What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? It is nothing less than the change agent that will impact every person, home, business and public infrastructure in the developed world over the next decade, and likely sooner.
According to Gartner, IoT is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.
New chipset, sensor and communication technology (that is smaller, cheaper, more modular and energy-efficient) is enabling organisations to realise concepts you could previously only find in science fiction novels. Consequently, the number of global start-ups with IoT-related concepts has grown from hundreds to more than 10,000 over the last year alone.
Life and work
The effects of IoT are already being felt in all facets of life and work, and its effects will continue to spread.
For example, retailers will be able to see how many people walk into each of their stores in Paris, Buenos Aires and London from a mobile device in Los Angeles. And the average person can control the temperature in their apartment from a phone while on vacation.
Smart homes and connected cars and buildings are beginning to pop up around the world. The workplace is changing everywhere, with near-ubiquitous connectivity and the mobilisation of processes and tools.
Wearables and smart devices are changing the way people participate in sports and even hobbies. By leveraging the information gained from sensors, healthcare devices will no longer be used to manage symptoms but will become an integral part of patient health through predictive data.
Breakthroughs in patient care and remote monitoring will come with the use of IoT devices and sensors in healthcare. Hospitalised patients who need their physiological stats constantly monitored by physicians will now be able to be supervised by non-invasive sensors.
The data will be continuously fed to the cloud, where further analysis can take place before being shared with physicians for further review. This method not only improves patient care but also reduces overall costs. It will also transform remote monitoring of patients with chronic ailments.
In manufacturing, the use of IoT can be viewed as a second industrial revolution. Connected manufacturing plants have already started yielding impressive results through the use of IoT.
In fact, manufacturing plants enabled with IoT technology – connected machinery and sensors – are able to go to market faster, reduce expenditure, ownership costs and risk management, improve workforce efficiency, asset use and optimisation.
By allowing plant managers to monitor these facilities and have a 24/7 global view of efficiency, industrial operations can be improved in real time by eliminating information gaps.
One type of IoT sensor that’s specifically for retail is the beacon. These devices are able to send information on the customers’ location in-store, which can then be used to push tailored notifications for a personalized experience.
Although there was a huge interest in beacons in 2014, they represent only one piece of the connected retail experience. The real connected experience will transform consumer habits regardless of their location.
With wireless sensors and wearables, the retail experience and industry itself will undergo sufficient changes to alter the current retail experience forever.
IoT technology will also transform cities by helping them streamline services, save money and create new experiences for citizens – all by connecting their existing data and services.
Data such as sensor use for traffic monitoring, video surveillance, physical access and other systems are already in place in many urban centres. The next step will be connecting all this data for analysis to make it incredibly valuable and leverage it for further use.
As cities build high-performance infrastructure enabled by IoT, they will become more responsive to their environment, such as predicting what future requirements will be.
An example of this in current use is the infrastructure for water storage within various cities in the United States, through high-performance green infrastructure developed by Geosyntec.
By integrating a building’s rainwater catchment system with software that leverages weather predictions from the internet, they are able to know when to review water levels in the event of a predicted storm or drought.
IoT is enabling enterprises to create systems that are smarter, more self-directed and quickly adaptable to changing conditions.
Enterprises across the world are investing in and delivering on IoT, introducing new products and services, driving critical processes, planning in real time and doing predictive analysis.
While it is human nature to resist change by stepping out of an established comfort zone, leaders need to ensure that the entire organisation understands the benefits and feels part of the change through education and training.
It may feel overwhelming for any organisation to know where to start to use IoT to transform – but they do need to start.
All businesses hold a wealth of data to help guide this process, so should analyse it to gain the insights for innovating with new products and services, create greater customer experience and assistance, and improve business processes.
Sourced from Sam Ganga, DMI