Insights

As the IoT Expands, Devices and Industry Adapt

The Internet of Things (IoT) represents an emerging reality where everyday objects and devices are connected to the Internet, most likely wirelessly, and can communicate with one another at some intelligent level. It’s here today in the devices, sensors, cloud infrastructure, data and business intelligence tools you are already using. The IoT connects assets, people, products and services to streamline the flow of information, enable real-time decisions, heighten asset performance, mitigate supply chain risks, empower people and help ensure product quality and consistency. Leading utility companies are already investing billions in the IoT and realizing returns that range from increased overall equipment effectiveness, reduced cost of quality and compliance, improved customer service and increased return on innovation. They are beginning to transform their business practices and recognize that, in time, the IoT will touch nearly every area of utility operations and customer engagement.

Gartner estimates that 4 billion connected things will be in use in the consumer sector in 2016, and the number will reach 13.5 billion in 2020 (see Table 1).

In terms of hardware spending, consumer applications will amount to $546 billion in 2016, while the use of connected things in the enterprise will drive $868 billion in 2016 (see Table 2).

The Shift from Desktop to Mobile to IoE

The way we access the Internet has changed rapidly over the past few years, transitioning from desktops to mobile devices. Now, the internet is expanding again – coming to all of the everyday devices found in our homes, businesses and cities. Gartner also predicts that enterprises will make extensive use of Internet of Everything (IoE) technology, and there will be a wide range of products sold into various markets. These will include advanced medical devices, factory automation sensors and applications in industrial robotics, sensor motes for increased agricultural yield and automotive sensors and infrastructure integrity monitoring systems for diverse areas such as road and railway transportation, water distribution and electrical transmission – virtually an endless list of products and services.

Data Storage and Analysis

Data analysis has risen as an intellectual force of its own – with implications for how we accept new knowledge as facts. A person uses a remote (such as a smartphone or tablet) to give a command or request information through a network to an IoT device, which performs the action and then sends it back through the network. The command or information is then displayed on the remote. This data can be stored in the cloud, on a local database, on the remote, or on the IoT device itself.

The Intersection of Cloud and Mobile

With a computer in our pockets, the introduction of app stores and access to cheap cloud services, clever people came up with new platforms (and many others like them), and it has fundamentally changed businesses and created whole new ways of working. Increasingly inexpensive and capable mobile computing devices and Internet connectivity is already bringing benefits to a wide spectrum of areas. One area is the treatment of chronic diseases through remote health monitoring. Another one is the mobile banking platforms that are known to have already produced radical changes in some countries in Africa such as Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and a host of others in recent times.

The Growth of Connected Devices

Over the next decade, we can expect to see 99 percent of the electronics yet to be connected to the Internet becoming intelligent, connected devices. Connecting all of these devices and making them smart, is all about improving the world's 'connected intelligence'. The IoE will enable faster decision-making, greater sustainability and substantial innovation. This will affect not just the way we do our jobs, but the kinds of jobs we do.

The Largest Device Market in the World

We estimate that by 2019, the IoT will be more than double the size of the smartphone, PC, tablet, connected car and the wearable market combined. Cloud, mobility and big data are all converging and making a seamless network, but the success of this convergence depends heavily on the ability to actually move and access the data. Considering that millions of additional devices (some of which are just sensors) will enter the equation means it’s high time for further investment. Over the next decade, we're going to see these changes becoming more ubiquitous. Signs the transformation is already underway can be seen in the kind of technology that's appearing, be it wearable technology, home controls or Bluetooth. Sometimes referred to as 'smarter manufacturing,’ the industry is entering a new digitalized environment with the help of IoE. It certainly stands to reason manufacturing plants themselves will need to be as 'intelligent' as the billions of connected devices they produce, if not more so. Manufacturing and IT will become inherently connected by 2022 and, as such, both sectors will gain a far deeper understanding of the other. The connection between the two will open up new territories, and with new territory comes the need for new skills and new job roles.

Article written by Raj Kosaraju
Image credit by Getty Images, DigitalVision, Buena Vista Images
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