Is the Internet of Things (IoT) the solution for realising a sustainable future? At this time, IoT is one of the hottest and most talked-about technologies out there. It promises increased efficiency, automation, cost savings, better energy management, and many other benefits – almost all of which sound great on paper. However, implementing IoT solutions into our everyday lives is easier said than done. Many companies are largely mechanical, where processes rely on legacy technologies and manual workflows.
However, as rapid technological developments continue to shape our future, IoT has proven to be a major driver. IoT powers the "smart" devices and applications we've come to rely on, connecting billions of devices to the internet to make instantaneous data exchange possible. Backed by the advent of IoT, leading businesses worldwide are accelerating their adoption of a 'smart' strategy. Let's explore how IoT plays such an important role in overcoming the sustainability challenges the world is facing.
On the surface, IoT can easily be oversimplified, but as you begin digging deeper into the potential it holds for reducing inefficiency, waste, and pollution, its advantages become clear. A smart and sustainable future begins with IoT, which is why annual spending is expected to exceed $1.1 Trillion by 2023.
The term "innovation" has been used widely in the business landscape over the years. In our current context, it is widely associated with developing new products or services that have high potential in gaining market share and value creation. This definition is very different from what was previously meant by innovation. In the past, innovation was associated with incremental changes made to existing products or processes rather than radical changes which may not necessarily be market-driven.
Looking back on technological advancements of the past, it can seem as though sustainability and innovation are mutually exclusive. In many cases, new technology has negatively impacted the environment, pushing us back yet another step in achieving a cleaner, greener world. However, with IoT applications, smart tech goes hand-in-hand with environmental conservation and restoration; they are powering smart industries and even smart cities of the future.
Thanks to IoT-based systems and wireless connectivity, those prepared to embrace digital transformation are poised to tap into more energy-efficient processes, less resource-intensive production, and a substantially more organised and responsible way of doing business. In other words, while consumers are benefiting from the perks of smart IoT applications at home, companies stand to make the biggest impact by adopting IoT in business and production.
One of the key challenges that IoT can help overcome is wasteful energy consumption. For commercial buildings, in particular, optimising energy consumption is key to reducing costs and hitting sustainability goals--and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Air pollution monitoring, waste management, water management, fleet management, and smarter farming are useful IoT applications in municipal, industrial, and commercial organisations.
It doesn't take much time to realize the wide-reaching advantages of IoT applications. Increasing efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint takes a collective effort. While it starts with adopting smart tech and apps at home to make our lives more efficient, that's not enough to overcome the world's biggest environmental challenges.
IoT will not make an overnight difference--it simply isn't possible. Rather, it's going to take getting technology providers, systems integrators, city operators, business executives, and all the parties in between on board with IoT. That means close collaboration between business and government to put us on the path to a smart, sustainable world.
A smart tech framework based on IoT solutions is the only way we can realize the vision of a clean, connected world. It's not the responsibility of a single person, a single company, or a single country, either. It's a shared responsibility, which is why we're laying the groundwork for widespread IoT applications and adoption.
In wanting to do our part, we devised a framework that encompasses a three-step, IoT-based approach. This framework is designed to ease the transition into the next wave of sustainable technology.
The first step to achieving our vision requires moving away from traditional approaches and tech and towards adopting smart IoT solutions in their place.For example, think about predictive machine maintenance that helps shift companies from a reactive model of fixing problems when they happen (which could lead to breakage, downtime, and added costs) to a preventative model where they can extend the lifetime of equipment and improve up-time. Other IoT applications that offer monitoring and alerts for everything from soil and infrastructure to home security and energy consumption are excellent examples of a simple first step towards a smarter world.
Once we've made that transition to smart technology, the next step is going the extra mile to make sure that we're utilizing the power of smart tech in the most sustainable way. For instance, a commercial building might use occupancy sensors and micro-zoning to control lights and HVAC equipment with the utmost efficiency. Until the recent introduction of IoT devices in this area, facility managers relied on predefined energy regulations that led to wasteful under-heating and over-heating throughout the building. With IoT-based applications, on-demand data allows for accurate, easy, and even automatic management to reduce and eliminate unnecessary heating, cooling, and lighting.
In a transformational shift that is just beginning to take shape, IoT is leading the new digital and industrial revolution. It is already driving the next generation of technology and facilitating the digitisation of all aspects of the human experience. And the impact on business, politics, and society will be profound.Today, cities are transitioning from their 20th-century manufacturing past to a fully digital and industrial one. The adoption of sustainable IoT acts as the final transition that lays the foundation for scaling to smart cities and industries. Our world will make smart cities the norm by sustaining greener practices powered by advancing technologies. That means an enhanced quality of life, reduced carbon emissions, and a cleaner world for everyone.
IoT is the most important technology that will drive innovation and digital transformation in short to medium term. The opportunities to create value with IoT are immense. Organisations are looking to create new revenue streams, improve efficiencies, and provide better customer experiences at lower costs. The remaining challenge will be how to leverage IoT effectively.
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