Why IoT Benefits Will Outweigh Its Challenges

by Sohini Bagchi    Apr 09, 2018

IoT

The Internet has come a long way in just a few short decades and has evolved into an essential resource during our lifetime. Today, the world we see is dotted with connected devices and flying drones that would have seemed like science fiction. With more than a trillion connected devices expected to be in use by 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT), a term first coined in 1996 by Kevin Ashton, has become a critical focus area for many enterprises.

In 1996, only 4 percent of the world was on the internet. Today, about half of the global population is connected, along with approximately 8.4 billion machines – including sensors, security systems, voice-activated assistances, home appliances, health-monitoring devices, smart meters, fitness trackers and traffic lights. Several organizations are using IoT to create innovative services and transform their businesses. Despite the momentum, IoT adoption among companies lags behind the pace of industry development.

What’s the challenge?

“The benefits of IoT are undeniable. IoT can bring much of the physical world—from industrial assets to commonplace devices to people—into a connected ecosystem, resulting in enhanced customer experience and better business outcomes,” said Esteban Herrera, partner and global leader of ISG Research.

“The biggest challenge slowing IoT adoption is the upfront investment needed to implement an IoT ecosystem. So far, the costs are exceeding the expected returns,” Herrera added.

The IoT is also raising the question of large scale cyber-attacks, disrupting the privacy and security of global citizens, according to a new study.

The study conducted by Pew Research Center and Elon University found that while ransomware disruptions and cyber-attacks will continue with devastating consequences for individuals and nations, humans will become increasingly connected to the web-enabled things. [Read the full report here]

“As a variety of forces will propel more connectivity over the next decade that manifests in things like cars, medical devices, public infrastructure and home ‘smart’ systems, people’s desire for convenience will usually prevail over their concerns about risk and these factors will make it difficult – if not impossible – for people to opt out of a highly connected life,” said Lee Rainie, co-author and director of Pew Research Center’s internet, technology and science research.

The IoT gains

Companies that have adopted IoT say that it’s mission-critical and many have already started seeing a return on their investment. For service providers, industry-specific IoT is proving to be more successful and profitable than horizontal solutions targeting broad business transformation, an ISG report noted.

IoT currently is showing its greatest value in the manufacturing, energy and utility industries. These sectors are benefiting from IoT-driven optimization of operational processes, predictive maintenance, and inventory and supply chain management. Other sectors and use cases beginning to see benefits from IoT are healthcare, transportation and smart cities and offices, as well as such consumer-related areas as retail, hospitality, smart homes and connected vehicles.

There is no doubt that globally IoT is helping enterprises drive higher efficiencies in business processes and resource utilization, gain deeper insights for more impactful decision-making, and improve customer service operations. 

For a successful implementation, platforms should enable integration and interoperability of connected systems and provide data management, cognitive and predictive analytics and security. Key factors in choosing an IoT platform include cost, features and scalability, believe experts.

The India IoT market

The India market too is at the forefront of IoT adoption, even though it has a long way to go. A recent study by NASSCOM revealed that the IoT market in India is expected to reach USD 15 billion by 2020, accounting for nearly 5% of the total global market. Every industry is witnessing a plethora of possibilities with IoT despite differences in the way each sector functions. A key sector with significant implications for the economy is Agriculture, where “smart precision farming” which has applications in soil observation and analysis, farm vehicle tracking, livestock monitoring and storage monitoring will help enhance productivity and minimize wastage.

The manufacturing industry is using IoT tools to increase productivity, make business processes more efficient and reduce costs as IoT is enabling the transformation of manufacturing processes by providing cost-efficient solutions that automates visibility of large industry machines and allows for real-time monitoring. Another key application is energy management where resource utilization across distributed assets can be monitored to enable greater efficiency. Healthcare is another sector where consumers are benefiting from connected technology. 

At the same time, initiatives under the government’s Digital India programme including Smart Cities, Make in India, Start-up India, GST, Aadhaar etc, are leveraging IoT as the core to transformation. Increased adoption of digital technologies, rapid smartphone penetration, improved data and broadband connectivity is driving the application of IoT is exploding in every aspect of our lives. 

India is becoming the fastest growing telecom market, providing numerous opportunities in the IoT space to both global and domestic players. It will become critical for enterprises to forge long-lasting partnerships and collaborations for realizing the full potential of this technology. 

In 2011, The IoT Council decided to celebrate the first IoT Day on April 9th. Ever since, the day has served as a joint opportunity for everyone involved in the industry all around the world to celebrate the evolution of the IoT. IoTDay.org is a site specifically created to coordinate global effort to host IoT related events, gatherings, and other connected technology activities.  Check out to follow the troves of events happening around the world on the IoT Day using the hashtag #iotday.