The Internet of Things (IoT), at a very basic level, is nothing more than communication between sensors found in gadgets populating the world today,using the Internet. IoT is being embedded in everything we do, ranging from connected cars, hotel room doors that can be opened with your smartphone, the wearable that tracks your steps, or even the alarm system at home that can be controlled remotely. In all these instances, built in sensors receive the commands via the internet, which allows the devices to communicate their status in real time.
The ripple effect of this technology is extending across all aspects of our lives and is opening up new avenues as sensor-enabled devices communicate with us. The shift that we are seeing in the world today is similar to the change brought about by computers and then mobiles, when they first entered the business world. Today, “smart” or “connected” devices are being designed so that they canutilize data to interact with people and complete tasks seamlessly. Evidence of this is seen all around in the ecosystem, from laptops and smartphones to connected cars, smart homes, wearables, to even smart cities, and connected healthcare.
While Gartner believes that by 2020 connected devices across all technologies will reach 20 billion in volume; according to IDC, global technology spending on the Internet of Things is likely to reach US$1.2 trillion in 2022, growing at a CAGR of 13.6% over 2019-2022.
IoT has also becoming a major driver for business transformation and is changing the way businesses operate. IoT makes it possible for data to come in from varied sources including business applications, industrial systems, location enabled devices, connected delivery vehicles, etc.simultaneously, which makes it possible to understand every aspect of the business in real time. This has the potential to become a powerful tool in the hands of the businesses when they understand and use it correctly. It can, therefore, impact internal processes, business decisions, buying behavior, time-to-action, inventory and supply chain and other aspects of business management.
A good case to review would be of a Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) monitoring solution designed by Saberpoint for remote facility management. It leverages IoT to connect remote cell tower facilities to enable consistent communication regarding their state of operation. Sensors are deployed in remote or unmanned facilities for monitoring HVAC system temperatures, airflow, and air supply. If the temperature and airflow is not within an acceptable range, the system proactively sends alerts, triggering warnings ahead of system failure. This eliminates unplanned downtime and saves time and money, as compared to the past where it could take up to 24 hours to service a cell tower that was not working.
IoT is also focused on leveraging sensors, location services, AI and predictive analytics to understand customer behavior aimed at driving customer experiences. IoT enables companies to get a better handle on their customer behavior pattern and choices, which in turn influences product innovation and development, marketing and sales, customer touchpoints and service. As the data flows in real time, it has the potential to influence customer experiences in real time.
The use of IoT in industrial sections and applications is referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). IIoT puts technology of networked sensors and intelligent devices on the manufacturing floor and then collects data, which is then interpreted using artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics.
A key benefit of IIoT is the impact it has on operating efficiencies. In a traditional setup, if there was a machine breakdown on the shop floor, calling in service professionals to repair it meant delays in production till it could be checked, and further delays if the requisite part was not available. As a result of IIoT, these delays are now a thing of the past. As soon as a breakdown occurs, sensors can automatically pinpoint where the problem is and trigger a service request. In fact, more importantly, the IIoT can at times also help predict when a machine might have a breakdown, triggering preventive maintenance.
While speaking of IoT, the expansion of the types of connected devices in personal and business use is also triggering concerns about their security. Each IoT endpoint is vulnerable to unauthorized access, and secure access to these devices is lagging behind their innovation.
Despite the security concerns, IoT has become one of the leading disrupters that is driving businesses to connect systems, processes and equipment, and in our lives by driving efficiencies in ways that we had never imagined.