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Internet of Things: Sensing Our Way into the Future

Governments worldwide are rolling out plans to develop the Internet of Things (IoT). A great many have policies designed to accelerate the trend towards smart cities, along with closer technological, economic and trade exchanges between countries. For them, it’s all too obvious that IoT is a vital new growth engine that’s essential for expansion of the digital economy.

What's less obvious, or at least less quantifiable, is the sheer scale of the economic impact that IoT will have. According to consulting firm McKinsey1, the impact could be as large as a staggering US$11 trillion by 2025, equivalent to 11% of the world economy.

Huawei forecasts2 that by 2025, there will be 100 billion connected devices, used in every area of business and life. This will be a time when, for example, your refrigerator will know what is inside it, and use that knowledge to send a shopping list to your mobile phone. As you drive past your favorite restaurants, your phone will automatically grab the vouchers and offers they are broadcasting – and find you a parking space in real time. Your car will continuously collect and analyze data on your driving habits, which will help insurance companies to set premiums at just the right level.

In the world of IoT, possibilities lie everywhere. All things sensing, all things connected: IoT offers enormous opportunities which all farsighted policymakers are striving to grasp.

Facing up to the challenges

IoT has the potential to significantly raise levels of efficiency and drive digital transformation in companies. However, challenges abound:

IoT starts with connectivity

From planning to deployment, commercial use, and expansion, companies will need to make significant investments of time and capital in IoT. To ensure a satisfactory return on their investments, companies will have to set clear goals based on their business strategy. Then their IoT journey can truly begin.

The start is often the hardest part, but once the momentum builds and the steps fall into place, so it becomes easier for enterprises as they move ahead. A simple three-step process can be applied:

Step 1: Build connections to gather data. Connectivity is the foundation of IoT. Connections vary in type and match different scenarios. When deciding on which type of connection, companies need to have a forward-looking strategy in mind; they need a connection that's stable, secure, and scalable – and, of course, at the optimum cost. For example, with smart parking, remote metering, and smart homes, as well as a myriad of industrial and manufacturing scenarios that have massive data transmission requirements, it is important to build connections that ensure low latency, wide coverage, and low power consumption. This is where Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) comes into play.

Step 2: Analyze data to create value. The value of IoT goes far beyond data gathering and real-time monitoring. Companies will increasingly see the need to upload massive amounts of data to the cloud, to support flexible resource scheduling and visualized operations. They will also look to process their data using machine learning and cognitive analytics in order to develop the new services that will bring them success. Looking forward, IoT platforms that are open, deployed on the cloud, and with big data analytics capabilities will be the ones to watch.

Step 3: Explore new value for new business models. Riding the wave of digitalization, there is a gradual shift by industries from focusing on their own verticals to open collaboration with each other, forging closer ties across verticals. We will see traditional industry blend with digital, one sector link to another, and downstream loop back into upstream. Companies will jointly explore and incubate new business models and commercial applications. In this process, it will be important for companies to bring an open and long-term perspective to their selection of IoT partners. They will need stable, win-win relationships to secure success in IoT.

IoT starts with connectivity

From planning to deployment, commercial use, and expansion, companies will need to make significant investments of time and capital in IoT. To ensure a satisfactory return on their investments, companies will have to set clear goals based on their business strategy. Then their IoT journey can truly begin.

The start is often the hardest part, but once the momentum builds and the steps fall into place, so it becomes easier for enterprises as they move ahead. A simple three-step process can be applied:

Step 1: Build connections to gather data. Connectivity is the foundation of IoT. Connections vary in type and match different scenarios. When deciding on which type of connection, companies need to have a forward-looking strategy in mind; they need a connection that's stable, secure, and scalable – and, of course, at the optimum cost. For example, with smart parking, remote metering, and smart homes, as well as a myriad of industrial and manufacturing scenarios that have massive data transmission requirements, it is important to build connections that ensure low latency, wide coverage, and low power consumption. This is where Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) comes into play.

Step 2: Analyze data to create value. The value of IoT goes far beyond data gathering and real-time monitoring. Companies will increasingly see the need to upload massive amounts of data to the cloud, to support flexible resource scheduling and visualized operations. They will also look to process their data using machine learning and cognitive analytics in order to develop the new services that will bring them success. Looking forward, IoT platforms that are open, deployed on the cloud, and with big data analytics capabilities will be the ones to watch.

Step 3: Explore new value for new business models. Riding the wave of digitalization, there is a gradual shift by industries from focusing on their own verticals to open collaboration with each other, forging closer ties across verticals. We will see traditional industry blend with digital, one sector link to another, and downstream loop back into upstream. Companies will jointly explore and incubate new business models and commercial applications. In this process, it will be important for companies to bring an open and long-term perspective to their selection of IoT partners. They will need stable, win-win relationships to secure success in IoT.

Developing the IoT industry

As a global leader in information and communications technology, with three decades of experience, Huawei has the capability to deliver full-stack IoT solutions, from chipsets to operating systems, from IoT connections and platform to cloud computing and big data analytics, and even ecosystem development. Huawei is well positioned to provide industry customers and partners with seamless, full-stack services and experiences.

Huawei is also committed to respecting the boundaries and specialisms of its customers. There are five areas that are solely the domain of Huawei’s customers and partners: customer data; industry-specific IoT applications; IoT device development; IoT device resale; and end-to-end integration services for enterprise customers.

 IoT chipsets

With its strong expertise in telecommunication, Huawei has developed a high-performance IoT chipset called Boudica. Boudica features high integration and low power consumption, and is perfectly designed to support large-scale NB-IoT deployments.

 IoT operating system

IoT operating system: To help promote the development of smart devices, Huawei offers a lightweight, open source IoT operating system – Huawei LiteOS.

 Diversified and secure connections

Huawei enables wired connections (agile IoT gateways, home IoT gateways, and edge computing IoT) and wireless connections (NB-IoT, 5G, eLTE, etc.) in order to serve different scenarios. It also provides end-to-end security solutions.

 Cloud-based IoT platform

Huawei has built an open, cloud-based IoT platform – Huawei OceanConnect IoT Platform – which supports cloud deployment and all types of connections, ensuring greater reliability and efficiency. The platform also comes with big data analytics tools to help customers to generate extra value from their data.

 Standardization and ecosystem collaboration:

Looking ahead, Huawei will continue to increase its investment in IoT. Alongside its partners, Huawei aims to help the IoT industry flourish.


1. The Internet of Things: Mapping the Value Beyond the Hype, McKinsey Global Institute

2. Huawei Global Industry Vision

3. NB-IoT Forum was jointly established by 14 world's leading enterprises and institutions, including GSMA, Huawei, Etisalat, China Mobile, China Unicom, Qualcomm, Vodafone, GTI, Intel, LGUplus, NOKIA, Ericsson, Telecom and Italia Telefonica.

4. The Alliance for the Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI) was initiated by the European Commission in 2015, with the aim of strengthening the dialogue and interaction among IoT stakeholders in Europe. It currently has more than 170 members.

5. The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is a leading global industry organization which promotes the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and aims to define and develop the reference architecture and frameworks, share and exchange real-world ideas.

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