Collaborative realism: The true value of IoT

Issue 1 2022 Integrated Solutions

The Internet-of-Things (IoT) has lost ground to perception. Many companies and investors have come to perceive it as futuristic and fantastical, not as a technology that can deliver measurable real-world value.

The hype of the talking fridge and intelligent dishwasher overshadows the rapid evolution of IoT solutions across smart home devices, voice assistants, contactless payments, wearable technology, ingestible health trackers and intelligent city infrastructure. The latter are all very real applications of IoT that have become stalwarts of the sector today.

As Pieter Pienaar, CEO of Informed Decisions and chairperson at the IOT Industry Council of South Africa (IOTIC), points out, with around 83 billion IoT connections projected by 2024, IoT isn’t a trend, it is as much a technology staple as the cloud. “The slow uptake of IoT has impacted its growth, but this perception is changing.

“Organisations are starting to see the value of IoT in real-world situations and how solutions can be leveraged to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and optimise systems and processes. The technology is smart and it uses the smarts of other technology to take every solution and application to a whole new level, allowing for industry and organisation to build intelligence where it is needed the most.”

IoT is expected to achieve a global market revenue of $157 billion in home automation over the next two years. This is not a technology that is clinging to success on the back of the hype that birthed it, this is a technology that has proven itself invaluable to organisations across multiple sectors and applications and that is integral to supporting companies on their digital transformation journeys.

“The key to ensuring that the IoT success story remains just that, a success, is to ensure that there is collaboration across industry, sector and innovation,” says Pienaar. “The challenges currently limiting its uptake and growth are those that can be overcome if organisations step away from old perceptions around its efficacy and recognise how invaluable it can be to their business and their bottom line.”

Some of the challenges that are currently inhibiting IoT uptake, beyond legacy perceptions, are the flagging global economy, limited skillsets and lack of understanding around what IoT can do. Many companies are unaware of IoT use cases so are unable to visualise what the technology is capable of, or how it can be applied to their specific business situations. This is further complicated by the fact that many companies are only now just starting to figure out their digital strategies moving forward – taking the rapid investment into digital forced on them by the past two years and unravelling it into a long-term and relevant strategy.

“When it comes to skills, the lack of education in the market – from academic institutions to customer understanding – is seriously limiting the potential of IoT,” says Pienaar. “This is why there has to be more collaboration across the IoT ecosystem. If every player puts their mind to driving awareness, skills development and IoT education, then there will be more knowledge, more use cases and more templates for organisations to reference as they undertake their digital decision-making.”

Collaboration has the potential to shine a light on the work done by all IoT ecosystem players and to allow for companies to create new shared revenue models, new business models and new opportunities. If there are more use cases and more ways of applying IoT to unique business and economic situations, then IoT will gain more market visibility. This will, in turn, help build confidence in IoT as a reliable and relevant technology for modern business. This is very necessary because, right now, IoT is still stuck within the limited confines of its industrial box.

“Sure, IoT is already transforming industrial systems and solutions and Industrial IoT (IIoT) has delivered extraordinary innovation and change to the sector, but this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg,” concludes Pienaar. “If IoT players collaborate, share use cases, drive understanding and continue with innovation, then organisations across all sectors will rapidly recognise its value and how it can cost-effectively and intelligently transform business processes, systems and digital transformation journeys.”

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