The concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) stretches back some 50 years, but it wasn’t until 1999 – when just 4% of the population was online – that the actual term was coined. This is when connectivity began to gain a foothold, but low performance networks stood in the way of IoT making any real headway at the time.
The ensuing decades have seen connectivity evolve at an astonishing rate. Those low performance networks have developed into reliable connectivity that offers a range of technologies to choose from, depending on your needs. 2G, 3G, 4G, MB-IoT, CAT-M, and eventually 5G are specific connectivity solutions for IoT devices that are optimized for things like better coverage and potentially better battery life. Unlike in the infancy of IoT, when 2G could handle maybe a few dozen devices per cell, today’s connectivity can handle hundreds of thousands of devices per cell due to an increase in density and bettor sensor solutions.
To transfer data wirelessly takes a lot of power, so each connectivity option represents a tradeoff between power consumption, range, and bandwidth – and improvements to existing technologies has given us a lot of options, including cellular, WiFi, LPWAN, and LoRa. In the end, though, companies need reliable connectivity in order to transfer business-critical data – and they need to understand how to handle that data once they have it.
Traditionally, when companies connected assets things like predictive maintenance, supply chain automation, and factory optimization took precedence. Many saw IoT as a great way to streamline processes, thereby increasing efficiency. Optimizing products and processes were – and remain – important benefits of IoT. But while B2B applications are set to account for nearly 70% of the value unlocked by IoT, most IoT data is not currently used.
According to McKinsey, just 1 percent of data from an oil rig with 30 thousand sensors is examined. All that data is flowing but no one is taking advantage of it. This is something seen across any number of companies and industries, which means that while an IoT solution might be in place and using the best connectivity available, extracting actionable data is still a hurdle many companies need to overcome.
While connectivity allows you to not just collect more data, but also collect it in a smarter way without the surrounding services needed to extract data, understand it, and then apply it, it means little when it comes to gaining critical insights into your business and gaining that all important competitive edge.
You need a way of helping you keep your data secure, and then a way to analyze and read that data in order to streamline your processes, track your assets, or generate new revenue streams. That means the right tools – or services – that are designed help you do just that.
With the right services you will have the freedom and flexibility to choose any technology, while also being able to safely and securely access your devices in order to update, troubleshoot and make changes as you transfer data. And as your business grows you won’t just be adding more devices, you’ll be adding devices using different technologies.
You want to have services that are scalable, flexible, and functional, no matter what kind of technology is coming down the pipeline.