You’ve heard so much about the Internet of Things, the wave of the future! It promises your company increased value, increased revenue, better asset utilization, better supply chain logistics, improved employee productivity, and enhanced customer experience. It sounds too good to be true. Is it? And what exactly is the Internet of Things?
What Is IoT?
When we say the Internet of Things (IoT), we mean a system of interrelated objects that are uniquely identified and can transfer data over a network without assistance. IoT devices collect, send and act on data they acquire using embedded sensors, processors and communication hardware. IoT devices are becoming more prevalent in our lives. Examples include security systems, thermostats, cars, electronic appliances, household and commercial lighting, alarm clocks, speaker systems, vending machines and more.
When and How Did IoT Start?
The concept of IoT was demonstrated as early as 1982, with the creation at Carnegie Mellon University of the first Internet-connected appliance—a Coke machine able to report its inventory and indicate whether newer drinks had been in long enough to be cold.
The concept got its now-famous name in 1999, during a presentation to Proctor and Gamble by Kevin Ashton of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ashton shared his vision in which the Internet was connected to the physical world via sensors that were everywhere and in everything. Ashton called this dream “the Internet of Things.” The following year, electronics firm LG announced development of an IoT appliance that, sadly, may have become the butt of the first IoT joke: the Internet refrigerator.
How Fast Is IoT Growing?
Early IoT growth predictions were numerous and fanciful, reaching a peak in 2012 when IBM predicted 1 trillion IoT devices by 2015. For the record, research company Gartner estimated the 2017 number to be 8.4 billion devices, with 11.2 billion predicted by the end of 2018 and 20.4 billion by 2020.
What Can IoT Do for Me?
A growing number of IoT companies stand ready to help you figure that out, walking you from concept to implementation and beyond. The list includes many familiar technology leaders, with Verizon, Intel, Google, SAP, and Zebra Technologies ranked among the top 20.
One relative newcomer is the Tel Aviv-based IoT firm Seebo. Begun in 2012, Seebo provides an end-to-end platform to help companies launch smart products faster. Seebo has made such an impact on IoT that Gartner named Seebo one of its Cool Vendors of 2017. Here are just three examples of how Seebo helped companies implement IoT to solve problems and grow their business.
|The Story||The Challenge||The Results|
|Search and rescue company Calstar (California Shock Trauma Air Rescue) was looking for a way to help its pilots and medical teams increase speed and improve communications when transporting patients.||Calstar wanted to bring air-to-ground dispatch in-house, to improve communication between flight crews, first responders, medical teams and hospitals.||Calstar utilized an IoT platform to provide faster communication that resulted in shorter lift-off times, faster delivery of appropriate care, and enhanced operational control and safety safeguards.|
|Beer distributor Del Papa Distributing wanted to increase security around its distribution center, simplify
collaboration between employees in different locations, and improve customer experience.
|Del Papa needed to employ a host of new technologies, including video surveillance, communications, digital signs and physical access control.||Del Papa implemented a smart system, gaining better control and monitoring of the facilities, along with increasing shipping capacity and improving sales rep efficiency.|
|Boat manufacturer Silverhook Powerboats wanted to collect data to improve decision-making, increase safety and enhance the fan experience.||Silverhook faced technological challenges in both capturing and maintaining the large amounts of data which their goals required.||Silverhook quickly built an application connected to their racing boats. The app analyzes and delivers real-time insight to both racers and fans, improving both racer safety and the fans’ racing experience.|
Can IoT Solve Any Problem?
Don’t think of IoT as a magic bullet, but rather as another weapon in your arsenal. And IoT cannot compensate for a poorly run business. Consider the manufacturing industries who have embraced IoT (called the industrial Internet of things, or IIoT). Seebo reports that only 26 percent of IIoT initiatives succeed. But its research reveals not a failure of IoT, but a failure to carry out a sound business process. Note these top causes, grouped by their relative step in the manufacturing process.
- Definition Failure
- Failure to capture business opportunities
- Unclear and incomplete use cases
- Systems are too complex to communicate
- Validation Failure
- Not ensuring market-fit and early buy-in
- Costly mistakes
- Prototyping of products that are not technically or financially feasible
- Delivery Failure
- Skills or capacity gap to build IoT
- Not aligning and syncing teams
- Not authoring detailed and complete spec docs and not keeping them up to date
- In-Market Failure: Learn and Improve
- Missing critical data
- Inability to extract actionable insights
- Inability to identify the root cause of product malfunctions
What Is Ahead?
IoT is expected to continue its steady growth, supported by these three areas.
- Technology: Expected improvements in, artificial intelligence, machine learning, CPU power, and utilization of blockchain design (improving transaction security).
- Community: Companies will expand their ecosystem of industry partners, both horizontally and vertically. These larger communities will facilitate development of large-scale IoT projects, allowing companies to shift away from single-vendor IoT solutions.
- Standards and Regulation: Industries will continue their move toward open standards, open architectures, interoperability and regulation. Guidelines and regulations will strengthen, with government agencies working closely with the industries to create effective laws.
So, Is IoT for Me?
Whether your business is big or small, IoT has the potential to help your business. And its potential grows daily. But only you can decide if IoT is for you. Do your homework. Take stock of your business, your goals and your challenges. And then consider what IoT can do for you.
Now, about that refrigerator…
Jimmy Thomas has been a member of the Blytheco development team since 2003. He is a software engineer with over 30 years of experience. Jimmy is also a lifelong learner with many interests. Connect with Jimmy at www.linkedin.com/in/jimmythomas26.