In this episode of the IoT For All podcast, Head of Business Development IoT for Vodafone Business, Phil Skipper, joins the podcast to discuss the evolution of IoT and the impact of 5G. The podcast kicks off with Phil providing insights on the evolution and increasing adoption of IoT. He then talks about how 5G will change IoT by creating a new dimension of use, control. Phil also talks about the role of quality of service for IoT adopters before wrapping up the podcast by discussing challenges and advice for companies looking to adopt IoT.
Phil joined Vodafone in 2013, having amassed a wealth of experience across various industries, including defense, FMCG, manufacturing, and media. A long-term exponent of telemetry, M2M, and IoT and having worked within many of the world’s leading enterprises, including Siemens, Landis & Gyr, and Mars in the US, UK, Switzerland, and New Zealand, Phil brings a highly strategic view of this rapidly changing and evolving market:
“IoT is central to the current wave of digitization, and as Head of Strategy, there are few other markets where there is so much opportunity to drive value for our customers. The potential for IoT to revolutionize the way we do business but also to have a positive social impact is a really exciting prospect, and I am particularly excited to play a key role in driving this future direction.”
Interested in connecting with Phil? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
About Vodafone Business
Vodafone Business is part of the Vodafone Group. They help businesses of every size embrace positive change through digital communications technologies – today, tomorrow, and the future. They work with the world’s largest multinational companies, fast-growing enterprises, Government teams, ambitious start-ups, and small businesses worldwide. They can provide services globally, regionally, and locally – mobile, fixed, unified communications, Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud and security – connecting the people, places, and things that matter to businesses – wherever they are.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:30) Introduction to Phil and Vodafone
(02:57) How has IoT evolved?
(05:04) What has driven IoT adoption?
(08:50) How will 5G affect the IoT space?
(11:17) The role of quality of service
(14:13) Challenges seen in the IoT industry
(17:08) Advice for companies starting in IoT
(19:01) What to expect in the IoT industry for 2022
– [Voice over] You are listening to the IoT For All Media Network.
– [Ryan] Hello, everyone and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All Podcast. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon. And on today’s episode, we have Phil Skipper, the Head of Business Development of IoT at Vodafone Business. They are an organization within Vodafone Group that helps provide services globally, regionally, and locally, whether it’s mobile, fixed, unified communication, internet of things and cloud security. Basically the idea there is to help them connect people, places, and things that matter for businesses whenever they want. This episode’s fantastic. We talked a lot about the evolution of IoT from a technology, as an operational asset standpoint. We talk about how 5G will impact and change IoT. How quality of service becomes central for future IoT hyperscalers. We talk about kinda what hyperscales are and how the quality of service matters so much. And then we get into more challenges around the space and challenges related to connectivity, related to just IoT in general and digital transformation across the board. So I think we put a lot of value in this episode, but before we get into it, if any of you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market, but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor, Leverege. Leverege’s IoT solutions development platform provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com that’s iotchangeseverything.com. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All Podcast. Welcome Phil to the IoT For All Show. Thanks for being here this week.
– [Phil] My pleasure.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it’s great to have you. Definitely looking forward to this conversation. And I wanted to kick it off by having you just give a quick introduction about yourself to our audience.
– [Phil] Fantastic, my name’s Phil Skipper and I’m the Head of Strategy for Vodafone’s IoT Business. Now Vodafone IoT is part of the Vodafone Group and we focus on delivering just IoT solutions to our customers. So our mission is really quite simple, to connect anything, anywhere and enable our customers to really get the benefits of digitizing their businesses around IoT.
– [Ryan] And now tell me from… When Vodafone obviously has been around for a while, how long have y’all been in the IoT kind of focused area and kind of what’s that evolution looked like for you internally?
– [Phil] Well, I’ve been in IoT ever since it was called something like Telemetry and SCADA. And I’ve worked in many, many different industries to get to where I am now with Vodafone and IoT. Vodafone and IoT started around 10 years ago and we’re now the leader for global connectivity worldwide. We connect about 140 million devices across a variety of different verticals from automotive and healthcare, right down to utilities and buildings. So the business has grown really quite spectacularly over the last 10 years. And with all these design we’re seeing in the market it’s supposed to grow even further in the future.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. One thing I’d love to hear about from your perspective, since you’ve been in the space for a while, is talk about how IoT has really evolved from just a technology kind of discussion to more of an operational asset for businesses?
– [Phil] Yeah, and I think this is really at the heart of how we approach IoT. So if I look 10 years ago, IoT was an interesting technology. And most of the projects that we had at that time were people exploring how IoT could be used within their businesses and the automotive industry was clearly one of the first to really understand what power IoT could unleash in terms of improved operational performance as well as improved customer services. Now what we’re seeing, and if you take some of the analysts transform or predicting about 30 billion devices connected on IoT, is not only the growth in connections, but the increase in consumption. And that shows to us that customers becoming more and more reliant on IoT. And that’s why we have this phrase moving from a technology to an operational asset because as companies rely on IoT to deliver their customer’s customer experience, zone connectivity becomes almost as critical as electricity. So if the electricity goes off, the factory stops, the same is around connectivity. So what we’re seeing is it’s moving from just a debate about technology to a much more significant question about how do I run my business, but more importantly, who is the right supplier that can not only build me an IoT system, but could also run it for the next five to 10 years.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it’s very interesting to kinda see that the feedback or the adoption when it comes to it being more of a managed service versus being something that companies wanna take on themselves and really run internally. From your perspective, what have been the biggest things that have kind of driven adoption now, as IoT’s kind of been progressing into more of an operational asset, what do you kinda seen on your end?
– [Phil] Yeah, I think what’s happened is that when we first started off it was really just used as a way of gathering data, but that data actually wasn’t used for very much. I think over the last, particularly over the last five years as the ability to connect things has become cheaper. The ability to process things has become cheaper, but also more ability to process things in a more performant way using AI and the Edge, that’s actually made the data element much more important. So what we’ve seen it’s become a much more three dimensional element. It’s no longer simply about can I get the data, can I connect, can I understand when something’s broken into how can I use the data much more proactively in terms of predicting what could actually happen? And I think that’s part of the maturing process as it moves from simply, can I connect something and that’s a useful technical exercise to, how can I use it to drive wastage out of my business? How can I use it to deliver what I do in better ways? And then how can I use it to create new customer propositions and engage more with the customer? And I think over the last year, we’ve seen that sort of almost take a step change as we move into sort of more sustainable approaches to business. Where, of course, if you are taking out wastage you’re becoming more sustainable, you’ve got the ability to move to more sustainable ways of doing business and also the ability to influence customers to consume your services in a more sustainable way.
– [Ryan] Yeah, we’re really starting to see real ROI out of these solutions. I think before we’ve saw a lot of things getting to the pilot stage and really not being able to be justified moving past that. But as we’re starting to see more applications being deployed in different industries for different use cases, we’re starting to collectively see just what the power of these technologies that we were talking about for so many years are when you actually apply them the correct way.
– [Phil] Yes, and I think that question of ROI is really important because I hear that all the time. And we do a number of surveys, and ROI is never one of the barriers to IoT adoption. And I think what becomes important, is this takes us back to this conversation about IoT as an operational asset, is in order to realize the true benefit doing the technology in isolation is not enough. You also need to start thinking about how you digitize your business around IoT. And I think those companies which have really embraced IoT as a way of doing business in a different way of actually released massive amounts of ROI for their business. So I think for us, it’s no longer about the proof of concept. We believe that concept is well and truly proven and with 140 million devices worldwide, I think we’re already there. It’s really getting customers to say, if you really wanna get the benefit, you really have to change the way you do things. So we’ve seen it in multiple different industries, but you’ve gotta really think about what your business is gonna look like when it’s based on IoT and when you’re digitized around it is a core capability.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, I could not agree more. I wanted to ask you from the connectivity side of things, which we know is super important. We’ve been hearing a lot about 5G over the last couple years. It’s obviously growing in its rollout, but from your perspective, where do you see 5G really contributing to the most change for the IoT space?
– [Phil] Yeah, and this again is a good question because if you look at what’s happening in the IoT, there’s really only two types of use classification you can have. One is we tell you where something is. And the second one is we tell you what condition it’s in. 5G opens up a third set of use cases and these were about control. And if you look at all the applications that need 5G from autonomous vehicles to virtual reality, they’re all control applications. And I think that is the real game changer for us in IoT, we call it 5G for IoT ’cause it enables this brand new classification of IoT devices, which are control and they could be AGVs, transfer tables in factories, all of these things, they’re all dependent on 5G. ‘Cause it gives you a couple of major benefits and low latency is good, but fast is not what necessarily what you need, but 5G gives you the combination of low latency, high bandwidth from quality of service, that makes the proposition much more deterministic, if it’s deterministic, you can control things. And we’ve done some great examples. We’ve controlled cranes from 250 kilometers away, remotely over 5G. We’ve done a lot of work in haptic control where you can pick things up and feel it from across the Atlantic. So I think those control applications is really a game changer for IoT going forwards.
– [Ryna] Yeah, absolutely. It’s very interesting to kinda see how each type of connectivity now that we have, plays a certain role in delivering the kind of the quality of service for these IoT solutions to be successful. And 5G is one that, like I said we’ve been talking about for a while and now we’re starting to really see its application, and the enablement it has for new use cases and solutions that otherwise or beforehand really weren’t as plausible as they are now with 5G. Which leads me into a question I wanted to ask you, which is when it comes to like the quality of service in general, it’s really the focal point or is really central to the future of IoT and the companies that are really focusing on scale. How do you kinda see that quality of service element really playing a role in growth and adoption for hyperscalers?
– [Phil] The quality of service aspect becomes really really vital because organizations rely on their IoT provider to make sure that they can keep the wheels rolling in their factory or on the road, or whatever. So quality of service becomes key, but the secret is to match the quality that you provide with the expectation of the customer. And as you move into more critical services, it’s really important that you come at this not from the perspective of traditional technology reliability, but you’re coming it from the perspective of operational reliability. So you take a much more manufacturing view of operational resilience and operational quality. And I think that’s really helpful because you can then have the right conversations about with customers about the quality of service they want to deliver. But more importantly, the resolution paths they want to follow in order to maintain the service they provide because nothing in the world is ever perfect. But what we are interested in doing is making sure that we can deliver for this support so that we can keep our customers going be that completely redundant systems, be that dual communications, being that backup systems and being able to tailor that to the operational needs is really the key to it.
– [Ryan] Yeah, and I also think it’s very important for this that those conversations and that alignment to happen as early on in the process as possible, so that they don’t run into hiccups or kind of a misalignment of expectations down the line and which can cause any kind can kind of blockage to scaling, and I think that’s something that we’ve had a lot of conversations on the podcast about is that communication, and that alignment of expectations across all parties that are involved.
– [Phil] Yeah, and I think you’re absolutely spot on. And I think the worst thing you can do is to put a technology into a business, which somehow creates friction with their existing processes. What you have to do is to do it the other way around and understand what a frictionless solution looks like, and then you can build the components. So many organizations think about sell, build and run, we look at a completely opposite way round. We say, what is it you wanna run? Therefore, how do we build it? And finally, how can you buy it?
– [Ryan] Absolutely. So I wanted to kinda pivot a little bit here and talk about kind of over the last let’s say decade or so, as we’ve seen IoT come to where it is now. There’s been a lot of growth over those years, right? It’s been pretty interesting and incredible to kinda see, but it’s also I’m sure led to a lot of challenges for businesses. And I’d be curious from your perspective, what challenges you have seen come up over the last number of years kind of due to the IoT growth that maybe IoT is also helping to solve or that we need to start addressing maybe that we haven’t so far.
– [Phil] Yeah, I think challenge and opportunity, how do they fit together? And I think what we’ve seen is because IoT has got such a high profile and it’s actually quite easy to step into. We found a lot of customers going down the path of things like proof of concepts without actually having a clear view of what the outcome they want to deliver is. And I think that’s one of the things we’ve seen change quite significantly where they’re now in the space of having the right conversation about what is it I’m trying to achieve? And I think that’s something, a bit of a challenge that’s now been sort of overcome. I think the second one is around, what sort of technologies to use and trying to get some clarity because there’s so many choices in IoT. And really focus on providing very simple solutions for very complex problems. And these range from being able to stream video into cars, all way down to very simple battery solutions and quite clearly just by simply giving customers the ability to connect anything, anywhere, anyhow in the best way for their own commercial model is the key. Because when you look at IoT, the end result is you’ve gotta make sure it fits within the existing company’s process. And it fits with the way, for instance they generate their revenues. So it’s really a fast maturing market, but I think we’re now at the space where it’s ready to hyperscale and we’re ready to see really significant growth as more companies embrace it. The ability to process data becomes more accessible, more automated and people actually understand what those insights into their business, translate in terms of business value.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. And I think one of the big opportunities that we’ve seen is for organizations to not only digitize their processes, but integrate IoT kind of at the same time under this umbrella of digital transformation and all this really helps them utilize, and understand, and realize the value that IoT really has. So one of the things I wanted to ask before we wrap up is from your perspective, how can companies do that successfully or what advice do you have for companies that are kind of getting started on their IoT journey and looking to better understand how to not only become more digital with their processes, but also really start integrating IoT technologies into their businesses, how to approach it, what advice, what things should they be thinking about? Just anything kind of generally from an advice standpoint that you’ve seen that could help companies that are kind of on that path right now.
– [Phil] I think it’s, think about what you want to be rather than what you are today and what you can buy today. And I think you also need to have a view that says, if you want to do it, it’s not just a technology thing. So you need to be getting the views of people, especially in the operational world to say, “What is it that you actually need is the outcome?” Once you’ve got that, you can very simply translate it back down the line into what it is, how you wanna configure it, how you integrate it and so on. And I think that’s the real key, think about what you want to be, rather than what you are.
– [Ryan] Yeah, that’s great. I think it’s always interesting when I talk to experts in the space around how they approach those conversations with come companies and that advice that they give. And I think understanding where you’re trying to go what you’re trying to solve, be as prepared as you possibly can as early on in the process really contributes to that. And I think a lot of organizations overlook that and get very hung up on either one problem they’re trying to solve, one use case they see as they can implement, or they just don’t fully understand it because they’re being told by management, “Hey we need to get IoT into our business,” but they don’t understand exactly how or why that’s a benefit. So really understanding and grasping those points, I think is super important. So one of the things I wanted to ask here is kind of as we move forward into the space throughout this year, what are you looking forward to? What do you thinks gonna be happen? What are you most excited about or what to talk to me on that end?
– [Phil] Yeah, we’re excited really about three things. One is the ongoing development of low-power wide-area networks. Now we’re really up to 55 road networks and that is opening up a new set of use cases in the high penetration, low battery consumption area. At the top end, it’s really about the big projects around mobile private networks. It’s really about 5G, it’s those control applications at the top. And in the middle, it’s the digital transformation. And what we are really excited about is the way that things like IoT, can enable companies of any size, really punch above their weight by giving them access to new insights, greater reach, availability in more countries. So I think we’re looking forward to ongoing growth and expansion in IoT, but also the opening up of these two new use cases, one for low-power and one for 5G. So it’s gonna be a very interesting, exciting 12 months.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, and if our audience out there wants to learn more kind of everything going on on Vodafone side, as it relates to IoT, what’s the best way to do that what’s the best way to kinda stay in touch, follow along and connect if they have questions.
– [Phil] Yeah, we’re all over of a social media. We’ve got a big website, we’ve got a large sales force. We’ve got a lot of countries in every, in many different countries. So please have a look, see what we do. Keep looking at our posts, keep looking at material we’re putting out there and we’d love to talk to you about IoT.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Phil, this has been a great conversation. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this on your Friday. We look forward to getting this out to our audience and having you back to talk more about everything going on at Vodafone.
– [Phil] That’s fantastic. Thank you for your time today.
– [Ryan] Thank you. All right, everyone. Thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT For All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel and be sure to hit the bell notification so you get the latest episodes as soon as it become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching. And we’ll see you next time.