Why the IoT Will Become the Internet of Innovation

By Antony Edwards

The Internet of Things sector is evolving and will greatly impact many industries, particularly health care, supply chain and retail, during the difficult months ahead.

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As the world adjusts to a new normal, it’s clear that the coronavirus will have a far-reaching impact on how we work and live. Technologies that support a contactless connected world will prosper while others that rely on physical interaction will suffer. As a result, we should expect to see a surge in Internet of Things (IoT) innovation, and adoption rates will continue to accelerate during the coming months.

CIOs are already accelerating their IoT initiatives as budgets are quickly being shifted from on-premise-centric projects to cloud migrations, digital transformation and, of course, the IoT. Here are some of the ways that IoT innovation will evolve and impact industries:

Health Care:
Health care is in the spotlight and will continue to be once COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror. Intelligent technology is now wide-ranging, spanning everything from hospital equipment, cloud-accessible patient charts and scans, electronic health records, and connected ambulances.

As health care continues to innovate, smart technology will help fight the spread of infections. Intelligent sensors will ensure that human workers adhere to health and safety procedures and sterile processes with zero deviation. For example, an alarm will sound if health-care workers do not sanitize within 15 seconds of entering a patient’s room. This will help to reduce the spread of hospital-related infections such as sepsis.

IoT systems will eventually identify patients, staff members and visitors with high temperatures in real time and divert them away to areas where they can undergo further screening before entering a hospital and potentially contaminating others. Connected devices will be able to monitor air quality and sound an alarm or automatically open windows if more ventilation is required. In a smart hospital, technology will take on the role of Big Sister, rather than Big Brother, helping both patients and health-care providers stay safe.

But most importantly, medical equipment is currently hospital-centric, whereas the current pandemic is highlighting the need for more health care to be in the home in order to be scalable, avoid cross-infection and simply lower the impact on economic productivity. So connected, low-cost medical devices that can be used by individuals in the home, linked to centralized diagnostic systems, will become the norm.

These innovations will reduce the risk of spreading disease, help deliver more personalized patient care and improve efficiencies, leading to better health-care outcomes.

Supply Chains:
Sun Tzu said it best: “The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.” The past weeks have borne this out, with supply chains under enormous pressure trying to keep up with the unprecedented demand. Knowing where your delivery trucks are right now and ensuring that perishable items are correctly handled has never been more critical.

IoT technology simplifies and standardizes even the most complex supply chains, and these benefits extend beyond real-time fleet insight or inventory assurance. Fully integrating IoT technologies into supply chains will deliver operational efficiencies and ultimately provide businesses with a competitive advantage. It will also deliver the flexibility we need in a volatile world where the ability to quickly change production (e.g. ventilators) can save lives and businesses.

Retail:
COVID-19 is massively accelerating the move to digital business. Those retailers that made the shift to digital are more robust to the pandemic, while those that haven’t are in trouble. The pandemic will also accelerate the IoT’s integration into digital retail, which has been talked about but still hasn’t hit the mainstream.

Forrester identified that 70 percent of retailers believe that adding IoT technologies to their inventory and warehouse-management processes will result in significant operational efficiencies. Ranging from automated fulfillment devices to self-organizing inventory storage solutions, the warehouse of the future is now fast becoming a reality. The IoT’s potential for other aspects of retail is equally compelling, with predictive maintenance having vast implications for the grocery sector. Expect to see significant innovation from voice-enabled systems as consumers shift away from unnecessary contact, such as smart kiosks.

Our reliance on technology will continue to strengthen as we navigate our way through 2020. Smart connected systems and devices will help companies adapt to the new normal and drive their business forward. IoT innovation will flourish as technology usage will continue to spike. Any previous barriers to technology adoption and automation will now become invisible. The IoT can and will play a vital role in creating a safer, more secure world in which we can all survive and, ultimately, thrive.

Antony Edwards is the COO at Eggplant. He studied computer engineering at the University of South Wales, Australia, then started his career as a developer in Sydney before joining IBM Research in New York. After relocating to London, Antony joined mobile operating system builder Symbian, moving from system architecture to eventually becoming a VP and a member of the company’s executive team. Before joining Eggplant, he held the position of CTO with a major U.S. online entertainment company.