IoT has soon changed from being a science fiction to reality. Unleashing the era of interconnectedness, IoT aims at revolutionizing the day to day lifestyle both personally and professionally. Estimates suggest that the economic impact of IoT would be huge. Accordion to McKinsey, the economic impact would be 4 trillion to 11 trillion by 2025. Gartner predicts the number to be 2 trillion by 2021 and IDC estimates the same to be less (approximate 1.7 trillion by the same time).
While different organizations have different figures, the consensus remains the same: The end to end impact of IoT would be tremendously high. Having said that, one thing that certainly stands is that the technology is yet to reach its potential and that there’s more to it than what we anticipate.
Probably this is one reason why Gartner considers IoT to be immature and in its nascent stage. Keeping this as the core, integralops white paper aims at shedding light on the current standings of the technology, it’s benefits, use cases, and best practices. We will put forward the notion of smart sensing and how would IoT redefines the business ecosystem.
Introduction: Current Standings of the Technical
A lot has been said and heard about the technology. As known to be the technology that drives connectivity, linking devices, and facilitating communication between them, IoT is constantly growing and changing the world. It is, in fact, one of the most influential technologies, part of the industrialization 4.0.
Defining IoT: The Technology That Connect
In simple terms, IoT or the internet of things is primarily a trend that promotes connectivity between things – the ones that you may not have ever imagined. It could be anything as trivial as the electric bulb in your house to as complicated as the sensors attached in the manufacturing industry to detect device functionality.
Technically, IoT refers to the group of devices that can talk, share, and transfer data over the wireless network so as to trigger actions. What’s intriguing here is that all of this is executed without human intervention. All of the devices operate autonomously, eliminating the need to have a guardian keeping tabs on them.
A typical example here could be of the smart thermostat. Consider that you are traveling back home and it’s extremely hot outside. You would want to have your house temperature slightly lower. Traditionally, the only thing possible would be you reaching your home and activating the air conditioner.
Imagine that while you were on the way, the thermostat could detect your location and as you approach closer, the same adjusts the temperature for you and on your behalf. While such a notion would have been a science fiction years ago, IoT has turned it into a reality. From your mobile phone to your car and your home, every today is “smart” and that there indicates the presence of IoT.
These IoT or the smart devices work together to share and route data which is then used to make decisions. As simple as it may sound, the entire infrastructure here is complicated and incongruous to be understood easily. Extending the above example, it is not just the smart thermostat or the smart car that comes into play. The device needs to have access to Google maps to know how far you are in order to determine the time for adjusting the temperature.
It is important to understand the technology before it’s real-time implementation.
Comprehending the Existing Facet of IoT & its Implications
To understand what IoT is and how does it help industries redefine their business scope, we have created a list of features and functionalities offered by IoT.
- Smart Data Processing
As fascinating as the term may sound, the perks of smarter data processing is higher. For the uninitiated, smart data processing is the ability to gather, process, and analyze data. Time travel a decade ago and collecting data on a massive scale was a big affair. It if wasn’t for the big players with huge data servers, data collection was all but a reality.
Fast forward 2021 things have changed and data is no longer limited to the corporate world. IoT devices have made gathering and storing data faster. It is expected that an average human generates 1.7MB of data each second. Now, this is excellent news for the data aficionados out there. IoT devices not only facilitate data retrieval but at the same time helps in analyzing and rendering insights from the same.
IoT devices are tailored to gather data in all formats. Whether it is a stream of data packets or a bunch of data files or a share of asynchronous data, these devices can effectively process them and turn them into meaningful information. The present-day systems incorporate the semantic data modeling to convert raw data promoting interoperation.
- Interconnection and Operation
The core of the technology lies in driving a connection between the devices and systems so that they can communicate better. The current day IoT solutions take into account the interaction and interoperation. Even if it doesn’t exist, there would come a time when the corporate world sees a level of interaction between the upper-level devices and the one below them.
Device interoperability is apparently a crucial event taking place in the IoT infrastructure and this is what makes them self configuring. The integration follows the hourglass model where the top-level constitutes devices, the middle layer has the IP and the denominator being HTTP or the REST APIs.
Another important feature that has been grabbing attention is Cross-industrial domain semantic interoperability. The standards developing organizations (SDOs), along with the initiatives of alliance and open source software (OSS) add a few of the rising interoperability initiatives. It is anticipated that the above would trigger the data usage across the cross-industrial domain and open door for the development of newer models of business.
- Simplified Communication
Communication is a key aspect when it comes to IoT and it’s application. Irrespective of whether it is the sensors installed in the factory or the detectors mounted within your home, communication between devices is what makes IoT the talk of the time.
The current infrastructure prioritizes communication over the edge network or the VPNs. Also, the applications built using the IoT communicates through centralized servers. While the earlier solitons facilitated data collection across homogeneous units, IoT extends this to the heterogeneous entities breaking the shackles and the silos of the previous architecture.
Real-time Application of IoT Devices
The real-time application of IoT can be segmented into two types:
- Consumer-driven devices: One that we call as the smart devices and ranges between your smart home to the smartwatch.
- Industrial IoT: IIoT has a wide range of applications across multiple industries. From manufacturing to IT, supply chain and retail, IoT has tremendous potential across all industries.
Taking this discussion forward, we now detail you on the industry-wide application of IoT.
- Manufacturing Industry
Implanting sensors in myriads of factories and within the line of operations, manufacturing industry leads as the early adopters of the IoT technology. According to a recent report published by IDC, the manufacturing industry happens to be the one spearheading the technology and its worldwide adoption.
The sensors installed in factories are bestowed with the task of gathering data in real-time and routing the same to the control room for further analysis. Precisely, the IoT enabled sensors to gather data from multiple touchpoints starting with the temperature and extending up to the air quality. An important task here is the detection of anomalies within the input provided and the garnered output.
The application of IoT technology isn’t limited to the smart factories but also includes the collection of data to predict sales, keep tabs on inventory, and take measures to improvise the decision-making process. What’s crucial here is to integrate the right set of tools for the right job.
It is anticipated that further enhancement in the technology would revolutionize the manufacturing industry, uncoiling a better and smarter future.
One of the most debatable industries with respect to the adoption of IoT technology is the telecom sector. Sensors, actuators, and detectors form the core of the technology. Critics debate that the telecom industry works on anything but these. However, that’s not the only way one can adopt the technology.
Significant leaders have taken a step forward to adopt IoT for streaming analytics. Streaming analytics is the ability of the solution to study, analyze, and process data. Meaning that it is more than just gathering data but processing it in real-time.
For instance, the home sensors or the power grids work in real-time and require instant information. At what time of the day the light intensity falls and when should the power be turned off cannot be predicted. It requires instant information access, which is then processed, and based on the same, the next action is triggered.
When it comes to the telecom industry, customer experience happens to be a crucial factor. And streaming analytics help understands consumer behavior and take impromptu decisions.
Embracing the IoT technology within the call center generates a huge amount of data which can then be deployed with the data analytics strategies. This helps improve the end to end operational efficiency while enhancing business process automation. Additionally, the incorporation of IoT applications has proven fruitful in terms of segmenting customers based on their demography and corresponding preferences. This enables the industry leaders to customize their offers and pitch the right solution to the right customer.
All of this sums up to improving the quality of service provided and the customer experience drawn on a whole, benefiting all.
Retail is by far one of the fastest-growing sectors post the evolution of IoT technology. It is not just the store operations but also, the customer acquisition and the supply chain operation that has outgrown expectations. The implementation of IoT in the retail sector has grown in leaps and bounds. It isn’t anything wrong to state that IoT has emerged to be the game-changer in the retail industry.
IoT enables the seamless operation of the industry both internally and externally. To begin, the first and the most important element is the improved customer experience. Online stores are backed by technology-rich applications that simplify the overall buying process. Product recommendations based on the previous purchase, one-click checkout, and the ability to track their orders, IoT makes everything easier.
Sensors and beacons are used to target customers with significant products and then customize offerings based on the results. This not only increases the conversion rates of the offers and discounts but also improves customer experience, accounting for loyalty and retention.
A major aspect of the retail industry is its supply chain. The next-gen users long for total visibility and supply chain transparency. This is exactly what the technology aims to offer. Even though retailers have managed to embed visibility within their supply chain and logistics services, the same hasn’t been effective for last-mile delivery.
IoT, on the other hand, provides end to end supply chain visibility, starting with the warehouse to the dock and the neighborhood, utilizing beacon. Such streaming and analysis help retailers improve their supply chain operations. This is also beneficial with respect to demand forecasting and iterative planning.
IoT devices aren’t limited to just the front-end industries but have a crucial role to play in the healthcare industry. To put simply, IoT has enabled healthcare professionals to be proactive in their approach, unleashing an era of automation and remote care.
From physicians to the equipment, the patients and the families, IoT has a huge application in the healthcare industry. Wearables happen to be a fast-growing trend with respect to the healthcare industry. The wearable devices have IoT enabled sensors that track and share patient data to the central server which is in turn connected with the primary doctor.
Alternatively, these devices enable patients to self monitor their condition and keep track of any unusual activity. The proliferation of IoT devices further enhances the medical equipment improving the care rendered to the patients. Data sensors attached to the devices can accurately test different conditions and further make predictions based on the gathered data.
IoT in healthcare enables real-time monitoring of the patient’s condition, eliminating the need for separate healthcare staff. These sensors are interconnected with applications and the data centers, notifying the doctor instantly. IoT enabled devices are used in making smart healthcare equipment that can analyze past data to predict diseases and plausible cure.
However, the implementation is still in the early stages, and there lie huge challenges prior to the adoption of a full-fledged, IoT enabled healthcare system.
IoT In the Utility Sector
The implementation of connected devices in the utility industry isn’t something new. In fact, the same has been part of the sector for quite a long time. What demarcates the above with the current IoT trend is the evolution of data.
The exposure of data is something that makes the technology better. Earlier, the concept of interconnectivity was limited and confined within the walls of the organization. Owing to rising customer demand, the sector has noted significant investments in technologies, proven to improve the line of operations and in a way, customer experience.
The ones at the top are smart meters. From home to workplaces, educational institutions, and others, smart meters find their way everywhere. The sole purpose behind the installation of such meters is to keep track of consumption and activate applications. IoT applications provide granular insights within the consumption pattern, outlining ways to optimize the same, and save electricity.
Smart meters are equipped with sensors and detectors that are used for optimizing power usage. Consider an educational institution with smart meters across their campus. These meters can effectively detect light density and automatically adjust the power to reduce consumption. Also, these meters have the potential to detect the presence of a person within a room. If found empty, the power is automatically turned off.
Following a similar notion, IoT touches all aspects across the entire utility value chain. Starting with the sensors that are used for the generation of the renewable, devices in our houses and across the transmission as well as the distribution network, IoT is everywhere.
It is anticipated that the technology and its implementation would evolve further. Nearly every device would now be smart, generating tons of data. This data is responsible for real-time analytics and prompt decision-making.
Loopholes in the Current Industry
Having said all of the above, we now head towards the limitations of the existing fact of IoT.
Accepting all that has been said till date, IoT devices operate on data. Multiple devices are connected to carry out significant tasks. Data from these devices are then gathered, processed, and analyzed to drive meaningful insights.
While all of this might sound beneficial, the eclectic combination of the sensors, actuators, and other devices comprises data privacy and overall security. The sensors are vulnerable to hacks exposing the entire organizational data. Anyone can hack into the system and attain access to the same. This is one reason why leaders and entrepreneurs are skeptical about the adoption of technology.
Also, the fact that the devices interconnected are from different vendors and even though each of these has their set of protocols in place, not much is done about the security between these when connected. Put simply, the current system lags behind when it comes to the security of dependent devices. This makes the system weak and opens doors for the attackers to intrude within the system.
Irrespective of the industry, such a step is extremely fatal and measures must be taken to deal with it. It is important that certain changes are made within the existing face of IoT to strongarm the technology while perfecting the same.
Future Predictions related to IoT
As predicted, the global impact of IoT is tremendously high. And this is why the globe trotters and the futuristic leaders have hinted on certain advancements in the technology.
- By 2021, the world would have 21 billion IoT devices: In contrast to the existing numbers, it is anticipated that the total number of connected devices or to be precise, the total IoT enabled devices would be nearly 21 billion. This indicates the increasing adoption of the technology.
- The evolution of smart cities would be the next big thing: Till date, the notion has been kept within the industries and houses. What started with smartphones soon captured factories, TV, and other home equipment. But the rise of smart cities is something we look forward to.
- Secured and robust routers: IoT security is one of the most debatable topics and it is important to employ measures to deal with it. Routers being the entry point of the network, engineers are working to turn their routers secured and hack-proof. This would limit the possibility of hacks in the IoT system. Heading over the conventional means, the new world would see smarter ways to boost router security.
- Rise of 5G and smart cars: Like the house, like cars. The next five years would be crucial for the automobile industry. The ones that stick to the traditional method would soon turn obsolete as we expect the industry to fast adopt the IoT technology and build smart cars.
Summing up our discussion, it is pretty obvious that enterprises today have a huge stake with respect to the technology and harnessing it to the potential. The fact that it leads to a better and faster system, offering end to end visibility within the day to day operations followed by the challenges organizations face, adopting IoT would be a table-turner.
From visible supply chains to smart meters and power grids, IoT can not only improve operational efficiency but also facilitate real-time decision-making. Predicting outcomes to prevent machine failure and detecting intrusions; IoT is soon to revolutionize everything around us.
Integralops understands the above and continuously contributing to the growth and the adoption of the technology facilitating a better and connected environment.