Internet of Things

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Global Internet of Things study suggests significant revenue growth for leading businesses

By Nitin Dahad

IOTSWC LogoA major new global study looking at the impact of IoT (Internet of Things) technologies across a wide range of industry sectors around the world, found that companies investing in IoT are reporting significant revenue increases as a result of IoT initiatives, with an average increase of 15.6 percent in 2014. Almost one in ten (9 percent) saw a rise of at least 30 percent in revenue.

Company executives see the IoT as a growing area for businesses, with 12 percent identifying a planned spend of $100 million in 2015 and 3 percent looking to invest a minimum of $1 billion among the 795 companies surveyed in the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) report. The report also shows that companies predict their IoT budgets to continue increasing year-on-year, with spending expected to grow by 20 percent by 2018 to $103 million.

Companies at the very forefront of this drive for innovation through IoT have seen the biggest benefits from their investments. The top eight percent of respondents, based on ROI (return on investment) from IoT, report a 64 percent average revenue gain in 2014 as a direct result of these investments. Currently the biggest business impact is that companies can offer their customers more bespoke products and services, yet by 2020 this will convert from marketing functions to increased sales, through adding considerable value to the customer.

This is reflected in the finding that the most frequent use of IoT technologies by companies is tracking customers through mobile apps, used by almost half of all businesses (47 percent). More than half (50.8 percent) of IoT leaders admit to investing in IoT to track their products and how these were performing, whereas this is only the case with 16.1 percent of the respondents with the lowest ROI from IoT.

Other findings of the report are:

  • Culture is the number one issue holding companies back: despite the encouraging data on IoT investment and its impact on revenue growth, the report revealed major challenges remain in realizing the promise of IoT for businesses across all sectors, particularly with corporate culture, leadership and the integration, security and reliability issues of the technology.
  • Healthcare lags industrial manufacturing, which stands out for IoT success: the healthcare sector has the greatest potential to benefit from the IoT, but remains one of the most underdeveloped industries due to regulatory restrictions and data security concerns that currently hinder innovation. The sector plans to spend just 0.3 percent of revenue in 2015, but will be increasing this investment by at least 30 percent by 2018. The healthcare market driven by the IoT is predicted to be worth $117 billion by 2020.

Executives in the industrial manufacturing sector are reporting the largest increase in revenue from IoT, with an average 28.5 percent, followed by financial services (17.7 percent) and media & entertainment (17.4 percent). The automotive industry has the lowest revenue gain with just a 9.9 percent increase.

The report, which looks at trends across 13 key industries, found that large-scale investment in IoT infrastructure and monitoring is not confined to those in manufacturing, however, with the travel, transportation and hospitality sectors planning to spend 0.6 percent of revenue this year. Media and entertainment companies will spend 0.57 percent of their revenue on IoT in this year – significantly more than the 0.4 percent average and the 0.44 percent spend in banking and financial services.

The industrial IoT, enterprise IoT, and the role of ecosystems and platforms for an outcome based economy using IoT will be among the many topics of discussion at the forthcoming IoT Solutions World Congress (IOTSWC) in Barcelona, where The Next Silicon Valley is a media partner. The IOTSWC will also explore many areas including healthcare, transportation (such as the ‘connected flight’) and energy.

Taking place in Barcelona from the 16th to the 18th of September 2015, the event will focus on the crossroads between IoT and Industry and will feature 80 companies and institutions. The global headquarters of leading multinationals such as Accenture, Amazon, Bosch, Deloitte, Deutsce Telekom, General Electric, HP, Indra, Intel, IBM, National instruments and Microsoft have chosen the Barcelona based event for several world premieres.

The newly launched event has also established a partnership with the Industrial Internet Consortium, the sector’s leading association, who has advised Fira de Barcelona in the design of the conference program. IOTSWC will also include an exhibition area that will feature not only companies and their latest innovations but also three testbeds with real-life applications of these solutions. These demonstrations will showcase enhanced aircraft assembly, power microgrid connectivity and emergency communications. For more information and to register, visit the event web site – click here.


The role of ‘smart homes’ in the wellbeing of residents

The term ‘smart’ is applied in many different environments, and often involves connected sensors and devices sending lots of data which can then be acted upon for the benefit of the environment or people in that environment. In this article, we look at an example of IoT in a smart home, and how it can effectively help the wellness of residents living in that home.

By Anita Lankinen

Photo: American Society of Interior Designers

Photo: American Society of Interior Designers

In traditional houses inhabitants act as ‘living sensors’ for indoor condition problems. In most cases air quality, humidity level, CO2 concentration and other indoor measurements are analyzed only after complaints from tenants regarding headaches or some respiratory symptoms. However, even mild symptoms may signify the development of severe lifetime sicknesses like asthma.

We now live in a world of smart homes and connected objects. However, true value comes from even smarter means. Whereas the Internet of things (IoT) is at large about simply connecting every thing, more can and should be done when it comes to analyze and control.

The existing ‘smart home’ solutions and wellness

Things, as well as people, are influenced by their environment, and the environment and other conditions change over time. That’s why it is essential to record the entire lifecycle of a building and the people (and things) living in it. On top of all that stored data, smart algorithms will enable automatic awareness of any changes and create predictions for the future. This creates a virtual ‘smart counterpart’ of the entire building. This counterpart is known as spime, a term originally coined by author Bruce Sterling. It is defined as ‘a futuristic object that can be tracked through space and time throughout its lifetime’.

However, spimes are nothing futuristic anymore. They are already out there and in use throughout all kinds of industries – construction industry included. Global IoT operator BaseN has already spime’d houses in The Netherlands in cooperation with construction giant VolkerWessels. Building components of the newly built houses, such as heat pumps and ventilation units, were equipped with sensors. Their lifetime data is gathered from the very beginning and correlated through other conditions inside and outside the building.

Access to this data is provided both to the tenants and the facility management. The building’s energy and water consumption and environmental conditions (CO2 concentration, indoor temperature and humidity level) are managed through the building’s spime. The spime, for example, automatically adjusts ventilation if the level of CO2 concentration in the house is detected to be too high. The tenants are also able to access all the information on air quality through their customer portals. In addition, production measurements of the rooftops’ PV cells are fed to the spime, providing useful performance data to facility management as well.

The fact that the spimes record the full lifetime history of the houses allows tracking changes in energy consumption and environmental patterns over time. This enables optimization of various settings, ensures preventive maintenance in case of suboptimal performance of equipment, and gives full transparency to both the tenants and the service company. BaseN manages the collection, storage, analysis, control and visual presentation of real-time data from device-specific smart meters (e.g. washing machine, laundry dryer, stove, oven) and sensor-equipped building components (e.g. heat pumps, ventilation units).

The future of spime’d houses

There are still improvements which can be done both during a building’s maintenance and construction phase to make the houses ‘smart’. Existing energy and water consumption management systems can be complemented by additional features, thus providing more security to prevent e.g. water leakages in the apartments. This can be done by introducing a ‘home away’ feature, which notifies the tenant when water is consumed at home, while he or she is away. The feature has already been implemented in another project, Adjutantti, the first of its kind low-energy apartment house in Finland.

During construction works quality of building materials might be influenced by various factors: the woods can be partially wet after heavy rains at the construction site and the concrete can be utilized by the workers when it is not at the appropriate level of dryness. However, due to scheduling issues, constructors are often pressured to use the materials when those are not in a perfect state.

Spiming building materials during the construction phase will help solve this challenge. Additionally, sensors kept in the concrete also after the house construction has been finalized, allow for constantly analyzing the moisture levels of a building’s walls, thereby ensuring that the house ‘breathes’ the way it should.

The most important aspect, though, is the effect on the quality of life of the building’s inhabitants. Their home’s spime will always ensure that they live in perfect living conditions automatically adjusting, e.g. temperature and lighting, and will allow for immediate preventive action, e.g. in the case of deterioration of air quality. The home becomes an active enabler of a person’s health, wellbeing and happiness. That is what makes a smart home truly smart.

Anita Lankinen is with BaseN Corporation.

Innovation for connected world: MWC sets stage for collaboration to tackle the big issues

by Nitin Dahad

With everyone in tech talking about connected devices, connected cities, wearable technologies and so on, it seems we will all be connected and be able to access information about our homes, lives, environment and public services at anytime and anywhere.  This sounds great but there are also lots of issues – for example, how to make the devices talk to each other in a standard way, and how to make access to those devices secure.  The recent high profile cyber-attack just demonstrates the potential impact of a breach in network and data security.

The fact that everything is connected makes most connected devices vulnerable to access and manipulation by unwanted forces.  So the announcement by ARM last week that it is acquiring Offspark, a Dutch company specializing in IoT communications security technology, is timely, just ahead of Mobile World Congress where over 80,000 people from the mobile industry will converge in Barcelona for its annual gathering.

MWC2015 PR image from GSMA-small

The Mobile World Congress creates a whole mobile innovation ecosystem in Barcelona for a week

The congress will of course talk about connected devices, smart cities, mobile tech for health, wearables, and much more, so security will be an important topic to also consider. The Offspark technology acquired by ARM is just one step towards that security, with its technology already deployed in sensor modules, communication modules and smartphones. Now as part of ARM, whose processors are embedded into a majority of the world’s mobile and many connected devices, the acquired technology will help it provide a level of communication security and software cryptography that should help ensuring people trust IoT technology.

Innovation in the mobile economy

The conference will address the whole innovation ecosystem for the mobile economy, including the app economy, and more interestingly, ‘4 Years From Now’, or 4YFN as it is being labeled. This is an international program of talks, interactive workshops, exhibition and networking that brings together mobile start-ups and entrepreneurs with investors, accelerators, incubators and corporations from the mobile ecosystem, looking at the future of mobile.

There will also be a connected city showcase, in the form of the GSMA Innovation City, to bring a ‘fully immersive mobile experience’ – demonstrating how mobile-connected products will continue to transform personal and working lives across the world. There are expected to be experiential demonstrations from AT&T, Jasper, KT Corporation, Oral-B, Sierra Wireless and Vodafone; and the GSMA will also present its key initiatives that pave the way for a more enriched, secure, connected future for global citizens.

Reliance on M2M (machine-to-machine) connections

All of the above of course require connected devices, and ‘machine-to-machine’ (M2M) communications, often using the cellular network. Many applications of M2M are found in various industries – for example in real-time monitoring of temperature for pharmaceutical and food products, to ensure the quality and safety of the products being delivered to patients or consumers.

Recently published research from GSMA Intelligence suggests that at the current rate of trajectory, global cellular M2M connections will reach close to one billion by 2020, growing at 25 percent per year (CAGR) over the period 2015 to 2020.  The report, ‘Cellular M2M forecasts: unlocking growth’, also forecasts that if a number of current growth inhibitors are addressed by both industry players and governments, it could potentially lead to a faster growth rate of greater than 40 percent per annum if a range of favorable market conditions are achieved. The best case upside forecast scenario indicates a potential two billion cellular M2M connections globally by 2020.

A survey across leading mobile operators, vendors and adjacent ecosystem players highlighted several key growth drivers that could each contribute to this increase in the number of cellular M2M connections by 2020. These include:

  • Low power and low data use wide area network opportunities in areas such as utilities, smart cities and agriculture, utilizing 2G/3G/4G modules
  • Connected consumer goods market growing significantly through mobile ecosystem players establishing partnerships with consumer goods manufacturers and providing seamless connectivity through open standards/protocols
  • Government policies driving M2M – such as for eCall, smart metering, and environmental regulation
  • Global big data analytics emerging rapidly, with the ability to extract insightful information and value from that data
  • End-to-end security being assured, with trusted security credentials between different applications and parties
  • Sustainable M2M business models being developed – moving away from product focus, and being more service focused for example

The Mobile World Congress, as I have written before, creates its own Silicon Valley-like ecosystem in Barcelona for a week, and there is no doubt that the conversations in coffee shops, bars, restaurants and of course the conference itself, will look at how to resolve the big issues highlighted here for the mobile industry. With the world heading towards ‘connected everything’, the conference again demonstrates the importance of bringing together key elements of the ecosystem in a ‘live environment’ to create a melting point for lively discussion and debate and help resolve or formulate thinking on the big industry issues, as well as spark innovative new ideas.

2015 will be the year when mobile begins to impact almost everything

by Nitin Dahad

The ubiquity of mobile communications has the potential to impact almost every part of society and industry sector. Mobile can enable digital inclusion, cut costs in public health services, save lives, feed more starving people, educate more children, enable more efficient delivery of public services, help reduce carbon emissions and improve living environments through smart and connected cities. The list goes on – and the industry has been talking about connected devices and the internet of things for years.


Photograph courtesy of ARM

So it is no surprise that many of the technology predictions for 2015 feature mobile or mobile apps as the platform for delivery. This week’s 2015 International CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas is testament to that, with a strong focus on mobile, the internet of things (as well as 3D printing and drones this year, plus the customary latest television tech). In recent years, the show has almost become the default pre-cursor and preview to the big Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona in March.

The 2015 CES event press release issued before the show does in fact focus, yet again, on the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) – stating it will feature the largest ever showcase of products, services and technologies that make up the IoT, with more than 900 exhibitors planning to share innovations utilizing networks to connect everyday devices. Karen Chupka, senior vice president, International CES, and corporate business strategy, CEA said, “It’s all about the opportunity to connect everyday items  like cars, home security systems and kitchen appliances to networked devices like PCs and smartphones for greater control and management of our everyday lives.”

At the CES show, this will include the ‘Sensors Marketplace’, a key technology enabling the IoT. In addition, the ‘Smart Home Marketplace’ will showcase a smarter, more efficient home accelerated by smartphones and tablets interacting with a myriad of connected objects and devices, from basic security systems to connected lighting systems.

Mobile predictions for 2015

There are many predictions for 2015. Gartner talks about a merger of the real world with the physical world, with computing everywhere, the IoT and 3D printing. The forecast, published last October, says as mobile devices proliferate, there will be an increased emphasis on serving the needs of the mobile user in diverse contexts and environments, as opposed to focusing on devices alone.

According to Duncan Clark of Netbiscuits, we’ll see a positive trend towards larger and foldable screens; super batteries will be a key focus, and a closer integration of technology into our daily lives through wearables. Video consumption on the mobile will also grow sharply, and the use of gesture control technology will increase. In addition, the proliferation of big data from mobile will mean increased and better analytics, which may also require human intuitive analysis to unlock full value from the data.

The battle for wearable technology is also part of the top 15 mobile predictions for 2015 presented by Mastercard at Mashable.  As with other reports, connected environments – with expansion of the IoT footprint, enabling the connected home, integrated mobile in automotive and into other environments are also featured.  Health and nutrition monitoring will expand in 2015, with mobile and wearable devices generating and tracking real-time data regarding personal health parameters— such as blood glucose levels, sleep quality, and other data points critical to health.

With multi-screen becoming more of a norm, the screen-agnostic experience will grow, with seamless content/context transfer across devices. Sravish Sridhar, founder and CEO of Kinvey, says, “Apps are increasingly becoming experiences that live across multiple endpoints — from wearables to phones, tablets, and web applications.” As a result, products and apps that can seamlessly transfer between these different devices and states as users move from one to another will have a significant advantage.

Given the sponsor of the report, it talks about mobile payments growing both as a local phenomenon as well being part of a global mobile payment ecosystem. Businesses will also deploy mobile-first strategies, to enable staff to keep working whatever devices they might be using.

Looking to the mobile future

Taking this a step further than 2015, the Mobile World Congress will feature 4YFN (Four years from now). This event is an international program presented by Mobile World Capital Barcelona and GSMA that brings together the best mobile start-ups and entrepreneurs with investors, accelerators, incubators and corporations from the mobile ecosystem. 4YFN will host talks, interactive workshops, an exhibition and enable networking opportunities for over 5,000 attendees from 70 countries, featuring strands on ‘disrupted by mobile’, ‘internet of things’, and ‘digital media’.

In summary, we’ve written and talked about the proliferation of mobile for many years. But 2015 is likely to be a year when mobile will truly be a driver of potentially positive change for almost all technology and non-technology industries.

Internet of things: the next platform for global innovation

The internet of things is likely to be a key technology driving innovation over the next few years. It’s a theme that’s grown over the last couple of years, and now in January 2013 we saw the launch of the ‘Internet of Things Consortium’, formed at International CES in Las Vegas, and after that, Wall Street Journal tech columnist and key influencer Walt Mossberg also highlighting the internet of things (IoT) as the ‘next big thing’ at a talk in North Carolina, USA.

The ‘IoT’ refers to devices of any kind connected with mobile or wireless to networks, enabling machine-to-machine communications (M2M).  Mobile SIM cards or radio modules with Wi-Fi/GPRS can be embedded in almost anything, ranging from entertainment, safety and security, to business services. Put another way, the IoT or M2M communications is the networking of intelligent, communications-enabled remote assets, allowing key information to be exchanged automatically without human intervention via a back-end IT infrastructure. The remote assets, which can be fixed or mobile, include cars and truck fleets, utility meters, copiers and printers, ventilation and air-conditioning sensors, home medical devices, fitness monitors and CCTV cameras.

The conditions they monitor can include temperature, location, consumption, heart rate, stress levels, light, movement, altitude and speed – or anything else. This can be used to gain immediate feedback on how a particular remote asset is being used, which features are most popular and what problems typically arise.

Typical examples already common are in energy management and health and well-being: for example, smart energy meters remotely transmitting usage data or controlled by utility companies, or patient monitoring systems where key patient data can be transmitted automatically to a carer or care centre.

In patient monitoring, research from analyst firm Berg Insight suggests around 2.8 million patients worldwide were using a dedicated home monitoring service based on equipment with integrated connectivity at the end of 2012 (figure excludes patients using their personal mobile phone, tablet or PC for remote monitoring). The analyst forecasts the number of home monitoring systems with integrated communication capabilities will grow to reach 9.4 million connections worldwide by 2017.

It is possible to connect any type of remote machine or device to critical information systems and collect real-time field intelligence to improve efficiency, reduce costs, introduce new services and gain competitive advantage. The ultimate aim is to enable anytime, anywhere access to real-time intelligence from remote machines.

‘Everything will be connected to everything else’

According to the ‘Internet of Things Consortium’, formed at International CES in Las Vegas, “In the future, everything will be connected to everything else.”  The consortium is a non-profit organization with the mission of facilitating cooperation between hardware, software, and service providers. It is primarily focused on Internet enabled devices and related software services that directly touch consumers in the form of home automation, entertainment, and productivity.

One of the goals of the consortium is to see billions of connected devices that benefit from communication with other devices and services.

According to Machina Research, global M2M connections will increase from two billion at the end of 2011 to 18 billion at the end of 2022. Even Ericsson has been forecasting for a couple of years that there will be 50 billion connections by the year 2020. Connections will be dominated by two sectors: consumer electronics (including cameras, music players and TVs) and intelligent buildings (for example security and HVAC systems). Between them they will account for almost 70% of the total.

By 2022, Europe and developing Asia-Pacific will be tied as the biggest region for M2M, each accounting for 27 percent of connections. The biggest single markets will be the China and the US with 20 percent and 19 percent respectively. In terms of revenue, M2M will grow from US$200 billion in 2011 to US$1.2 trillion in 2022Two-thirds of the revenue opportunity is accounted for by devices and installation, and one-third by M2M services.

Matt Hatton, director of Machina Research, says, “M2M, in all its diversity, is little short of a second industrial revolution. The growth in connected devices over the next few years will fundamentally change the way we live and work. The potential to save money, generate new revenue streams and create sustainable cities will drive businesses, governments and individuals to embrace M2M. The potential impact is huge.”

It’s not the technology that’s important – it’s the data and how you read it

They key thing about M2M is that the technology is transparent or hidden to the application – the user doesn’t necessarily need to know it exists (think of Apple and its gadgets). What’s more important is the data that is produced, and how it is interpreted.  The challenge with having billions of connected devices generating many data points in this new era of connectedness is how to read and interpret the data. This is where the role of business intelligence systems analytics comes in.

Take for example the cold chain logistics supply chain of the pharmaceuticals and food industries. Dutch company Dyzle monitors the temperature and other key parameters of medicines, pharmaceuticals ingredients and food ingredients in storage, transport and distribution.  Tags with connectivity travel with the medicines or food or while they are in transport or cold storage, to monitor the temperature and other key parameters to ensure that they do not deviate outside a specified temperature range stipulated by a company’s quality requirements as well as regulatory requirements – and patient/consumer safety expectations.

But it’s not the technology that’s important – sensors and hardware can be integrated from any solution. What’s important is how that data is gathered and reported.  In this case, regulatory requirements mandate that the entire history of temperature during storage and distribution must to be documented to provide proof of product quality, which means many data points are being generated continuously. So Dyzle collects the data in the cloud, provides automatic reporting and analysis of that data via personal dashboards, and makes it available securely via any internet-enabled device to quality managers and company managers.

‘Big data’ needs business intelligence

These reports and data link into to company-wide business intelligence and ERP systems. Business intelligence is increasingly becoming an area that many organisations are exploring, in order to deal with the massive amount of data that is collected. Hence the emergence of service providers offering platforms that allow you to do things with the data, often in the cloud as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that eliminates the need to install any systems, and requiring no additional resources for data warehousing; they also provide analytics engines, report building and visualisation tools amongst others.

One such business intelligence provider is datazuum – CEO Samir Sharma comments, “Business intelligence and advanced analytical tools should be embedded into the culture of all organisations (where enough data exists).  These types of systems don’t need to be expensive or technically dependent on the IT department; you also don’t need to buy a lot of hardware and software to support these activities.  It’s the business people that know their business and their data, not someone sitting in an ultra-technical department.”

Business intelligence in the cloud provides companies with fast, inexpensive deployment, no hardware and setup expenditure, no capital expenditure (lowers entry barriers), software upgrades and maintenance, pre-built connectors and dashboards for many systems. It also provides improved data sharing capabilities to access data anytime and anywhere.

It’s up to the imagination and business model for innovation with IoT

Coming back to Walt Mossberg’s comment that IoT will be the next big thing, it could indeed be the basis of the next industrial revolution, especially since it is totally up to the imagination and creativity of business model. Businesses and individuals have the ability to connect anything using a wireless connection to talk to other devices and report back on social or business parameters.

This ‘Internet of things’ will have a huge impact on how businesses look at their business operations, efficiency and productivity – in the next few years it could actually help restore confidence after the global economic crisis, providing a leap forward in global productivity. Combine this with the need to interpret the huge number of data points that will be generated – the so-called ‘big-data – and automated business intelligence and reporting systems also become increasingly important. The next wave of innovation will therefore come around the internet of things, big data and business intelligence.

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