Unlocking the value of the Internet of Things

11 September 2018

Reading time 7 minutes

One of the emerging technologies disrupting positively the way societies and business operate is the “Internet of Things” or “IoT”. We have seen a 200% increase in the number of IoT based enquiries from our clients during 2018 and have worked on several IoT projects with clients and their case studies are below. This article starts to explore the IoT market, its challenges and how some sectors are adopting IoT and seeing the benefits.

Interesting fact

The “Internet of Things” has its origins in RFID tags and was first quoted in 1999 by British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who said, “We need an internet for things, a standardised way for computers to understand the real world”.

The IoT Market

According to Forbes the global IoT market is expected to be valued at US$457B by 2020 though Bain projects US$300 and the Boston Consulting Group projects US$270 billion. It is predicted that by 2025 nearly 76 billion IoT connected devices will be deployed worldwide and by 2020 Cisco predicts that 12.2 billion of these devices will have a Machine-to-Machine connection.

IDC indicates that investments in Operational Sensing through IoT and situational awareness via analytics will deliver 30% improvement in Critical Process Cycle Times and as soon as 2019 at Least 40% of IoT-created data will be stored, processed, analyzed, and acted upon close to, or at the edge of, the network.

The growth in IoT reflects the high expectations to deliver both operational efficiencies and unlocking the value of real-time data, analysis and intelligence. The global IoT market is thought to be dominated by three sub-sectors according to GrowthEnabler:

  • Smart Cities (26%)
  • Industrial IoT (24%)
  • Connected Health (20%)

Followed by:

  • Smart Homes (14%)
  • Connected Cars (7%)
  • Smart Utilities (4%)
  • Wearables (3%)

IoT Challenges

The constraints to building IoT into any technical specification has to appreciate:

  • Challenges of device management
  • Semantic connection standards
  • Security of sensitive data
  • Scalability of all-new connected devices by the adherence to open standards to facilitate large-scale monitoring of different systems.

To prevent connected devices being hacked there is a requirement to address security and ultimately have reliable standards such as those being considered by ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 41 for the Internet of Things as well as commercial industry groups such as the Internet of Things Consortium (IoTC) connecting thought-leaders and companies to drive IoT interactions and partnerships.

Sectors seeing IoT benefits

Manufacturing IoT

Manufacturing equipment IoT uses sensors, advanced analytics and apps to monitor production and maintenance to reduce costly downtime. IoT in manufacturing has also been described as M2M, Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (iioT) tasked with driving operational productivity and profitability are improved in a connected factory. For example, Hershey is reported to leverage IoT, cloud computing, machine learning, and big data to regulate production at its factories and save US$500,000 for every 1% of improved efficiency.

Smart Cities

City IoT

Cities are becoming smarter. From traffic systems to parking sensors alerting drivers of open parking spots via apps, to video cameras in smart streetlights, weather sensors, and buildings using IoT solutions to improve energy efficiency and reduce operating costs. The goal is to create smarter safer cities around the world with better traffic regulation, faster emergency response times as well as improving the quality of life for citizens, visitors and delivering engaging consumer shopping and leisure experiences.

Utilities IoT

The International Energy Agency expects global energy demand to increase by 28% by 2040 meaning that smarter approaches to supplying consumer demand, quality usage. Home’s now have smart meters and devices monitoring connection whilst the infrastructure is monitored by sensors for water quality, temperature, pressure, usage and leaks.

Transportation IoT

Gartner has projected that by 2020, there will be a 250 million connected vehicles on the road, enabling new in-vehicle services and automated driving capabilities making connected cars a major element of the Internet of Things. Through remote monitoring service providers can use predictive analytics to fix potential issues in vehicles before a breakdown occurs; optimise delivery routes in real time or simply pay for fuel at the service station.

Retail IoT

As the high street evolves retailers are deploying methods of capturing data and sharing information through the use of beacons, video cameras, smart shelves and personalising the brand experience through engaging app’s. Ultimately these sensors track and monitor how shoppers purchase as well as keeping track of inventory and assign staff where they are actually required.

Healthcare IoT

Healthcare IoT is deployed to bring efficiencies in how care and treatment is delivered to patients, the monitoring of equipment maintenance, and overall hospital operations. Applications can include GE Healthcare’s AutoBed software that tracks occupancy among 1,200 units and factors in 15 different metrics to assess the needs of individual patients; Remote Health and Monitoring (Telehealth); Tracking Staff, Patients and Inventory; Medical assets such as supplies and medicine can be tracked by an IoT cloud platform such as Philips e-Alert that does not wait for a critical device to fail but takes a proactive approach by virtually monitoring medical hardware and alerting hospital staff members if there’s a problem.

Other new IoT developments consider sensor-enabled pills providing doctors with better insights in dealing deal with complex and chronic conditions. Smarter pill bottles monitoring a patient’s prescribed medication. The enhancement of smart contact lenses used as a new way for diabetics to check their glucose levels. Sensors can be used to monitor a patient's room temperature, how often the patient moves in bed and keep track of out-patient’s through wearable sensors that track, alert and schedule treatments for conditions.

Voice controlled home automation

Smart Home IoT

The range of products available for a smart home automation are growing daily using a simple push of a button or a voice command through a home hub or controller. There's everything from:

  • smart clocks, speakers, light bulbs, doorbells, surveillance cameras
  • windows, window blinds, air conditioning
  • pool cleaners, lawn mowers, sprinklers, pet feeders
  • hot water heaters, appliances, thermostats
  • cooking utensils, smart refrigerators and cookers
  • And, of course, AI-enabled voice assistants from Google, Amazon and Apple. Bixby (Samsung) plan to enter the Home market by 2020

What's next for IoT?

I don't think the progression of the Internet of Things is going to be linear. We're going to see more and more Internet of Things, applications, more and more Internet of Things value every year. So, although we're 17 years in, we're not 17% done yet. And I think what we're going to see is increasing integration of network sensors into things like manufacturing processes, robotics, transportation systems.

Kevin Ashton, at LiveWorx, 2018

The Internet of Things is an enormous market with the promise to transform a wide range of industrial sectors through the deployment of connected devices and increased adoption of SaaS-based enterprise applications and developing IT operations management (ITOM) tools that are also delivered from the cloud. A principled and agnostic approach to software development that balances the challenges of an IoT to access these benefits has to best practice as an approach.

Do you have a business challenge that IoT can help solve?

Get in touch through our contact form or give us a call on 01392 424300 to see how we can help you create an IoT app for your business.