Nokia was on the ropes before the Microsoft acquisition of its device and services business, and now that the deal has closed it’s focusing strongly on its future. The new organization is much leaner, with a focus on networks, location and aligned technologies. With this new birth comes a new strategy that could well make it a global location leader, or at least one of the top location companies to watch.
The company is betting big on the Internet of Things and its ability to capitalize on billions of connected devices that will converge into intelligent and programmable systems. The company has the capacity to be a major connector, with network connectivity, location services that bridge real and virtual worlds, and low power distributed sensing technologies to help inform the systems. The focus is both on the technology ecosystem for this more interconnected world as well as the ways these new technologies will improve lives in areas such as education, health and wellness, time management, transportation, and even resource consumption.
Nokia has a rich history of on-the-ground sensing with the legacy of NAVTEQ cars spanning the globe to collect street network data. That business is now HERE, and the effort is constant and ongoing, with the company using LiDAR and other technologies to increase the accuracy and realism that they collect. While Nokia has only owned NAVTEQ since 2008, the performance of this business unit, and the importance of location for all things Internet, has made this part of their business essential to their future plans.
The HERE business is well embedded in vehicles with their location data and technology on four out of five in-car navigation systems. These in-car navigation devices could easily morph into a more integrated hub for smarter more connected cars, and even as the future platform for autonomous vehicles with integrated sensors and location data. Not only could the cars take advantage of the legacy of high quality map data to make their way around environments, but the future of robotic cars could also act as data collection devices to better inform the model as it’s the bi-directional flow of information that is key in any Internet of Things vision. While vehicles will continue to be important to the business, it’s what happens outside the car that is of equal if not greater importance.
Ironically, the company’s ability to now be device and operating system agnostic is perhaps its best advantage in the location space. The key to success is being in everyone’s pocket or purse as the trusted source of location intelligence on any platform or screen. While there will no longer be Nokia phones, the brand still has huge recognition in the mobile space, and global connections to trade on their global location data and services.
It’s the global reach that is a key factor in carving out a substantial Internet of Things space as the market for connectivity, applications and sensors will be a fierce battle among technology heavyweights. The ability to span the globe will allow the company to become a leading technology partner for companies with industry domain expertise looking for the means to connect networks and sensors for improved automation. The key will be in simple and seamless integration and robust sensor network performance, and the portfolio of patents points to a promising future for this strategy.
With so much data already, and with an exponentially expanding data set as more sensors go online, a robust data management strategy will be key to success. The company has been a technology leader in virtualization and cloud technologies as part of their telecommunication services for some time, serving 90 of the world’s 100 largest operators. They are a trusted provider of products for mobile broadband worldwide, handling the more than doubling of mobile data traffic that happens every year.
Nokia are well poised to handle the further data explosion of the Internet of Things that may see the year-over-year figure grow to ten times or more the prior year’s data traffic. If that ramp-up comes to pass, a company that knows how to scale quickly and seamlessly without hiccups for their users will gain the greatest market share.
Nokia is a technology powerhouse that continues to invest in the future, with EUR 2.5 billion spent on R&D in 2013 alone. The company’s strong financial position post Microsoft acquisition means that it can invest strongly in its vision to stitch their networking, location and sensing technologies into meaningful and impactful systems. The Internet of Things complements the company’s legacy of first connecting people, and they are poised to come full circle when the connectivity of things starts to improve the connectivity of people, all sharing deep insights about locations.