SMALL THINGS, BIG OPPORTUNITIES

Oman 2018 | TELECOMS & IT | FOCUS: INTERNET OF THINGS

Oman wants to be at the forefront of a world where the internet links not only people, but also our devices and actions to create a more efficient, integrated ecosystem.

Projections for the exact growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) market vary widely, but two things are clear: Internet of Things will be huge, and Oman is seizing this opportunity to catapult the Sultanate through the 21st century.

SAS Institute estimates that IoT's market potential will reach USD11 trillion globally by 2025 and posits that analytics and data-driven innovation are the keys to unlocking this massive market potential. Bain speculates that IoT vendors, including those selling hardware, software, and comprehensive solutions, could see annual revenues exceed USD470 billion as soon as 2020. In terms of number of connected devices, IHS forecasts that “things” could increase nearly five fold in 10 years, from 15.4 billion in 2015 to 75.4 billion in 2025.
And Oman wants its piece of this rapidly growing pie. In 2016, Omantel, the nation's first telecommunications company and primary provider of internet services, partnered with Sigfox, the world's leading provider of connectivity dedicated to IoT, to create mOmkin, also known as Internet of Things LLC. mOmkin, launched in July 2016, is Oman's leader in integrated telecommunications. The company's IoT solutions apply to a range of sectors: home and lifestyle, industry, retail, finance, government, automotive, utilities, health, agriculture, and the environment.
Since its establishment, mOmkin has covered more than 70% of the Sultanate with Sigfox's network, including the regions of high population density and the most critical industrial and commercial significance. mOmkin plans to extend coverage to other regions by the end of 2017.
The new company signed its first commercial agreement with the Oman's National Mineral Water Company (NMWC) in the first half of 2017. In a mOmkin press release, Managing Director of NMWC John Pugh expressed his excitement over being the first business in Oman to offer a new IoT-based customer service initiative that will allow consumers to order water to their homes or offices at the touch of a button.
The agreement was signed at Comex 2017, Oman's IT, telecoms, and technology show. And Oman has no shortage of other ICT-related events to propel the country to further develop its ICT and IoT offerings, differentiating the Sultanate from other GCC countries trying to diversify their economies through technology and innovation. In November 2017, Muscat hosted a summit completely dedicated to IoT and its impact on business, governments, and society. Omantel, along with Oman Fiber Optic, are gold sponsors of the Smart City Summit Oman in April 2018, focusing on how to facilitate communication between resources, sensors, and systems to create an advanced smart city.
This increasing interest in innovation has produced the country's National Innovation Strategy (NIS) in early 2017. NIS, led by The Research Council of Oman (TRC), is expected to replace traditional thinking in regards to business, with a more creative and knowledge-based economy. The first phase of the strategy focuses on the expansion of the country's broadband network, allowing everyone access to the internet. NIS implies that this transition from a traditional mentality and economy toward an innovation-based economy is “a matter of survival.”
More than just surviving, Oman hopes to thrive, aiming to be among the top-20 most innovative countries by 2040, according to NIS. The leading international indicators of national innovation systems are the Global Innovation Index, the Knowledge Economy Index, and the International Competitiveness Index. In the 2017 Global Innovation Index rankings, Oman placed 77th, a fairly far cry from the top-20 most innovative economies.
Cracking into the elite top-20 group will require coordinated commitment from all stakeholders at all levels—from innovation and security policy to household internet connectivity. Oman is encouraging engagement with IoT with optimism of becoming a leader in IoT and innovation.