According to Cisco and other internet technology leaders specializing in consumer and industrial platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to grow exponentially with 50 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020. This means there will be six IoT connections per head!
When you think of the intersection between business and the internet, the first thing that comes to mind is of course, ecommerce. According to the U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, online sales in the first quarter of 2017 amounted to $105.7 billion dollars, a 14.7% increase compared to January 2016 revenues. This makes IoT a growing asset for modern businesses and industrial organizations.
Having said that, how will be the future impacted by the demands of B2B sales and the connected consumer? What technologies will disrupt and evolve? How will our definitions of optimizing time, profitability and convenience change?
1. Everything is Moving to the Cloud
There is a technological stampede to host applications, secure intranets and almost all aspects of strategic management of product manufacturing, services and delivery, using the cloud. From device sensors that monitor inventory levels and just-in-time purchasing and warehouse models that capitalize on quick processing, various businesses are shifting their information needs to cloud.
However, the bandwidth plays the truant. For instance, the World Economic Forum ranked the United States 35th in the world for bandwidth access per user. This hints at the fact that the demand for storage and utility has greatly surpassed supply, even as the number of objects connected continue to escalate.
In this case, the solutions may lie in Fog or Edge Computing, which share the bandwidth and storage in a more localized way, thereby increasing the download and transfer speeds.
2. The Rise of Smart Cities
In a recent article for The Wall Street Journal, Stephen Goldsmith (Harvard Innovations in Government Program), indicated “in terms of city governance, we are at one of the most consequential periods in the last century.”
Smart phones, smart cars and now, smart cities are leveraging big data insights and next-gen technology to find gaps in efficiency, revenue generation and safety in the following administrative areas:
- Water supply
- Waste management
- Power generation and distribution
- Law enforcement
- Transportation systems
Earlier, management of industrial and social services in municipalities relied on technology and information, which were more siloed and limited to specific departments. There has been a radical shift with secure IoT connections that gather information and promote cost saving and efficiencies.
3. The IIOT (Industrial Internet of Things) Will Outpace Consumer App Development
Growth of industry leaders such as Salesforce and Info, demonstrate a small portion of the demand for business applications. While smartphone apps for consumers still represent almost $90 billion dollars (projected to increase to $189 billion in 2020) per year in sales, businesses are now seeking custom designed apps.
They are looking forward to software solutions with add-on features, which will grow with their business. These productivity assets are used in every industry and business process like accounting, sales, marketing, recruitment, benefits administration and so on and so forth.
4. Increasing Demand for Connected Living
The popularity of the world’s first multifunctional AI assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, is demonstrative of the social and productivity shift made by consumers. Rather than being embraced by the standard technophiles and early adopters, high-tech devices are now commonplace in many countries around the world.
In other words, connected living is becoming a reality.
From the cars we drive, to refrigerators using AI to maintain an inventory, and text you when you are ‘out of milk’, smart televisions and homes wired for security and environmental controls using apps are all examples of living with connected devices.
This socio-cultural shift is not just a trend, and IoT developers are driving innovation to keep us conveniently connected to the web.
5. Portable Wi-Fi Will Increase Accessibility
There will come a day, in the not so distant future, where being in a ‘no Wi-Fi’ zone will be outdated. The advanced technology and hardware features of portable Wi-Fi means an era of perpetual connectivity, whether you are downtown having a coffee, or hiking in a remote location (including the dreaded subway tunnel).
What this means for business executives and management teams, is an assurance of connectivity, which allows organizations to hire remote workers, or supervise logistics, such as live tracking of transport trucks, inventory, theft prevention improvement, and more.
6. Omnichannel Marketing Will Be Mandatory
Advertising and marketing went through a mass digital transformation in the early 1990s. With the introduction of social media and advent of online sharing, advertisers have many new opportunities to explore IoT innovation and reach a larger audience.
Virtual reality or VR headsets and glasses are one of the avenues that advertisers have explored. Immersive media experiences are being created to connect on multiple channels.
For instance, a consumer who clicked on a brand advertisement in Facebook, may find a holographic ad for the same company streaming on their mobile phone, or on a sign on the street. Also, radio advertising with companies like Pandora, already deliver demographically targeted ads to consumers based on geo-mapping on the mobile phone. Therefore, it is no coincidence when you hear a fast food commercial at the same time as you walk by a restaurant.
All these pointers speak volumes about the digital transformation that has already began and is going to evolve rapidly in the near future. In a nutshell, industrial organizations will sooner or later need to adopt IoT for monitoring, and strategizing for their business processes to stay ahead of their competitors or at least be on the same page as them.