Lately, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become a global hot
topic, and we can see it in an increasing variety of industries. Why is it such
a big deal? Telia's IoT Area Manager Toomas Kärner writes about IoT trends and causes behind them & invites people to VUNK IoT Challenge!
The answer is somewhat simple, but looking closer, things become
more complicated. The Internet of Things generally refers to all kinds of
devices that will now be connected in different ways, hoping that as such they
can be more valuable for people.
The rapid development of the Internet of Things is propelled by
two big causes: on the one hand, there are competing manufacturers who wish to
make their products look better, adding connectivity to the products as a new
function. On the other hand, people are looking for completely new values or
opportunities based on connected devices, which would completely transform the
current focus in business.
Adding connectivity to obtain an advantage over competing products
sometimes results in bizarre solutions, which might not actually make the
product more valuable for the customer. Unfortunately, in a situation where a
solution is created that makes the product only seem more special, the end
result is that while the customer is perhaps excited about the idea at first,
they do not actually end up using it.
Slightly less known examples are a kettle with WiFi connectivity,
or a toothbrush with Bluetooth. Modern televisions are another simple example:
they have connectivity capability, but only a fraction of them will actually be
connected to the network.
The best example of how the Internet of Things is changing the
world can be found if we look at solutions where things have been connected to
the Internet so that new value is actually created for the customer. In this
way, new business models are even created; for example, Rolls Royce with its
aircraft engines and changes in their business model – they are not simply
selling an engine, but the service life of an engine, which is tracked in real
Second, there is the Nest thermostat, which learns how to heat
people's homes in the most cost-efficient way (price and weather information +
large computing capacity in the cloud). These are products that are based on
the IoT, and these products do not have connectivity simply as a meaningless
What Telia is seeking through the IoT Challenge is those ideas
that would actually add new value to connected devices.
Our job has always been to offer connections and connected devices
to people, which is why we have connected more than a million devices in
Estonia. Currently, all of these devices have their own role to play: a set-top
box will show things on the TV, a router connects a home to the internet, a SIM
card connects to a mobile network, etc.
However, now we would like to look at this world from a different
perspective – what new things could be created based on the features of these
devices, considering that they are already connected. We could find ideas that
give completely new opportunities for people without them having to purchase
new things. New ideas and opportunities could reach thousands of Estonian homes
and pockets quickly and inexpensively.
It is also possible that some company's current product may well
change significantly with these new opportunities, if we add the possibility of
being able to use real data in real time, or of controlling something in that
All of us are familiar with mobile parking – easy! The parking
service moved online, and we are very happy because life is simpler compared to
buying and scratching tickets. If cars become connected too, they may well
start to park themselves. So, looking around us, we can find new ideas in
completely unexpected places that simply have not occurred to anyone before, or
it has not been possible to realise such ideas.
Through the IoT Challenge, we help to seek out
these ideas, discuss them with the relevant specialists, and also to implement
them if they are necessary. Read more on the VUNK IoT Challenge and sign up!
Photos from VUNK IoT Challnge: Idea Hunt Vol 1. More here!
Being a Telia Estonia startup lab, Vunk has helped companies partner with Telia to improve their offering and get access to the market. Vunk ran an accelerator for 2 years and pivoted to Collaboration framework this Spring.
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