The Future is Hyper-Connected

By Special Guest
Aditi Chadha, Correspondent
April 15, 2019

The new age of Web 3.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) calls for rapid digital transformation across industries as Internet access becomes akin to a basic human right. As the next billion users come online thanks to the affordability of smartphones and cheap data plans, Chief Innovation Officers and Chief Technology Officers must incorporate holistic design thinking and newer ideation as they deploy technology infrastructures and design processes.

Companies across the world now have new opportunities to reach existing customers and build newer revenue streams in new markets thanks to new air interfaces ranging across NB-IOT, 4G, 5G, T.V. White Spaces, BLE 5.0, and affordable newer devices such as phablets, IOT sensors, and Robots, among others. The end goal of the innovation and strategy officers in these companies has evolved to build digital capabilities to keep up with or beat the competition, deliver business efficiency/cut costs, generate top-line growth, and meet the demands of regulatory policies such as GDPR out of the EU. To accomplish these reach goals, CIOs must consider newer product deployments, automation, overhaul business processes and workflows, and comply with new standards.

Many start-ups and companies are focusing on embedding technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) into consumer-based products. Aditi Chadha founded DAZL, a company based in Gurgaon, India, which aims to promote women’s safety by integrating IoT into fashion wearables. Aditi also offers IDAAS - Ideation as a Service – where her team of experts helps people and entrepreneurs to generate new ideas, concepts, and strategies that empower businesses to leverage next-gen cutting edge technology and directly enhance revenue streams.

In the world of IOT, devices no longer are restricted to just accessing the web, but also now communicate with each other (machine2machine), and generate real-time analytics leveraging the AI or ML capabilities of IOT platforms. Imagine creating truly personalized experiences by constantly monitoring, collecting, and making sense of data that can be used to improve business decisions. Per Cisco’s forecast, by the year 2020, IOT will comprise of more than 30 billion connected devices. These would be spread across consumer and industrial IoT devices. Cisco estimates that by the end of 2019, IOT will generate more than 500 zettabytes per year in data.

But all the unstructured real-time data that is generated by these billions of devices would need to be analyzed using complex AI algorithms to distil them into actionable insights, so consumers and businesses can make intelligent decisions. Alongside smart analytics, another concern comes up that pertains to the security and privacy of this data. Who can access it, where, and when? What compliances must be met and how can this data be secured against malicious attacks.

As awareness of IOT and affordability has increased, consumers have started demanding smart homes and smart cars, governments have started giving out huge contracts to develop smart cities, militaries are testing out driverless patrol trucks, farmers are getting interested in crop surveillance drones and smart soil sensors, and manufacturers have started building out smart supply chains and assembly lines. All these parties want to reduce risks, cut down costs, optimize processes, make informed decisions, and drive up their barometer of value.

IDC estimates that 40 percent of all technology spending will go toward digital transformations, with enterprises spending in excess of $2 trillion by the end of 2019. In addition to superior customer experiences meant to delight and excite customers, companies must rise to the occasion and build seamless and efficient capabilities in operations, business processes, and governance.

Companies that run IOT projects can get their IOT data into the cloud with minimal human intervention, thanks to integrations and workflows that have been pre-built with leading IOT platforms that automate the set-up process and also provide robust analytics. There are various IOT vendor partner models depending on the use-case, app ecosystem on the platform, and the type of analytics required.

Privacy and security of data are gaining prime importance as we get into the zettabytes of data generated by IoT devices per year. As telecom provider Verizon learned mid-transaction and Marriott learned post-merger, it is non-negotiable to evaluate the cybersecurity capability and the quality of an entity’s security practices and infrastructure when bigger organizations acquire smaller and more nimble organizations/start-ups. Though anti-malware software can detect a potential attack on a company workstation, smartphone or network, it is imperative and now non-negotiable for an organization to have a process in place to detect what security and privacy vulnerabilities it is in the process of acquiring in a potential M&A deal. A holistic and comprehensive approach is required that vets all data sources, storage, inputs, and outputs. Aditi’s team consults on GDPR and Privacy-as-a-Service for M&A Due Diligence and SOC II Compliance for Accounting.

IoT devices are now finding a new use in logistics thanks to the boost by e-commerce. Think Industry 4.0 and Logistics 4.0. BLE or wifi enabled devices could be attached to the shipper boxes and inform the customer of their products’ real-time status via Alexa, Amazon Echo, or Google Home. Once the customer pulls out their product from the box, the IoT device could inform the shipper to collect the box. This helps make shipping sustainable as companies and governments figure out ways to cut on packaging waste / save our oceans. A similar concept applies to the real-time tracking of containers shipped on the high seas. Tracking devices and sensors in containers, warehouses, and trucks can enable organizations to monitor the movement of expensive and time sensitive products in real time and make key decisions or avert expensive risks.

Wearables on the wrists of industrial workers that contain gyroscopic sensors and accelerometers combined with ML capability enable robotic learning for repetitive tasks and enable organizations to automate the assembly line with robots, to increase operational efficiencies, cut costs, and enhance the precision of tasks.

Intelligent Asset Management Systems built with IoT devices and enabled by ML can enable buildings, research labs, malls, and offices to control operational costs and enable cooling and heating efficiency, thereby, saving on power consumption.

As we see burgeoning research and development of connected cars and autonomous cars, the concept of Car-As-A-Service is fast developing. Holistic automobile devices are coming up, which are IoT devices with touch screens on car dashboards that would provide not only vehicle diagnostics but also a myriad of entertainment options by collaborating with service providers who provide car maintenance, repairs, tow trucks, maps, targeted ads, and content (audio / video / streaming services).

According to a report by IOT expert Akshay Sharma, starting 2019, mobile telecom carriers have the opportunity to reshape the hospitality and retail industries through 5G networking combined with mobile video, smartphone payments, tablet-based point-of-sale kiosks, cellular powered digital-signage, and wireless broadband connectivity.

According to Ericsson's research, 5G is expected to be a critical enabler of VR and AR technology. Restaurants can offer a more personalized customer experience by providing food ordering tablets to patrons, and hotels can offer a superior experience to potential and current guests by offering personalized visuals leveraging AR and VR. The food ordering tablets would link to AI engines and offer recommendations based on past customer behavior merged with current offerings on hand (think Netflix for food ordering)These devices could also leverage facial recognition to automatically identify customers, and voice recognition and Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to understand their mood from their voice to make the best-suited recommendations for that moment.

As per Ericsson's report, in the retail world, mobile carriers will further disrupt the retail world by partnering with hyper-local data centers and local fixed-line operators, by transforming their legacy voice switching centers into data centers. These hyper-local data centers would enable AR and VR technologies to run with minimal latency as hosting and computing would be done locally, close to the retail outlet or hospitality venue. Furthermore, in video gaming, world AR and VR content will combine with video gaming content to make gaming interactive, and take gamer experience to the next level.

Another area where IoT is fast finding relevance and use is in health monitoring and emergency notification systems. End-to-end health monitoring IoT platforms are fast becoming relevant for preventative healthcare and real-time diagnosis. With novel innovations in IoT sensors and telemedicine and with proactive monitoring and real-time insights, medical costs now have the potential to be dramatically reduced, by having the patients stay at home and stay healthier with preventative care through proactive monitoring, and telemedicine. Medical practitioners can get real-time notifications about patients under their care, or family members can be on top of the medical routines of the elders in their family, with the aid of wearable and IoT devices that incorporate sensors that monitor oxygen, timely pill consumption, and blood pressure, among others. IoT can improve medication adherence by placing sensors in medicine cabinets that automate prescription renewals with pharmacies connected to the platform.

IoT powered assisted living solutions to have the potential to enable seniors to live independently and reduce their overall medical costs. Wireless activity sensors installed in their homes can enable their family members and doctors to better monitor their health outcomes and safety inside the house. Novel uses of these devices would provide compliance dashboards and predictive analytics to doctors and family members, which could lead to massive cost savings to the healthcare industry since chronic care patients, who constitute 20 percent of ER patients, cost almost 80 percent of the healthcare costs. Remote monitoring would enable their doctors to review real-time patient data and reduce emergency admissions. AI pattern recognition of healthcare issues would speed up the diagnostic process. One can also add gamification and social networking to the equation by combining IOT sensors in fitness wearables, track incoming data, and generate relevant AI behavioral analytics, and gamify the experience between family members, friends, or employees.

Telecom carriers also have the opportunity to generate new revenue streams by offering managed services to employees at companies to enhance employee productivity. In the U.K. alone, per a report by Deloitte, mental health conditions negatively enhance employee productivity costing companies and the U.K. economy, overall, to the tune of 72 to 99 Billion British Pounds, annually. Carriers can offer managed services, whereby, they distribute wearables with sensors that measure health vitals, such as, breathing, activity, posture, and blood pressure, generate healthcare analytics using an AI engine, and gamify the experience for employees via social networks. And this could be done by offering monthly subscriptions in tandem with the HR of companies, and empower their employees with better health information, thereby, enhancing their health and productivity.

The scope of IoT and AI usage is unlimited based on current predictions by world leaders and cutting-edge research. From consumer based IoT to Industrial IoT (IIoT), the wave of connected things is intense, and hence the future is hyper-connected.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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