Telecommunications and the IoT: Are You Ready for the Revolution?

We are in the midst of a digital revolution. Devices are everywhere - turning on light bulbs, opening locks, streaming media, connecting us to loved ones, tracking our movements - and recording massive volumes of information about people, places, things and services. Internet of things devices are forecast to soon outweigh the number of mobile devices. Gartner predicts, “By 2020, the world will contain over 20 billion IoT devices, generating trillions of dollars' worth of business value.” As the IoT takes on a greater role in day-to-day life, it’s important that the telecommunications industry continue to provide cutting-edge technology that supports IoT initiatives, whether it be providing a seamless experience for customers as they move across channels and devices, or connecting dumb and smart things for operational efficiencies. Telecommunications and the IoT are inextricably bound together. And, as has been the case with online services since the beginning, identity will be central to securing access for users and devices as the IoT continues to take hold. But many organizations fail to understand the extent to which identity plays a central role in telecommunications business cases.

IoT, Identity and Telco Working Together

  • Seamless customer experience. Your consumers not only expect, but demand a seamless, secure, personalized, experience with digital products and services. If not satisfied, they will go elsewhere, primarily to your competition. Telco and media providers need to continuously roll out new, device-agnostic services faster than the competition, whether the competition comes from other traditional organizations or increasingly from ‘Over the Top’ (OTT) players. Individual consumer preferences must be recognized consistently across all products and services offered.
  • Single view of the customer. Informed telco providers understand they can leverage IoT not only to satisfy their customers quest for innovation and personalization, but ultimately better serve their customers. Having an identity platform that is capable of consolidating identity attributes in one place can help organizations get a 360 degree view of their customer. Sensors in IoT devices like connected cars, devices and wearables offer insight into how customers are using products and services, and as a result, vendors can use this information to better tailor products and services, better market to and sell to prospects and of course, troubleshoot product issues remotely.
  • Connecting and securing IoT relationships. A pain point for Telco, as we enter the digital age, is going beyond the ‘Dumb Pipe’ characterization of the industry. Communication services providers (CSPs) can add value by providing identity and security management for connected things as a service to industrial clients and consumer IoT manufacturers. By becoming an IoT managed service provider, on top of their connectivity offerings, CSPs can build trust with customers who are concerned with the privacy and security of the IoT — a business objective which identity management can facilitate, a single view being one of many solutions an identity platform provides.


“The consumer oriented ‘things’ that comprise the IoT—including wearables, connected cars, smart homes (e.g., lighting, security, entertainment), and the government and enterprise-connected ‘things’ such as smart businesses (e.g., fleet management), and smart cities (e.g., parking, city lighting, asset monitoring and tracking, and video security)—are likely areas of growth in the coming years.”


Control Is Essential When It Comes to Data and Access

Any serious player in telco and media will need a flexible identity management solution that enables users and devices to authenticate and authorize reliably to customer applications and corporate resources. Keeping track of who or what is using a service – and to what extent – is important for minimizing security breaches on connected systems and applications. Doing so will also help CSPs address scalability and performance requirements to meet the increasing demand – in both the consumer and industrial market. A single view of customers and all things connected can help CSPs better understand what connection types are in demand for various IoT endpoints and applications, whether it’s WAN or cellular network availability. As more things come online like connected cars, factory robots, and smart city infrastructure, CSPs must stay ahead of the game to provide quality and secure connectivity for everyone and every thing.

It’s All About Identity

Yesterday, identity was about a person that wanted to access an application – so identity was really about people. Usually employees within an organization. But this definition has broadened over the years, and today it’s become very important to not only secure the identity of a person, but of all the things in a connected environment. And not just people and devices within an organization, but for customers or users outside the organization.

With identity and access management, not only are you able to ensure that any communication that is happening is legitimate, it can be used to protect and address customer data privacy.  Disjointed user experiences chase away customers. You can keep customers happy by offering user-friendly and seamless experiences across touchpoints and devices. By having that single view of the customer you can bring costs down with better insight into infrastructure usage to create products and services that bring more value to customers. When your customers win, you win – and it’s all with the help of identity.

Did you know ForgeRock was born from telco heritage? It’s true: many of the earliest customers of Sun Microsystems’ OpenAM product (the forerunner of the ForgeRock Identity Platform) were national telecom carriers in Europe. So it’s no wonder ForgeRock has a rock solid history of providing solutions to telco organizations, just like yours. Watch a short video to hear why Swisscom (the largest telco provider in Switzerland) selected the ForgeRock Identity Platform to provide identity services. Or, maybe you’d like to learn more about IoT?  Not to brag, but the cast of experts at ForgeRock are pioneers in the IoT realm. Check out our Reference Architecture for the IoT today and learn the requirements for an IoT-ready digital identity management platform.

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Tim Barber is Vice President, Global Telecoms and Media, at ForgeRock.