There is an opportunity for today’s businesses to grow exponentially smarter through the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT).
As the IoT develops, it will usher in the next wave of innovation, which will utilise existing technology and take it to the next level – interoperability and optimisation. For example, in the future all cars will communicate with each other, as well as with smart roads and smart cities, to co-ordinate and optimise journey times and avoid collisions.
However, this is only one tiny example of how the IoT will shape our world. The IoT is on course to change everything, with the same force that the original internet did, and will have a similar domino effect. This is supported by a drop in the price of sensors and connectivity solutions, paving the way for more and more viable use-cases to be realised
Much of the writing about IoT has focused on consumer products. However, there are many opportunities in the space of the smart enterprise and industrial internet of things that can change the world. In fact the IoT represents the new industrial revolution.
Some of the biggest opportunities to enhance the quality of life and reduce energy consumption in our world are heavily B2B. Projects like smart cities, connected products or smart energy may be delivered by mobile carriers and their partners to major organisations (cities, product companies, energy companies and so on), with the end user most likely consuming these through smartphone apps, white labelled and provided by their respective city, product or energy company.
This optimism is undoubtedly shared by those responsible for driving the IoT forwards. In a recent European Communications IoT survey of mobile operators and service providers, the majority of respondents revealed that the IoT provides them with a brilliant opportunity to create new business models, with 85.7% believing that IoT will be a significant new revenue stream for operators in the next five years. This belief is absolutely justified and truthful; after all, a way of connecting the billions of devices is needed, and operators have the networks in place.
Operators are also creating solution teams and key partnerships with software vendors to go after new business areas, such as smart cities (which includes sub-areas such as connected transport, smart waste management, smart parking and smart lighting). In Europe, mobile operators and their technical organisations, such as Telecom Italia and Deutsche Telekom/T-Systems, have already fronted some compelling smart city projects, working with groups of partners.
However, the IoT’s ability drive towards new opportunities and revenue streams will be felt far beyond just the telecoms industry, with IoT fostering innovation across a whole range of use cases. The car, for instance, has the potential to become the computing device of the future, rather than being purely personal transport.
As companies race to create the ultimate driverless car (which is set to become mainstream in ten years), looking further ahead it is likely that cars will ultimately be transformed almost into the mobile office of the future, leading us towards ‘omnipresence’, as people will be able to physically make it into a meeting, while also working on the way there. This has the potential to not only benefit solutions providers, automotive OEMs and workers, but could add two to four hours of productivity to the working day, helping drive overall economic growth.
While the real office-car applications are yet to be seen – one thing is certain, that it will completely change workflow and business patterns as we know them.
IoT and lifelong learning
In the immediate future, there is no doubt that 2016 will see huge strides forward in the Industrial Internet of Things, which is radically redefining just what it means to be connected, especially for businesses.
IoT in the enterprise will see a convergence of on premise systems, clouds and apps with real world assets; for instance, logistics systems that are like Uber in tracking and optimising location and journeys for all vehicles, packages etc.; industrial systems that use smart sensors to predict maintenance and link it to field maintenance booking systems, so the engineer turns up with the right parts at the right time; banks, telcos, retailers making customer experience location-aware by tracking behaviour in the real world and responding, and so on.
The computational explosion of these sensory inputs and reference data generated by the IoT requires new, agile systems to handle it all, giving way to even further evolution and investment. What organisations need to do is start collecting, analysing and responding to the data and driving the right decisions to make systems smarter and even self-learning. The use of real-time analytics and algorithms will guide innovative organisations through the maze of fast big data arising from the Internet of Things. In this way, IoT is set to not only change connectivity and interoperability as we know it, but redefine business in the enterprise as a whole.
Barriers to success
However, while IoT will create new revenue streams and undoubtedly provide return on investment, lack of vision, entrepreneurial thinking and execution is a barrier to the wider adoption of connected technologies. Although less of a factor in the private sector, risk aversion is still present, due to the real-time nature of IoT. Despite these concerns, a competitive edge, combined with greater financial investment and an understanding that both costs and risks can be reduced in the long-term via implementation of IoT, keeps the private sector at the forefront of IoT innovation.
Many business people see these opportunities and realise they are game-changers. Now we need local authorities to think the same way; those of us in the community need to ensure we spread awareness of what the IoT can bring to public services. It’s not just about being paperless; it’s about end-to end efficiency and ultimately, ameliorating people’s lives, avoiding fraud, offering customer support and delight, reducing carbon emissions and so on.
The Internet of Things can enable endless possibilities; it’s all about having the knowledge and the right platform at the right time, especially when it comes to enterprise customers. That’s where industry events such as Smart IoT London come in, to bring together the entire IoT ecosystem, and provide a vital platform for nurturing IoT evolution, by gathering global IoT expertise – it’s only by sharing experiences, insights and successful IoT patterns that businesses can be encouraged to innovate and work towards a paradigm shift in terms of IoT investment.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their IoT use-cases? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.