According to technology industry analysts the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to play a major role in the digital revolution. Gartner (1) forecasts that some 6.4 billion connected things, or devices, will be in use in 2016 and this will reach 20.8 billion by 2020 - some analysts even suggest the latter figure could be up to 50 billion. Whichever number it turns out to be, that’s a whole lot of connected devices that will have the potential to improve customer experience, drive down costs and transform business operations.

At its core, IoT is relatively simple: it’s connecting devices over the internet, letting them talk to us, applications and each other. These ‘smart’ devices can be anything from mobile phones and wearables to medical equipment, cars or even jet engines. However, the device itself is only one, albeit important, aspect of IoT. There are also significant technology considerations – you will need to have the right infrastructure platform in place to collect, collate and analyse the data that the devices will generate. This will require everything from network connectivity, and security mechanisms to integration with existing applications and business systems.

One example of where IoT services are being successfully deployed in the UK can be seen in the home energy market. British Gas’ Hive Active Heating device enables consumers to remotely control their home heating and water from a smartphone or tablet. The potential value here is that you can save money on your utility bill through the ability to remotely turn off your heating or water. Smart Structures’ SmartPile technology is another example – this uses wireless sensors embedded within concrete foundation piles to ensure the quality and integrity of a structure. These sensors can provide load and event monitoring for the projects construction both during and after its completion. There are many other examples of similar products and ideas that start to show the real potential of IoT.

The IoT market is beginning to grow significantly. According to IDC, IoT will become the largest device market in the world by 2020, with spending growing from $698 billion in 2016 to nearly $1.3 trillion in 2019. Gartner estimates that the IoT will support total services spending of $235 billion in 2016, but total spending will reach $3 trillion by 2020. Again there is some margin between the estimates but whichever figures are borne out it’s a big number.

As organisations start to consider their use of IoT, it will be essential to recognise the underlying business opportunities. Whether that is managing utility usage (as per British Gas) or improving collaboration with business partners, the speed with which IoT can be deployed and value delivered will depend upon the strategic vision and understanding of IoT within the business, particularly the leadership who will have to sponsor any initiative.

As with any major technological shift, realising the potential of IoT will require a significant amount of management focus, not just in terms of the technology deployment but also how it will work organisationally to derive the most benefit. IoT will cut across the traditional organisational boundaries as the technology becomes widely embedded across assets, products, and operations. The IT function will inevitably have a key role to play in IoT and will have to collaborate closely with business management to help drive profit, as well as managing the computers, networks, mobile devices, and data centers that will underpin delivery.

The IoT has the potential to redefine how we manage our business dealings and operations, whilst providing a platform for delivering new products and services to customers. Ability to conceptualise, design, develop, test and deploy IoT apps effectively could be a critical differentiator to the future of your business. Exception’s digital and mobile services help our customers find future value in the digital world.  If you are looking to start an IoT initiative or are looking to gain some insight to the art of the possible, contact Exception today.

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