e‐SIM connectivity as a competitive differentiator
Embedded SIMs (e‐SIMs) are poised to transform the ways in which businesses manage their assets in the field and how they onboard employees, giving a strong competitive edge. Meanwhile, device manufacturers can differentiate themselves substantially by incorporating e‐SIM based connectivity into their products.
e‐SIMs offer obvious benefits for consumers, including easier device setup and enhanced experiences with network operators and phone/device manufacturers, as well as access to a range of small, robust and secure Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices.
But even more persuasive are the potential benefits that e‐SIMs offer businesses. As embedded tiny chips that fit in a huge range of objects, e‐SIMs enable unprecedented control of assets in the field, with easy remote updates and management made possible across thousands or potentially even millions of connected objects in one click. “Businesses can ensure all their devices are up to date, on the best connectivity from their network, and fully secure,” says Tobias Lepper, senior product marketing manager at Giesecke+Devrient Mobile Security. “They no longer need to spend the time or the money changing SIMs of each device in the field, and those devices will also be watertight and tamper proof.”
For businesses onboarding new employees, the process is made much faster by giving them e‐SIM‐equipped mobile devices, tablets or wearables, and simply provisioning any settings remotely over the air, whether for a new device or when switching an existing device to a new employee. Newly hired staff will be able to have instant access to secure cellular connections and will not need to risk the use of unsafe Wi‐Fi. Plus, when staff quit their job the company can quickly have any sensitive information or personalized settings removed.
Business people using an e‐SIM‐equipped phone, tablet, smartwatch or connected car – all part of the growing Internet of Things – can also easily separate personal and work usage. “Any handset can be operated with multiple SIMs, allowing the use of one device for both personal and professional use,” explains Carlos Pestana, head of business‐to‐business sales at Dixons Carphone.
Companies’ use of e‐SIMs is expected to grow in line with the technology’s maturation. By 2022, some 42 million e‐SIM‐enabled smartphones alone will be sold annually, according to ABI Research. Worldwide cellular M2M connections will exceed first ever 1 billion connections in 2019. A rapidly growing part of those devices (excludes computing devices in consumer electronics such as e‐readers, smartphones, dongles and tablets) will be eSIM enabled.
Any handset can be operated with multiple SIMs, allowing one device for both personal and professional use
- Carlos Pestana, head of business‐to‐business sales at Dixons Carphone
Business e‐SIM growth has accelerated sharply after the release of e‐SIM standards by the industry body GSMA, now adopted by scores of manufacturers and network operators worldwide. Since that standardization, companies including automotive and utility giants have been quick to take up the technology. “For businesses, machine‐to‐machine communication with e‐SIMs can be very effective. Everything from connected fleets, energy management and environmental monitoring to vending machines, ATMs and healthcare devices can be efficiently connected,” explains Dušanka Radoničić, senior research analyst at IDC. “These cases are increasingly well established, and there will be ever more advanced uses such as payment systems and remote healthcare.”
Companies with numerous remote connected devices, such as utility firms’ equipment or logistics companies’ fleets of vehicles, will be able to benefit from simple switchovers and secure updates, says Phil Sealy, principal analyst at ABI Research: “When a contract comes to its end of life, companies can easily move to a new agreement across all their devices, and they have a similar ability to improve their connections with seamless updates.”
The car industry is among the sectors adapting early to the technology. e‐SIM‐connected cars are expected to grow in number dramatically over the next handful of years, directly in line with the manufacturing of connected vehicles. Gartner predicts that within the next two years alone, one in five vehicles will have a form of wireless network connectivity.
Numerous manufacturers, from BMW and Audi, to General Motors and Jaguar Land Rover, have highlighted the importance of e‐SIM technology to their vehicles’ future connectivity. Vehicle fleets are becoming increasingly connected with fast 5G technology – for entertainment, communication, personalization and self‐driving connections within smart cities. Manufacturers’ competitive advantage will come to depend on excellent connectivity, with e‐SIMs poised to be at the heart of those developments.
“Car manufacturers like BMW will be able to provide excellent connectivity by using e‐SIMs, and to self‐brand the various services people consume so that it’s a seamless experience,” says Mr Sealy. Similarly, they will be able to offer people access to the best connectivity available in different areas as they travel around and cross borders in their connected vehicles. e‐SIMs will also monitor usage to inform design, while tracking vehicle operations in order to highlight maintenance needs. For heavy goods vehicle manufacturers who put e‐SIMs in their vehicles, logistics customers will be able to track vehicles and cargos wherever they might go.
Following this strong early uptake among car manufacturers, confidence in the potential of e‐SIMs has been boosted across sectors. IoT e‐SIM adoption is set to grow particularly strongly as a result in industrial robotics, asset management, and smart grids, according to Gartner principal analyst Will Hahn, writing in a recent report. The potential scope and strength of the e‐SIM ecosystem is the major attraction, particularly for car and device makers, and Mr Hahn says “manufacturing applications – especially involving robotics – can benefit from limited space or inaccessible locations” that e‐SIMs easily service.
e‐SIMs will also drive an edge in safety and security for many firms. Companies involved in mining and metal alloys are expected to implement e‐SIM‐equipped wearable smartwatches and headsets as a means of more closely monitoring health and safety across their operations, including air quality and their workers’ heart rates. Meanwhile, public sector service providers and educators will be among those calling on the strong data security on offer, with remote authentication and digital identity management a particularly valuable asset, according to a recent GSMA Intelligence report. In retail and finance, e‐SIMs will help to streamline and secure the management of digital identities and access, while safeguarding mobile payment processing.
For the communications industry itself, the e‐SIMs will represent a change to existing business models. However, many of the largest operators are also looking to the strong upsides, not least the opportunity to provide connectivity to multiple devices under one contract, to quickly update coverage when cross‐selling or up‐selling customers, and the chance to capture new clients as they travel.
While e‐SIMs are already a reality, the industry is moving with caution
-Carlos Pestana, head of business‐to‐business sales at Dixons Carphone
For phone and wearable manufacturers, e‐SIMs will offer clear differentiation, though initial steps are being taken over time. “While e‐SIMs are already a reality, the industry is moving with caution. The latest Apple devices – iPhone XS, XR, and XS Max – all have an e‐SIM option but still include a traditional SIM slot,” explains Mr Pestana. The strength of network adoption will be key to more e‐SIM devices being made, he says, adding that the potential for development is strong because “without the need to include a physical SIM more space will be freed up, allowing alternative functionality or smaller devices” that can meet many more needs.
G+D Mobile Security is among the firms working closely with operators, device makers and end user businesses to offer e‐SIM provisioning and future‐ready managed services, including new user onboarding and authentication. With the leading expertise in eSIMs and eSIM management, G+D Mobile Security is the clear market leader for the various market segments.
“Device makers are turning to e‐SIMs to empower smaller, more rugged and secure devices, with standardized connections and excellent user convenience,” says Mr Lepper. “They can form ever more global partnerships with network operators, which want to offer e‐SIMs, so they can provide different industries with secure and powerful management of their entire device and asset portfolio.”
As more e‐SIM‐enabled devices are made available, and increasing numbers of networks support them, the ecosystem will mature, and uptake will soar. Providing a seamless connectivity experience on all devices will be essential for future‐proof success in the mobile industry. For the many other sectors considering using e‐SIMs to improve daily operations, there is an unmatched opportunity to start today and build a substantial edge over their competitors.
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