The Internet of Things is fast becoming a reality. How can organizations incorporate IoT into their daily operations?
It’s been a long time coming, but the Internet of Things (IoT) is finally here.
Gartner® projects that 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use in 2016, with a daily growth rate of 5.5 million new connections. That growth is expected to continue, with 20.8 billion things installed by 2020,1 when hardware spending on networked endpoints will reach a whopping $3 trillion.2
Clearly IoT is viable. But how will it change the way we do business? And what are we supposed to do with all the data it generates?
In other words, data is everything. “[IoT] data is to the study of people and organizations what the telescope was to astronomy in Galileo’s time,” Vetterani says. “IoT represents the transfiguration of the commonplace, where the connection of everyday things creates new and better ways of doing business, thanks to the infusion of information and network linkages into their basic designs.”
Consider popular car-sharing services, which use smartphone data to connect drivers with people who need rides. That data — from thousands of points on the network — can be aggregated and analyzed to create a match within seconds. And it has changed how people consume transportation.
“There’s the potential to create fundamentally new products, services and business models,” Vetterani says. “In technical terms, we’re talking about computational analysis, social science and behavioral analytics. But it’s really an enabler of a deeper and broader understanding of people and their behaviors. Products and services are more effective when they’re designed to go with the grain of human activity. It’s really about human augmentation.”
Smart Sensors, Smart Business
IT leaders like Intel® have been investing heavily in IoT. Bridget Karlin, managing director of IoT Strategy and Integrated Products for Intel’s Internet of Things Group, sees several market drivers. According to Intel, in the past 10 years:
- The cost of IoT sensors has dropped by half.
- Bandwidth is 40 times less expensive.
- Processing costs have dropped by a factor of 60.
- Storage costs are down by a factor of 25.
“There are now more sensors than devices,” Karlin notes. “This tells us the world is ‘sensing up.’ Together with billions of installed devices, we’ll be generating 44 zetabytes of data. … We can visualize the magnitude of this economic potential.”
Karlin sees particular opportunity in smart buildings, where operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT) converge. For example, one of Intel’s clients spent a mere $3,000 to install an OT network on several building systems in its commercial properties. In the first 30 days, the client found water leaks that were creating a loss of more than $1 million annually.
“This stuff doesn’t sound very sexy, but this is the reality,” Karlin says. “While consumer IoT has the highest volume of devices in terms of numbers, industrial IoT is where the largest spend will come from.”
Paths to IoT Success
Companies that want to embrace IoT will need to:
- Put the right business intelligence in place. “A lot of the analytic engines even from two or three years ago aren’t able to capture and analyze the vast amount of machine data that’s available today,” Vetterani notes. Upgrade systems if you’re serious about embarking on an IoT strategy.
- Link products and services to a strategic plan. Look for ways to replace existing functions with smart sensors. Then, look ahead to the products, services and markets they can enable.
- Employ the right people. “Sensor data is important, but having the ability to crunch that data — and knowing which data to crunch — is key,” Vetterani explains. Hire data scientists who can map data to core business operations and goals.
- Pay attention to security. “If we have massive amounts of information flowing around, who has access to it?” Vetterani asks. “Is it encrypted and protected?” Leverage technology solutions that are known to be secure.
The future of IoT isn’t as far away as you might think. Enterprises of all sizes need to stay ahead of the curve. Concludes Vetterani: “They’re going to be on the outside looking in if they don’t start now.”
The Tech Behind IoT
IoT is all about remote connections. Bluetooth® is a key enabler of those connections. The latest version of the Bluetooth specification, V4.2, addresses technical issues crucial to IoT success:
- Flexible Internet connectivity options, which allow Bluetooth-enabled sensors to access the Internet through a gateway device.
- Privacy features that restrict who can access sensitive data.
- Better data encryption for greater security of transmitted information.
- Greater power efficiency for longer-lasting sensors and reduced chip requirements.
- Faster data throughput, allowing smart devices to transmit and receive data faster and more reliably.
In February, the Bluetooth SIG announced a gateway architecture and toolkit to help developers connect IoT devices. It planned to update its technology road map in June, including news about Bluetooth-enabled mesh networking that will enhance IoT development.
1 “Gartner Says 6.4 Billion Connected ‘Things’ Will Be in Use in 2016, up 30 Percent From 2015,” Gartner, November 2015
2 “Forecast: Internet of Things — Endpoints and Associated Services, Worldwide, 2015,” Gartner, October 2015
Third parties quoted in this article are quoted by permission.
Bluetooth® is a registered trademark of Bluetooth SIG, Inc.
Gartner® is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc.
Intel® is a registered trademark of Intel Corporation.