IoT asset tracking device shipments are expected to surge 51 percent year-on-year through to 2024.

This is according to ABI Research, which asserts that expanding LPWAN coverage and technological maturity are lowering the barriers to adoption for smaller companies, and growing the volume and variety of stuff that can be tracked.

“Hardware devices for the asset tracking market are primarily dominated by the need to balance power consumption, form factor, and device cost. Balance and compromise between these three must be achieved based on the use-case and are dictated by the business case and possible return on investment for the customer,” explained Tancred Taylor, research analyst at ABI Research. “As these constraints are marginalised by greater volumes of adoption, by emerging technologies like eSIM or System-on-Chip, and by increasingly low-power components and connectivity, so too will the limitations on the business case.”

Indeed, as the research firm notes, the early adopters of IoT asset tracking were large fleet and logistics companies that needed fairly basic information about the location and condition of their assets. That is still expected to be a large chunk of the overall market and, as costs decline, SMEs will jump in too.

However, as devices become smaller and more sophisticated, ABI Research expects this to enable more granular tracking of smaller things, like pallets and even individual items, perhaps equipped with disposable trackers.

Mobile operators are in a good position to capitalise on this growth, given they already have the networks, OEM relationships, billing systems and enterprise sales channels needed to offer an end-to-end service.

Being present at all those points in the value chain will be crucial if operators are to generate a meaningful amount of revenue from IoT in general, based on a GSMA Intelligence report earlier this week.

The GSMA’s research arm said it expects global IoT revenue to reach $900 billion by 2025. A princely sum, but connectivity revenue will account for only 5 percent of that total.

In order for telcos to make the big bucks, they also need to offer applications, platforms, and professional services – all the things that add value to that data being collected and transmitted by all those sensors.

As previously mentioned, telcos are in a position to do all of that, but they are not the only ones. As ABI Research noted in its asset tracking report, OEMs are also keen to do more than just ship devices, highlighting asset tracking specialists Mobilogix and Roambee, which have shifted to a pay-as-you-go model that bundles together the cost of the device, connectivity and service.

“Many OEMs are shifting from a hardware-only model to more of a consultative approach to a customer’s requirements and deliver personalised end-to-end solutions. Flexibility, simplicity, and cost are crucial to gain enterprise traction,” said Taylor.

In short, the take-home message for telcos is this: if you’re not already offering end-to-end asset-tracking with a cheap and simple-to-understand pricing structure, there are plenty of other hungry players in this ecosystem just waiting to steal your lunch.



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