We live in an era where new words and phrases invade every day conversation at an alarming pace. You sip your coffee, have a chat with your friend about work and sports when the conversation shifts to FinTech, Bitcoin and decentralized finance. These are words, concepts and definitions you’re not really accustomed to but seem to be leading ideas in the digital revolution we’re currently going through. Enter the Internet of Things.
The phrase has slowly yet steadily become the benchmark explanation of the growing relationship between the Internet and the devices that are controlled and communicate through it. From kitchen appliances, cars and heart monitors to speakers, TVs and wearables, every single device that can be connected to the Internet is becoming an ecosystem of gadgets that transmit data and work in tandem.
Don’t let the simplicity of the name fool you. The Internet of Things is a grandiose idea that dips its fingers into every single walk of life. To gain some perspective on how big the IoT culture is becoming, look no further than this IDC study predicting “the IoT global market revenue to reach approximately US$1.1 trillion by 2025.”
The Internet has been around for quite some time but the IoT ecosystem is only starting to blow up now. What’s causing this explosion? Here’s a list of reasons provided by this EY report:
- Decrease in sensor and electronic cost
- Increase in computing power
- Decrease in cost of connectivity
- Advancements in connectivity technologies
- Flagship government programs such as Smart Cities
The Possibilities Are Endless
When we talk about devices that can be controlled remotely, the mind immediately wanders to the things that directly affect our lives. House devices and cars are the most prominent examples but it’s important to understand the breadth and width of industries that will be affected by the IoT in the years to come.
Fashion is one of the not so obvious examples of how this new level of interconnectivity is going to change the world as we know it. Just look at Ralph Lauren is doing. One of the most well-known brand names in the world of fashion, Ralph lauren is embracing the IoT culture by joining forces with software platform Evrythng and Avery Dennison industrial group to digitize its entire collection line.
The collaboration will see the digital product identities for products to verify authenticity as the goods move through the supply chain. On the consumer side, customers will be able to simply scan a QR code and immediately receive information about the product such as price and materials as well as personalised styling advice from RL.
“The launch of Digital Product IDs demonstrates how we continue to use technology to deliver more for our consumers and ensure the integrity of our products throughout their lifecycle,” says David Lauren, Chief Innovation Officer in an official press release. “The application of this technology means every Polo product will be ‘born-digital’ which represents a new milestone in data intelligence innovation in our sector.”
The measurable benefits from implementing the IoT technology are evident for both the company and consumer. The statement from David Lauren though unearths a different layer of value. It seems that there is a desire to move the company in the digital age. The statement shows a shift in mindset and perspective, an understanding of the grand implications of the digital world. The digital product identities are just a byproduct of a culture change that will have the IoT at its core.
Again, not an obvious example. When you think of the Internet and smart devices, a farm in the middle of nowhere is the last thing that comes to your mind. That’s exactly why the innovation and progress in this specific vertical garners attention and enthusiasm. Because bringing the gift of technology and the Internet into an industry that is not directly associated with it is another level of achievement.
How does the IoT become a farming staple? By optimizing day-to-day operations. In the near future, farmers will be able to individually monitor every animal and/or plant and assign personalized feeding and medical programmes. Drones and sensors will join fertilizers and pesticides as core components of a farmer’s kit. Weather forecast data will feed directly into a greenhouse and automatically adjust the temperature. Statistics on livestock, eating habits and health condition of animals will empower the farmer to control and manage the process effectively and efficiently.
It does not stop there. The amount of data the farmers will be able to gather on soil quality, crop’s growth, equipment efficiency and waste reduction is of immense value. The farmers will be able to get insight into a process that was happening on autopilot up until now.
The research in favor of smart agriculture is substantial, with the global smart agriculture market size projected to be three times bigger by 2025, reaching $15.3 billion.
This one isn’t hard to crack. What do you get when you combine the IoT with consumer banking? A smart ATM. Imagine if the ATM could directly identify communicate with your smartphone and could perform additional functions to the ones it does today.
Handle a loan application on the go, clear a cheque, have a camera meeting with a bank employee / assistant, transfer between accounts and any other function a consumer might need. Apart from the obvious device-to-device interaction, banking will realise a lot of value in the way banks understand their customers.
The use of analytics and data from monitoring consumer behaviour online will allow banks to offer tailored solutions on lending, trade finance, collateral management and insurance. Consumers will stop being treated as account numbers but as unique entities where their needs are understood and catered for.
This wouldn’t be a complete article without a section on security and the pitfalls associated with the IoT. Tech is breaking new ground at a pace where regulation and security are simply reacting instead of being proactive. How secure will the IoT be for users? Is the interconnectedness of these devices simply adding to the fears for digital security? Here’s an answer from EY Global Media & Entertainment Advisory Services Leader, Janet Balis in a recent interview:
“IoT likely is just another dimension of complexity on that security equation, particularly as security protocols for IoT-enabled devices are at reasonably low-level maturity in terms of individuals’ understanding of their actions and potential risks.”
As it becomes very apparent, innovation when it comes to policy will need to go along with the devices. There will be a need for closed-loop, end-to-end access control from the moment a device joins the network. Employing machine learning and deep packet inspection will also allow regulators to accurately identify what’s on the network.
Moreover, devices will need to be IoT-ready. They will need to be equipped with the necessary firmware in order to adapt and be able to meet evolving threats. The IoT is a big idea but so will be the repercussions if a breach were to happen. Security should be a priority when building both devices and networks and not thought of as an extra or an add-on.