ommsMEA article with Brad Taylor, CEO, Workz Group

Enabling leadership in IoT space

After having extended its partnership with Simulity, Workz group is now dedicatedly working towards providing a full and integrated eSIM solution, enabling operators to get a strong foothold in the IoT space, says Brad Taylor, CEO at Workz.

 

Workz group has recently entered into the field of remote provisioning and IoT with eSIM technologies. What prompted this move?
We see a big opportunity in the market for connected devices allied with enriched-value subscription management services, billing systems, and front-end interfaces. For us, it’s a natural evolution of our secure data management and provisioning services to a service provider, with the delivery medium becoming virtual rather than physical.

 

How do you see the readiness for the implementation and uptake of IoT in the MEA market?
Certain markets, in the Middle East like the UAE are very progressive and have the infrastructure and investment encouraging the use of smart technology. Equally, there are also developing opportunities in some African countries where technological advances can really revolutionise key sectors such as agriculture, energy and healthcare.

The M2M market, we foresee kicking off fairly quickly, within the next year, with insight, automation and speed of operation being key drivers for the exponential growth of this new revenue stream for operators. It is also ahead in terms of specification, compared to the consumer market, which might take a bit longer (perhaps two-three years) as the existing business model needs revision and operators are obviously looking to maintain ARPU. That’s not to say the consumer market will be neglected by operators. If you think back to the digitalisation of music in the 90s, many record companies did their best to ignore it and sought legislation to prevent it. What is clear is that if it is in the end-user’s interest, it will ultimately prevail. And whilst most opcos would understandably have concerns over subscriber churn, where users have the ability to choose their network provider, there are also opportunities with the potential for handsome multi-device subscriptions for all of a subscriber’s devices from phone, smart watch, camera, drone, car, you name it. Cost savings in SIM lifecycle management should also be substantial.

Unlike the music industry, it is important to ensure that operators do not get left behind. Opcos are in the ideal position to become IoT leaders if they can bring these products to the market fast enough. You can already see a number of operators realise this and we are working with some of them to develop and test solutions ready for rapid market deployment.

 

Do you think eSIM will be the next big trend in the mobile industry? Why?
Yes. Due to the growth, availability and use of connected devices, customers will demand more flexibility from operators in terms of mobile/GSM network connectivity. Operators that are slow to accommodate this change will fall behind. The embedded SIM will offer a more secure connection than traditional UICC chips and that is critical to manage the exponential growth of connected devices.

 

Tell us about your partnerships and launches in the field of IoT?
The company has a structured IoT roadmap to ensure we continually evolve and improve our IoT offering as the market develops. We have started with what we know best i.e. the SIM chip, the OS, secure data management, and remote provisioning and are constantly building on this.

Earlier this year we announced our extended partnership with Simulity who are now under ARM, the UK’s largest chip design company and part of SoftBank. As you can see we are working with some serious leading international IoT players. It has enabled us to provide our customers with some exciting new remote management capabilities for M2M and mobile connected devices using eSIM technology. This includes a fully secure online SaaS connected management solution from the secure embedded or removable chip and its operating system to network connectivity, testing and activation. We also provide subscription management services meaning all SIM profile updates, additions, removals, billing and user interfaces can be provided by us.

What we are seeing at the moment, is there are a lot of questions and there is a great need to test the unknown, to verify ideas, technology and compatibilities which is why we have recently launched a local testbed so clients can quickly finalise their proof of concept before deploying it to market. There’s a lot of development happening in this space for Workz and we hope to make further announcements in regards to connectivity and device management partners in early 2018.

Tell us about your partnerships and launches in the field of IoT?
The company has a structured IoT roadmap to ensure we continually evolve and improve our IoT offering as the market develops. We have started with what we know best i.e. the SIM chip, the OS, secure data management, and remote provisioning and are constantly building on this.

Earlier this year we announced our extended partnership with Simulity who are now under ARM, the UK’s largest chip design company and part of SoftBank. As you can see we are working with some serious leading international IoT players. It has enabled us to provide our customers with some exciting new remote management capabilities for M2M and mobile connected devices using eSIM technology. This includes a fully secure online SaaS connected management solution from the secure embedded or removable chip and its operating system to network connectivity, testing and activation. We also provide subscription management services meaning all SIM profile updates, additions, removals, billing and user interfaces can be provided by us.

What we are seeing at the moment, is there are a lot of questions and there is a great need to test the unknown, to verify ideas, technology and compatibilities which is why we have recently launched a local testbed so clients can quickly finalise their proof of concept before deploying it to market. There’s a lot of development happening in this space for Workz and we hope to make further announcements in regards to connectivity and device management partners in early 2018.

 

Who are you primarily targeting with the launch of the eSIM facility- is it going to be mainly MNOs or any device manufacturers considering everything is apparently going to be connected in the days to come?
Both. We expect to support device manufacturers, technology enablers, mobile network operators and other businesses looking to benefit from the new eSIM technology in the M2M, automotive, energy, medical fields, and, of course, the mobile device market. Device manufacturers need to provision their devices on the MNO’s network so that the manufacturer can maintain their devices as well as provide value-added services to their customers. The MNOs will want to provide connectivity to the growing number of connected devices and need a way to provision these devices on their network. Workz can provide this service and add value to both parties.

 

We hear Workz is launching removable eSIM in the first phase. Could you elaborate little more on that?
Yes, you heard correctly. We plan to become the first manufacturer of the removable eSIM in this region by producing a specialised eSIM card for mobile network operators at our production facility here in Dubai. We have specifically developed a ‘first-phase’, removable version of the eSIM and testing capabilities to enable telecom operators to quickly establish their foothold in the IoT market and facilitate their transition to new IoT technologies and business models. This first phase eSIM is highly robust being able to withstand demanding operational conditions with resistance to shock, water, humidity, and extreme temperatures plus it also works in existing market devices with a normal SIM slot and can be remotely provisioned. Our sandbox capabilities allow clients to locally test their proof of concepts in an efficient development model in order to be in a position for market launch ahead of their competitors.

 

What’s the strategy of Workz to make the process of eSIM adoption easier for its clients?
We aim to provide a full and integrated solution from chip, connectivity and management of the subscription’s lifecycle with billing and user interfaces. What’s more, with us, customers can take their IoT solution for a full test-drive that mitigates the risk and ensures every likelihood of success. We offer a local testbed for our customers that will allow them to test all elements of the facility and integration with supporting systems.

 

Has Workz been certified by GSMA for SIM technology?
Yes, our Dubai manufacturing facility is now GSMA certified and we are an accredited supplier under the GSMA Security Accreditation Scheme for UICC production (SAS-UP). We are currently working on the next step which is for subscription management: secure routing and data preparation (SAS-SM). This is what is relevant for the embedded SIM and we expect to get the certification in the first half of next year.

 

How do you plan to ensure security of your eSIM is maintained?
Security has always been a critical part of our clients’ business and, as result, it has always been a crucial element of ours. We are proud of our record of never having a single security breach across the 8 billion connections we’ve managed in our 20-year history. As a given, we are compliant with all leading international standards, we are ISO certified for secure data management, and the eSIM and remote SIM provisioning system follows the GSMA standard whereby security is built into the OS and RSP system.

 

What kind of interests have you been seeing in the region in this particular realm?
We are in discussion with some major mobile network operators and also from sectors on the M2M side such as smart homes, smart cities, smart energy, and transport. Obviously, these projects take a little more time to materialise as companies are venturing down unbeaten paths but from what we’ve seen interest is growing.

 

What kind of revenue potential do you see associated with eSIM technology for Workz and the mobile operators?
Well according to reports (IDC) the MEA region will spend around $8bn on IoT this year (compared to the global total forecast of $800bn). Most of this spend will be related to services, IoT applications and analytics with only 10% being related to internet communicating sensors and devices. This means for mobile operators to really monetise the opportunity they will need to be able to provide services on top of connectivity. Workz is working hard to position itself to be the IoT service provider that mobile operators partner with to enable themselves to fulfil their IoT potential and provide an end-to-end service to their end-customers.

 

Looking ahead, what are going to be the defining highlights of Workz’ strategy?
The disruptive potential is exciting and we are very much looking forward to working with our clients to quickly demonstrate our value with new and relevant proof of concepts with specific use cases. We invite operators and manufacturers looking to test remote provisioning to contact us for a demonstration.

Opcos are in the ideal position to become IoT leaders if they can bring these products to the market fast enough.

 

Read the full CommsMEA interview here.