How Does the Global Availability of IoT Expose New Business Opportunities?
The Internet of Things (IoT) started out being known as M2M or (Machine to Machine). More recently, M2M communications has also been referred to as “Embedded SIM” or “Connected Living,” to name but two. In reality, in one form or other, IoT has been around for over 20 years waiting to be defined and refined, and there’s still some work to do.
A 2014 study by the European Commission claimed that the IoT market in Europe would expand with yearly growth rates of over 20 percent in value between 2013 and 2020. The study observed that the number of IoT connections within the EU28 would increase from approximately 1.8 billion in 2013 (the base year) to almost 6 billion in the year 2020. Similarly, they predicted that IoT revenues in the EU28 would increase from more than €307 billion in 2013 to more than €1,181 billion in 2020, to include hardware, software and services.
With 2020 on the not-so-distant horizon, are we seeing the kind of revenues highlighted by the European Commission’s report? Can globally-available IoT provide new opportunities for businesses to cut costs or increase revenue? If so, what do they look like and can we put a monetary figure on these cost cuttings or revenue increases? Let’s take a further look.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
How do we distinguish between “commercial” IoT and Industrial IoT (IIoT)? One such definition could be that IIoT “improves inefficiencies and increases revenue using electronic sensors, data analysis and system automation.” In order to save maintenance costs and to increase revenues, you need to outline a series of preliminary processes, and these preliminary jobs are done most efficiently with IoT.
Specifically then, how does IIoT help businesses? What about big industry and their maintenance strategy? It’s fair to say that most heavy industry will have policies in place to account for any kind of equipment failure during production. If something breaks down, they send a team in and fix it. This is very much a reactive approach.
However, an unforeseen failure in vital machinery will have a negative impact on overall profit until such time that the broken equipment is up and running again. By placing sensors in industrial equipment and connecting them to an IoT network, industry is much better placed to predict equipment failure in advance. This allows for any problems to be addressed before they escalate, necessitating a much more costly solution; smaller problems equate to smaller maintenance costs.
IoT in Agriculture
How about out and about in the actual “field?” Agriculture and farming are increasingly turning to technology solutions to help them meet all kinds of challenges. By using smart agricultural technology, farmers have gained better control over the process of rearing livestock and growing crops, bringing about massive efficiencies of scale, cutting costs and helping farmers to save scarce resources such as water. Labor costs can be reduced where there is no need to have a dedicated person running about in charge of data logging. Automation allows this person to be more gainfully employed elsewhere on the farm. Utility bills for electricity say, can be cut by analyzing data to more accurately irrigate the farm and thereby use less electricity.
The adoption of IoT solutions for agriculture is constantly on the increase and the global smart agriculture market size is also expanding rapidly. Efficiencies of scale are brought about via process automation. When using smart devices, farmers can automate multiple processes right across the production cycle; for example, irrigation, pest control or fertilization. One very popular smart agriculture gadget is the weather station which combines various smart farming sensors. Located all over a farm, they collect various data from the environment and send it to the cloud. The collected measurements can then be used to map climate conditions, choose the appropriate crops and take the required measures to improve their capacity.
Also, by maintaining control over internal processes, one thereby decreases production risks. The ability to foresee the output of production allows farmers to plan for better product distribution. If the farmer knows exactly how much they are going to harvest, then they can make sure that their produce doesn’t lie around unsold.
Partnerships are important when you are trying to achieve a certain level of professional services both for connectivity and billing management. Global partnerships will play an important role, as the lack of joined-up global IoT infrastructure is often hailed as a key barrier — technology integration is the key to success. By integrating partner technologies into one platform/network, customers can see traffic in real-time and have real-time or near real-time visibility into devices located anywhere on the planet.