Parth Kapadia
Parth Kapadia
Engineer & Entrepreneur

Unlocking the value of the internet of things – one industry at a time”

The Internet of Things has become the biggest buzzword of all time. Everyone in tech is talking and working on IoT deployments as they digitize into the new medium. 

Like the internet itself changed it all back in the 90s, the Internet of Things allows for distributed internets or what technologists are now calling, fog computing, to harness interoperable data-points between everything and everyone connected. 

There’s a huge opportunity here for engineers and entrepreneurs not only because of the value created, but because this latest boom is backed by science. Think about it…you can literally take any industry, and rework it around IoT and come out cash positive.

Here’s a list of some major industries and their value with the inclusion of IoT:

Biotech

Value: 414.5 billion by 2017

The Motley Fool says that the internet of things is about to solve one of biotech’s oldest problems; but the truth is that biotech, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals are all behemoth of industries that tend to success one another. In terms of consumer IoT within these industries, a relatively new trend called body-hacking,” in which hobbyists try to make their bodies smarter by integrating IoT devices directly into their bodies, is coming alive. Practical applications of this include measuring blood glucose levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, and much more.

Elon Musk recently launched a new company called Neuralink that aims to connect the brain with artificial intelligence. Of course, this concept of body-hacking might be far-fetched and down right dangerous as a whole, but you can still imagine how IoT aims to expand the capabilities of the human-body.

IoT in biotech could also positively harness a transparency between physicians and insurance companies. My freshman year college roommate, Dr. Singh always tells me how he would love to acquire key health indicators and stats in real-time so he could track his patient’s activities. His hospital works hard to get their patients the right solutions, but when patients fail to follow the prescriptive measures on their end, it becomes a waste of time, effort, and money for physicians. Imagine a tagging system to let the systems track patients, drugs, and an ideal insurance coverage plan.

This type of constant engagement enabled by IoT devices could optimize the biotech and health industry.

Smart Transportation

Value: $143 billion by 2020

So it turns out that Tesla is actively killing the Mustang driving culture and ITS (intelligent transportation systems) are already underway. Transportation systems powered by the internet of things aims to provide traffic management, autonomous driving capabilities, and an abundantly safer driving experience for drivers.

Today, traditional vehicle companies like Volkswagen, Toyota, and GM are getting disrupted for the first time since the inception of cars by established tech companies and startups dabbling in unprecedented territories. Though, the larger question resides on an overall platform strategy that would promote a connected transportation system within a smartcity and smart living ecosystem.

Machine to machine connections across transportation systems can be used to monitor performance and provide preventative maintenance through real-time prompts.

This can most likely be done by analyzing performance reports until a recurring trend of decreasing performance is spotted among fleets. Defects can be narrowed down to specific parts and correlated against how they should be repaired or replaced before failing. Obviously, this becomes cash positive in the long run, but imagine the improvement of safety standards of transportation systems as if a critical component faces damage during use – the results could be disastrous. This is why preemptive maintenance is a major key to IoT.

Key performance indicators within a transportation based IoT platform can also be used to maximize safety standards for drivers. For instance, cars today can autonomously detect when drivers are over-stressed and prone to making mistakes, thus warning them beforehand as Bosch has made in their smart, safe, and connected steering wheel. In newer Toyota models, they’ve equipped drivers with an “awareness” indicator symbolized by a cup of coffee.

There’s a ton of opportunity in transportation IoT. Nearly everywhere, from the stations, to the vehicles, to the software and hardware governing these systems, automobiles and associated systems are set to be revolutionized by the Internet of Things. There is certainly no shortage in opportunities, and that’s perhaps why the IoT Sector within the transportation industry is one of the biggest.

Big Data

Value: 66.79 billion by 2021

According to Tableau, a data visualization company, 2016 was a landmark year for the industry. Big data has finally transitioned from a hype-cycle phenomenon, to a concept respected by top enterprises; believe it or not but data science is even a degree a student could attain a PHD in. 
Although, you may have noticed that the value of big data today isn’t too far from its’ value projected in 2021. Many have also argued that big data already peaked last year and was successfully replaced by machine learning.  Either way, obtaining access to data is simply first step for many organizations, but ultimately, companies are driving towards acquiring data from disparate sources in order to make better decisions and exposing falsehoods.

Once a distant thought, and before machines became capable of quantum computing, individuals used to have to analyze reports manually. Unfortunately this meant that opinions and biases consistently seeped into decision making, leaving stakeholders under-informed.

Software is much better at interpreting data than you are and with the rise in popularity of data visualization tools, information derived from massive amounts of data can transform a ton of industries. My close friend and consultant, Arjun Gandhi says that, “zetabytes of data is generated and stored everyday through internet enabled applications that garner active user-bases and data sets although, before cloud storage and cloud based computing mechanisms, more data meant payloads manila folders, file cabinets, and physical space for your storage needs – talk about convenience.” Arjun helps business connect plans to drive quicker planning processes, with a big time connecting big data driven planning software called Analplan.

Beyond the buzzwords of IoT, sensors driving data through low powered wireless mesh networks to front-end visualizations, analysts will be able to measure and act decisively for decades to come. Machine learning, predictive analytics, and methods of automation are all to follow big data.

Energy

Value: 22 billion by 2020

Alright, so if you’ve been following my blogs, you must have understood by now that energy is at the cornerstone of life for people across the globe. An industry as big as energy, yet to be digitized and penetrated fully with renewable methods of supply, is ripe for a complete overhaul. Although, after decades of the same old poles and wires, it looks like the grid is finally becoming more than just smart. It is now being coined, by utility executives, as a platform powered by the internet of things that enables resiliency, smartcity applications, and customer enthusiasm about energy, and even though the value of the industry with IoT might be smaller than other industries, that number is projected to quadruple over the next decade. Energy and utilities will be the biggest winners in IoT.

Today’s distribution grid is based on century-old infrastructure and it is struggling under the weight of modern day vendors that have inked themselves as utility case studies of what not to do. Sam Insul, arguably the founder of the electric grid, would be dumbfounded by the iPhone, sure, but he’d probably make a fine utility executive since the industry hasn’t changed much since he first initiated the rate-basing business models that started in Chicago in late 1800s and even though a ton of utility scale pilots are taking place, there’s still a ton to be learned.

Billions of devices are no doubt exerting strain on the grid, and this almost archaic infrastructure sorely needs a revolution in order to cater to the needs of the digital citizens that use power. It seems as if the Internet of Things is going to be the solution to this coming of age moment and the world’s third industrial revolution.

The grid today is also horribly inefficient when it comes to unaccounted for energy wasted and the balancing of supply and demand. Although, the problem is a ripe one, you’ll slowly start to see a shift into a future of distributed energy resources that allows for demand flexibility and an engaged community.

With the decrease in costs of solar and the subsidy levels of off-shore wind projects getting kudos from regulators, it’s simply a matter of time before all components of the energy supply chain are able to communicate in real-time, machine to machine. By increasing data-collection across energy systems and using software to synthesize operations, the grid can literally become a powerhouse, all in one fell swoop.

Many utilities included smart meter roll-outs as a part of their initial road-map to a connected grid. These IoT deployments automated jobs and created a base layer of wireless mesh that additional technologies could sit on top of. Smart meters in addition to connected transformers, substations, and sometimes entire feeder lines, are now even pointing to the ability to predict outages before they occur…

A transition to an internet operated grid is immensely scalable. I’m lucky to be an engineer and entrepreneur for Exelon, the largest utility company in the world. Although according to disruptive startups like Drift Energy, there will be no need for customer facing utilities in the future.

As a young professional with a ton of momentum in the industry, all I can say is let the battles begin!

Conclusion

In conclusion, IoT is a major key key to success.

You’re looking at about $8 trillion dollars of value at stake. Bain and company predicts that by 2020 annual revenues could exceed $470 billion by IoT vendors selling hardware and software packages.

Other major industries being transformed by IoT include:

The Internet of Things movement has been portrayed as if it’s a relatively new trend, but the idea of making everything smarter through digitalization has existed for decades, and only now do you have the mindset to accomplish that. Would love to get your thoughts in the comments!

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