IoT. This three-letter acronym has been gaining in importance to businesses each and every day. Its ability to capture and manage data is being referred to as the new oil and it’s spilling into every industry.


Even the latest projections from BI Intelligence estimate there will be more than 55 billion IoT devices by 2025, and investment in the IoT will continue to climb at an accelerated rate, reaching an aggregate of almost $15 trillion between 2017 and 2025. But that’s nothing compared to IDC estimates, which say there will be 80 billion connected devices by 2025, generating a whopping 180 trillion gigabytes of data.

Every industry is experiencing a dramatic period of transformation and impressive disruption. Chris Penrose, president, IoT Solutions, AT&T Business, calls it, “Remote control of everything.” As a result, AT&T has made it its mission to take IoT to the next level for its customers and that means better connectivity, 5G, and unprecedented services.

Last month the world witnessed what AT&T Business can do for its customers when it gets serious about IoT initiatives, ranging from connected-device cybersecurity to energy and building management solutions, global enterprise Wi-Fi, and vertical market penetration. As a key connectivity player in the space, AT&T’s most recent moves—making new ecosystem collaborations and expanding various IoT-related programs—advance IoT innovation and adoption well beyond Industry 4.0.

But it is not all business for AT&T. Last month in Dallas, Texas, AT&T rolled out the red carpet for its business customers, while spotlighting celebrities, rockstars, industry experts, and Pepper the Robot.

Although this was my first year attending the AT&T Business Summit, this was actually the second year AT&T has hosted this conference for some 2,000-plus customers. At first glance, you couldn’t tell if AT&T drew such a massive crowd because of its recent acquisition of Time Warner, or the fact that celebrities were in attendance such as CNN’s notable Anderson Cooper and actress Reese Witherspoon who created and starred in the HBO Series Big Little Liars, or all of the IoT news.

But after sitting in on some of the informational sessions and walking the tech-packed Innovation Showcase, IoT was clearly one of the main attractions. Customers were truly engaged and were eager to uncover the best way to leverage IoT. Interestingly, the customers I chatted with on the innovation showcase floor admitted they were willing to invest more on IoT with AT&T if all the pieces fit, making the Dallas-based company a potentially strong partner in what is already a highly competitive tech field.

Perhaps most importantly, the two-day event showed that the pace of change is only accelerating.  According to AT&T Business CEO Thaddeus Arroyo, “Now is the time to have the right data when and where you need it.” As a result, he said, AT&T intends to be more agile in its actions since it’s on the “precipice of launching 5G.”

AT&T made it clear that its goal is to be an industry leader when it comes to 5G. Thus, it plans to serve as a testbed to provide key data to better understand how 5G can impact manufacturing and offer greater insight into the future of smart factories. This is why AT&T created the 5G-enabled Innovation Zone, which is located within Samsung Austin Semiconductor, an advanced semiconductor fabrication facility.

“We’ll be testing the real-world impact 5G will have on the manufacturing industry,” said Mo Katibeh CMO, AT&T Business at a press event. “Ultimately, we plan to use what we learn from this 5G Innovation Zone to help create better technology experiences and improvements in Samsung Austin Semiconductor’s plant, along with creating a future blueprint for people and businesses across all industries.”

The Innovation Zone’s focus is not only about improving the products themselves. It’s also really a new way of thinking. The ultimate goal is to help companies recognize a new way of improving how they make and service their products.

Couple all of this with AT&T’s acquisition of AlienVault, a threat detection company, and now the target is “protect, detect, and respond,” explains Arroyo.

The AT&T Innovation Showcase was considerable with almost 40,000-sq.ft. dedicated to exhibits that highlighted industry verticals for manufacturing, retail, healthcare, finance, and public sector, and service provider displays.

Now it will be up to AT&T to help its customers get the right data when and where they need it.

And, that means turning all that actionable data from looking at what happened, to what will happen, and then what can be expected to happen looking ahead.

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