The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most exciting prospects for today’s enterprises, as it has the potential to revolutionise everything from the way they operate and drive revenue to the types of goods, services and experiences they deliver. It is forcing businesses to rethink how they interact with the world around them and how they can build deeper relationships with their customers.
And the possibilities of IoT are leading businesses to embrace connected devices at a record pace. Surveys from Forrester shows that over 50% of enterprises plan to adopt IoT within the next two years, and Deloitte predicts that throughout 2015, 60% of all IoT-connected devices will be bought, paid for and utilized by enterprises. The reason for this rapid adoption? With IoT, these companies can evolve from product businesses to service businesses that are capable of affecting real economic and social change.
While high-tech industries like manufacturing tend to be early adopters of new innovations, the impact of IoT is being realised across virtually all verticals. Today, any organization — regardless of size or industry — can harness IoT to deliver new services, elevate customer relationships, and unlock new recurring revenue streams.
To illustrate what companies are accomplishing with IoT today, let’s take a look at three industries at the forefront of the IoT revolution that are already demonstrating the substantive impact and business benefits that can be realised when the physical and digital worlds converge.
The agriculture industry has been a very successful laboratory for IoT innovation. By connecting everything from soil sensors to tractors, IoT removes the guesswork from planting and harvesting, offering growers invaluable visibility and actionable insight into field activity.
For example, telematics solutions from Topcon Positioning Systems enable farmers to track their machines and act on data in real-time. Sensors connected via the cloud identify the precise weather conditions, temperatures, humidity and wind speeds that allow crops to thrive. IoT enables the real-time analysis of these data points, which create automated responses for farm machinery — helping optimize and increase crop yields from season to season. Given that the global population is expected to reach 9.3 billion by 2050, this kind of productivity maximization is crucial for long-term sustainability.
Amid the global water crisis, agricultural irrigation also stands to benefit greatly from IoT innovation. The World Economic Forum recently identified water scarcity as the top threat to prosperity, and in most locations around the world, agriculture accounts for 90% of water consumption. Whether we achieve sustainability through new policies, investment in new infrastructures or a combination of methods, technology will be part and parcel of the solution.
IoT-enabled irrigation systems monitor soil conditions to optimize water usage for minimal resource waste and improved harvest yields. For example, Smart Watering Systems has been able to reduce water use — and costs — by 30 to 70% for each of its growers.
In all these examples, these agricultural companies are using IoT to evolve from selling formerly-static products to providing connected devices that deliver automated, value-added services. These connected innovations are actively promoting sustainability while also boosting profit-earning opportunities.
Real-time, constant connection is also enabling law enforcement to more effectively and transparently protect public safety. With information collected from connected sensors installed throughout a smart city, police officers gain valuable insight into activities as they happen.
Unreported gun violence poses a serious threat to the safety of urban communities, but IoT has helped decrease the number of undocumented crimes. A system called ShotSpotter uses connected microphones and cameras installed throughout a city to detect firearm activity, collecting minute-by-minute intelligence on location, quantity of shots fired and number of shooters so that officers are more prepared and can improve response times. The service is being used in major cities worldwide to help save lives and enhance the quality of life in the communities they serve by instantly notifying law enforcement agencies of gun crimes and enabling officers to respond more effectively.
Over the last several years, usage-based insurance (UBI) has quietly become a core component of most insurance providers’ strategic plans — and has allowed a long-established industry to reinvent itself.
Traditionally, to establish rates, insurers have relied on aggregated data that classifies customers by age, gender, income and geographic residence. But with IoT-enabled telematics in Connected Cars capable of tracking actual vehicle performance and driver behaviour, insurance companies now have a sophisticated, speculation-free method of monitoring data like speed, acceleration, hard braking and airbag deployment. These billions of rich data points equip insurers with an effective way of assessing risk and, in turn, financially rewarding safe drivers with lower rates.
When insurance provider Industrial Alliance launched Mobiliz, a performance-based plan aimed at 16 to 24 year olds, the company saw improved driving nearly across the board, as well as expansion of its customer base and reduced churn. Allstate’s UBI offering, Drivewise, which factors driving behaviour and quality into the rates they offer participating drivers, has saved money for drivers through lowered premiums while reducing their own risk. The program has also enhanced Allstate’s bottom line through more efficient claims processing — all while making roads safer and fostering richer, high-touch customer relations.
IoT across the board
The impact of IoT on industries as diverse as agriculture, law enforcement and car insurance — and everything in between — clearly demonstrates the transformative impact IoT is having on businesses across the board. Soon, every business will be an IoT business because IoT is helping companies transform from product businesses to service businesses, capable of delivering entirely new experiences through connected devices.
Rapid adoption of IoT throughout all industries is enabling companies to become more agile, uncover new revenue sources, and introduce new customer experiences while enriching existing ones. As a result, companies are able to deliver a myriad of new services that not only enhance their bottom lines, but also bring about real social and economic change.
Author: Jahangir Mohammed, CEO, Jasper Technologies Inc.
Image: R. N. Sahoo, a senior scientist at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), prepares to install a high resolution remote sensor used for crop mapping in a wheat field at IARI in New Delhi, March 20, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee