Wireless Noodle Episode 22: What an analyst loves to see…

This week's episode looks at Nokia's new product focused on the emerging opportunity for data exchanges, a deep dive into the changing landscape for IoT connectivity and a look at the opportunity associated with robotic automation.

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An approximate transcript of the podcast is available below. 

Welcome to this week’s Wireless Noodle. Today I want to share some thoughts on Nokia’s new Data Marketplace platform, the IoT connectivity landscape, and autonomous robotic systems. 


Nokia launches a textbook version of a data exchange platform (but with a few unusual features)

Every so often as an analyst a new product comes along that fits perfectly with how you see the market. Earlier this month the launch in question was Nokia’s ‘Data Marketplace’ . This new product sits squarely in the market space that we describe in one of our twelve Digital Transformation technology families, specifically the data exchange and clearing house functionality within our ‘Data Sharing’ category.

This is a market space that I have been pushing for quite some time, but with only a limited number of really evolved offerings. The pick of the bunch have been Deutsche Telekom’s Data Intelligence Hub, and KPN’s Data Services Hub.

Nokia’s offering is a white label as-a-service solution, so that’s a first tick. Big box telecom equipment vendors have had their fingers burnt competing with their Communications Service Provider clients. It’s sensible to instead build a product for CSPs to take to market. The second big plus is that it provides most of the key functionality for access control, policy control, validation and settlement that we would expect to see.

Also worth noting that it’s not IoT-specific, as should be the case. It’s focusing a lot of attention of IoT, which is understandable given how IoT-generated data is going to be amongst the most valuable and ripe for trading. But inevitably there’s a need for integration with other datasets.

There are a number of interesting features to the platform. It’s provisioned on a ‘broker’ model, handling access control and rights. It also makes significant use of blockchain for the associated smart contracts. It also allows for AI orchestration, which is not a set of functionality we have seen from other vendors.

Nokia is clearly conscious that it might not be immediately apparent to a potential CSP adopter how to commercialise this. For that reason, it’s building business model support and some specific applications. There are a number of pre-defined use cases, mostly around IoT including supply chain, car parking and more. Currently this is focused on transport, energy, smart cities and a few others. Transport, energy and smart cities are solid choices. Smart cities because the data is typically easy to share and the motivations of data owners are typically well aligned with a wide distribution, for instance of ensuring that people are aware of train or bus times. Both transport and energy have several stakeholders with a vested interest in sharing data in a timely fashion.

For more discussion on the features, functionality and architecture, and our views on the strengths and weaknesses of Data Marketplace, see the recent report we published a few weeks ago entitled ‘Nokia Data Marketplace is a strong play for the emerging data exchange market, but is too oriented towards closed user groups’. One of the big issues is that it is too heavily focused on closed user groups rather than truly multi-tenanted systems. This itself raises the question of why it uses blockchain (if the system is essential trustful), and also why the payment mechanism seems to be provisioned as an adjacent system, rather than an integrated part of the offering. But as a first pass at an offering to fit into this space, it looks good. Good news also for data centre partner Equinix as it seeks to find ways to operate in an agile orchestration role rather than going toe-to-toe with the hyperscalers.


Back in May I published a long-gestating report on the future of WAN connectivity for enterprise IoT. While the technology shift in the coming decade is quite interesting, with the maturing of both 5G and LPWA technologies and a greater impact from satellite, it's the commercial changes that will be the most interesting to watch. 

We'll see very definite evolution in the relationships between MNOs, MVNOs and equipment vendors. Recent months have seen quite marked changes in the commercial relationships for wholesale and roaming, with strong indications that MNOs will get tougher, particularly on sponsored ( permanent) roaming. eSIM makes that all the more complicated (or possible more simple if MNOs really wanted to collaborate).

The growing importance of private networks and the increasing virtualisation of the core increases the blurring of the lines between network operator and infrastructure provider (and end user).

We'll also see hyperscale cloud providers interject themselves into the market in a very meaningful way.

And that's just scratching the surface. Change is a comin'.


Another bit of Transforma Insights research that I wanted to highlight was about what we term ‘Autonomous Robotic Systems’, which is one of our 12 Digital Transformation Technology Families. In total we expect 345 million robots that are autonomous, or capable of behaving autonomously, to be in service by 2030, a ten-fold increase over the decade.

Mostly it’s personal assistance robots, like Roombas. But value-wise it’s largely in manufacturing, for production line equipment and so forth, and in health and social care. 

The manufacturing side of things is particularly interesting to watch. The combination of economic nationalism, industrial automation (IIoT, Industry4.0 etc.) and COVID’s exposure of issues with supply chains means onshoring of manufacturing will be a key trend of the 2020s. Globalisation will increasingly give way to distributed (often additive) manufacturing 

And worth noting that there’s very little autonomous vehicle in there. Off-road for mines and other controlled campus environments, yes. Fleets of road vehicles in the next 10 years? Nope. The technology is just not there yet. 

Link to the report on the Wireless Noodle website: HERE.

And on a related note, There is a disingenuous obsession in the tech community with telling us that new technology will create rather than destroy jobs.

For many techs (Robotic Process Automation for instance, but also automated robots), eliminating the need for an employee is the raison d’etre of the tech. Be honest.

And, on the flip side, we also need to recognise that the world doesn’t need to keep creating and maintaining jobs at the rate it has been. In most of Europe there is a declining population already. In a generation (2040) China will be the same. Another generation after that (2060) India, Brazil and many more will be in decline.

In many rich countries the generation entering the workforce today is the biggest it will ever be. We need to find ways to replace what they do with something automated, because there’s not another worker who will step into their shoes.

We need to embrace our robot workers (and the fact that they replace people) because we’re going to need them to cope with an aged population.


Private Networks and the interview with Stephane Daeuble. Fantastic interview - LINK HERE.

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