A simple definition of the Internet of Things (IO)
To fully understand what the Internet of Things is and where its value to businesses lies, it is necessary to go back to the origins and foundations of the concept.
Photo Alex Qian in Pexels
The Internet celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019.
By dematerializing exchanges, it has allowed the development of new digital ecosystems, fed by data provided by users and by computer systems.
However, it was complex to integrate the information from the analog world, which was difficult to collect and transcribe into a digital format. We then got used to considering the digital and physical worlds as two distinct areas of application.
Today, with the Internet of Things (IO), this separation is about to be shattered.
IO offers the possibility of connecting the digital world with the physical world on a large scale, thanks to technologies with a low cost of entry. Thus, real-world knowledge can now be based on data.
For companies, this possibility opens the way to many high value-added services: data can be used to optimize and automate their processes, to capture new sources of value, to implement interactions with physical environments or to anticipate the occurrence of events.
The origins of the Internet of Things
It is in the industrial world that the Internet of things has its roots, more particularly in M2M (Machine-to-Machine) devices.
These have allowed machines to exchange information without human intervention, combining sensors integrated into industrial equipment, networks and identification and traceability technologies such as RFID.
The first large-scale applications began in the mid-1990s, driven by the growth of GSM networks.
The arrival of objects on the IP network, the basic protocol of the Internet, is a little later. It started on the side of the general public.
For the record, one of the first items connected was a Coca-Cola vending machine located at Carnegie Mellon University.
In the early 1980s, engineers connected it to the network to remotely check for stocks of fresh beverages. Also in the USA, John Romkey introduced an Internet-connected toaster in 1990.
In France, the company Violet, known for its Nabaztag rabbits, was a pioneer with a connected lamp presented in 1994.
In 1997, futurist Paul Saffo published a visionary article on sensors, which he believed would be the next great wave of innovation in the computer industry.
“What happens when we give the machines eyes, ears and other organs of perception,” he asks himself. “Inevitably, we are going to ask these machines to respond to what they perceive, to manipulate the world around them. »
Finally, it was in 1999 when the concept of Io appeared for the first time, used by Kevin Ashton, director of the Automatic Identification Center at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
Definition of OI
The Internet of Things (IO) is a cutting-edge technology, where traditionally disconnected objects around us (such as lamps, machines, clothes, etc.), whether physical or virtual, now have the ability to communicate with each other in real time.
This object network allows you to share your data through a cloud platform without human intervention.
Thanks to the optimization of the interactions between humans and machines and the multiplication of data flows, the connected objects offer the possibility to define the precise needs of an individual, to offer him/her a unique good or service.
What is the future for the IoT?
If the concept appeared around the 2000’s, the Internet of things only really entered the business world in 2010.
Currently, 12% of companies have invested in an OR solution and it is expected that within two to five years this adoption rate will rise to 24%.
The global impact of the technology is expected to be significant, with the market expected to grow from $3.9 trillion to $11.9 trillion by 2025.
What are the possible applications of IoT?
Comparable to the B2C revolution brought about by the arrival of the Internet, IoT is about to completely revolutionize first the manufacturing, energy, transport and many other sectors.
Did you know that in 70% of cases, companies invest in an OR solution to improve their customer service?
This is mainly due to the needs that technology can cover for a product, such as accurate monitoring of usage or the need for maintenance. Thus, connected objects help ensure the best experience throughout the product life cycle.
In the aviation industry, large companies have recently collaborated to install sensor batteries in aircraft engines.
These sensors are intended to collect data that will allow better performance evaluation and greater predictability in aircraft maintenance.
Another recent example is that of transport market leaders who have launched sensor-equipped passenger car tires.
Sensors located in the tires measure their pressure and temperature in real time, information that is immediately sent to the driver through an application.
The driver can then adjust the pressure if necessary and no longer has to worry about the health of his tires. In this way, manufacturers become maintenance service providers.
What about the use of IO internally within companies?
On the employees’ side, we tend to think of the drastic scenario in which IoT would impact the workforce, which would be gradually replaced by intelligent connected machines.
In addition, a World Economic Forum report states that this technology would provide more flexibility to employees and make work spaces more attractive for millennia.
For example, in the connected factories, the machine interfaces are less rigid, allowing better remote control and limiting physical work.
Leaving more room for collaboration between employees. Not to mention the health and safety benefits of more precise control over plant equipment.
Do you want recommendations on how to leverage OI for your business?
The three main sources of value of the IO (Internet of Things) BtoB
Although the connected objects for the general public are the most mediatized, they are not necessarily the ones that produce the most value.
According to McKinsey analysts, 70% of the value generated by the IoT market is driven by business-to-business (B2B) uses.
In the BtoB market, IoT projects are guided by use cases. The objective is to solve concrete problems faced by companies.
They are structured around three major themes, illustrated with examples:
1- Cost reduction
In a sector such as logistics, materials such as wheeled cages are often badly placed, resulting in high costs.
By equipping these cars with GPS sensors, they can be located at all times, a major source of savings for companies.
In the construction industry, energy consumption is often difficult to optimize.
When the rooms are switched on, lighting and heating can be adjusted in real time, depending on the occupancy.
2- Increase productivity
A company in charge of delivering gas cylinders to professionals can equip them with sensors to know when they are about to run out, and the company can then prepare and optimize its routes.
A water or energy distributor can place sensors at different strategic points in its network to analyze the operation of the equipment in real time. This allows you to plan possible repairs and prevent breakdowns.
3- The creation of new business models
A company that manages private parking lots can install sensors to know when the spaces are unoccupied: these can be rented and the income is shared between the manager and the owners.
From BtoC to BtoB
In recent years, many connected objects have been developed for the BtoC (Business-to-Consumer) market.
The “quantified self”, the tendency to collect data on oneself as an individual, as well as home automation, have fueled consumer demand.
Despite this, the promise often clashed with the reality of use, with, for example, connected bracelets whose autonomy did not exceed two days.
Currently, the IO finds the greatest opportunities in the BtoB world.
In particular, it allows the integration of information systems (IT) with operating systems (OS), which allows to completely rethink certain processes such as production, supply chain, maintenance or security.
If in the world BtoC is the object that is most important, in the world BtoB is the service. What differentiates the BtoB IO from a connected object is the negligible cost of the object and connectivity compared to the service provided.
The goal is to obtain a quick return on investment, with the simplest possible single-use object.
Thus, in agriculture, a few well-placed sensors (humidity, rain, sun…) are enough to save thousands of euros to a farm, allowing it to fine-tune its water consumption.
A smart phone, on the other hand, is more of a connected object, both because of its high cost and its multiple uses.
You can also look for other concepts in the digital books or medium use books in the online stores of Amazon, WalMart, Costco, Sams Club, Carrefour, alibaba, eBay, Aliexpress, Zappos, Target, Newegg, Etsy, My American Market, Macy’s, Staples , MyKasa.