IoT Connections Grow Across Industry Sectors

The Internet of things gained “legitimacy” in 2015, according to a recent report from Verizon, “State of the Market: Internet of Things 2016,” which shows that companies are building out their IoT strategies to increase access to data and opportunities in an effort to become more profitable,

Of the various sectors seeing growth in IoT network connections from 2014 to 2015, energy and utilities came in at the top, at 58 percent,  with home monitoring next at 50 percent. IoT examples in these sectors range from energy grids around the country becoming “smart” to smart meters in the home.

“There’s a huge, huge upside, and that’s why we’re seeing the growth in that area,” says Tom Villa, director of product management and development with Verizon Villa.

The transportation and distribution sector saw 49 percent growth in IoT network connections from 2014 to 2015, agriculture had 33 percent growth and healthcare/phama saw 26 percent growth.

Overall, Villa likens the shift toward IoT to past trends toward wireless and fiber, which had significant impacts. He says technology shifts like these are good for consumers as well as enterprises.

“It’s all about being able to monetize the opportunity,” he says. “You don’t monetize for the heck of it. You monetize things that are valuable.”

Networks and Platforms Drive the IoT

The report, which is based on Verizon usage data, interviews, third-party research and commissioned research from Oxford Economics, also shows that just eight percent of businesses are making use of more than 25 percent of their IoT data. “If there are only eight percent today that are using this, then think of the upside,” Villa points out.

Factors contributing to this upward shift to the IoT will include both the network, which is already beginning to evolve toward 5G, and simple-to-use platforms that are available to provide access to IoT data in streamlined form. These include like Apple’s HomeKit, Google’s Brillo, IBM’s Watson and Verizon’s ThingSpace.

“Organizations want the [IoT] data, but it’s hard for organizations to make heads or tails out of it,” Villa says.

Platforms like these provide a secure infrastructure, a ubiquitous experience and the ability to see data in a more digestible format via a streamlined dashboard. IoT also should result in a shift in analytics from descriptive analytics (what has happened) toward predictive analytics (what could happen) and prescriptive analytics (what should happen).

The Verizon report includes a case study about Aquafarms, a 10-acre aquaculture farm located in Cape Cod, Mass, which is using various IoT data to improve its ability to maintain and increase its crop of oysters. The owner is using many types of data—from the temperature of the water, to the amount and availability of light, and information on algae blooms—to build an algorithm about potential outcomes of future oyster harvests.

Bacteria also can be an issue of concern during the shipment of oysters. So Aquafarms has placed sensors on transport vehicles to provide alerts to the company about fluctuating temperatures, which could cause a risk to oysters.

In all, the report identifies five micro trends, ranging from data monetization to IoT platforms, that are impacting IoT adoption. In addition, it shows how the IoT is already having an impact across various industry sectors.

“I think the IoT is opening up a whole new chapter for the enterprise segment to be more efficient and more profitable,” Villa predicts.