The Internet Of Things Ecosystem: Unlocking The Business Value Of connected devices

Today "Internet of Things" (IoT) is positioned precariously right on the edge of an adoption explosion.

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By Gaurav Burman


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Today, the Internet of Things has suddenly become the talk of the town buoyed by discussions around Digital India, Make in India, tech enabled way of life, the startup boom and such similar initiatives that have made technology the backbone of our ecosystem.

IoT has been around for quite some time, albeit camouflaged in various forms. No wonder, IoT's round the clock real-time connectivity and the facility to communicate is a ubiquitous convenience, which is being utilized at the operational level by loT many industries, including but not confined to, hospitals, factories, and even residential areas.

Currently, more things are connected to the Internet than people, according to an infographic from a leading technology company.

The figures speak for itself. By 2017, the IoT market will surpass the PC, tablet, and phone market combined and 82 per cent of companies will have IoT applications implemented into their business in some way by 2017. Notably, the smart home industry was the leading industry in the IoT market in 2014 with $79.4 billion in revenue, followed by smart cities at $59.2 billion and smart building/infrastructure at $25 billion.

Those numbers are expected to increase substantially by 2020. IDC says there will be 212 billion connected devices by 2020.

Internet of Things (IoT) is defined as a network of physical objects - devices, vehicles, buildings and other things - embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

The IoT allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating viable opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy, and economic benefit. ATMs are considered some of the first IoT objects and went online as far back as 1974.

Technology, as it does to everything it touches have brought about a paradigm shift in the way we connect, communicate and exchange information. The whole ecosystem has evolved from closed networks to enterprise IT networks to public hot spots, and this transition has happened really sooner than expected.

Today "Internet of Things" (IoT) is positioned precariously right on the edge of an adoption explosion. Research firm Gartner estimates 6.4 billion connected "Things" are in use in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015. IoT is very real and there is direct application and significant business value to all who use it. Commercial value of connected devices is no more at a concept stage.

IoT is starting to break new ground and bring in disruptions hitherto absent. This is primarily on account of the complexity of the variables or being able to control the physical layer which overlies the virtual systems. A typical case in point would be the efficiency and comfort at the workplace thatIoT guarantees. These variables involve heat loads (which consist of the number of people, the computers they use, the amount of sunlight entering the office space, the time of day etc), airflow, humidity, ambient temperature and few to name.

The technology exists today for not only controlling the various disparate subsystems including chillers, ACs, ducting systems, dampers, sensors which are exclusively dedicated to providing comfort but also execute the analytics on the raw data fed by these separate subsystems. This in turn, ensures optimal comfort, notable energy savings, transparency of operations and predictability.

A retailer of consumer goods can adeptly leverage IoT data to benchmark and improve overall store performance across all their locations where they have stores. The team can now have direct access to real-time data to gauge how efficient is their HVAC systems and can proactively control facility comfort while significantly reducing maintenance expense by turning what has traditionally been considered "preventative' maintenance into "proactive' intelligent maintenance. The benefits are definitely tangible as overall energy costs are dramatically lowered and maintenance expenses are drastically diminished.

Similarly, an eat-out chain can get access to real-time data on food storage and the overall hygiene conditions of their facilities and quickly notify the restaurant manager of critical food-safety concerns. Furthermore, having access to real-time refrigeration temperature data can reduce food wastage, contamination, and loss. Having a connected kitchen could save the food and beverage industry as much as 15% annually.

Thus, business value of IoT dwells on the collection, analysis and use of an avalanche of real-time data that is likely to disrupt the way many organizations do business today. The Internet of Things (IoT) concept involves connecting machines, networks and even people to sensors and controls and then feeding the sensor data into advanced big analytics tools and predictive algorithms as a way of enhancing automation and improving the maintenance and operation of machines and entire systems.

The growth of IoT ecosystem today is driven by the proliferation of networked devices. If IoT solutions can significantly improve enterprise adopters' fundamental business value,including but not limited to just savings and risk management, but also revenue growth and innovation, demand and use cases of connected devices is bound to witness an impressive growth. At a higher level, IoT has an instrumental role-play in helping organizations create more sustained value through moving from a one-time transaction focus to a continuous, relationship focus with stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, workers and other assets.

There lies immense potential in how compelling IoT solutions have the ability to collect and analyze disparate data, in real-time and across time which might actually transform businesses.

IoT surely offers opportunities for sustained value creation and even disruption for those who can imagine possibilities beyond the incremental or cost savings point of view. According to estimations by the McKinsey Global Institute, the IoT will have a total economic impact of up to $11 trillion by 2025.

Though adoption of IoT by business entities is still at a nascent stage in India, however, analysts, investors, IoT technology providers and enterprises are on the cusp of an explosion in the potential and adoption of IoT. Considering the receding economic and technological obstacles, proliferation of connected devices and evolving analytics capabilities, the possibilities for IoT seem limitless.

The agricultural sector is already experimenting with more proficient irrigation systems and soil monitoring capabilities. Similarly, the manufacturing sector is increasingly deploying instruments and connecting machinery and wearable applications in their operational processes.

Like everything with pros has its own set of cons, the same holds true for IoT. The biggest concern for IoT devices is security. However, with technology innovation and advancement, it's now possible to ensure sophisticated levels of security. Privacy is a serious issue not just in the IoT, but in all the applications, devices or systems where we share information.

Also, IoT providers need to focus on selling technology to the CIO, keeping a comprehensive vision of how it will translate into returns for the business.There is a largely unexplored opportunity for IoT providers who can broaden the sales horizon to encompass the CEO, CMO, and CFO, compliance and risk officers and even major line managers. As machines and devices become more intelligent, armed with enhanced analytics, context awareness and predictive decision-making, they will be able to act in ways that benefit individuals and the larger business system.

Gaurav Burman

VP & Country President, India, 75F

Gaurav Burman is the VP &APAC President of 75F India. His previous position was with Schneider Electric, as their Director – Marketing where he was also a part of the Management Team of Schneider Electric, South Asia. Gaurav has handled diverse portfolios in his career including product management, alliances, channel sales, and enterprise sales.

Prior to Marketing, Gaurav spent 20 years of his life in Sales and worked with companies like PCL, IBM, L&T, APC, and Schneider Electric. He was recently recognized as one of the 50 Most Talented CMOs in India in 2013, and one of the 100 Most Talented CMOs in the World by the US-based CMO Council.

Gaurav obtained his Civil Engineering Degree from The Thapar Institute, Patiala. He pursued his MBA in Marketing from XLRI, Jamshedpur.

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