Is the IoT the next big thing for business?

There has been much said about how the Internet of Things (IoT) will change the world people live in. But now users are really starting to see some of this incredible promise come to fruition.

There is huge growth in IoT. International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts worldwide IoT spending to reach $772 billion this year, an increase of 14.6% on 2017. And Gartner suggests there will be 20.4 billion IoT devices by 2020.

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As IoT is booming, businesses are starting to use it to help improve, and indeed digitally transform to their operations. There remains, however, a huge opportunity for those businesses who are yet to embrace IoT to start thinking about how it might impact their organisations. But first, they need to understand its potential.

Getting closer to customers

One of the great things about IoT is that it enables customers and businesses to share more information with one another. Of course, this must be done both securely and transparently, but, when done properly, it can help deliver more personalised services for customers.

Crucially, it can help turn transactional relationships into value-based relationships for businesses.

Two industries that are leading the way here are automotive and car insurance. In fact, insurance more broadly will be really disrupted by IoT because of the information exchange it enables.

The key reason for this is that the core business of insurers is pricing risks. The more information you have available to do that, the better at it you become.

With car insurance, people might be used to getting their premiums determined by their address, what car they drive their driving history. But today, with IoT sensors in the cars themselves, premiums can be determined on each user’s driving style and behaviours. This brings a far more personalised service to customers, and gives more accurate information to insurers.

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Vodafone, for example, is working with Admiral Insurance on this exact opportunity, providing the underlying telematics services for the Admiral LittleBox offer, including devices, connectivity, data management, crash analysis and safety related services. Connectivity and IoT are transforming the relationship between Admiral and its customers.

Innovation for a better future

What is really exciting with IoT is the opportunity for businesses to do new things – to innovate and move organisations, or even entire industries, forward.

Vodafone’s latest global IoT barometer found that 51% of IoT adopters say that the technology is increasing revenues or opening up new revenue streams. Two thirds of all companies agree that digital transformation is impossible without IoT.

Healthcare is a prime example, where not only is the industry changing, but most importantly patient care is being improved.

Remote monitoring enables doctors to do their jobs in entirely new ways. They can consult and review real-time patient data, reducing emergency admissions and the number of home visits and appointments needed. It’s ideal for conditions such as sleep apnoea, as well as other chronic ailments, such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory problems that require ongoing intervention.

Anne Sheehan, enterprise director, Vodafone UK
Anne Sheehan, enterprise director, Vodafone UK

Agriculture is another. Working with MooCall, Vodafone used IoT technology to track the onset of calving in heifers. This non-invasive, tail-mounted sensor gathers over 600 pieces of data a second and can accurately predict when a cow is most likely to calve. This helps the farmer to know when to be there and to keep both cow and calf safe.

Even the world of conservation can benefit from IoT. Here, Vodafone have used IoT technology to help monitor seal populations in Orkney. The marine tags, which work in a similar way to smartphones, use technology to send vital information from the seal when it surfaces or beaches directly back to the Sea Mammal Research Unit for analysis.

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The technology is the same as that which is found in new cars, heart monitors and smart meters – showing the incredible range of applications that IoT can deliver.

The future’s exciting

IoT is just one of a number of technologies that offer a platform from which businesses can drive innovation across their business, whether that’s operational efficiencies, building more valuable relationships with customers, or facilitating entirely new business models.

It is through innovation that organisations will find new and better ways of living, delivering public services and doing business.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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