The Internet of Things has consistently dominated headlines for years. It could be argued that we’ve become somewhat desensitised to its potential. But is now the time to refresh our focus on the benefits that truly inter-connected IoT can have on business?
A recent report from Gartner titled ‘Leading the IoT: Gartner insights on how to lead in a connected world’ claims that by the year 2020, the IoT market will be worth over $300 Billion. Mark Hung of Gartner research states that “The IoT will have a great impact on the economy by transforming many enterprises into digital businesses and facilitating new business models, improving efficiency and increasing employee and customer engagement.”
These benefits of IoT can be internally focused, such as improving employees’ safety in a hazardous production environment, or externally oriented, such as improving patient outcomes in an acute care setting.
What’s in store?
By the year 2020, Hung predicts that we’ll see as many as 20 billion internet connected devices. But It’s important that the real benefits of IoT are not lost in the hype of smart toasters and light switches.
Gartner observed that some of the best use cases for IoT so far are within asset-intensive businesses or “heavy” industries. Here, industrial mechanical devices with high cost and complexity, critical asset value and remote geographic location realise the biggest IoT benefits, such as remote asset monitoring and predictive maintenance that maximise asset utilisation and minimize critical failure unplanned downtime.
Gartner’s report went on to identify that the IoT cases achieving the biggest financial impact and a shortest payback time frame, are those focused on delivering cost savings from fuel, energy and labour.
This doesn’t have to mean entirely new hardware however. IoT can begin with simply automating the switching on and off of machines that are under or little used to save on energy costs and deliver predictive maintenance.
5G is coming…
5G will be one of the biggest contributing factors in the acceleration of true IoT adoption, as network capacity and stability are two crucial factors in reliable IoT systems, but with EE recently announcing that London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester will all have 5G mobile connectivity by mid-2019, the tide could be about to turn.
Forecasts from Juniper Research also suggest that the development of smart grids linked to smart cities will result in a collective saving to the world’s citizens of US$14bn by 2022, driven by smart meter rollouts, energy-saving policies and sensing technologies to improve grid and electricity usage, reliability and efficiency.
The majority of smart city rollouts to date have been in the US and Asia, but continental Europe is starting to catch up whilst urban councils in the UK too are at the beginning of their own smart city transformation projects.
So how can your business prepare and get ahead of the curve?
The important concept to note is that IoT implementation does not necessarily have to involve ripping out current equipment and replacing it with expensive and complicated new kit.
Axians believes that the first step to IoT is redeploying and retrofitting the equipment you already have. For example, attaching internet connected vibration sensors to existing manufacturing equipment to monitor for increased vibrations, which could indicate an imminent malfunction. This enables maintenance to be scheduled and reduce disruption.
Starting now with incremental changes will lead to significant savings in time and money and to major performance improvements throughout the network lifecycle.
It has never been a better time to implement profit-maximising technology that will unite all forms of technology into one time-saving and intelligent field.
Now’s the time to strike, whilst the IoT smart iron is hot.