The Internet of Things (IoT) is swiftly becoming part-and-parcel of our lives – soon, everything we do will be connected to the internet. Our homes, workplaces and social lives will be influenced by the IoT, making industries more productive, streamlining operations and boosting revenue.
The future of IoT is exciting and expansive, and its adoption is gathering pace. By 2020, over 20 billion connected devices will be in use across homes, offices, factories, farms, construction sites and just about anywhere else you can think of.
The rollout of 5G is now underway and is set to be faster than broadband once its full potential is realised, paving the way for a huge increase in the number of connected devices. Mobile data is no longer confined to phones and laptops; the internet will soon be found in almost anything, changing the way many sectors work.
Through the IoT, construction workers on-site will be better informed about potential hazards and can move more safely through the site. IBM, for example, has developed wearable devices that monitor health and safety compliance and forewarns people about danger. It’ll educate workers about using heavy machinery and stop accidents occurring with vehicles, electric and gas lines.
Another problem for construction companies is losing assets such as tools and vehicles – more than 10,000 assets are stolen every year, costing the industry as much as $1billion annually. IoT sensors can be placed on valuable equipment to track it across a site to deter theft and recover lost items.
It can also detect maintenance requirements, alerting managers when machinery needs servicing or a part replacement. This prevents breakdowns, which can set projects back by months.
In finance, the IoT helps organisations better understand customer spending, which has applications for fraud detection, sales and marketing. An individual’s spending habits can be analysed to determine their normal behaviour. If this differs from the norm, an alert can be issued and their account suspended to prevent fraud.
Other IoT devices can be used by insurers to monitor how well people drive or the security of their homes. This information can inform premiums for car and contents insurance – and potentially reward customers with a discount for good driving or providing extra security.
Oil and gas
Much like construction, the oil and gas industry benefits from the IoT due to reduced downtime, more efficient maintenance and greater safety. Companies can digitise, automate and optimise processes by connecting equipment through the internet.
Remote sites that are difficult to get to can be monitored through IoT sensors. Eventually, machines may even ‘speak’ to each other and carry out predictive maintenance and servicing without the need for human intervention. Finally, oil and gas companies can be quickly warned of emergencies by IoT sensors. They can respond more readily to emergency shutdowns and spills.
With IoT devices in every home, workplace and consumer pocket, the potential for marketers is huge. There’ll be greater insights into consumer behaviour, expectations and needs. If consumers are connected to the internet throughout the day, they’ll create reams of data.
This can be analysed to deliver hyper-personalised marketing, inform product development and accurately attribute sales to marketing campaigns. For example, a smart fridge could tell a brand that a customer is running low on eggs, prompting the brand to target the individual with special offers.
The IoT can help medical professionals tackle long-standing challenges in the sector. Sensors can monitor patients with minimal interference in their daily lives – blood glucose levels for diabetics can be tracked remotely, for example. This allows doctors to see performance over time, reducing the chance of anomalous results caused by the monitoring itself.
In fact, some of these advances are already happening. The NHSrecently announced the FreeStyle Libre smart CGM (blood glucose monitor) will be available to diabetics on prescription, freeing patients from daily needles.
The agriculture IoT market is predicted to grow by 14.5 per cent, hitting a market value of $18.9 billion by 2025. The IoT will transform agriculture, making it more data-driven and increasing yields and productivity. Sensors can track soil quality, weather conditions, livestock health or crop performance to boost crop quality and quantity, and give forewarnings of problems, as well as predict revenue. This will lower the risks associated with farming and help companies plan their product distribution, ensuring that unsold crops are a thing of the past.
Unlocking the potential of the IoT
All sectors will feel the power of IoT devices eventually, but in order for existing businesses to survive industry disruption, they need people who understand the IoT. They need engineers who can integrate IoT devices, experts to secure it, data scientists and analysts to unpick the data, and someone to oversee the strategy. The future of the IoT won’t be realised without talented people working behind the scenes.
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