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Big Business Riding IoT Wave

According to Cisco, currently there are 10 billion things – phones, PCs, etc. – connected to the Internet. That is merely six hundredths of one percent of the actual devices and “things” that exist right now. There are over one trillion devices out there right this very minute that are not talking to the Internet – but soon enough they will be.

Kevin Ashton, cofounder and executive director of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, first mentioned the Internet of Things (IoT) in a presentation he made to Procter & Gamble in 1999. Here’s how Ashton explains the potential of the IoT: “Today computers – and, therefore, the Internet – are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,024 terabytes) of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture or scanning a bar code. The problem is people have limited time, attention and accuracy – all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things – using data they gathered without any help from us – we would be able to track and count everything and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling and whether they were fresh or past their best.”

What role does business have in the Internet of Things?

A big one, according to the BI 2015 Intelligence Report. Here are several key findings from this report:

  • The enterprise sector will account for 39 percent of the roughly 23 billion active IoT devices they expect by the year 2019. They believe it will be the largest of the three main IoT markets including enterprise, home and government.
  • Spending on enterprise IoT products and services will reach $255 billion globally by 2019, up from $46.2 billion this year. This represents a 5-year CAGR of 40 percent.
  • Enterprise IoT software providers will earn far more than those who provide IoT hardware. Enterprise-focused IoT software and services sales will reach $43.9 billion by year’s end, while hardware will account for about $2.3 billion in revenue.
  • The manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, and information sectors will invest the most in IoT systems and devices in the next five years, they estimate. Manufacturers are currently the leading industry to use IoT devices, and they estimate their total IoT investment will reach $140 billion over the next five years.

How could the IoT help shape our lives over the next 20 years?

The IoT has everyday devices equipped with sensors and connectivity to work together, understand what we’re doing and operate automatically to make our lives easier. And, of course, we’ll be able to control and configure it all, likely with our tablets and smartphones, or by speaking. After all, Siri and Google Now have taken voice recognition mainstream. Smart devices use Internet technologies like wi-fi to communicate with each other, your laptop and sometimes directly with the cloud. Some also talk to a central hub that serves as control point for many different devices, like the Revolv. In the past, some of these devices were wired together into more complex systems. But it wasn’t until they were provided with some intelligence, connected to the Internet, and empowered by a new wave of technological accessibility – through cloud computing, smartphones and the prototyping capabilities of digital fabrication – that the IoT came into being.

More and more companies are investing big on taking this data from the IoT and packaging it in ways that are meaningful to businesses and ultimately, the average person. As the IoT continues to gain momentum in both our personal and business lives, one thing is sure: it will change the way we live. This infographic shows just how pervasive the IoT is expected to be in our near future. Predictions place the number of connected devices by 2020 into the 20-billion plus range, creating a grand potential for the IoT to enhance our lives for the good in an unlimited amount of ways.

How could the IoT affect traffic and infrastructure?

The IoT is central to the transformation of traffic and infrastructure. It 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. The idea is to embed the advances in technology and data collection which are making the IoT a reality into the infrastructures of the environments where we live. Already, large companies such as Cisco and IBM are working with universities and civic planning authorities to develop data-driven systems for transport, waste management, law enforcement and energy use to make them more efficient and improve the lives of citizens. We will interact and get information from these smart systems using our smartphones, watches and other wearables, and crucially, the machines will also speak to each other.

Leading utility companies are 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. Technologists and analysts are on a path to discovery, obtaining answers on how technology and the data collected can make our cities more efficient and cost effective. The current model adopted for the IoT is to attract businesses to develop software and hardware applications in this domain. It also encourages businesses to put their creativity to use for the greater good, making cities safer, smarter and more sustainable. 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.

As new and challenging as today’s IoT is, it offers a large and wide-open playing field. The companies that gain the right to win in this sphere will be those that understand just how disruptive the IoT will be, and that take advantage of the opportunities. The broadband divide could prove to be a real hampering force to the movement that is gaining speed today. 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. And considering that millions of additional devices (some of which are just sensors) will enter the equation means it’s time for further investment – and quickly.

Article written by Raj Kosaraju
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