A new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit aims to show that a lack of technological know-how and security concerns do not have to be a permanent state. Rather, support exists for those who are inspired by the potential of the IoT (Internet of Things), but are unsure of their own first step. This is great news for a number of different industries such as energy, healthcare, logistics, retail, and transport.
To learn more, let’s first take a step back. Back in 2019, the Economist identified the second phase of the internet—the IoT—and said, along with AI (artificial intelligence) and big data, the IoT is at the center of the digitalization of the world economy, which is driven by bringing previously isolated objects online. The growth opportunities here are huge. We are talking $1.1 trillion in revenue across the world by 2025—almost 1% of projected global GDP. If that isn’t enough to convince you, here’s another great stat: Businesses adopting IoT solutions typically see 20-30% efficiency gains in their operations.
The challenge is despite this commercial opportunity, a 2019 survey showed less than 50% of businesses had an active IoT project, and many business leaders are holding back from the IoT due to concerns about security, digital infrastructure, and investment.
The solution is three-fold, according to EIU. First, seek out collaboration with technical experts to understand how the IoT may benefit their business. Next, invest in a new digital infrastructure and skills as part of any new strategy. Finally, prepare for how IoT adoptions by competitors could disrupt their sector.
On The Peggy Smedley Show, I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jonathan Birdwell, regional director for public policy in EMEA, Economist Intelligence Unit, to talk about this research and the potential of the IoT in several industries, who says in order to increase IoT adoption, stakeholders have to be able to communicate the potential of technology in a way that is accessible for everyone.
The result will be industries will be able to do five big things: connect devices, collect data, monitor processes and assets, monetize and discover new revenue streams, and optimize with new levels of efficiencies by saving cost, time, and energy.
Couple Jonathan’s stats with some numbers from our friends at Cisco who just reported at Cisco Live there are about 3.6 networked devices per capita, against another report estimating that there will be as many as eight networked devices by 2022 and the future of IoT is significant.
Let’s take a closer look at how this presents itself in a few different industries.
Energy: This industry will be able to connect smart homes; collect realtime power consumption data to match demand-supply; remotely monitor assets in hard to reach places; better distribute investment and R&D (research and development) by analyzing consumer data; and alert operators on outages, manage congestion, and inform on need for machine upgrades. A great case study of this is Apartimentum, which I go into depth over on Constructech.
Healthcare: This industry can be transformed in so many ways—by tracking our own health more effectively and receiving realtime feedback using wearables; by building a complete picture of health of patients with historical analysis; by reducing the need for hospital visits and maintaining complete visibility of patient condition; and by minimizing waste and reducing error to improve patient care.
Logistics: Here the IoT can enhance communication by connecting all elements in a supply chain, improve efficiency and accuracy of assets by creation of digital replicas; track and trace inventory and improve monitoring of production flow; use logistics data as a market research product; and enhance operations through data capture and by mapping supply chain virtually. We all know, amid a pandemic, improved logistics is key.
Retail: We can connect this space with location-based beacon technology, thus improving in-store layout by gaining insights on how customers like to shop. Smart shelves can help prevent theft, while repurposing existing enterprise technology can also help.
Transport: This industry can be transformed by allowing vehicle-to-vehicle communication for asset sharing schemes; use collected data to offer customers better value for money offers (ie – insurance); engage in preventative maintenance; reduce management and maintenance costs via smart parking solutions; and yield operational efficiency in vehicle fleet management.
There are so many other great examples in the report. I encourage you to take a look. The big takeaway is this: there is huge potential for the IoT in industries. That is not to say adoption isn’t without its challenges. We need to be aware of the security and privacy risks. We need to understand what is required of digital infrastructure and the investment. We need to recognize there are regulations. Still, even though obstacles exist, they can be overcome.
Check out the final lines of the report: “In their preparations for the new IoT-enabled world, business leaders should remember the lessons of the first phase of the internet: early adopters feel the benefits most keenly and those who drag their feet are likely to find themselves suddenly in frame for their own Kodak moment.” Yikes. This is truly a snapshot moment for us all.
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