Have you ever imagined a world where every device you interact with is connected to the internet and talking to each other? Apply this concept outside of individual households, and you will have a smart city that utilises sensor collected data to manage and improve public services such as energy and transport in real time. This connectivity will also be a critical part of the blueprint of Industry 4.0 where companies will be able to monitor things such as equipment condition and logistical flow in real time and act upon those insights. As this concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionising not only organisations, but also lifestyles of individuals, it will soon become critical in shaping the future of New Zealand.
What exactly is IoT?
As defined by Deloitte University Press, IoT is a suite of technologies and applications that equip devices to generate all kinds of information—and to connect those devices for instant data analysis and “smart” action.
What benefits does IoT provide?
Through its ability to connect physical objects to the wider internet, IoT facilitates communication of information between devices and the internet which provides two key benefits as listed below:
Aggregation and utilisation of information
By enabling devices to communicate via the internet, data about devices themselves (e.g. condition, position etc.) and the surrounding environment can be automatically collected and aggregated through the internet. That information can then create value in a never-ending process, as exemplified in the Information Value Cycle (IVC) outlined below:
Connectivity and interaction
Other than passive information collection, IoT also enables devices to be controlled and operated remotely through the internet. This can be employed on multiple levels, from the basic level of remote controlling devices via applications or setting simple action conditions based on collected data, to the more advanced form of using the insights generated to enable the device to make smart decisions or provide recommendations to the user. This characteristic of IoT allows the information, insights, and decisions generated through IoT data to be rapidly fed back to optimise business activities.
How can those benefits be utilised?
At a very high level, IoT market segments can be generally divided into three broad categories: enterprise/industrial, consumer, and the public sector. Each of these segments has distinct characteristics and market opportunities. Below are some examples of opportunities and use cases for IoT across these categories.
Enterprise / Industrial
Synchronised planning – As detailed by Deloitte Insights, a use case for IoT in the industrial sector is centred on the establishment of a Digital Supply Network (DSN) to enable synchronised planning where all supply and demand data is aggregated. By connecting assets, systems and processes across the DSN, IoT can allow organisations to capture end-to-end inventory information across the network in real time.
Predictive maintenance – Another use case for IoT is in the domain of Asset Management. According to Deloitte research, connecting assets to the internet while also installing sensors to report on asset condition and performance levels will enable organisations to have a real-time view of the status of all assets.
Smart interaction – For consumers, IoT will allow remote interaction with appliances and the ability to personalise those appliances based on personal needs. As found by Deloitte research, most consumers believe Smart Homes and connected devices will make their lives easier. More specifically, consumers identified the ability to control and set basic actions for devices such as heaters and lights through the internet as valuable functionality.
Product personalisation – With IoT’s ability to collect and aggregate data without any effort from the user, connected devices will provide information for companies to offer more personalised products as well as usage-based charging to consumers. For example, Deloitte asserts that connected devices are allowing companies in the insurance industry to better forecast premiums based on consumer behaviour, thus driving individualised insurance policies.
Liveability & sustainability – For the public sector, one of the key focuses for utilising IoT has been the construction of smart cities. The key driver behind smart city initiatives is to improve the liveability and sustainability of the city through the use of connected devices. Devices are used to track and monitor key aspects of the city, including the environment, security, and transport, to drive better decision making by city leaders.
Optimised service delivery – Deloitte found that IoT can also be applied to optimise the delivery of public services through collecting and analysing data generated by the connected devices used by citizens. In the healthcare industry, connected devices monitor patient conditions and habits and have significant potential to support the industry’s transition from a provider-driven marketplace into a patient-centric ecosystem. Efficient information sharing between patient and doctors through IoT enables healthcare services to be more personalised and optimised.
As the IoT disrupts industries across the globe by enabling better business models, New Zealand organisations should also be preparing to adopt this suite of technologies and begin to actively identify opportunities where benefits can best be realised.
Max Gong, Senior Consultant, Technology Strategy & Transformation
Max Gong is a Consultant in our Technology Strategy & Architecture team in Auckland. He is enthusiastic about helping clients realise business value through the adoption of emerging technologies.