MWC17 Big Themes: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Now that our agenda has been published online, the conference content team are publishing the first of the reports on the big themes at next year’s Mobile World Congress 2017. The reports will explain the theme and its importance and then break out the track sessions that have been identified and will form part of the MWC17 conference agenda. Starting with the biggest them of them all The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the most complex, inclusive and automated revolution our society has seen, and at its heart, lies mobile. We are moving from automated production and IT, to an automated society (see Figure 1). From transportation to how we communicate, automation is creating smarter services and a new way to live life.
industrie-4-0Figure1: Source GSMAi

Questions remain. How do we harness, analyse and interpret data that encompasses all aspects of our lives? How can a traditional employee, firm and society transform itself into a digital-first enterprise? What are the social, environmental, economic and efficiency benefits? How can we ensure security for users, devices and critical services over IoT networks?

The 4th Industrial Revolution, as its predecessors did, will affect everyone’s lives. Big data, analytics and artificial intelligence will make personal preferences, even subconscious ones, a crucial part of the services citizens are offered and consume. From media consumption to connected vehicles and a digital workforce, technology and the Internet of Things will be at the core of how people lead their lives.

The impact, however, goes beyond the individual and the services available to them. Manufacturing enterprises will have an unprecedented amount of data to make crucial, time-saving decisions to increase profit and efficiency. Companies can become digital enterprises, empowering employees and customers to engage with them and their products in much more profound personal ways.

Smart cities, vehicles and household items will no longer be inanimate, trivial objects. They will cater to the specific preferences, needs and habits of the owner. The 4th Industrial Revolution is just beginning.

Track Sessions

Industrial Internet

Industrial Internet and massive IoT have the opportunity to increase productivity and streamline industrial manufacturing technology by accumulating and making sense of data from production lines and equipment. Furthermore, it allows manufacturers to become predictive, understanding when and where faults are likely to occur, mitigate risk and reduce downtime.
A recent paper by GE proposed that a 1% increase in productivity in industrial processes could translate to US$10-15 trillion increase in global GDP over 15 years. The opportunity to use data to increase productivity is not only beneficial to a firm, but to broader society as well.
Enabling IoT network technology such as LPWA, as well as unlicensed players, together with cloud-based solutions, give manufacturing firms access to more information than ever before

Autonomous Vehicles

The connected vehicle will also be, at least partially, autonomous. Managing the transition from manually driven cars to autonomous, and preparing the infrastructure to facilitate this technology will be a lengthy challenge from a technological and societal stand point. Additionally, laws and regulations will need to be adapted, a process which has already begun in many areas, including the United States, where regulation in California has been passed to allow for further testing on public roads.
The mobile network is at the heart of the autonomous vehicle. Low latency, always-on and fail-proof are just some of the key requirements for cars. Will 5G be enough to handle this demand?

The Digital Enterprise & Employees

The digital transformation affects both employees and the culture and layout of traditionally “offline” businesses.
The inevitable shift to online and mobile has created a need for different skillsets within the workforce, different processes and tools for employees to fulfil their responsibilities. The change is so significant, that a recent PwC report found that 68% of surveyed CEOs were concerned about the lack of access to key skills in the workforce.
How can firms continue to attract tech-savvy employees, change their “DNA” and become digital entities? What tools, networks and equipment do millennial employees require? How can operators shift their business models to be a Network as a Service provider?

Cars as a Service

Cars are typically only used 5% of the time, even less in urban areas. Therefore the traditional model of personally owning a car is under threat. Some high profile players like Uber have seen the opportunity and car manufacturers are following suit and preparing themselves for a radical change to a service business model. So connected vehicles will not only have driverless capabilities, but need to cater to the likes and dislikes of its users and work hard to create loyal customers, whether they own the vehicle or not. In order to deliver this tailored approach, partnerships are forming between media companies, automotive manufacturers and other ecosystem players.
Increasingly, traditionally functional objects such as vehicles or homes are becoming adaptable enough to mould themselves to the preferences and tastes of their users. Arguably, items like cars are becoming an extension of one’s home and office, wherein they listen to the same music, experience the same connectivity and comfort.
The implementation of technology allowing users to customise their shared car experience through music and even where they are located. The surge in self driving technology and the connected user will allow cars to provide a service entirely customised to the person riding it, their mood, time of day or even their destination.

Smart Cities, Connected Citizens

Smart cities are hardly a new concept, but the suite of services and applications that are now available to deployment is ever expanding. Cities are becoming smarter, more efficient and, to an extent, autonomous in its decision making. With population pressure set to continue, smart cities are crucial to maintaining the efficient running of urban areas as resources are further stretched.
Whilst most smart city deployments exist in silos, common platforms are emerging to facilitate communication. As more cities become ‘smart’ they can learn more from each other, make more decisions and share more insights with experts to continue to improve its citizens’ quality of life.
What do citizens need from smart cities? How can common platforms help build synergies within and between cities, allowing them to share information and services? What is the social and environmental impact of a smart city? What will a truly “Smart City” look like?

Enabling IoT Platforms

By 2025, Machina Research estimates that public and private enterprises will be spending over US$1 Trillion on IoT. As the volume of services, data and opportunities continue to expand, enabling technologies and platforms will need to surface and be widely adopted to create an IoT ecosystem across industry sectors.
Enabling IoT solutions should aim to facilitate synergies between use-cases to create economies of scale, providing security for the technology and users, and identifying the core network technology that will uphold and meet demand. Interoperability is the first step towards creating IoT ecosystems that cut across use-cases and industry sectors, but security has to be a primary focus.

Enabling IoT Security

A significant amount of IoT projects do not make it past the prototype stage due to security concerns. Investment is increasing to meet this challenge and secure not only active IoT solutions, but future possible use-cases. The GSMA estimates that worldwide IoT security will increase by 73% by 2019 to US$195 million to address this gap. Security is at the heart of enabling IoT.
The Enabling IoT Security will explore best practice security strategies for IoT deployments, discuss the impact of security on the different layers and explore the opportunities for cross-industry consensus on security for devices, sensors and users alike.