IIoT Spotlight EP026a: How is an International Communication Enabler Addressing the New IoT Market - An Interview with BICS' Carlos Villanueva

Where are we in the IoT adoption cycle? What are the key IoT challenges for industries and enterprises to improve business models or find new revenue streams? Is the technology available to enable use cases to solve the different challenges?

Understand more about global cross-border IoT deployment and ecosystem solutions to achieve total international connectivity to drive business performance.


Carlos is currently Head of Market Intelligence and Strategic Partnerships at BICS but previously was a regional business development manager, built the go-to-market strategy, drove the sales operations and its profitability in Western Europe. Carlos is also a startup advisor and collaborates with different projects. 

He is experienced in the startup environment, digital and cloud providers, MVNx, OTTs, IoT/M2M (Transport, Smart City, Healthcare, Logistics, Telematics) and ICTs (System Integrators, Applications, Devices)


As a leading international communications enabler, BICS is connecting the world by facilitating reliable and secure mobile experiences anytime, anywhere. Our solutions are essential for supporting the modern lifestyle of today’s device-hungry consumer – from global mobile connectivity, seamless roaming experiences and fraud prevention to global messaging and the Internet of Things.


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Welcome to the industrial IoT spotlight. Your number one spot for insight from industrial IoT thought leaders who are transforming businesses today with your host Erik Walenza.


Welcome back to the industrial IoT spotlight podcast. I'm joined today by Carlos Villanueva.

Carlos is the head of market intelligence and strategic partnerships at BICS and BICS is a leading international communication enabler. So basically they connect devices around the world by facilitating reliable and secure mobile experiences. What we're going to get into a bit more detail is how BICS is addressing the new IoT market, which is not their traditional core market (obviously for no company is it really a traditional core market), but a very important growth market.



Carlos thanks so much for joining us today.



Thank you. A pleasure.



So Carlos before we kick off into this, could you give me just a little bit of background about yourself? Where are you personally coming from? What's your background in the industry?



Basically today I’m responsible for the market research solution; I’ll be looking after different segments and industries -- from telco and mobile to digital enterprises. I've been in the mobile industry in the last 15 years working on several projects when it comes to mobile enterprises. And today I’m working on internal things and how the digital companies and enterprises with transform to succeed in the future.



Let me ask you a high level question in terms of IoT adoption: where do you think we are? Let's say if it's a 20-year adoption cycle, where do you think we are in that cycle today?



I would say we are in a pretty early stage because the use cases are not in many regions in the world. Some of the regions, like Asia or Americas, they are already detecting some specific use cases that are solving specific issues in the industry or in the consumer side. But we are really in the infant stage due to the fact that the technology is not ready yet, and it's not enabling the use cases to be able to solve many of the different challenges that the industries are facing. So today, if we look at the main IoT drivers, we can see that reducing costs and improving business processes, are mainly one of the biggest challenges or industries. But also we see many enterprises that are deploying IoT solutions with multiple objective in mind, some of them have the objective to improve the overall competitiveness as one of the more important challenges, while others are more looking into finding new revenue streams. But the fact is that as they use cases are not fully ready so the IoT the evolution or the IoT deployment globally is still at the early stage.



Exactly. We hosted a little mini conference around IoT innovation yesterday here in Shanghai, and we talked about a lot of predictive maintenance. A lot of it is still developing one algorithm to address one particular set of equipment and the same algorithm might not work on another factory using the same set of equipment, because the operating environment is different. That's a very costly business if you're customizing algorithms for discrete environments. Hopefully, we are moving more towards a plug and play situation but it's certainly going to take time and we're going to have to build up this IP and this expertise over the coming years.



Yes, and the issue is that there are different players on the value chain. So these people need to get along together to deploy end to end use cases. The enterprises are looking for a solution; they are not looking for someone or a standalone element, but an end to end solution that can solve several challenges. As these different players are just getting along together in the value chain, trying to build these use cases, and trying to get into our end to end solution. This is another factor that is impacting the deployment of the IoT globally. So we need more like these players to create a real IoT ecosystem, that is not only national ecosystem but a global, cross-border national cross-border system, where different players can get access to their resources can get access to knowledge can get access to the different use cases and provide solutions to the different enterprise needs.



Yeah that's right we certainly don't have an Internet of Things right now. We have a lot of a lot of different things that are connected to a couple other things or to a couple other systems, but certainly nothing like the kind of the universal connectivity that we expect on the Internet to provide so much value there.

Talk to me a bit about how BICS fits in to this both to the market today and also to the market as you see it developing into a cross-border connected Internet of Things.



BICS is a leading global carrier at the heart of today's global communications market. For many years, we have been serving hundreds of mobile operators, and we are carrying the international roaming traffic in different networks. So we have been carrying more than 25 percent of the total roaming traffic in the world. So what we have been doing is helping operators to provide the international community with roaming services, not only with their smartphones, but tablets and laptops.

It makes perfect sense for BICS to provide worldwide mobile now because it will be more into providing solutions for smart connected devices and machines that make up the IoT. It presents a logical evolution for the company. They are devices that still might not be a phone or tablet, but will still require to be always on and connect to more networks and to be receiving and sending data wherever it is in the world. So we are basically providing the connectivity with our leadership in the international connectivity for voice messaging and data traffic. As we have been working extensively in the enterprise market, we understand the biggest opportunities for enterprises and our solutions are trying to understand how these companies are embarking on the implementations. Adding connectivity to things need to become more like mobile operators, in the sense that they must provide a basic service of SIMs without hijacking real granularity because they will need to serve the different use cases around the world. So these SIMs might be embedded in cards in the case of alternative companies, in fitness trackers for example in the case of manufacturers of consumer wearables, or high value parcels or cargo containers in the case of logistics companies.

So there are several cases there where we believe that we need the “IoT without borders”, which is added connectivity things to provide solutions to use cases. So this is how we playing a role in the key value chain: we incorporate and we provide interfaces lifecycle management for connected devices, so that companies will always have connected devices across multiple countries. Connectivity is a basic building block of the IoT chain, and this is where we play -- we enable enterprises that are unsatisfied with their connectivity solutions by providing solutions to a diverse set of use cases.



So how does this work. You have contracts in all countries. What do you do over the open seas? Describe a little bit operationally how this network of this connectivity network works today for the IoT solution.



Yeah basically we provide enterprises with a global SIM card with this mobility solution for the IoT. The global SIM is one single SIM over one single platform for the entire world, so they don't need to look for local technical integration or local commercial agreements with mobile operators. This means that they will be roaming in every country automatically, meaning the solution can let them use the most advanced API abilities in the market so they can really integrate their needs, in terms of IT and functionality in our platform. So we provide them with all the flexibility to support the integrated use cases of any vertical industry. It means that it doesn't matter with which vertical they are playing because the API platform basically is going to enable use cases. On top of that, as we are roaming provider and international activity provider, we give them the opportunity to get access to more than 200 countries worldwide.

This is important because if there is a company or enterprise in China who is going to embed SIM cards or connectivity into different devices, and those devices would be dispatched to Latin America Africa or well in Europe maybe. The question is, how is this enterprise going to make sure that those devices are going to be connected regardless of location? So that's the reason why we really believe that the cross-border IoT is required and the enterprise will need to focus on the end users and use cases, in their solutions, but not really their connectivity. This is basically how we are working with them



How does the value chain look here?

So we have we have BICS which providing a SIM card and the connectivity solution, you have a device manufacturer that might be providing a sensor or a complete device maybe a pacemaker for example, you have the automotive company, you have system integrators who might be supporting the integration. Who does BICS usually interact with? Are you usually selling fairly low on the value chain? So selling to the module manufacturers looking for connectivity, or is it usually a device manufacturer, an automotive OEM for example that would contract through a system integrator to identify a connectivity solution? Explain a little bit the market, and how BICS interacts with the other players in the market.



We are one piece of the IoT value chain -- we are providing the necessary connectivity and making it work. So as we are playing with different other stakeholders, as you mentioned devices, IoT platforms, applications, system integrators, but also service providers into different vertical industries. So we play basically in three different domains.

We go directly to the enterprises and we face different use cases where we try to help enterprises to build the use case. As we do not have all the building blocks to provide what are they doing solution, we partner with different suppliers that bring devices, the application, or the analytics. So all in the background we have an ecosystem of different partners that are interested to build an end to end solution and then we work together to provide the end to end use case. That's what we do when we face enterprises.

But at the same time as we know that the different solution providers in the market, for example a logistics solution provider that is in charge or working with different and logistic companies or cargo companies in the world. They are very experienced on how these solution or how this service will be implemented or deployed. So as they have the expertise, we work with them directly to provide the connectivity to this vertical industry. So we combined their expertise within a vertical industry with our expertise in the connectivity to build the use case.

We also work with different other companies where we partner to create this ecosystem of different partners that are working in different verticals, but also the ones that are more horizontal, because those those those companies are more horizontally oriented can enable us to work in any type of use case and vertical industry.

So these are three main streams that we work on and this is how we address the market.



Carlos I want to move on to a deeper dive into technology which will cover in the second section.

But before we wrap up the last question for you. So what's the best way for potential partners potential customers in touch if they want to learn more about BICS and about maybe IoT global roaming in general.



They can access our landing page http://wwww.BICS.com. There is a section where we are every day while we are uploading different use cases that we see in the market and we bring the need that we see from the different vertical industries. We also try to help them to build this solution. That's one way where they can get in touch with us.

We're also running trials. We have one global SIM card and we send different SIM cards to different service providers where they can trial the connectivity, the quality, and the support of our services. We are welcoming the enterprises or service providers that would like to embed the different SIM cards or different SIM cards into their devices.

We are also attending different events globally where we are showcasing a different use cases together with some of our partners. And we will be happy to collect the needs of the different use cases globally because we will try to help these different enterprises and service providers to get in touch with the ecosystem where we are playing.


Thanks for tuning into another edition of the industrial IoT spotlight.

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If you have unique insight or a project deployment story to share. We'd love to feature you on a future edition. Write us at erik.walenza@iotone.com

  • Author IoT ONE
    Author Title Accelerating the Adoption of Industrial Internet of Things.
    Guide Type Technology
    Date 02/08/2018
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