22 Aug 2018

How do I get on the IoT Train? Next stop, industrial revolution

IoT is redefining and reshaping industry and the markets surrounding it in a continuous and significant way. Is this the next industrial revolution?

IoT next industrial revolution

Is IoT the next industrial revolution and how do I get involved?

IoT is redefining and reshaping industry and the markets surrounding it in a continuous and significant way. Is it the next industrial revolution? Possibly so. Communication, travel, manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, education, healthcare, retail; in fact, it’s difficult to name an industry that will not be affected by IoT if it isn't already. There are already 15 billion connected devices and Gartner predicts that there will be over 50 billion by 2020.

Existing businesses are looking at entirely new ways to present themselves, and new businesses are emerging with a completely different outlook. There is a new commonality in the vast array of business verticals and that is that the use of IoT. Several important elements of business are changing because of the implementation of IoT. Areas such as new business modeling, process improvement, energy use and reduction, asset tracking, environmental data gathering, and behavioral statistics to name but a few.

A prime example of the big changes being facilitated by IoT is the switch from CapEx to OpEx. Large ticket items such as aero engines are leased by use. Thrust as a service. Airlines can budget more effectively and this is possible because manufacturers can monitor data outputs from a central location to measure usage and predict faults before they happen. Services can be carried out before issues arise and more importantly, downtime and disasters are avoided.

Data collected from ‘things’ are being used to monitor and predict wear, failure, use, location, surrounding climate; in fact, anything there is a sensor for. This data is analyzed, and the outcomes will drive change and improvements in goods and services to the point that almost anything could be commoditized "as a service".

Early adopters in IoT may have taken some of the pain involved in implementing emergent technologies, but many of these will be used to the term M2M. Gathering data and using it to improve systems or predict outcomes has been sound practice for decades, but now with modern cellular communication and the internet, IoT can offer global data gathering, access, analytics, and dissemination with relative ease.

But this is not without cost - both in finance and organizational culture. Challenges arise such as network standardization, security, data privacy, and, moreover, the perception that we, as citizens, are being watched.

These challenges, however, can be overcome with a robust IoT strategy that helps achieve business goals with relative ease. This will ultimately enhance experiences for industry and eventually have a positive outcome for the consumer.

How do you apply IoT to your business and what’s stopping you?

Ordinarily, the time from concept to deployment of an IoT strategy is at least three years. Having the idea is fine but the processes you normally need to go through to implement a strategy can be complex and time-consuming. There is quite a lot to consider and many questions that arise. Here are some of those questions and potential solutions:

  • Outlining the value proposition - This can take considerable time and effort. Projects can be costly but getting it right is vitally important. u-blox IoT Communication-as-a-Service can help here by making the prototyping through to production workflows simpler and more straightforward.
  • Where will this be driven by from within your business? Traditionally this kind of exercise has been driven from the top down by senior IT. This may still be the case but now it can also come from the bottom up because smart graduates are coming away from their studies with as much information on the application of IoT as experienced IT professionals. They may not have the ultimate purchasing power, but they are certainly becoming important influencers. Looking further than normal from within your own organization or adapting your HR strategy.
  • Trust is a must! For IoT consumers, security comes as a very high concern. The creation of and management of data has become synonymous with complex legal ramifications. Reassurance on security and the robustness of the various elements in an IoT strategy must be assured.
  • Information is everything - Because IoT is still becoming established, it is so important to make sure you have all the information you need to successfully deploy your strategy. In creating its IoT Communication-as-a-Service offering, u-blox has had to answer the vast majority of the questions that come up and take away some of the time-consuming research tasks required in making IoT happen for your business.
  • What are you going to do with your data? Data analysis, interpretation, and use are crucial to IoT systems. The u-blox Thingstream IoT platform allows you to use a vast array of devices to collect data and without fuss, and display it on numerous dashboards. But equally importantly, it also allows businesses to send data back to the device as firmware upgrades, or new triggers for data collection facilitating two-way communication between the device and the business.
  • Where do I get my hardware? As ubiquitous as IoT is becoming, so is the need for devices to measure the data from the vast array of trackers and sensors. IoT strategies need the physical device to gather and transmit the data as well as logical dashboards to monitor the outcomes. u-blox is already working with a growing number of device manufacturers who are putting the u-blox SIM card and SDK inside to enable it to jump straight onto their platform as well as with software vendors who produce dashboards for any application.
  • Having an "ongoing" relationship with your vendor - IoT strategies are long-term investments and trusting your vendor to be able to support you well into the future is vitally important. The telecommunications marketplace is subject to constant change, and u-blox is committed to supporting such paradigms before they affect your business.
  • How can I be sure the technology available now will work in the future? The team at u-blox is committed to adapting to existing as well as emergent communication technologies.

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