CHANNEL PARTNERS — AT&T's Lisa Park said it took the PC industry 20 years to grow to 1 billion devices. The number of smartphone gadgets reached 1 billion in just four years, she noted. But connected devices are in a whole other stratosphere.
In 2012, there were 6 billion connected devices, and according to some estimates, the figure will skyrocket to between 30 billion and 50 billion, noted Park, assistant vice president of connectivity product management and channel enablement for AT&T's Internet of Things (IoT) Solutions organization.
Park highlighted the IoT opportunity for AT&T's channel partners during a keynote speech Thursday at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. She was joined by other AT&T executives who discussed AT&T's investments over the years, its channel programs and industry trends.
Park said channel partners have an opportunity to capitalize on the growing demand for connected devices in the business-to-business market. For instance, she cited a real example of a restaurant chain that uses commercial ovens that can be programmed. The dilemma facing the chain, she explained, was that every time the menu changed, a technician would need to visit the restaurants and upload new software to the ovens. She said the system was inefficient and a costly burden to the business.
In order to run its business more efficiently, the restaurant chain embedded connectivity into the ovens. This allowed headquarters to program the ovens remotely, eliminating technician visits and allowing for menus to be change on demand, Park explained.
"It's really hard to imagine that connectivity could be imbedded in everything," Park said, "but that is exactly where this business is going."
Tom Hughes, vice president of national business marketing for AT&T, discussed the changing needs of business customers and their employees.
For instance, he said employees are now demanding that they have the capability to work anywhere and anytime. The days of traditional work hours and a conventional workspace are rapidly vanishing.
Sue Galvanek, vice president of marketing for Pricing and Product Solutions, AT&T Partner Exchange, said every second 80 new things connect to the Internet.
"Everybody wants to be connected all the time everywhere from every device," she said.
Commenting on another trend, Hughes said business customers are telling AT&T that it must be proactive and not reactive to the needs of a network. In addressing such demands, he cited the example of a business having the capability to set its own network parameters and change bandwidth without having to call AT&T.