The Internet of Things is disrupting the industries we work in, whether or not we're prepared. Here, we’ve compiled a list detailing how 14 major industries are already leveraging IoT.
What is the Internet of Things Being Used For?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next big disruptor in tech, with over 20 billion IoT devices expected by 2020 and a market valued at over $3 trillion, according to Gartner. Which means that IT (because you can’t have IoT without IT) is going to have a lot more work on its plate.
The power of IoT is that each “Thing” has sensors which can collect and send data and communicate with other “Things”. This allows companies to turn their warehouses (or shops, offices, factories, seaports, etc.) into sensitive, highly coordinated environments that are always collecting data —and always improving.
An IoT device has two primary capabilities: it can collect and send data and it can complete an action (like a robotic arm on a factory floor). IoT becomes exceptionally powerful when it is brought to scale, when an organization uses thousands of sensors to collect data or coordinates the actions of hundreds of factory robots, for example.
In order to maintain efficiency at such scales, IT needs to leverage automation solutions to help pass information and manage dependencies between different devices. Those devices might even be operating on different systems, as is the case when a hospital passes data from patient monitors to a server and then to doctors and nurses.
To do this, IT needs scalable automation solutions that can coordinate and integrate with disparate devices, platforms, software, and infrastructure. Workload Automation, for example, allows IT to coordinate, automate, and manage the processes that run IoT, giving IT the scalability it needs, and allowing IT to monitor and manage their IoT environments from a single interface.
It doesn’t matter what market or industry your organization is in: IoT is already empowering your competitors. Check out the list below to see how IoT is impacting 14 major markets.
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The Internet of Things is Disrupting These 14 Industries (And more)
- Restaurants: These IoT appliances for restaurateurs will monitor food temperature, automatically order supplies when needed, and even cook the food. This helps restaurants better manage inventory, reduce food-borne illnesses, and provide a better customer experience. Restaurant management groups and franchisees will need to process data from dozens of locations.
- Hotels: Smart-home technology is entering the hotel room, from smart mirrors and bidets to connected curtains, AC, TV, and more. (Hilton is testing its new smart hotel rooms in select locations.) IT teams supporting hoteliers will need to leverage automation to help monitor and send alerts when one of those countless hotel devices starts to spark.
- Shipping: IoT allows transportation and logistics companies to know the precise location and ETA of container ships, tractor-trailers, cargo planes, and even the individual packages that are in transit. Sensors track the unloading of cargo, monitor equipment health, and initiate corrective processes when an error occurs. To keep this IoT symphony well-orchestrated, IT automation is a must.
- Brick-and-mortar stores: As brick-and-mortar stores develop new ways to increase foot-traffic, many are leveraging retail IoT to create a more personalized, in-store experience. For instance, Amazon’s hyper-connected stores and Google’s pop-up stores —and also Samsung and Target’s IoT-pervasive pop-up stores. Big data is a big hit for commerce, driving the use of automation and IoT to gain actionable insights.
- HVAC: In this case, smart thermostats and sensors that monitor your indoor environments, feeding data back to the HVAC systems that can then adjust temperature and humidity as needed, and even shut windows and manage ceiling fans. This requires that dependencies are quickly passed between devices.
- Transportation: Ford acquired Autonomic, a Silicon Valley-startup, to help Ford develop a cloud-based platform that will connect vehicles, pedestrians, traffic lights, and more. Even a car company (or, sorry, a transportation company) is using IoT to prepare its business model for the future.
- Manufacturing: Airbus has designed its Factory of the Future around the IoT-enhanced Rosie: a robotic tool that takes orders from workers’ tablets. Manufacturing has seen a boon of IoT developments in recent years, often to monitor machine health to better prevent breakdowns. This improves production and efficiency by drastically reducing the amount of time equipment stands idle.
- City-planning: Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet Company, is determined to digitally connect local transit, real estate, infrastructure, and more, to develop neighborhoods that are cleaner, safer, and all-around more enjoyable. This is giving local governments something to think about as they look to use IoT to orchestrate the hustle-and-bustle of busy city centers.
- Waste management: Having a smart city means having a connected waste management system. Which means having garbage receptacles that measure and track when a can (or dumpster) needs to be emptied, notifying the waste management company.
- Health care: Surgeons are benefiting from connected drills that measure bone density and moderate pressure. Patient monitors, X-ray machines, and IV pumps are some of the other devices hospitals are connecting to their local networks, receiving data from patients and instruments, sending that data to servers where it can be processed before being sent to the appropriate doctors and nurses.
- Consumer goods: Anything you interact with in your home can be connected to the IoT: speakers, kitchen appliances, TVs, and yes, even your mattress. Buyers of these goods often use their smartphones instead of IT to manage their systems, but the companies that produce these connected gadgets are being flooded with big data.
- Digital Twins: Digital twin technology might be the holy grail of IoT. By pairing physical spaces or objects with sensors and smart components, organizations are creating digital replicas of products, offices, factory floors, and more. These digital twins allow organizations to monitor their physical spaces in real-time and to run simulations to develop superior systems, processes, and products.
- Research: Restaurants, hotels, manufacturers, retail stores, hospitals, and local governments aren’t the only ones finding ways to better coordinate devices and gather better data. Oceanographers are using fleets of drones to explore and monitor the remotest reaches of Earth’s oceans. Fleets (or flocks) of miniature drones offer a range of applications from research, to search-and-rescue, agriculture, and entertainment.
- Agriculture: Farmers are using IoT devices to monitor soil quality, the weather, and crops and cattle. Processes such as irrigation, fertilizing, and applying pesticides have become automated as well, depending on data received from monitors across the farm. If you happen to manage a greenhouse, you might be familiar with Farmapp and Growlink, two popular IoT automation platforms for managing commercial greenhouses.
The benefits and use-cases of IoT are limited only by our creativity. First, however, we need to make sure we have the scalable IT infrastructure we need to leverage these powerful new tools.
Let us know how you're successfully leveraging IoT devices in your industry by leaving a response in the comments below.
Brian is a staff writer for the IT Automation without Boundaries blog, where he covers IT news, events, and thought leadership. He has written for several publications around the New York City-metro area, both in print and online, and received his B.A. in journalism from Rowan University. When he’s not writing about IT orchestration and modernization, he’s nose-deep in a good book or building Lego spaceships with his kids.