If you think the Internet of Things (IoT) is big and buzzworthy now, consider these growth projections. Frost & Sullivan estimates that the IoT will grow to 80 billion connected devices by the end of 2020, while International Data Corp. expects IoT spending to increase from $698.6 billion in 2015 to $1.3 trillion in 2019. The insurance, healthcare and consumer markets are expected to join manufacturing and transportation as the primary drivers of IoT growth.
The IoT is a constantly growing environment comprised of Internet-connected devices, corporate assets, sensors, consumer products, and even people and animals. Each “thing” is assigned an IP address and can automatically transmit real-time data over a network without human intervention, whether it is a radio frequency identification tag sewn into a shirt, a sensor that measures air pressure in a tire, a meter that sends electricity and gas usage data to a utility, or a vending machine that tracks its own inventory.
Although the concept has existed for decades, MIT’s Kevin Ashton first used the phrase “Internet of Things” in a PowerPoint presentation to Procter and Gamble back in 1999. Ashton prophetically laid out some of the key benefits of the IoT when he said:
If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things — using data they gathered without any help from us — we would be able to track and count everything and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling and whether they were fresh or past their best.
The value of the IoT to businesses is tremendous as deeper data is collected, integrated and analyzed. From an operational standpoint, IoT data can help organizations optimize workflows and staffing levels to maximize productivity and efficiency. By using predictive analytics, problems can be prevented instead of addressed reactively. Corporate assets can be monitored in real time to optimize maintenance and delay the cost of replacement. Organizations can use the IoT to track customer behavior, spot trends, roll out new products and services more quickly, and make data-driven marketing decisions.
From a communications perspective, the IoT not only brings together machines and objects, but also employees and customers. According to Frost & Sullivan, the IoT will require a robust, integrated unified communications (UC) platform to improve collaboration and deliver better business outcomes. UC makes it possible to deliver IoT data in real time to decision-makers, who can access that data from any device. For example, in healthcare, data from a heart monitor can be instantly analyzed, and an email or text alert sent automatically from a contact center to a doctor if a potential problem is detected. In a number of use cases, such as video surveillance and equipment monitoring sensors, the IoT and UC can improve employee and customer safety and alert personnel to dangerous situations. When IoT and UC are integrated, there is a seamless flow of information and intelligence between machines and devices, employees in various departments in an organization, and its customers.
As valuable as the IoT can be, business can only take full advantage of IoT data if UC is part of the equation. Let IPC show you how to harness the power of the IoT and UC to improve business operations and create competitive advantages.