Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Monday, September 21, 2020

Worldwide IT Security Spend will Reach $174.7 Billion

A distributed workforce, and ongoing work-from-home mandates, have evolved the charter of corporate information technology (IT) organizations. CIOs are now tasked to support flexible working arrangements that require them to reconsider prior assumptions about securing the combined infrastructure that enables an employee to perform work remotely.

Enterprise spending on IT security products and services has experienced new growth in 2020, as many organizations invest in solutions to meet the needs of a much larger remote workforce, and a wide range of online security threats that create additional requirements.

According to the latest global market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide spending on security-related hardware, software, and services will be $125.2 billion in 2020 -- that's an increase of 6 percent over 2019.

IT Security Market Development

As the global economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19, IDC expects worldwide security spending to reach $174.7 billion in 2024 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1 percent over the 2020-2024 forecast period.

While IT spending is contracting somewhat across most industries in the wake of the global pandemic, IT security demand remains robust, particularly in sectors including State or Local Governments, Telecommunications, and Federal or Central Governments that have become essential service providers.

Indeed, these three industries will exhibit double-digit growth in IT security spending through 2024. Meanwhile, Banking, Manufacturing, and Professional Services continue to have the largest share of IT security spending. There's even some growth still in IT security for industries that are currently struggling, such as Retail and Transportation.

The three industries with the largest IT security investments (Banking, Discrete Manufacturing, and Federal or Central Governments) will account for roughly 30 percent of overall spending in 2020 and throughout the forecast period.

The industries that are seeing the greatest increase in IT security spending in 2020 are Federal or Central Government (10 percent), State or Local Government (8.9 percent), and Telecommunications (8.5 percent). These three industries will also deliver the only double-digit CAGRs over the five-year forecast period, led by State or Local Government with an 11.1 percent CAGR.


IT security services will be the largest and fastest growing segment of the global IT security market accounting for roughly half of all spending throughout the forecast and a 10.5 percent five-year CAGR.

Managed security services – single-tenant solutions operated by third-party providers and residing on customers' premises (customer premises equipment) – is the largest category of IT security services spending, followed by integration services and consulting services. Managed security services will also be the fastest growing segment with a five-year CAGR of 13.6 percent.

"Complexity abounds with security technology deployment and sprawl requiring assessment and design services," said Christina Richmond, vice president at IDC. "While COVID-19 has had a negative impact on many ICT technologies, security services have witnessed increased engagements, especially in outsourcing services such as managed security services (MSS) and managed detection and response (MDR)."

According to the IDC assessment, software will be the second largest segment of the IT security market, led by endpoint security and security analytics, intelligence, response, and orchestration software.

Hardware spending will be dominated by network security needs -- including firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, unified threat management, and virtual private networks. Both product segments are expected to recover in 2021 with year-over-year growth rates of 9.6 percent for hardware and 4.4 percent for software.

Large and very large enterprises will be responsible for two-thirds of all IT security-related spending in 2020 and throughout the forecast period. These two segments will also see the strongest spending growth with five-year CAGRs of 9.3 percent for large businesses and 8.6 percent for very large businesses. Medium and small businesses will spend more than $30 billion combined on IT security solutions this year.

Outlook for Global IT Security Investment Growth

From a geographic perspective, IDC analysts forecast that the United States will be the single largest market for IT security solutions with spending forecast to reach $56.4 billion in 2020. Four industries -- discrete manufacturing, the federal government, banking, and professional services -- will account for more than $20 billion of the U.S. market total.

China and the United Kingdom are the next largest country markets with IT security spending expected to reach $7.9 billion and $7.6 billion this year. Telecommunications and state or local government will be the industries with the largest IT security spending in China while banking and discrete manufacturing will be the leading industries in the UK market.

Due partly to global economic uncertainty, I anticipate that corporate IT budgets will be realigned to accommodate shifting priorities in the coming months. That said, IT technology investments that facilitate strategic digital transformation projects will remain a high priority for many organizations. IT security will be a key component of these ongoing projects.

Friday, September 18, 2020

IoT Machine Learning and AI Services Gain Momentum

As more devices are connected to the public internet, mass quantities of data are being produced. Capitalizing on those data assets, expansion in the advanced analytics market has been enabled by new technology, products, and related services. 

The inherent value of data is increasing, and that value is stimulating the Internet of Things (IoT) advanced analytics market, with the emergence of accessible out-of-the-box and off-the-shelf machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions.

Vendors are now easing access to ML and AI toolsets by expanding availability through deployment options that include edge computing, on-premises infrastructure, private cloud, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

 IoT ML and AI Market Development

According to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research, the IoT ML and AI market will reach $1.09 billion in 2020 and grow to reach $10.6 billion by 2026.

Edge ML/AI is more prevalent in manufacturing and industrial segments, where there is an immediate need to assess, transform and augment data as it is being generated through functions of quick pattern recognition, labeling, and protocol optimization.

"The IoT Edge Advanced Analytics Market is essentially operationalized ML and AI products and services targeted at Operational Technology (OT) teams to understand and extract insights," said Kateryna Dubrova, research analyst at ABI Research.

According to the ABI assessment, ML and AI frameworks are also enabling advanced analytics in the public cloud, where algorithmic models (predictive, prescriptive, correlations, etc.) are deployed on pre-processed and organized datasets.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, SAS, and C3.ai, are dominating the scene for their end-to-end IoT portfolios and combined native and third-party ML/AI toolkits -- all predominantly delivered as public cloud offerings.

At the same time, Seeq, DataRobot, Noodle.ai, and Dataiku will soon enable greater democratization of IoT ML technologies, with more powerful AI engines and low-code or no-code software solutions.

Finally, there is steady and robust development among edge-centric SaaS and PaaS vendors -- such as Crosser, Swim.ai, and FogHorn, advocating edge-first solutions.

While the vendors have clear positions on deployment choice, edge and cloud are merging into a singular edge-cloud paradigm. However, the increasing value of edge AI/ML solutions within the IoT has unveiled a gap in the accessibility of these solutions.

ABI research concludes that the scalability and productization of an edge solution are fundamentally dependent on cloud vendors expanding their marketplace portfolios toward the edge. The IoT edge marketplace will take off within a couple of years and become an integral part of the IoT ecosystem. 

Outlook for IoT Intelligence Applications Growth

But not all suppliers in the IoT value chain will find greater accessibility to off-the-shelf AI/ML solutions favorable to their business model. These solutions will lessen the need for and duration of analytics professional services.

"Fortunately, IoT is a growing market so custom analytics engagements will still see demand. The real upside is that more people can apply advanced analytics to their IoT data expanding its usefulness to a broader cross-section of the enterprise," Dubrova concludes.

I believe that IoT big data, and associated analytics software applications, will continue to blossom across the globe as more organizations seek to extract actionable insights from raw data repositories. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Distributed Workforce Drives Endpoint Security Demand

Enterprise IT security leaders need to protect endpoint devices from cyber attacks. Moreover, they want to offer effective and secure remote access for employees who are now working from home. Besides, this demand will continue to grow as more organizations embrace flexible working models. 

According to the latest worldwide market study by Gartner, two trends will have a transformational impact on global businesses within the next 10 years. Bring Your Own PC (BYOPC) security will reach mainstream adoption in the next two to five years, while it will take five to 10 years for mainstream adoption of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).

"Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was little interest in BYOPC," said Rob Smith, senior research director at Gartner. "At the start of the pandemic, organizations simply had no other alternative."

Endpoint Security App Market Development

The urgent need to enable employees to work from home and a lack of available hardware bolstered its adoption globally. Gartner clients said their adoption of BYOPC is up from less than 5 percent in 2019.

According to the Gartner assessment, the wide and sudden adoption of BYOPC has become a necessary security strategy which requires chief information security officers (CISOs) and other enterprise security leaders to put in place specific security practices.

"CISOs and security leaders should expect the need to support BYOPC to be dependent upon a long-term work-from-home strategy, and also expect to support security tools needed for a BYOPC environment," said Mr. Smith.

They need to prioritize their security practices, including enabling multifactor authentication (MFA) for all access to any corporate IT resource regardless if virtual or not, and regardless if the software application is sourced from a public cloud or on-premises data center.

Organizations must contain all cloud application data and disallow local storage or upload of local data from any BYOPC device as this could infect the corporate cloud computing system. They also need to virtualize access to any traditional on-premises application.

As BYOPCs can be infected with malware or ransomware and fall victim to phishing attacks, IT organizations must limit and control access by offsetting the PC hardware investment with critical security technologies such as MFA, cloud access security broker (CASB), zero-trust network access (ZTNA), virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and desktop as a service (DaaS).

"Without investment in these technologies, IT faces a much higher potential cost in the form of ransomware," said Mr. Smith. "It is also critical that IT works with HR, legal, and workers councils to develop a proper work-from-home policy."

Also, at the peak this year, SASE allows any endpoint to access any application over any network in a protected manner. SASE delivers multiple capabilities such as SD-WAN, secure web gateways, CASB, next-generation firewall and ZTNA.

Although SASE is relatively new, the COVID-19 pandemic has fostered the need for business continuity plans that include flexible, anywhere, anytime, secure remote access, at scale -- even from previously untrusted devices.

As SASE services are cloud-native -- dynamically scalable, globally accessible, multi-tenant and including zero-trust network access -- they are driving its rapid adoption. Over the last three months, SASE has been adopted by more than 40 percent of global remote workers.

Outlook for Endpoint Security Applications Growth

SASE enables IT operations and security teams to deliver a rich set of secure networking and remote access services in a consistent and integrated manner to support the needs of digital business transformation, edge computing, and workforce mobility.

Gartner now estimates that total worldwide spending on information security will reach $142 billion in 2020, which is an increase of 4.2 percent compared with 2019. However, this is down from pre-COVID-19 estimated growth of 9.1 percent. Endpoint protection spending is expected to experience a slight decline in 2020, with a return to moderate growth in 2021.

That said, I anticipate more CEOs and CFOs will be approving budgets to increase spending on IT infrastructure that enables fully-secure remote working methodologies. What's changed? Savvy line of business leaders know that in order to attract and retain the most qualified knowledge worker talent, they'll need to deliver better policies, practices and systems for flexible working arrangements.

Friday, September 11, 2020

How Connected Cars Support Flexible Working Trends

It's estimated there are over 1.1 billion personal vehicles currently in use globally. Juniper Research predicts steady growth for all eight key regions, with vehicles on the roads reaching 1.2 billion around the world in 2025. North America, West Europe, and the Far East & China have the highest number of vehicles in use per 1,000 persons of the population.

In recent years there have been changes in the market, with higher adoption of hybrid and fully electric cars which require more complex operational monitoring technology. Plus, with more people embracing remote and flexible working models, the car can become a mobile office with all the associated business requirements, including reliable broadband connectivity.

Connected vehicles can utilize several types of technology. Among those, existing mobile communications network infrastructure already plays a key role, in some cases, in tandem with short-range technology, such as Road-Side Units (RSUs).

Connected Vehicles Market Development

With greater synergy between vehicles, traffic management, and road infrastructure, mobile network operators must now be able to support Vehicle-to-Network-to-Infrastructure (V2NI) communication: indirect communication between a vehicle and roadside infrastructure via the cellular wireless network and IT infrastructure.

According to the latest market study by Juniper Research, the number of vehicles with embedded connectivity will reach 200 million globally by 2025 -- rising from 110 million in 2020.

One of the main beneficiaries of this growth will be mobile service providers. The incorporation of embedded SIM (eSIM) into the vehicle will enable mobile operators to leverage their existing network infrastructure to claim $3 billion of additional service revenue by 2025, by acting as a Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connectivity provider.


Juniper analysts now predict that eSIMs will act as the catalyst for future mobile network operator service deployments in the connected car space. Smaller form factors and higher physical durability of eSIM modules will attract automotive OEMs to the new standard over existing traditional SIMs.

Juniper urges operators to leverage wholesale agreements with automotive OEMs to create steady revenue streams from the connected car market. However, mobile operators must ensure the provision of management services, either directly, or via partnerships with established IoT platforms, to attract high spending automotive OEMs to their networks.

"As the adoption of embedded SIMs increases, operators’ success in the market will be determined by which platforms can offer the most comprehensive value-added services to automotive OEMs," said Sam Barker, lead analyst at Juniper Research.

Outlook for Connected Car Applications Growth

Juniper Research predicts that there will be 30 million vehicles globally with embedded 5G connectivity by 2025. As embedded 5G connectivity becomes more prevalent, it anticipates that 25 percent of cellular data generated by vehicles will be attributable to 5G-capable cars, despite representing only 14 percent of the installed base of vehicles with embedded connectivity.

As a result, mobile network service providers will need to charge a premium for 5G automotive connections, in order to account for the additional network traffic generated by 5G-based automotive traffic.

Furthermore, I can foresee a future where 5G mobile connectivity enables remote workers to explore new applications that further enhance their productivity, by securely performing more tasks that were once done in a traditional office environment. Truly, the possibilities for flexible working advancements are limited only by our imagination.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Remote Work Demand Impacts Enterprise Software Apps

During the remainder of this year, executive leadership teams will be focused on IT infrastructure that enables the "Future of Work", hybrid work models, and flexible working methodologies that make it possible for knowledge workers to access essential corporate applications from anywhere.

Meanwhile, fueled by an ongoing digital transformation investment, worldwide revenue in the enterprise software applications market grew 7.5 percent year-over-year in 2019 to reach $224.6 billion, according to the latest global market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

As more businesses undergo digital transformation to meet the challenges of the current economic disruption, modern software with its properties of automation, connectivity, and visibility has become critical to achieving a competitive edge.

Enterprise Software Applications Market Development

Enterprise applications are the engine of the business, providing the data, intelligence, and computational tools necessary to function in the current economic environment, and every line of business within an organization depends on multiple software applications to function.

"Digital transformation initiatives are bringing impactful changes to organizations such as the ability to work anywhere and anytime, identifying new insights because of cognitive and predictive processes, and reshaping the enterprise experience using modern and cloud-based enterprise applications," said Mickey North Rizza, vice president at IDC, "Enterprise applications are the foundation of business processes, employee engagement, and customer experience."

The global enterprise market trends include:
  • IDC expects the worldwide enterprise applications market to have a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.4 percent with revenues reaching $265.7 billion by 2024.
  • The share of public cloud software revenue is forecast to grow from 40.3 percent in 2019 to 56.8 percent in 2024, as growth opportunities move heavily in favor of cloud applications.
  • Enterprise application vendors are enabling new use cases by utilizing big data or analytics and machine learning to bring more actionable insights across a broader workstream.
  • Vendors are also working to automate lower-level tasks within the applications. IDC expects this trend to continue and to be a key factor in determining market positioning among enterprise application vendors in the future.

The enterprise software applications market consists of the following secondary markets: enterprise resource management, customer relationship management, engineering applications, supply chain applications, and production applications. Each of these secondary markets consists of multiple functional markets.

IDC's software market sizing and forecasts are presented in terms of commercial software revenue. The term commercial software is used to distinguish commercially available software from custom software. Commercial software revenue typically includes fees for initial and continued right-to-use commercial software licenses.

Outlook for Enterprise Software Applications Growth

According to the IDC assessment, CIOs and CTOs are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic impact on IT apps and services. While software spending will be one of the areas least affected by the pandemic, the spending focus has moved further toward cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS).

Even the most reluctant enterprise IT customers are now starting to adopt more public cloud offerings. This acceleration is being driven by the modernization of technology portfolios, leading to IT vendor product suite, ecosystem, and integration approaches that satisfy more IT buyer demand.

"Organizations want to fill in remote working technology gaps now, start or finish digital transformation initiatives from the pre-pandemic time, and re-adjust their long-term strategies and plans to enable the quickest pathway to the digital enterprise," concludes Ms. North Rizza.

I believe IT vendors that deliver a Hybrid IT (on-premises and cloud computing) architecture foundation for 'Distributed Workforce' use cases will have a compelling strategic advantage. Moreover, the most capable 'Application Delivery Network' solutions will provide load balancing, security controls, and traffic management within enterprise data centers and public cloud environments.

Forward-thinking Hybrid IT deployment strategies will also empower the Hybrid Workforce movement. Together, these key market trends will be the catalyst for 'Next Normal' scenarios.

Friday, September 04, 2020

5G Edge Deployments Enable New App Development

More computing power is moving to the edge of mobile networks and it's going to be amazing. 5G Edge Computing will provide a foundation for the development of enterprise use cases and industry vertical applications. To capture the value at stake, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) will use new data.

CSPs are seeking sustainable growth as a source of competitive advantage in the Global Networked Economy. That demands an IT and network infrastructure that's conducive to data collection, storage, processing, and analysis.

A key element of this data infrastructure is a data management facility available on a 24/7 basis. That's an essential first step to fully capture the value of data, according to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research.

5G Edge Computing Market Development

The quest to pursue new revenue streams and the need to streamline telco operations are the driving forces behind a 5G data infrastructure layer. Many CSPs are already on a journey to unlock value from analytics and their data repositories.

AT&T, Telefonica, and Vodafone are some operators, among many others, that have an internal data strategy in place based on network, customers, and Internet of Things (IoT) data sources to enable cost efficiencies and drive innovation.

"The shift to a data-driven organization is certainly at the forefront of their transformation agenda and successful commercialization of enterprise and industrial 5G," said Don Alusha, senior analyst at ABI Research.

Data serves as a major source of competitive advantage to foster new value creation. Data-driven organizations consistently outperform those that do not utilize the value of data along with key metrics -- such as margin profitability, productivity, and operational efficiency.

For IT and telecom vendors, it is crucial that they enhance their data management solutions with features and options that are both substantial, and differentiated, as they support CSPs to diversify their commercial operations.

The question that vendors should use to frame their market development strategy is how their solution is engineered for cloud environments. To that end, some vendors have enhanced their data infrastructure offering with cloud-native, fully elastic, and highly scalable capabilities suitable for software-centric 5G networks.

According to the ABI assessment, the CSP community should aim to drive a unified data strategy across its operations and tie the business logic at the service layer with a 5G network data platform. A strategy for a robust data infrastructure is going to be at the center of new commercial forays, particularly enterprise 5G.

For CSPs to compete effectively with data as the foundation, they must get three things right: the intelligent connectivity to connect with data infrastructure platforms; the education to get their workforce innovating on, working off of, and tapping into a data-centric telco ecosystem; and a data governance system to get the best out of this ecosystem.

Outlook for 5G Edge Computing Application Development

With a robust data governance system in place, CSPs can accelerate their digital transformation by effectively using data to bolster its competitive positioning in the market. Data volumes are growing exponentially and the types of data that organizations are collecting and analyzing are also growing.

"Data governance can serve as a one-stop-shop facility to establish clear links from data collection, processing, and applying intelligent insights to decision making," Alusha concludes.

I believe that there will be an increasing demand for vendor professional services that enable telecom service providers to develop a business case for the adoption of this new technology, and put in place the required operational processes that will ensure the success of this digital growth strategy.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Global Hyperscale Cloud Providers Dominate IaaS Growth

Leading public cloud service providers continue to gain market share across the globe. The cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market grew 37.3 percent in 2019 to reach $44.5 billion -- that's up from $32.4 billion in 2018, according to the latest worldwide market study by Gartner.

Amazon (AWS) retained the number one position in the IaaS market in 2019, followed by Microsoft (Azure), Alibaba, Google and Tencent. The remaining cloud service providers are essentially niche players, by comparison.

"Cloud underpins the push to digital business, which remains at the top of CIOs’ agendas," said Sid Nag, vice president at Gartner. “It enables technologies such as the edge, AI, machine learning and 5G, among others."

Public Cloud IaaS Market Development

Each emerging technology requires a scalable, elastic and high-capacity infrastructure platform like public cloud IaaS. In 2019, the top five IaaS providers accounted for 80 percent of the market -- that's up from 77 percent in 2018. Three-quarters of all IaaS providers exhibited growth in 2018.

AWS continued to lead the worldwide IaaS market with an estimated $20 billion of revenue in 2019 and 45 percent of the total market. Amazon leveraged its top spot in 2018 to build out its capabilities beyond the IaaS layer in the public cloud stack and maintain its position in 2019.

Azure remained in the second position within the market, gaining more than half of its nearly $8 billion in revenue coming from North America. Microsoft’s IaaS offering grew 57.8 percent in 2019, as they applied enterprise sales co-selling with other Microsoft cloud products and services.

The dominant IaaS provider in China, Alibabanda Cloud, grew 62.4 percent in 2019 with revenue surpassing $4 billion -- that's up from $2.5 billion in 2018. Moreover, Alibaba will expand its cloud infrastructure and aim to offer cloud-based intelligent solutions to enable digital transformation.

China-based Tencent grew its IaaS offering by over 100 percent in 2019. It is the second-largest provider of cloud services in China, after Alibaba.

"As the cloud market matures, and its leaders experience natural market share erosion as a result, China-based providers such as Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei will start to gain more traction. It will also be hard for other providers to enter the China market given the country’s highly regulated environment," said Mr. Nag.

Google’s IaaS revenue grew from $1.3 billion in 2018 to $2.4 billion in 2019, experiencing 80.1 percent growth. Google’s cloud services focused on providing organizations with industry-specific solutions on robust computing infrastructure. North America accounts for nearly half of Google’s IaaS revenue.

Moving forward, Gartner will be combining the IaaS and platform as a service (PaaS) segments into a single, complementary platform offering -- entitled cloud infrastructure and platform services (CIPS).

The worldwide CIPS market grew 42.3 percent in 2019 to total $63.4 billion -- that's up from $44.6 billion in 2018. Amazon, Microsoft and Alibaba secured the top three positions in the CIPS market in 2019, while Tencent and Oracle were in a virtual tie for the number five position with 2.8 percent of the market.

Outlook for CIPS Market Growth Opportunities

"There will be a continued push of cloud spending as an outcome of the coronavirus pandemic," said Mr. Nag. "When enterprises were compelled to move their applications to the public cloud as a result of the pandemic, they realized the true benefits of public cloud and it is unlikely that they will change course."

According to the Gartner assessment, during the pandemic recovery and rebound phase, CIOs are recognizing that they don’t need to bring workloads back on-premises, which will further increase cloud spending and drive new applications around cloud-hosted collaboration that incorporate emerging technologies such as virtual reality and immersive video experiences.

Niche public cloud service providers will continue to seek out small pockets of large enterprise applications that they can pursue with some degree of success. That said, industry analysts must scrutinize niche cloud provider revenue reporting. Key growth trends must be reported accurately.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Mobile Content Payment Creates New Revenue Source

Among the key assets of a mobile telecommunications service provider are its network infrastructure and its billing relationship with their customers. While its role as a retailer of content has declined, Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) offers a new revenue stream.

Even though it will not provide a wholescale solution to the underlying profitable revenue challenges of mobile network operators, it may eventually equal or exceed MNO content revenue pre-storefront.

According to the latest market study by Juniper Research, DCB could benefit players across the value chain -- including content developers, content publishers, aggregators, and consumers. This includes increasing the incremental revenue opportunities for the providers of both digital and physical goods.

Mobile Content Payment Market Development

Juniper Research has found that total spend over direct carrier billing will reach $100 billion for the first time by 2025 -- that's rising from $37 billion in 2020.

They anticipate that the increasing shift to subscription-based models for digital services, such as games, video streaming and music, will be key to realizing a growth rate of 172 percent over the next 5 years.

The new study authors argued that the convenience of combining monthly content subscription costs into a user’s monthly mobile phone service charges will be a growth driver for carrier billing.


The analyst recommends that carrier billing vendors should focus on expanding their partnerships with digital service providers -- enabling consumers to pay via carrier billing, capitalizing on the growing trend of monetization via subscription.

"We identified digital gaming subscription services as an immediate opportunity for carrier billing vendors. Partnering with services such as Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass and Google Stadia will allow operators to swiftly increase their carrier billing offering by supporting payments for highly sought after services," said Sam Barker, lead analyst at Juniper Research.

Outlook for Direct Billed Mobile Payments

While carrier billing spend on physical goods is established in the Far East, the study identified emerging opportunities for carrier billing vendors in North America.

The research highlighted high smartphone penetration and accessibility of same-day delivery services as key driving forces behind a growth to $600 billion of end-user spend on physical goods over carrier billing by 2025.

However, the research warns that vendors will need to re-evaluate their monetization models to compete with established payment methods, such as credit cards and digital wallets. To make carrier billing a more appealing payment method, the study urges these players to reduce their charge rates and align themselves with established payment methods.

I believe that more mobile service providers will seek new sources of ongoing third-party revenue to help reduce the impact of a decline in profits due to increasing competition for their basic voice and data communication services. Moreover, acceptable roaming fees are subject to change, as a result of evolving government policies across the globe.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Virtual Events: An Evolution of Marketing and Selling

Within the business-to-business (B2B) realm, large enterprise corporate events are often a major component of the marketing organization's operating budget. These events are frequently held at resort hotels or conference centers in popular destinations, such as Las Vegas. They're very expensive to produce.

What are the typical event goals? How does this investment deliver results?

In many cases, these events are funded as 'sales progression' activities. Meaning, the company invites key contacts from their existing customers that they know are already likely to purchase products and services. In reality, there's very little 'selling' that takes place.

More often than not, the event execution actually revolves around scheduled hospitality (meals, cocktails, and entertainment) rather than a definitive business objective. Keynote sessions set the tone for the remainder of the event. Education and certification opportunities are sometimes offered to attendees.

On the whole, the outcomes are somewhat predictable. Attendees appreciate the hospitality and knowledge transfer. Given this backdrop, what happens when B2B organizations must shift to virtual online events?

Virtual Events Market Development

Online conferencing applications were already in wide use prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. When the pandemic created the need to move in-person events to virtual meetings and conferences, these event hosts had a huge challenge. To a large degree, they were looking to replicate their 'in-person' experiences in the virtual world.

Some of the most common activities when attending an event in person are engaging in conversation, socializing, and networking with other attendees as well as exchanging business cards. Attendees at virtual events want to pursue similar activities by posting to social media, interacting with other social media handles, and exchanging LinkedIn profiles.

In fact, International Data Corporation (IDC) found that nearly half of all attendees at virtual events engage using social media, compared to just 16 percent at in-person events. But few event organizers actively facilitated this kind of attendee interaction with less than half of the events offering live chat to ask questions of speakers or for audience interaction.

"Live events are an important source of information for attendees and this is a function that organizers can handle very well with live streaming and content downloads," said Wayne Kurtzman, research director at IDC.

But an equally important reason to attend these events in person is the opportunity to meet and network with other people. According to the IDC assessment, organizers still have some work to do here to deliver an experience that will be equally beneficial to a remote and distanced audience.

The sudden shift to virtual events in the first half of 2020 produced mixed results in terms of attendance. While just over half of the events lost the audience in the transition, 46 percent gained attendees as a result. Removing travel requirements and audience familiarity with video presentations worked together to keep event attendance largely intact.

Moreover, it's a significant shift in execution -- moving from a focus on in-person hospitality towards delivering meaningful and substantive education content that provides real value in exchange for the attendees' time and attention. Minus the hospitality benefits, the attendee bar of expectations is raised.

Overall, about half of the attendees at these virtual events were neutral on their experience, more or less getting what they expected. But nearly a third indicated that they had a better experience than expected with some stating they had a better experience than an in-person event.

From an event organizer's perspective, the virtual events were largely seen as a success. The metric used by most organizers to measure success was attendance, but downloads, revenue, and audience engagement also scored well.

In general, technology companies were more successful with audience engagement while companies with branded communities saw higher session attendance and greater social media hashtag usage. Overall, nearly half found the virtual event to be less expensive to produce than an in-person event.

When asked what could have been done better, event organizers and attendees both identified 'engagements' during the event as one of the top areas for improvement along with 'audio quality' (organizers) and the need for 'closed captions' (attendees) on the technical side.

Both groups also identified 'networking' activities as something warranting further attention.

Outlook for Virtual Events Superior Value Creation

"Looking ahead, virtual events are people’s new 'real world' events," added Kurtzman. "To succeed, make sure attendees have easy ways to engage with each other, the organizers, and speakers. Use platforms that were meant for the purpose and prepare the platform, your social team, and support teams. Finally, make the impression a good one with video, lighting, and audio – and usable, authentic content."

Furthermore, I believe that when virtual events are executed effectively the marketing and sales return on investment can be a remarkable improvement over the more traditional in-person conference and exposition that's produced at an expensive hotel or conference center venue.

Besides, rather than merely inviting existing 'familiar' contacts at current customers, virtual events should also host 'unfamiliar' net-new client contacts and net-new prospective customers. Virtual events must be envisioned as a catalyst for 360-degree buyer and sales enablement -- where the attendees are exposed to thought-provoking ideas that enable them to achieve a business outcome.

Therefore, let's reimagine corporate event modality, and evolve beyond the status quo mindset of the past. Let's fully explore the untapped potential of utilizing digital media to convey bold and brave commentary about upside opportunities. Dare to be different.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Mobile Robotics Growth Opportunity for Cloud Providers

As we look to the future, more robots are likely to appear in the typical workplace. These robots will perform repetitive tasks that were once performed by humans. This automation promises to improve productivity significantly. In some cases, robots will also augment human capabilities.

With the popularization of mobile robotics in a wide range of industries, more organizations will store the collected data from these robots in public cloud services, and then use that data to train more advanced AI algorithms that enable robot cognition.

According to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research, the robot-related services powered by cloud computing will reach $157.8 billion in annual revenue by 2030.

Mobile Robotics Market Development

"Since 1961, most commercial robots have been wired or tied to external infrastructure for movement. The next generation of robot deployments will be increasingly mobile, tied to cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity, will consume vast troves of data in order to operate autonomously, and will need effective management through real-time measurements for performance, status and operability," said Rian Whitton, senior analyst at ABI Research.

Several hyperscale cloud service providers -- including AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud -- have begun collaborating with robotics developers, while start-ups like InOrbit target cloud-enabled operations for the first major deployment of mobile service robots.

The journey of the robot industry from one of individual vehicles and units, to fleets and larger systems, is being driven by its wider incorporation into the internet of things (IoT) ecosystem.

However, ABI believes that it would be a mistake to suggest robots will simply fit in with devices, individual sensors, and stationary machines as part of the wider IoT ecosystem.

Robots are increasingly sophisticated systems themselves, with multiple sensors and highly advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and/or Machine Learning (ML) competencies. They're also expected to move around and act within the world, generating huge amounts of data relative to other machines.

"To suggest the cloud alone can provide the computing power to operate these machines is naïve, especially during the slow transition to 5G. Onlookers should instead conceive of adaptable edge-cloud systems that focus on quality over quantity when it comes to robotics operation, data processing, and analysis," Whitton adds.

The cloud robotics opportunity, defined as Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) revenue for robotics operations combined, will grow from $3.3 billion in 2019 to $157.8 billion in 2030, accounting for 30 percent of the robotic industry’s total worth.

On its own, this represents a huge opportunity for start-ups, many of which are beginning to expand on their mission to enable developers to accelerate their go-to-market strategy and to help end-users and operators’ access and manage the ever-increasing fleets of robots.

This new robotics ecosystem will be dominated by three subcategories of companies, namely robot developers that move up the value chain and become solution providers, third-party IoT and cloud platform providers focused on best-in-class software solutions, and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs).

Those focusing strictly on hardware will lose relative worth and will require partnerships or bold strategies to become solution providers. This can be exemplified by companies like Universal Robots and Fetch Robotics, which have incorporated software and maintenance services into their offering.

"The market is incredibly nascent at present. ABI Research expects consolidation with the most successful robot solution providers and the CSPs expanding their relative influence on the market to take place within the next decade," says Whitton.

Outlook for Cloud Robotics Applications Growth

According to the ABI assessment, the cloud robotics technology is split between vertical innovations, such as developing superior navigation systems, which increase the possibility of what robots can do, and horizontal innovations that expand access and scalability.

"Cloud computing represents the most important horizontal innovation for the robotics industry, to date, and will further enable vertical innovations like swarm-based intelligence, autonomous mobility, and advanced manipulation to be deployed at scale," Whitton concludes.

Due to security and regulatory compliance requirements, I believe that there will also be opportunities for the selective storage of robot data within on-premises IT data centers. Object storage technology can provide reliable and cost-effective solutions to the challenge of capturing and retrieving robotics data for analytics applications.