By 2025 there will be 42 billion connected IoT devices generating almost 80 zettabytes of data. But what benefits are enterprises gaining from these connected devices and all of that data? As we enter into a new decade, Tom Gardner, Head of IoT & MVNO at CKHIOD outlines how IoT is making an impact in the retail, transport and utilities sectors.
When it comes to IoT adoption, the retail, transport and utilities sectors stand out. They have long embraced IoT and have been innovative in how they are using sensors and other devices to gain valuable insights. As we move into the 2020s we can expect to see these sectors continue to embrace the opportunity IoT presents to drive efficiencies, understand customers, streamline operations and reduce costs.
Richer insights from connected sensors are invaluable to retailers
For retailers, the benefits of IoT begin in the store planning stage: data from sensors and cameras can provide insights into where certain demographics congregate or areas that attract the most footfall. This information can help determine the best location for a store. Once a store has been opened, connected sensors help to identify hotspots within the store, aiding with product placement. And using intelligent cameras, retailers can assess which products are successful by analysing the time a customer spends looking at the product versus actual conversion rates. These same cameras, in conjunction with Artificial Intelligence, are also being used for advanced theft detection by analysing hand movements based on established behaviours.
The data from connected sensors dotted around the store provide a rich vein of valuable information to retailers who can use it to deepen their customer relationships. Digital screens enable retailers to act on what they've learned about their customers: the screens can deliver incredibly targeted content to consumers and by tapping into this trend for personalisation retailers can increase their upselling opportunities while enhancing customer loyalty.
Advanced telematics aid decision making
The transport sector has been using IoT to track assets and vehicles for some time, and this capability is likely to become more advanced as the underlying network infrastructure becomes better equipped to deal with real-time information. Enterprises are able to respond more effectively to service issues as in-vehicle GPS devices show qualified engineers’ proximity to incident locations. With this information, companies are able to make more informed decisions and solve in field incidents efficiently and quickly. Predictive analytics go a step further and enable engineers to be sent to site even before issues occur.
We're also seeing how telematics is helping insurance companies to access data insights like driver behaviour and using that information to reduce insurance premiums. For car rental firms, telematics systems have been instrumental in helping minimise insurance claim costs and prevent fraud as accidents experienced in hire vehicles can be analysed thoroughly thanks to detailed impact information.
5G will have a major impact on autonomous vehicle capabilities in the coming years. The lower latency rates available with 5G means virtually no delay between something happening and a system knowing about it. This opens the door to effective vehicle to vehicle communication, which in turn will make autonomous driving safer and more reliable.
5G means virtually no delay between something happening and a system knowing about it. This opens up the door to effective vehicle to vehicle communication, which in turn will make autonomous driving safer and more reliable.
LPWA gives utility companies better oversight of their network
Utility companies are at the cutting edge of IoT adoption as they seek to fulfil environmental targets and reduce operating costs. Adoption is only set to increase with the availability of Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks.
LPWA has been specifically designed for IoT and offers increased coverage and the ability to penetrate hard to reach locations, such as underground pipes. The associated sensors can operate on two double AA batteries with a life span of up to 10 years, perfect for the transmission of notification messages where there is a water leak or an increase in gas pressure for example. At CKHIOD we recognised the potential of LPWA for the utilities sector and through our local operating companies we are rolling it out across several countries in Europe and elsewhere.
Security still an issue but device testing can mitigate the risk
Security has long been the stumbling block for widespread IoT rollout. And this is understandable: we are entrusting machines with massive volumes of sensitive data, and increasingly, we are deploying machines that evoke actions based on that data. How can we be sure these devices have not been compromised?
At CKH IOD our advice for enterprises rolling out IoT devices is to source your devices from credible suppliers and to make sure they have been thoroughly tested and accredited.
For added peace of mind we work with our partners to run device security testing as well as connectivity testing, where we determine how a device will perform on a network in order to eradicate or minimise post-deployment issues.
Underlying network now capable of powering IoT future
The rollout of IoT is similar to when cars were first introduced to the horse & cart market: everyone thought they would take over the world, but in reality it took a long time. The road network wasn't fit for cars and the vehicles themselves were prohibitively expensive. It's a similar situation with IoT; until recently, networks were not fully designed to support large volume IoT devices and their very different needs vs smartphones. The device price point has also been a challenge for certain use cases.
Now, due to the introduction of LPWA and the rollout of 5G, the underlying network is capable of powering large-scale IoT deployments for all manner of use cases. The device price points have also reduced as critical scale is achieved. These advancements have removed some of the roadblocks to widespread IoT adoption, and in the coming decade we're likely to see new and exciting IoT concepts becoming reality.