The Internet of Things (IoT) has been hyped for years and by now, according to expert predictions, we should all have homes full of Internet-enabled devices that cater to our every need.
While there are many discussions focused on consumer trends and products for IoT, the discussion rarely focuses on enterprise and industrial IoT applications, even though those are the industries where most of the innovation in IoT is happening. So, why is that?
Our fascination with smart home products is pretty straightforward. It’s nice to have a thermostat that shuts off automatically when you leave to go to work and turns back on again when you return home. Connecting this type of product has been useful to educate and excite people about IoT, but the discussion needs to progress, says Arup Barat, chief commercial officer at infiswift.
There’s value in automating things to make our lives simpler, but when it comes down to it there isn’t much of a difference between automating your coffee maker and taking a few minutes to get your coffee brewing without automation. Discovering the real value of IoT requires us to think bigger.
Most market research points to the potential of IoT being massive. There are about 10 billion connected devices now and consensus says that number will double to around 20 billion devices by 2020, with a recent forecast from Gartner showing that we will add roughly 5.5 million connected things each day. The question is: will enterprise or consumer devices drive this meteoric growth?
We believe that enterprise will be the primary growth engine for IoT in the coming 5-10 years.
Enterprises will drive IoT device growth primarily because implementing IoT solutions will result in a positive return on investment (ROI). This can be achieved through efficiency gains, cost reductions or even opening up new business models that may have been unattainable in the past. For example, if implementing an IoT solution can automate a process that saves an enterprise even 1%, this can equate to billions of dollars, making it much easier to say yes to IoT now. We’ve already seen several industries start investing.
Energy is a space that has been leveraging connected solutions for some time and is now adopting IoT. A critical part of running a successful solar power plant is monitoring assets like solar panels, inverters and more to maximise uptime and performance. If a solar panel is performing poorly on a sunny day, it can affect the nearby panels, which can be extremely costly.
Solar developers have started implementing IoT solutions for asset management that can overcome challenges like low power requirements for sensors in the field, intermittent connectivity in remote environments and real-time data needs. IoT can successfully address these issues, so enterprises are investing in both the development of these technologies and their implementation.
Farming companies have also begun exploring how IoT solutions can help optimise resource utilisation by monitoring crop yields and soil moisture. Basic implementations like this can eventually add on sensors in silos, tractors, weather feeds, pricing signals, supply chain details and more for a more complete understanding of the farm and its operations.
This opens up additional insight and possibility for automation from optimising harvest routes and timing to coincide with distribution pickup to pricing product more accurately far in advance of harvest.
Looking at the big picture, IoT technology is ready and there will be an explosion of adoption over the coming years. While consumer IoT will simplify and improve quality of life, enterprise IoT can attribute hard value new connected solutions. Enterprise IoT also has the potential to help solve the world’s biggest challenges like how we will feed 10 billion people and how to manage the future’s most valuable resource – water. Ultimately, our enterprises will be the engine that drives IoT to 20B+ devices by 2020.
The author of this blog is Arup Barat, chief commercial officer at infiswift
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