The Internet of Things is worth the hype, in fact the hype may not be quite enough to show the value of this remarkable technology. JOHN EIGELAAR examines the impact, the future and potential of IoT and its applications in Africa.
The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t new. Describing the ability of all things to connect to one another and automate basic processes or transform the way devices interact, IoT has long been touted as the evolution of the internet and connectivity. However, most applications remain out of reach, not quite at the point where they can be implemented in any kind of real-world scenario and not in a way that would make any discernible difference. Limitations in connectivity, technology and cost, especially in South Africa, are slowing its uptake and innovation
That said, McKinsey Consulting recently forecast that the economic impact of IoT could be as impressive as US$11 trillion a year. Gartner believes that by 2016 there will be 6.4 billion connected things in use with an additional 5.5 million connected each day throughout the year. The question isn’t whether IoT will remain a growing trend, but rather what its potential is. And this is in data. Data has become the black gold of the century, offering up information and insight that can transform industries and control processes.
By harnessing data through IoT technologies, organisations can rework internal systems to address issues around efficiencies or production. Imagine, for example, an organisation provides employees with information about how their performance impacts on the overall organisation and its profitability by handing each person a smart device with an organisation-specific app. The app pulls data from all interconnected devices and systems to provide tailored graphs or information that highlights how a particular area is functioning. If all equipment is connected and, in the case of mining or manufacturing, loads are accurately measured, employees can see how their hard work has paid off. This level of employee buy-in and engagement delivers exceptional value to the organisation and it is far more cost-effective to invest in smart devices and apps than to pay for the impact of a strike.
The data gleaned from IoT can unlock an organisation’s potential, reveal areas of innovation that were previously unrecognised and identify challenges that need to be overcome. It is an opportunity and one that the business needs to recognise in order to compete in the market today. It doesn’t mean we should forget about the interconnected dream of the IoT fridge, but it does point to a future that blends the drama of big data with the connectivity of IoT to create the ultimate information highway.
* John Eigelaar, Director and Co-Founder of Keystone Electronic Solutions.