Today the world is characterised by intense disruption and change, but it’s not necessarily all about what’s around the corner.

When I speak with customers, regardless of what industry they are in, they, like us at Telstra, are all facing the same challenge – or opportunity depending on how you look at it.

It’s about deciding how to capture the opportunity of today – the new technologies, new capabilities and skills to invest in – and how that will shape a tomorrow where everything that can be connected will be connected and automated.

Switching on IoT

One of the most remarkable examples of this is in the deployment of new tech in mining. Autonomous mine sites, transportation links, port logistics is an area of massive investment, and we are heavily involved with a number of the leading mining companies here in Australia on that transformation. Combined with the IoT network we’ve lit up – the Telstra IoT Network – the next set of opportunities for this sector is already apparent.

We already have more than two million IoT services in place. With the Telstra IoT Network now one of the only in the world to offer both Cat M1 and Narrowband – specially designed IoT technologies that can support devices like sensors, trackers and monitors operating at very lower data rates and with extended battery life – we are working with customers on IoT solutions for a number of industries.

Another great example of IoT in action is that of Peloris Global Sourcing, a company that delivers Australian fresh food onto the shelves of Chinese supermarkets. They took on a challenge of shipping fresh milk to China – a challenge that was impossible just three years ago.

Peloris is now responsible for about 40 per cent of all fresh milk exports into China. This was made possible through the introduction of the Internet of Things technology into their supply chain.

The team from Peloris can access data in real time to assure the quality of the milk, monitoring its temperature all the way from the farm to when it arrives in China.

This visibility and transparency at all stages of the supply chain has helped improve overall efficiency and has been endorsed by China Inspection and Quarantine Bureau for rapid border clearance for China food imports. What used to take two to three weeks can now happen in just 36 hours.

What is even more exciting are the opportunities IoT technology has opened up for Peloris. The company is already developing channels to market for other short shelf life products into China and new markets across Asia. They have opened a new office in Malaysia which has potential to be a hub for the distribution of dairy, meat, fruit, vegetables and chilled seafood from Australia into the ASEAN region including Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Delivering smarter transportation

Recently, on a trip to Europe a number of Telstra’s leaders met with Scania, one of the world’s leading transportation companies.

They talked to us about how they are increasing vehicle connectivity that is allowing Scania to gather a huge amount of valuable information in real time and then use that data to increase productivity, improve maintenance and deliver services tailored to the specific needs of customers.

They also talked about their work in pioneering the concept of platooning, which will be reliant on increased connectivity across their fleet – they are already, working on the first full-scale autonomous truck platooning operation in Singapore.

Platooning involves the configuration of truck and trailer combinations driving in close formation, to reduce air drag and fuel consumption.

Currently, trucks drive at a safe distance from each other using common in-vehicle features such as radar and cruise control.

With the addition of vehicle-to-vehicle communications and interconnected control systems an even narrower distance between trucks would increase efficiency and reduce fuel consumption by as much as 12 per cent.

Recently, Tesla, a well-known player in the autonomous driving space, debuted its electric semi-truck. Available in two years’ time – they will feature an enhanced autopilot, the company’s newest semi-autonomous driving technology used in its passenger cars, and will have a range of up to 800km.

Like Scania and Tesla, Telstra Enterprise sees IoT and smarter transportation as a major opportunity. In November, we acquired GPS and fleet management solutions provider MTData. This investment fast tracks our enterprise connected vehicle offering capitalising on our business ready IoT capability.

The future with 5G

As we enter a new era of disruption fuelled by the advent of 5G we will see more and more industries and companies exploring what that future could look like.

In addition to the big enterprise use cases for IoT, 5G technology will also enable opportunities around the edges of the network. This will put computing capacity closer to the home or the user changing the way we access information, delivering benefits such as dramatically decreased battery use.

We will discover new ways to address old problems, new opportunities to pursue and new skills to develop.

During our time in Europe, the discussions we had and the technology innovation we saw confirmed that the strategic path of Telstra Enterprise and Telstra as a whole is aligned to both the market opportunity and the way many other tech companies see the world.

As we purposefully invest to address the challenges of today and support Telstra’s shift to become a world-class tech company of tomorrow, Australia must also invest now to become more of a tech country and that is where we all have a role to play.