By the end of 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) had expanded its reach to more than 50 billion Internet addressable and aware devices, which translates into a 14.4 trillion dollar business opportunity. With its myriad of applications and possible services, the Internet of Things (IoT) has immense potential to transform the HighTech industry. Naturally, along with vast opportunity comes massive hype about how the IoT is going to impact various industries and change the way business is done - for the better, of course.
Disruptive concepts like cloud-native architecture, IoT, AI, and Machine Learning - though arguably still in their nascent stages of development - are already transforming the HighTech industry, along with our everyday lives. The speed and flexibility of how these technologies are evolving are nothing short of astonishing, which means that organizations operating within the HighTech industry simply cannot afford to ignore the latest IoT trends if they want to keep up with their direct competitors.
What is IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is described as a network of nodes (physical devices, objects, AI entities, big data, wireless networks, or simply “things”) equipped with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting, exchanging, and processing data through and with other devices and systems over the internet. These interconnected devices (or things) range from modern computing devices and ordinary household objects to sophisticated industrial tools.
The IoT systems have the power to collect, communicate and share all the aforementioned digital technologies and data without any, or only minimal, human interference. Through this type of fast computing and hyperconnectedness, IoT-based digital systems are capable of recording, monitoring, and adjusting each interaction that occurs between connected things, creating a dynamic and scalable environment, wherein the physical world interacts and cooperates with the digital.
IoT Architecture Explained
Typical IoT architecture involves a system comprised of numerous components, including sensors, actuators, protocols, cloud services, and differentiated layers, which enable administrators to evaluate and maintain the system's consistency and efficiency.
What are “Things”, “Sensors” and “Actuators” in IoT?
Things are objects and devices embedded with sensors that are used to glean data and transfer it over a network. Actuators enable things to act - increase or decrease engine rotation speed in a car, for example. Things can be vehicles, fridges, buildings, street lamps, production machinery, rehabilitation equipment, and pretty much any piece of modern technology. Sensors are not necessarily physically attached to things, but they do keep a close eye on the environment surrounding them.
What are Gateways?
Gateways allow data to travel from things to the cloud and vice versa, enabling connectivity between nodes and cloud-based components where data preprocessing and filtering is performed prior to moving the actual data to the cloud. This is done so as to reduce the volume of data that is being granularly processed and stored. Gateways also pass on control commands from the cloud to things, which then carry out these commands via actuators.
What is a User Application?
A user app is the IoT’s software component (mobile or web-based) that connects users to an IoT system and enables them to control, monitor, automate (set automatic actions when specific data goes through sensors), and maintain the smart things comprising the IoT network that is controlled by a central system.
Benefits of IoT for the HighTech Industry
Improved Real-time Data Tracking
Often referred to as the “heart of IoT”, real-time data tracking enables organizations and teams to gain valuable insights in a timely manner, and take immediate action driven by that data. Digital transformation and innovation - powered by IoT, AI, Big Data, and Machine Learning - are presenting new opportunities to gather, process, and utilize data in real-time.
This allows data analysts to detect trends and get actionable insights (often visualized in diagrams, schemes, infographics) into potential ways of making their business more efficient, productive, and - ultimately - successful in terms of ROI.
Better Utilization and Maintenance of Assets for Improved System Performance
The IoT-based ecosystem allows your systems and processes to be utilized in a much more efficient way. It enables round-the-clock monitoring and maintenance of your assets, which is a crucial (and frequently overlooked) prerequisite that underpins any successful company operating within the High-Tech industry. The Internet of Things environment allows IoT applications to use the sensors embedded in your system assets (equipment, tools, machinery, etc.) to provide real-time data on system flaws and give you practical, utilitarian insight into how your infrastructure can be improved and your workflow streamlined. IoT applications can also mitigate potentially disastrous events, as they are capable of detecting emergencies and switching off specific components of your system in order to prevent overheating malfunctioning, or similar harmful outcomes.
Higher Efficiency Increases Sales and Improves Product Monetization
Increasing the efficiency levels of all teams is the core of a business strategy capable of boosting revenue, regardless of company size or the industry you operate in. Modern HighTech organizations are already leveraging the power of the IoT in terms of bringing company efficiency to top-tier levels by minimizing repetitive and time-consuming tasks through IoT-based automation.
IoT environments are able to improve and speed up communication (both inter- and intra-office), which is driving improved productivity. According to a recent Harvard Business Review study, 58% of businesses report improved overall collaboration induced by the use of IoT devices, while nearly 80% state that IoT applications boosted the effectiveness of their IT team. Another study, conducted by Aruba, reports that 75% of businesses see increased profitability after the introduction of IoT. These numbers are bound to increase even more over the next couple of years.
The Internet of Things helps HighTech companies optimize office floor plans and mobilize resources for a more efficient workflow and a more productive approach to management. Not only does this type of real-time data analytics help you optimize lead generation and product monetization processes, but it also provides a bird’s-eye view of employee productivity, delivery systems, and product monitoring. This gives you timely and accurate insight into workflow bottlenecks that are impairing the overall efficiency of your business and helps you stay ahead of demand.
How IoT Solutions and Services Power High-Tech Companies and Fuel Innovation
IoT and 5G
The coupling of 5G and IoT technology accounts for an exciting symbiosis that will transform both the mobile ecosystem and the HighTech industry by ushering in a new age of data processing speed, low latency, expanded bandwidth, and increased power efficiency. 5G technology is at the forefront of cellular mobile communication development, and these new networks are paving the way for an environment in which the IoT will be capable of reaching its full potential.
The IoT ecosystems fortified by 5G networks will enable faster and more stable connectivity with improved security layers. This will power innovation by transforming the modern industrial and business landscape, including everything from AI-enabled robots in factories and automated supply chains to self-driving vehicles and smart grids for renewable energy.
According to Gartner, by 2025, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be processed outside cloud-based or traditional data centers. One of the main drivers of this emerging trend is Edge Computing, the technology that stores data in micro-centers (as opposed to the cloud or legacy servers), providing a plethora of new opportunities for the further development of the IoT.
When data is stored locally, it allows for a faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective data processing methodology, as the information is immediately available to a corresponding IoT device. This decreases the network “stress” and the bandwidth necessary for optimized dataflows.
The IoT enables stores to use video feeds, smart lighting devices, and WiFi-enabled monitoring software to glean and analyze data on customer behavior and traffic patterns in physical stores (how customers interact with specific products on display, time spent in specific aisles, etc). This enables retailers to optimize their shop layouts and product displays according to these newfound insights on customer behavior, thus improving sales.
Smart Homes and Home Security
IoT-enabled smart home systems allow you to reach high connectivity on a micro-scale by using a wide variety of sensors, alarms, cameras, lights, and microphones to improve the functionality of these smart homes and provide continuous security.
IoT networks will lay the groundwork for smart cities through better automation, connectivity, and network optimization. Think improved traffic light systems that are adjusted according to real-time traffic data, the creation of smart common areas and smart neighborhoods in cities worldwide, and more. The utilization of smart sensors throughout entire neighborhoods enables more granular processing of data, including smart car connectivity, shared car use, sewage flow optimization, building occupancy, increased security and residents’ safety, continuous maintenance and optimization of temperature control systems, etc.
Connected Smart Cars
IoT-enabled cars allow for fast access to and actionable insight into valuable car-related diagnostic information, including oil level, tire pressure, fuel consumption, etc. Through the IoT application, the driver gets alerts as soon as something goes wrong with the engine, for example, and is capable of reacting in a timely manner.
However, the benefits of IoT in smart cars reach beyond mere the evolution of diagnostic information. The advent of connected apps, voice search, remote monitoring, smart navigation, and real-time traffic data, along with the advancements made within the ecosystem of self-driving cars, will reshape the future of transportation in densely populated areas and improve overall security.
According to Business Insider, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) market is expected to spike soon and reach almost $160 billion in 2022 (up from $41 billion in 2017). This comes as no surprise, as IoT-enabled technology is highly applicable within the world of healthcare. Everything from electronic health records, smart pills, and smart home care to personal healthcare management and remote patient monitoring - all these cost-effective high-tech medical methods allow for top-tier patient care outcomes and real-time health data.
The Impact of IoT on the HighTech Industry and Future Predictions
Although the Internet of Things is already having a significant impact on our everyday lives, this groundbreaking data processing, and automation environment is arguably still in its nascent years, with its full potential yet to be unleashed. The HighTech industry is already leveraging some of the benefits available through these systems, but the real impact will be felt in the years to come.
When IoT applications and networks develop fresh features and reach new levels of functionality, especially when coupled with AI, 5G, and/or ML, it will surely initiate even more improvements in terms of decision making, workflow efficiency, automation, convenience, wellness, energy conservation, and other similar benefits. All of which will enable innovation and creative thinking across a wide range of industries, and - ultimately - make this world a much better place.
It is critical to mention that realizing the full potential of IoT-based systems and networks can be a rather convoluted process even for high-tech companies, especially if they try to implement the latest IoT industry standards on their own, without any professional outside assistance.