World of IoT – Part 3
 

Just a recap, in my previous post, I had emphasized primarily over the key definitions and approaches to the Internet of Things. In this post, we are going to take a deep dive into the growth and trends in the IoT space.

The exact predictions regarding the size and evolution of the Internet of Things landscape tend to focus on the number of devices, appliances and other ‘things’ that are connected and the staggering growth of this volume of IP-enabled IoT devices, as well as the data they generate, with mind-blowing numbers for many years to come.

It makes it look as if the Internet of Things is still nowhere. Make no mistake though: it is already bigger than many believe and used in far more applications than those which are typically mentioned in mainstream media.

At the same time it is true that the increase of connected devices is staggering and accelerating. As we wrote the first edition of this Internet of Things guide, approximately each single hour a million new connections were made and there were about 5 to 6 billion different items connected to the Internet. By 2020, Cisco expected there would be 20 billion devices in the Internet of Things. Estimations for 2030 went up to a whopping 50 billion devices and some predictions were even more bullish, stating that by 2025 there will be up to 100 billion devices. The truth is that we will have to wait and see and that by the time we have written about recent predictions, new ones are already published.

Regardless of the exact numbers, one thing is clear: there is a LOT that can still be connected and it’s safe to assume we’ll probably reach the lower numbers of connected devices (20-30 billion) by 2020. Moreover, it’s not that much the growth of connected devices which matters but how they are used in the broader context of the Internet of Things whereby the intersection of connected and IP-enabled devices, big data (analytics), people, processes and purposeful projects affect several industries.

Also the data aspect is critical (again with mind-blowing forecasts) and how all this (big) data is analyzed, leveraged and turned into actions or actionable intelligence that creates enhanced customer experience, increased productivity, better processes, societal improvements, innovative models and all possible other benefits and outcomes. The impact of the IoT from a sheer data volume and digital universe perspective is amazing. And the Internet of Things will surpass mobile phones as the largest category of connected devices with 16 billion connected devices being IoT devices

There are numerous reasons for the growing attention for the Internet of Things. While you will often will read about the decreasing costs of storage, processing and material or the third platform with the cloud, big data, smart (mobile) technologies/devices, etc. there certainly is also a societal/people dimension with a strong consumer element.

A factor that has also contributed a lot to the rise of the Internet of Things, certainly in a context of the industrial Internet of Things and smart buildings, to name a few, is the convergence of IT and OT (Operational Technology) whereby sensors, actuators and so forth remove the barriers between these traditionally disconnected worlds.

As companies increasingly started investing in Internet of Things technologies and scalable Internet of Things deployments instead of just pilot projects it quickly became clear that the Internet of Things as a term covered completely different realities which have little in common. The majority of the Internet of Things hype focused on consumer-oriented devices such as wearables or smart home gadgets. Yet, we can’t repeat it enough, there is a huge difference between a personal fitness tracker and the usage of IoT in industrial markets such as manufacturing where the IoT takes center stage in the vision of Industry 4.0 (you can for instance think about IoT-connected or IoT-enabled devices such as large industrial robots or IoT logistics systems). That’s why a distinction was made between the Industrial Internet of Things and the Consumer Internet of Things to begin with.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): is ‘machines, computers and people enabling intelligent industrial operations using advanced data analytics for transformational business outcomes”. The main value and applications are found in the so-called Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT. In all honesty one of the main reasons why we started talking about the Industrial Internet of Things is to distinguish it from the more popular view on the Internet of Things as it has becoming increasingly used in recent years: that of the consumer Internet of Things or consumer electronics applications such as wearables in a connected context or smart home applications.

Typical use cases of the Industrial Internet of Things include smart lightning and smart traffic solutions in smart cities, intelligent machine applications, industrial control applications, factory floor use cases, condition monitoring, use cases in agriculture, smart grid applications and oil refinery applications.

It’s important to know that the Industrial Internet of Things is not just about saving costs and optimizing efficiency though. Companies also have the possibility to realize important transformations and can find new opportunities thanks to IIoT.

Those who can overcome the challenges, understand the benefits beyond the obvious and are able to deal with the industrial data challenge have golden opportunities to be innovative, create competitive benefits and even entirely new business models

The Consumer Internet of Things (CIoT)

About 5 years ago, consumers rarely saw what the Internet of Things would mean to their private lives. Today, they increasingly do: not just because they are are interested in technology but mainly because a range of new applications and connected devices has hit the market.

These devices and their possibilities are getting major attention on virtually every news outlet and website that covers technology. Wearables and smart watches, connected and smart home applications (with Google’s Nest being a popular one but certainly not the first): there are ample of you know the examples.

Although it is said that there is some technology fatigue appearing, the combination of applications in a consumer context and of technology fascination undoubtedly plays a role in the growing attention for the Internet of Things. That consumer fascination aspect comes on top of all the real-life possibilities as they start getting implemented and the contextual and technological realities, making the Internet of Things one of those many pervasive technological umbrella terms. Obviously, the Consumer Internet of Things market is not just driven by new technology fascination: their manufacturers push the market heavily as adoption means news business possibilities with a key role for data.

Below are some consumer electronics challenges to tackle first:

  • Smarter devices. Consumers are waiting for smarter generations of wearables and Internet of Things products, which are able to fulfil more functions without being too dependent from smartphones, as is the case with many of such devices today (think the first generations of smartwatches, which need a smartphone).
  • Security. Consumers don’t trust the Internet of Things yet, further strengthened by breaches and the coverage of these breaches. Moreover, it’s not just about the security of the devices but also about, among others, the security of low data communication protocols (and Internet of Things operating systems). An example: home automation standard Zigbee was proven easy to crack in November 2016.
  • Data and privacy. On top of security concerns, there are also concerns regarding data usage and privacy. The lack of trust in regards with data, privacy and security was already an issue before these breaches as we cover in our overview of the consumer electronics market evolutions.
  • A “compelling reason to buy”. The current devices which are categorized as Consumer Internet of Things appliances are still relatively expensive, “dumb” and hard to use. They also often lack a unique benefit that makes consumers massively buy them.

Whereas the focus of the Industrial Internet of Things is more on the benefits of applications, the Consumer Internet of Things is more about new and immersive customer-centric experiences. As mentioned, the Consumer Internet of Things typically is about smart wearables and smart home appliances but also about smart televisions, drones for consumer applications and a broad range of gadgets with Internet of Things connectivity.

The Internet of Everything (IoE) : brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before-turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.

It focuses too much on the things and, as mentioned, is also very broadly used. It’s why some started distinguishing between the just mentioned Consumer Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet of Things.

Cisco and other prefer to use the term Internet of Everything, partially because of that umbrella term issue, partially because of the focus on things and partially to provide context to their views and offerings. But it’s not just marketing. The Internet of Everything or IoE depicts crucial aspects of IoT, namely people, data, things and processes; in other words: what makes a business. It’s this mix that matters. Moreover, the classic illustration of the Internet of Everything also made clear what, for instance, machine to machine or M2M is all about.

We’ve based ourselves on that classic depiction and added the dimensions of value and data analysis.

The relevant four key drivers for IoE are listed below

The Internet of Robotic Things (IoRT): is a concept where intelligent devices can monitor events, fuse sensor data from a variety of sources, use local and distributed intelligence to determine a best course of action, and then act to control or manipulate objects the physical world, and in some cases while physically moving through that world

One of the major characteristics of the Internet of Things is that it enables to build far stronger bridges between physical and digital (cyber) worlds. You see it in all IoT use case and in the Industrial Internet of Things you see it in what’s called the Cyber Physical Systems.

Yet, in most case, the focus is predominantly on the ‘cyber’ part whereby data from sensors essentially are leveraged to achieve a particular outcome with human interference and with a focus on data analytics and ‘cyber’ platforms. The way it happens, as ABI Research, who came up with the IoRT concept (which is real today) puts it is that essentially many applications and business models are built upon passive interaction. The Internet of Robotic Things market is expected to be valued at USD 21.44 Billion by 2022

By adding robotics to the equation and turning devices (robots) in really intelligent devices with embedded monitoring capabilities, the ability to add sensor data from other sources, local and distributed intelligence and the fusion of data and intelligence in order to allow these devices determine actions to take and have them take these actions, within a pre-defined scope, you have a device that can control/manipulate objects in the physical world.

With collaborative industrial robots), warehouse automation (Amazon Robotics) and even personal robots for cleaning and so forth make it more tangible. It’s still early days for the IoRT but the projects and realizations in this next stage are real. IoRT is not tied to the consumer and industrial IoT distinction, it’s ever-present.

The Internet of Things is used in various industries for numerous use cases which are typical for these industries. On top of that, there is a long list of Internet of Things use cases that is de facto cross-industry. As the Internet of Things is embraced and deployed at different speeds throughout consumer and industrial sectors, we take a look at some of the main industries and use cases which drive the Internet of Things market and Internet of Things projects.

Patterns and shifts in the vertical industry and Internet of Things use case spend

Note that the biggest and/or fastest growing use cases are not always related to the biggest and/or fastest growing industries in terms of Internet of Things spending.

While it is expected that in terms of use cases there will be high growth in consumer-related use cases such as personal wellness and smart home applications, the largest majority of spending is and will be done by enterprises. The main reasons for this shift are below

  • The costs and scope of the investments. A full-blown, enterprise-wide Internet of Things project in industrial settings such as manufacturing or logistics is far more expensive than a smart home implementation.
  • The shifts in the major Internet of Things use cases and industries. Remember that the Internet of Things mainly started as an industrial and business sector phenomenon. Industries with many existing physical assets can realize fast cost savings and efficiencies of scale. That’s why today they spend more in Internet of Things projects than consumer segments where we see more ‘new’ devices, rather than existing assets.
  • The Consumer Internet of Things catching up. As industries keep leading the current waves of Internet of Things spending until 2020, the fact that they started first and the advent of ever more consumer use cases and better (safer and more useful) solutions means that gradually consumer Internet of Things catches up with Industrial Internet of Things spending.
  • The rise of cross-industry Internet of Things applications and of scenarios whereby consumers and businesses meet each other in business-driven initiatives (for instance, the push for telematics in insurance, the push for smart meters in utilities) has a leveling effect on the adoption of the Internet of Things and on spending.

Stay tuned…. Part 4 of this foray, we will look into the 8 best example usages of the world of IoT.

Please feel free to review my earlier series of posts 

Authored by Venugopala krishna Kotipalli

World of IoT – Part 1
 

In this series of posts, I will emphasize primarily over the world of IoT (Internet of Things). We’ll start with looking at the origins of IoT, its common elements and approaches, look at the market growth and trends for IoT in the industry. We will also touch base with the newer extensions of IoT like IIoT (Industrial IoT), CIoT (Consumer IoT), IoE (Internet of Everything) and IoRT (Internet of Robotic things).

IoT is an umbrella term for a broad range of underlying technologies and services depending upon the use cases and in turn are part of a broader technology ecosystem which includes related technologies such as AI, cloud computing, cyber security, analytics, big data, various connectivity/communication technologies, digital twin simulation, Augmented reality and virtual Reality, block chain and more.

The Origin

The idea of the Internet of Things goes back quite some time. The RFID has been a key development towards the Internet of Things and the term Internet of Things has been coined in an RFID context (and NFC), whereby we used RFID to track items in various operations such as supply chain management and logistics.

The roots and origin of the Internet of Things go beyond just RFID. Think about machine-to-machine (M2M) networks. Or think about ATMs (automated teller machine or cash machines), which are connected to interbank networks, just as the point of sales terminals where you pay with your ATM cards. M2M solutions for ATMs have existed for a long time, just as RFID. These earlier forms of networks, connected devices and data are where the Internet of Things comes from. Yet, it’s not the Internet of Things.

The Role and Impact of RFID

In the nineties, technologies such as RFID, sensors and a few wireless innovations led to several applications in the connecting of devices and “things”. Most real-life implementations of RFID in those days happened in logistics like warehouses and the supply chain in general. However, there were many challenges and hurdles to overcome (mainly warehousing and industrial logistics as RFID was still expensive).

An example of an RFID application – electronic toll collection. The use of RFID became popular in areas beyond logistics and supply chain management: from public transport, identification (from pets to people), electronic toll collection (see image), access control and authentication, traffic monitoring, retail outdoor advertising. That growing usage was, among others, driven by the decreasing cost of RFID tags, increasing standardization and NFC(Near Field Communication).

Journey of RFID to IoT

The possibility of tagging, tracking, connecting and “reading” and analyzing data from objects would become known as the Internet of Things around the beginning of this Millennium.

It was obvious that the connection of the types of “things” and applications – as we saw them in RFID, NFCs – with the Internet would change a lot. It might surprise you but the concepts of connected refrigerators, telling you that you need to buy milk, the concept of what is now known as smart cities and the vision of an immersive shopping experience (without bar code scanning and leveraging smart real-time information obtained via connected devices and goods) go back since before the term Internet of Things even existed. Th attention for IoT in numerous other areas without a doubt has led to the grown attention for it as you’ll read further.

Coining of IoT Term

According to the large majority of sources, the term Internet of Things was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton at MIT.

RFID existed years before talked about the Internet of Things as a system, connecting the physical world and the Internet via omni-present sensors. Team there wanted to solve a challenge as wired reports: empty shelves for a specific product. When shelves are empty, obviously no one can buy what’s supposed to be there. It’s a typical problem of logistics and supply chain. The solution was found in RFID tags, which were still far too expensive to be able to put them on each product. Once the benefit was realized, there were many who invested in the expensive RFIDs to derive the benefits. The rest is a standard system, solving miniaturization challenges, lowering RFID tags prices and…history.

Definition of IoT

The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

Physical devices are either designed for the Internet of Things or are assets, including living beings, which are equiped with data sensing and transmitting electronics. Beyond this endpoint dimension with devices, sensors, actuators and communication systems, the Internet of Things is also used to describe what is effectively done with the data acquired from connected things.

The Internet of Things describes a range of applications, protocols, standards, architectures and data acquisition and analysis technologies whereby devices and items (appliances, clothes, animals,….) which are equipped with sensors, specifically designed software and /or other digital and electronical systems, are connected to the Internet and/or other networks via a unique IP address or URI, with a societal, industrial, business and/or human purpose in mind. As you can read below, data and how they are acquired, analyzed and combined into information value chains and benefits are key in it. In fact, the true value of the Internet of Things lies in the ways it enables to leverage entirely new sources and types of data for entirely new business models, insights, forms of engagement, and ways of living and societal improvements

The Internet of Things is not a thing. Data which is acquired, submitted, processed or sent to devices, in most cases travels across the Internet, fixed lines, across cloud ecosystems or via (tailored) wireless connectivity technologies which are developed for specific applications of IoT

Bridging digital, physical and human spheres through networks, connected processes and data, turned into knowledge and action, is an essential aspect in this equation. In recent years the focus in the Internet of Things has shifted from the pure aspect of connecting devices and gathering data to this interconnection of devices, data, business goals, people and processes, certainly in IIoT.

Elements of IoT

Most IoT definitions have several aspects in common. Here are the elements they have in common:

  1. Internet of Things Connectivity

All IoT definitions include the connectivity and network aspect: a network of things, devices, sensors, objects and/or assets, depending on the source. It’s pretty clear that a dimension of networks and connectedness, we would even say hyper-connectedness, needs to be present in any decent IoT definition.

2. The Things in the Internet of Things

IoT-enabled assets, devices, physical objects, sensors, anything connected to the physical world, appliances, endpoints, the list goes on. They are all terms to describe what an essential part of a network of things. Some add words such as smart or intelligent to the devices. Let’s say that they contain technology that grants them an additional capability of ‘doing something’: measuring temperature or moisture levels, capturing location data, sensing movement or capturing any other form of action and context that can be captured and turned into data.

3. The Internet of Things and Data

This is part of that intelligent notion but it also brings us far closer to the essence. You can define the Internet of Things by simply describing all characteristics (“what it is”) but you also need to look at its purpose (“the why”).

4. Communication in the Internet of Things

Data as such is maybe not without value but it sure is without meaning unless it is used for a purpose and it is turned into meaning, insights, intelligence and actions. The data gathered and sensed by IoT devices needs to be communicated in order to even start turning it into actionable information, let alone knowledge, insights, wisdom or actions.

5. Internet of Things, Intelligence and action

We just touched upon this aspect. However, in most definitions we see that intelligence is attributed to just the network(s) and/or the devices. While we certainly need, for instance, ‘intelligent networking technologies’ in many cases and while connected devices have a capacity of action, the real intelligence and action sits in the analysis of the data and the smart usage of this data to solve a challenge, create a competitive benefit, automate a process, improve something, whatever possible action our IoT solution wants to tackle.

6. Automation

There is always a degree of automation, no matter the scope of the project or the type of Internet of Things application. Most IoT applications are essentially all about automation. And that often comes with costs and benefits. Industrial automation, business process automation or the automatic updating of software: it all plays a role, depending on the context.

7. Ecosystem

Meaning and hyper-connectedness is what we miss in many answers on the questions regarding what the Internet of Things is. We stay too descriptive and focused on just the technologies and don’t look at purpose and intelligent action enough

While the above mentioned elements come back in all Internet of Things definitions there are a few we miss that are essential in the evolving views regarding the Internet of Things as it moves from devices and data to outcomes and actionable intelligence, and ultimately to a hyper-connected world of digital transformation (DX) and business.

The aspect of hyper-connectivity and integration often lacks. In a context of a reality whereby devices, people, processes and information are more interconnected than ever before; an Internet of Things definition and approach just needs to mention these aspects as the Internet of Things is part of something broader and is more about data, meaning and purpose than about objects. A key element of that hyper-connectivity in the Internet of Things sphere is that sometimes mentioned ongoing bridging of digital and physical environments, along with human environments, processes and data as the glue, enabler and condition to create value when properly used for connected purposes.

Then there is also the possibility to create new ecosystems where connected device usage by groups of people can lead to new applications and forms of community ecosystems. Last but not least and we’ve mentioned this often before: no Internet of Things without security.

Stay tuned…. Part 2 of this foray, we will look into key definitions and approaches for IoT.

Please feel free to review my earlier series of posts