Whatever your background or knowledge level, the IoT is a crucial topic worth knowing about.
Imagine jumping into the passenger seat of your car, pressing a button, sitting back, and being driven home from work. Your car expertly navigates streets, other vehicles and pedestrians. Congestions are predicted by traffic calming systems and vehicles are re-routed accordingly.
An iris scan unlocks your front door and you enter your home, which has already pre-heated to just the temperature you like. As its Pizza Friday, your smart doorbell notifies you that your margherita has arrived, dropped off by an autonomous delivery drone and the cost automatically deducted from your account. You talk to your TV to select your line-up of your favourite TV shows, and you settle down to enjoy your pizza. A while later, your fitness watch tells you how many calories you’ve consumed and your Peloton (other brands are available) creates a tailored workout for you.
This is just one vision of the internet of things (IoT). For many of us, this is a futuristic vision. For others, smart wearables and home devices, voice-activated tech and driver-assistance systems are part of daily life. And those working in the technology industry will be all too aware of – or involved in developing – the innovations that are powering the IoT.
Whatever your background or knowledge level, the IoT is a crucial topic worth knowing about. So, in this blog, we’ll provide an overview of the IoT and detail some of the many benefits it can have for your business.
What is the internet of things?
The best place to look for a definition is the GSMA (an industry association for mobile operators). It defines the internet of things as ‘the coordination of multiple machines, devices and appliances connected to the Internet through multiple networks.’
These machines, devices and appliances are often referred to as ‘endpoints’, due to the sheer diversity of types and their ability to connect to a network or networks. Analyst house Gartner famously predicted that there would be a staggering 20 billion internet-connected things by 2020. Endpoints can be anything from consumer devices (smartphones, fitness trackers and tablets), electronics (smart TVs, kettles, fridges), and sensors (temperature monitors, utilities metres).
The industrial internet of things (IIoT) makes up an entirely separate market, in which connected sensors and devices link robotics and machinery to networks in sectors like utilities, mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
Who benefits from the IoT?
The end users of services are the obvious beneficiaries of the IoT. But the size of the market and its diversity mean that the spoils of the IoT can be enjoyed by almost everyone.
The volume of connected IoT endpoints is huge – and the value of these to businesses is equally sizeable. The global IoT market was valued at more than $384 billion in 2021, and is predicted to grow to more than $2,465 by 2029!
The IoT ecosystem is also massive. It’s not just about smartphones and smart fridges; there are stakeholders at every level. While these include manufacturers of things like the aforementioned devices, they also span makers of chips, modules, servers, and data analytics companies, software developers, customer support agents, app builders etc. Then there’s the operators, which deliver the underlying network infrastructure and connectivity, and the systems integrators which link elements to a customers’ own infrastructure or network.
In terms of these customers: the IoT is being embraced by businesses of all shapes and sizes. Improvements in the availability of highspeed 4G and 5G connectivity, coupled with the ever-decreasing cost of devices and components, mean that the benefits of this connected ecosystem can be enjoyed by all.
So how might a business benefit from the IoT?
What are the business benefits of the IoT?
The business benefits of the IoT are many! To make things simple, we’ll focus on our top three.
1. Data insights
When an endpoint is connected to the internet it is potentially able to collect vast amounts of information which can be transmitted via the network and stored, analysed and actioned by the business overseeing these endpoints.
Connected smart metres, for instance, will be able to gather data on energy usage (such as periods of peak demand), the applications which consume the most energy, the demographics of customers etc. This information can then be used by a utilities firm to offer personalised pricing plans for different customers. At the same time it can ensure that energy use is optimised and there’s never a shortage at surge times.
2. Sustainability and efficiency
Many endpoints – such as the sensors in smart metres, as above – will be connected to the IoT via low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN). LPWAN technology is perfect for many IoT use cases as it supports long battery life of devices, can cover large geographical areas, supports connectivity inside and out, and needs little additional hardware or infrastructure.
The benefits? Devices can be manufactured at lower cost and deployed in greater scale, over greater distances. Smart metres and sensors very quickly become a very viable business model for many businesses looking to connect and monetise assets via the IoT.
3. Managing devices
Finally, it’s one thing to connect millions of endpoints, but how can businesses (and their customers) make sure they’re getting the most out of these assets?
Businesses looking to deploy an IoT use case need a quick and easy means of managing and configuring multiple connected endpoints. This includes having visibility into how they’re being used, gathering and actioning data insights, and providing remote maintenance and updates.
Where there’s a technology, there are tools! There’s a growing market of software and business system developers able to create platforms and services that help businesses enter and capitalise on the IoT.
Appdrawn has worked on projects that have capitalised on IoT's strengths.
If you’d like to learn more about how your business can benefit from the IoT, and what Appdrawn can do for you, please get in touch.