White Paper: Introduction to IoT
What is IoT?
The term IoT (Internet of Things) has emerged as an important category of innovative applied technology. The idea that machines can be instrumented with sensors and connected to the internet to transmit data and updates to businesses has been around for years, with the term “Internet of Things” commonly used since the 1990s.
There are a number of terms used to describe the idea including machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, ubiquitous computing, embedded computing, smart services and the “Industrial Internet”. The Internet of Things broadly refers to a class of devices that ‘can monitor their environment, report their status, receive instructions and even take action based on the information they receive’, according to a definition by The McKinsey Global Institute.
IoT is more than a single industry, use case, or technology; it’s about the intelligent deployment of hardware, software, connectivity and services to bring the power of data-driven intelligence back to the physical world. The current state of IoT technology is broad, spanning multiple industries and the entire tech stack from semiconductors to communications modules, to networking, infrastructure and application software.
Some of the key industries likely to see massive changes and benefits from adoption of connected devices include healthcare, manufacturing, insurance, banking, retail, computing services, government, transportation and utilities.
The market for Internet of Things is still in early stages, with the majority of solutions built bespoke and implemented ad hoc, though there are distinct use cases emerging around monitoring, maintenance and visibility. In many respects, this stage of the market parallels the enterprise applications market in the late 1980s and early 1990s, although the IoT landscape has a distinctly vertical flavor.
There is a proliferation of connectivity technologies used for IoT including Wi-Fi, Long-Term Evolution (LTE), Bluetooth Low Energy, ZigBee, Near-Field Communications (NFC) and many others. There is also a proliferation of protocols including Internet Protocol version 6 (IpV6), Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP), Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT), Extensible Messaging Presence Protocol (XMPP), Hypertext Transport Protocol/Representational State Transfer (HTTP/REST), Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) and others. These create confusion in the market; however, the heterogeneous range of options is necessary to support a plethora of different use cases.
Our White Paper “Introduction to IoT” helps to simplify the panoply of communications options at hand; how to make sense of the “alphabet soup” of different protocols such as CAT M1, Bn-IoT, LWPA, Bluetooth and others. We also look at the three top verticals for IoT - manufacturing, transportation and utilities – and explore how IoT creates value in multi-dimensional ways.
We also outline a taxonomy of different types of hardware – devices, modules and sensors – as well as the different software platforms needed to deploy IoT applications. Lastly, we provide a brief overview of some key types of IoT use cases, including HVAC monitoring, internet backup for retail locations, fleet management and digital signage. Introduction to IoT helps clarify the differences, strengths and ideal use cases for the wide range of connectivity technologies, and the potential value that can be created leveraging the best technology for the appropriate problem.
One of the profound effects of the Internet of Things is that instrumentation, connectivity and analytics allow traditional businesses to launch additional services based on data generated by “things”. The Internet of Things allows traditional product businesses to become not just service businesses, but platforms themselves. IoT will enable a new generation of intelligent factories, smart farming, autonomous transportation, machines that can be self-diagnosing in order to power predictive maintenance, and distributed power generation and distribution grids that lead to a bright future ahead.