a billion dollars. To create more companies like this, Europe needs to look more closely at its tax climate and regulation, said the former Swedish finance minister. There also needs to be more capital available for innovative start-ups, as in the US, Borg said. 

Kinnevik is also a shareholder in the online fashion seller Zalando and the African and Latin American operator Millicom. According to Borg, both are already making good use of the opportunities the IoT can offer. In Germany, Zalando is working in this area with Deutsche Telekom

Important role for partners

Tele2 expects the Internet of Things to play an important role in answering key social questions such as overpopulation and pressure on natural resources. But technology cannot solve everything; it's the associated strategies that count, said Rami Avidan, MD Tele2 IoT and the former CEO of Wyless Group, the IoT specialist acquired earlier this year by Kore Wireless

IoT is an issue that must be decided at management level, Avidan noted. An important reason why companies aren't investing in IoT is they lack a strategy. The route to IoT is long and complex, and someone needs to take the initiative. IoT requires a long-term investment, scalability and flexibility, Avidan said. 

Tele2 is active in the market as a network partner and helps develop solutions together with its partners. The company is taking a horizontal approach given that IoT 'works' in any market segment or sector. Partners can provide the customisation required by specific industries, helping to reduce the time-to-market and complexity and offer a better quality of service, said Avidan.

Cisco Jasper, the IoT division of Cisco since it acquired Jasper Wireless early this year, is a Tele2 partner since 2013. Jasper Wireless has developed a software platform that can help monitor connected devices and services and process their data. 

Cisco Jasper was represented at the Tele2 event in Utrecht by Chief Marketing Officer & SVP Operations Martyn Etherington. IoT means that companies can transform their business from products to connected services, Ethertington said, noting that it is also needs to be about business outcomes, such as higher productivity, lower costs and a better customer experience.

IoT for all

Barry Wissink, managing director B2B at Tele2 Netherlands, said IoT is now a core part of Tele2 Group's strategy. IoT is changing the way we live, and Tele2 already has a very strong footprint in connectivity, he said. The company plans to work with its partners to take advantage of the opportunities and possibilities offered by the IoT.

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