The Internet of Things (IoT) has been described as a disruptive technology, which has led to high expectations, but these expectations are realistic, owing to the technology's ability to unlock significant insights from seemingly insignificant data and to use these insights to save money and improve processes, says IoT design and manufacturing company Informed Decisions CEO and IoT Industry Council of South Africa chairperson Pieter Pienaar.
IoT can translate intelligence into actions that have tangible benefits across business and the country, and for citizens. However, the technology remains semi-proven, is not quite delivering what was expected and the mixed levels of solution maturity and the ongoing threat of security have been causes for concern.
The industry has been focused on data acquisition and analysis, but needs to move beyond this focus to mature into a space where it focuses on command and control and on delivering value that is relevant and customised, he says.
“IoT still has significant potential, but requires the right kind of solutions and approaches to fully realise these qualities. To get to the improved efficiencies, reduced risk and cost-reduction benefits of IoT, the business has to implement technology that can get it there. This means paying attention to the data and the technology,” advises Pienaar.
Some industries have been looking to IoT's capabilities to improve their own.
In agriculture, IoT has been used to effectively manage soil monitoring and fuel and to monitor essential elements such as water and weather.
Manufacturing, which accounts for 21.8% of overall IoT uptake, has leveraged IoT to improve operations and predictive maintenance.
Meanwhile, transportation, at 20% of overall IoT uptake, has been using the technology to translate fleet complexity into cost-effective simplicity with intelligent fleet management tools and to monitor freight more effectively, he says.
“The market is currently only in the initial stages of IoT adoption and industry standards have yet to be defined, which makes this the perfect time for innovators and entrepreneurs to take centre stage. This is the time for first-mover technologies in a market that has a low to medium barrier to entry and offers immense opportunity,” notes Pienaar.
The South African market is predicted to increase spending across the IoT value chain over the next few years. This will be driven by changing customer conversations as they focus on software platforms, applications and analysis that allow for organisations to improve access to data, connectivity and capability.
This will be further powered by the move to compute at the edge, as organisations realise the value of the intelligent edge and the ability to aggregate and analyse edge data and edge artificial intelligence, he adds.
“Companies that form networks that pool their capabilities and bring their unique skillsets and focus to solution development will find success within the IoT market. This will ensure that solutions are affordable and relevant while expanding their reach and increasing market uptake.
“Ultimately, IoT has the ability to reach its full potential and to disrupt the industry and translate data into opportunity,” concludes Pienaar.