As previously reported in Bits & Pieces, the potential for the Internet of Things (IoT) is pretty clear. By 2020, Cisco forecasts that there will be approximately 50 billion devices connected to the Internet, while IDC analysts project the worldwide market for IoT solutions will rise from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to a staggering $7.1 trillion. According to a recent survey from PwC, enterprises are now turning to sensors for many of the same reasons that they would adopt most technologies, such as greater efficiency. As a result the study has found that more companies are embarking on the gradual but massive adoption of the IoT, particularly investing in sensors to collect data, which is then wirelessly sent for further analysis or alerts.
The survey entitled, “Sensing the future of the Internet of Things,” reveals the ways in which the ever-evolving IoT is transforming the everyday physical objects that surround us into an ecosystem of information that will enrich our lives. “From refrigerators to parking spaces to houses, the IoT is bringing more and more things into the digital fold every day, which will likely make the IoT a multi-trillion dollar industry in the near future.”
“While the IoT represents the convergence of advances in miniaturization, wireless connectivity, increased data storage capacity and batteries, the IoT wouldn’t be possible without sensors,” PwC reports. “Sensors detect and measure changes in position, temperature, light, etc. and they are necessary to turn billions of objects into data-generating ‘things’ that can report on their status, and in some cases, interact with their environment. Because sensor endpoints fundamentally enable the IoT, sensor investments are an early indicator of the IoT’s progress.” According to PwC’s 6th Annual Digital IQ survey of nearly 1,500 business and technology executives, the IoT movement appears to be well underway.
The study found that 20% of companies are investing in IoT sensors, up from 17% last year. In addition 54% of top performers (survey respondents whose companies are in the top quartile for revenue growth, profitability, and innovation) said that they will be investing more in sensors this year, while 14% of the respondents claim that sensors are top strategic importance to their companies in the next three to five years.
Writing for Wired Innovation Insights, PWC’s Chris Curran explains that in the coming years, “Businesses will augment their operations, adding connected sensors to people, places, processes and products to gather and analyze information to make better decisions. I call this phenomenon the Internet of Business Things (IoBT).”
The Internet of Things can help consumers achieve goals by greatly improving their decision-making capacity via the augmented intelligence of the IoT, PwC notes. “For businesses, the IoBT helps companies achieve enhanced process optimization and efficiencies by collecting and reporting on data collected from the business environment.”
“Already, we’re seeing companies use sensors to track the movement of customers and employees who serve them. Product and shelf sensors are feeding inventory algorithms so businesses can replenish supplies exactly when they need to. Machines are being developed to detect when an employee isn’t properly trained and will shut down in response to an inadequately trained operator. Robots are coming to market to not replace workers, but to augment their work by sensing and assisting. Companies are even putting sensors on employees and in conference rooms to learn how to build better teams and to more efficiently balance real estate use between individual and shared space,” Curran adds.
Sensors are important in providing this so-called business intelligence to customers, as the data gathered enables them make better, faster decisions, in areas like business processes, supply chain and customer experience. The survey also went on to highlight the top 10 industries currently investing in sensors. Among the most notable included energy and mining (33%), power and utilities (32%), automotive (31%), industrial (25%) and hospitality (22%).
For those interested in learning more, you can access the entire PwC report here.