Nokia’s strategy chief wants the company to develop at least one new business unit based on the Internet of Things.

Speaking at a media roundtable at Mobile World Congress, Kathrin Buvac outlined the Finnish vendor’s IoT strategy, defending it against accusations that it was behind rivals.

Nokia kicked off the Barcelona event with the news that it planned to use a new $350 million IoT investment fund to find new products and services.

However, despite the launch of its virtual reality camera Ozo last year Nokia has appeared to be doing somewhat less than the likes of Ericsson and Cisco.

Buvac rejects this assumption. “We’re not late or behind...we have a very focused strategy,” she says.

Nokia’s IoT strategy is focused on five key verticals: connected mobility (cars and drones), public safety, smart cities, healthcare and connected home.

She notes work the company has done with Deutsche Telekom, notably equipping a German highway with mobile edge computing and a tie-up with du in the Middle East to use drones to inspect network infrastructure.

Buvac also reveals its Technologies arm hired a team of doctors last year to work on areas such as patient monitoring and elderly care.

While the exec says a focus on verticals is important from a go-to-market and monetisation point of view, she says moving up the technology stack is another key area.

Noting that Nokia is part of industry initiatives around NB-IoT, LoRA and 5G, Buvac believes the vendor has “a huge wealth of IoT connectivity assets”.

She stresses that Nokia’s IoT strategy and portfolio is “complete and unique”. Given this, and her remit to look five to 10 years ahead, Buvac has big ambitions.

She says: “I would not be surprised if we were able to create a couple of entirely new businesses for Nokia as part of the IoT, be they virtual reality, healthcare or whatever.”

Buvac qualifies the “new businesses” as standalone units that would sit alongside the company’s five existing arms – Mobile, Fixed, Applications & Analytics, IP/Optical and Technologies.

She would not be drawn on whether acquisitions would be necessary for this to fly.

For the moment, Buvac does not believe the creation of an IoT business unit would help.

“We’ve debated that internally,” she says.

“I’m happy that the IoT touches everything we do across the whole company currently.”

What’s more important, Buvac says, is for everyone to work out how to make money from this emerging part of the industry.

“The business model remains unresolved,” she admits.

Nokia will hope Buvac’s assertion that its own strategy has been figured out rings true when business models do become clearer.

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