Ayman Mehreen

Ayman Mehreen

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What is IoT and Why is it so important?

Internet of things has got the whole industry talking. The way it is impacting our lives and the predominant effects that the business world has experienced are worth the hype. Our daily interaction with technology has become smarter and efficient to a remarkable extent with the advent of this new technology.

The use of IoT has pretty much surged over the past few years reason being the reduced cost of smart technology and accessible wireless internet. It enables almost any daily use device to be connected to the internet. IoT serves as a bridge between the physical and digital world and almost blurs the line between making them work in harmony.

IoT comprises a variety of devices from household appliances to sophisticated industrial tools. Anything that has embedded sensors and capable of exchanging data can be counted in IoT. Businesses can streamline their operations by incorporating the internet of things into their business strategy making the business fabric smarter.

In this article, we have explored what is IoT and everything that you need to know about it. So stick to the article to learn more about IoT.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The internet of things can be referred to as a network of smart connected devices using the power of the internet for data processing and analytics. It is an all-inclusive term for all those devices that do not rely on human intervention for sending and receiving data. It has turned traditional computing devices into smart ones for example Alexa (digital assistants) smart refrigerators, internet-enabled sensors that are transforming factories, healthcare, transportation, distribution centres and farms.

IoT is playing a vital role in empowering enterprises to enhance their manufacturing and distribution operations with internet-enabled machinery. The access to big data, record-keeping of assets, reduction of manual labour and insights about the market and customers are some of the attributes accredited to IoT.

How Big Is Global IoT Market?

The merger of the physical world with the digital one has proved to be a propulsive force for the rising IoT market. The adoption of digital twin by various industries has aided in gaining full control over business operations. Hence enabling the IoT market to gain momentum.

 The Internet of Things (IoT) market size was USD 250.72 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 1,463.19 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 24.9% during the forecast period. The adoption of smart sensors is one of the main contributors to the IoT market gaining momentum. The task of measuring the external environments such as light intensity, position, flow, pressure, force, and temperature is efficiently performed by these sensors. Moreover, they measure physical inputs and convert them into raw data. The data is then stored digitally for analyzing the processes.

The IoT market value is further segregated in terms of platform and based on the regional analysis. Based on the platform, the market is divided into network management, cloud platform, and device management. The device management segment holds a considerable chunk of the market among these three i.e 35.5% Internet of Things market share in 2019. This is because, with the surge of IoT and multiple devices, the demand for the management of these devices has also spiked.

In 2019, Asia Pacific generated USD 98.86 billion revenue because of the rapid adoption of IoT in developing countries. North America is set to remain in the second position throughout the forthcoming years on account of the presence of the maximum number of companies in the U.S. They are frequently investing in the development of new solutions to surge sales. 

How IoT works?

There are a lot of non-technical people out there who are unaware of the working of the IoT. Hence lack of knowledge leads to myths that prove to impede the adoption of IoT. Here IoT is explained in non-technical terms that will aid most of you to make the best out of it.

A complete IoT system comprises:

  • Sensors/ Devices
  • Connectivity
  • Data processing
  • A user interface

Each component brings about a specific function and the whole process resembles more or less like a cycle. The functions of each component are defined as follow:

  1. Sensors/Devices:
    These are the basic elements of IoT devices. They gather data from the environment and have an IP address. This means they are connected to the internet. IoT devices can use single sensors or multiple sensors bundled together on a device. The sensors can perform a range of functions from as simple as measuring the light to as complex as predicting the downtime of machines in the industrial scenario.
  1. Connectivity:
    The gathered data now needs to be sent to the cloud. But how does it reach there? It needs a carrier which can be an internet connection or a variety of other options for instance a variety of methods including cellular, satellite, WiFi, Bluetooth, low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN). They all perform the same task i.e is transporting data to the cloud but each option is selected keeping the tradeoffs in minds such as power consumption, range and bandwidth.
  1. Data Processing:
    As the data reaches the cloud, the software comes into action. The processing and analysis of the data are done here. It breaks down the data for the users which is usually to alert them or make them aware of the unnoticed changes.
  1. User Interface:
    The information is delivered to the user via a notification or an email alert to alert him of any action needed. The action is usually taken via a phone app or a web browser and that too remotely.

Why is IoT important for digital transformation?

Isn’t it amazing that smart appliances or machinery operate on their own without much-bothering humans knowing the preferences of their users? This is how IoT has revolutionized the world. The merger of the digital and physical world has enabled businesses to explore pools of opportunities. IoT is the key driver of digital transformation leading to the advancement of products as well as vendors.

Digital transformation simply put boils down to one point i.e is data. It is all about leveraging customers data to grow the businesses and get closer to the customers. Almost every single business is up to transforming digitally. If a traditional company wants to anchor itself to something solid, it surely needs to go digital. The digital transformation can only happen with the internet of things as it enables the physical products of the company to reach the cloud hence the bigger audience.

It starts with establishing a digital link between the company and customers by connecting it to the internet via an IoT platform. The rest of the process is already mentioned above.

The source data collected by IoT from the physical world help generate valuable insights. It also helps businesses harness the power of data through data analytics and enjoy the fruits of innovation. It enables businesses to stand toe to toe by modelling a product’s utility, usability, and performance and actual use. The various departments of the business such as manufacturing, sales, marketing and HR can also benefit from the data generated by the IoT.

Industrial IoT(IIoT):

Industrial IoT refers to the use of the internet of things beyond the scope of consumer space and enterprise IoT market. The internet of things is deployed in the industrial sectors and applications. IIoT allows industries to move on from the traditional computing machines to the smart ones and streamline industrial operations. It can be brought about by machine to machine(M2M) communication, artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data.

The IIoT lies at the middle point of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) which makes it distinct from normal IoT consumer devices. These two technologies are converged to provide the industries with the benefit of automation and optimization of the systems at the same time. This optimized system integration leads to better visibility of the physical infrastructure in industrial operations. Hence providing full control over these operations.

The IIoT has played an integral role in the transformation brought about by IoT also dubbed as industry 4.0. It has revolutionised machines to such an extent that they take vital decisions without human intervention with the help of big data and analytics. This is made possible by real-time data from the sensors and information from other sources. Furthermore, machines are now able to take on and automate tasks that have previously been impossible.

Edge Computing and Fog Computing:

You might often come across these two technical words while studying IoT. What is edge computing and fog computing and why are businesses adopting this approach? Here’s the answer to your questions.

Trillions of zettabytes of data are generated by digital devices each year which is synonymous with the data explosion. As a result of which traditional model of processing and storing data in the cloud is becoming costly and also leads to slow data retrieval. So for every modern problem, there is a modern solution. Edge and Fog computing is one of them.

Gartner Group suggests: “Around 10% of enterprise-generated data is created and processed outside a traditional centralized data centre or cloud. By 2022, Gartner predicts this figure will reach 75%.” The change to edge computing may have a profound impact on an organization’s IT and OT systems, and how new digital products are built.

The edge computing approach tackles the problems related to the cyber-physical systems as it facilitates the processing of data closer to the source. In return, less data is sent to the cloud for storage and processing. It overcomes the network latency in situations when the IoT applications require a sub-second response. For example in the case of autonomous vehicles, waiting for a request from the cloud can cost lives. In such a situation moving the processing of the sensor data to the edge gateway is the right choice and to get the desired response.

Fog computing is categorized as a type of Edge computing technology by  Cisco. The two terms are often used interchangeably. Fog refers to the computation that occurs within fog nodes or IoT gateways located in a business’s or organization’s local area network (LAN). Fog computing is the idea of a distributed network that connects these two environments. 

 Benefits of IoT :

  1. For Consumers:
    The internet of things has proved itself to be a saviour in the consumer space. The smarter, chattier and more measurable environment around us has saved us from the hassle of doing small things on our own. Smart thermostats help us heat our homes before we arrive back, and smart lightbulbs can make it look like we’re home even when we’re out. Home security systems make it easier to monitor what’s going on inside and outside or to see and talk to visitors. Similarly, autonomous cars and smart cities have changed the way we manage our public spaces.
  1. For Industries/ Businesses:
  • Saas IoT applications:
    Unlock business value with intelligent applications that make it easier for business executives to monitor the data captured by the sensors. The data is presented to the business users via dashboards providing a convenient analysis.
    The IoT applications with their machine learning algorithms utilize an enormous amount of data from the sensors. It is then displayed on the dashboards which provide visibility of vital business operations for instance key performance indicators, statistics for mean time between failures, and other information.
    They also identify equipment dysfunction sending alerts to users and even trigger automated fixes or proactive countermeasures.
  • Production-Line Monitoring:
    The production-line monitoring feature keeps the manufacturers up to date providing a competitive edge. It helps in proactive equipment maintenance hence avoiding any impending failure. This results in reduced operating costs, better uptime, and improved asset performance management.
    The automotive industry also benefits from this feature as sensors can detect impending equipment failure in vehicles already on the road and can alert the driver with details and recommendations. 
  •  Track-and-trace :
    The transportation and logistical systems have leveraged several benefits from IoT applications. The sensors keep the vehicles connected and suggest routes based on weather conditions, vehicle availability, or driver availability.
  •  Healthcare Asset Monitoring:
    IoT asset monitoring provides multiple benefits to the healthcare industry. The patient-assistance assets such as wheelchairs are monitored keeping the doctors and nurses informed. It also aids in financial accounting for the physical assets in each department ensuring the proper use of the assets.

Risks Associated With IoT And the Solution:

Many security problems associated with the IoT stem from a lack of basic security measures in place. Security gaps like exposed ports, inadequate authentication practices, and obsolete applications contribute to the emergence of risks. Combine these with having the network directly connected to the internet and more potential risks are invited.

Having a security operations centre (SOC) is critical in proactively monitoring and defending against the broad range of threats that affect connected environments. This centralized unit allows industries and enterprises to oversee the significant number of alerts that they may encounter and to enable quick response. SOCs are especially beneficial for facilities in need of better visibility and continuous analysis of their security posture. It is the goal of SOC teams to detect security incidents or any anomalous activity and be able to immediately address issues before any compromise could occur. This approach addresses the challenges that could come with legacy systems, low system visibility, and slow response times. With a SOC, alerts will be prioritized and threat correlation will be more optimized to enable enterprises to manage both IT and OT.

The Future Of IoT:

As the price of sensors and communications continue to drop, it is getting easier to acquire IoT. Despite this fact, the technology has yet to be developed. Most companies have incorporated IoT into their businesses on a trial basis right now. The reason being the necessary technology – sensor technology, 5G and machine-learning powered analytics – are still themselves at a reasonably early stage of development. There are many competing platforms and standards and many different vendors, from device makers to software companies to network operators, want a slice of the pie. It’s still not clear which of those will win out.

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