There is no single way to describe the Internet of Things (IoT)—it varies by industry, both in types of systems and in use cases. IoT in one sector is different from IoT in another. To better understand just how IoT is impacting a variety of industries, Forbes Insights, in partnership with Intel, conducted a survey of 700 executives familiar with their organization's implementation of IoT programs.
Growth in IoT systems has been most pronounced within the manufacturing and financial services sectors, with 47% and 42% of executives in these sectors, respectively, reporting growth in their networks exceeding 10% over the past three years.
As the survey found, financial services, healthcare and manufacturing are leaders in IoT thinking, and in many cases, are connecting IoT capabilities with powerful advanced analytics or artificial intelligence. Close to six in 10 executives in the financial services sector, 58%, report having well-developed IoT initiatives, followed by healthcare organizations (55%). Growth in IoT systems has been most pronounced within the manufacturing and financial services sectors, with 47% and 42% of executives in these sectors, respectively, reporting growth in their networks exceeding 10% over the past three years.
Keep reading to find out more about how executives in communications, energy, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and transportation are leveraging IoT.
Communications: For telecommunications providers and other communications companies, the mobile revolution is underscoring the shift to IoT. About half of the communications companies represented in the survey, 53%, either have IoT embedded into their processes or have it in key business areas. In communications companies, the most prevalent IoT data sources include audio devices (45%), followed by mobile phones (42%). The most prevalent application is preventive maintenance (44%), followed by efforts to increase employee productivity (40%). In addition, more than one-third of communications providers are in the forefront of applying approaches with computer vision and analytics to better understand and predict customer behavior, as well as the viability of assets. In total, 38% report they have implemented visual analytics across parts of their enterprises.
Energy: Energy companies tend to have operations spread across remote locations such as oil and gas fields, which require continuous monitoring. Close to half of executives in the energy sector, 47%, indicate they either have implemented IoT across selected functions/business areas or have extensive IoT deployments. Leading data sources include machinery (49%) and robots (46%). Energy companies are turning to IoT to monitor asset performance (45%), enhance their customers’ experience (43%) and boost overall efficiency (40%). About one-third, 34%, report they have deployed visual analytics deeply within their enterprises. Camera-mounted drones, for instance, can help companies monitor the health and safety of production fields and facilities, spotting anomalies before they become a hazard.
Financial Services: Financial services organizations are highly security conscious, and therefore increasingly rely on networks of cameras and other visual sensors to ensure the viability of their facilities. As noted above, financial services leads the way in IoT deployment, with 58% of survey respondents having some degree of capabilities. Companies in this sector are also well ahead in terms of visual analytics adoption—51% report they have developed and implemented capabilities employing cameras and visual sensors connected to AI and analytics systems. Mobile phones are the leading endpoint choice for financial companies (cited by 51%), along with cameras and sensors (48%). While financial firms have multiple goals in their IoT efforts, most pronounced is the need to expand the connectivity of their networks (31%), along with employing IoT as vehicle for greater security (30%).
Healthcare: Within healthcare, there is concern about the experiences customers receive not only at bedsides, but also in waiting rooms, emergency rooms and business offices. Healthcare organizations are also leading the way with IoT, with 55% having fairly robust deployments in place. In healthcare, audio devices and mobile phones are the most essential devices in use, mentioned by 46% of respondents in the sector. Employee monitoring is the most prevalent use case (41%), along with monitoring facilities and enhancing customer experiences (each cited by 38%). The majority, 57%, also employ visual analytics to improve their levels of customer service and patient care.
Manufacturing: Manufacturers, more than companies in other industries, rely on heavy machinery to produce products and therefore have a deep interest in understanding the performance of these machines. Manufacturing organizations have a range of opportunities—through computer vision to manage and track the movement of goods, linked to artificial intelligence-enhanced systems that can predict, and even remediate, events before they happen.But there’s more to the story than managing machines. Overall, compared with other industry groups, manufacturers are seeing the greatest transitions from IoT. A majority of executives in manufacturing firms, 51%, “strongly agree” that IoT is opening up new lines of business for their organizations. In addition, 29% of manufacturing executives report their IoT efforts have enabled them to offer new products or services, along with 29% of those with communications companies. A majority of manufacturers, 51%, state either that selected business areas are supported by IoT or that they have deployed it extensively across their organizations. A majority, 52%, of manufacturers indicate they have visual analytics capabilities in place as well, enabling the real-time monitoring of assets and products. Mobile phones and computer systems are the main sources of IoT data for manufacturers (cited respectively by 48% and 47%), and the leading use cases in this sector are preventive maintenance (51%) and increasing productivity (49%).
Retail: In retail, what happens on the sales floor doesn’t stay on the sales floor—customer behavior and reactions are studied, evaluated and evolved. Half of the retail executives in the survey, 51%, report having robust IoT efforts underway—either deployed across departments or extensively across their enterprises. A majority, 53%, also report employing visual analytics to some degree, enabling a greater understanding of customer preferences and behavior. The most prominent IoT data sources include computer systems (51%) and sensors (47%). For retail organizations, the main use cases are enabling business transformation (44%) and providing training enhanced by augmented virtual reality (43%).
Transportation: Transportation is about movement and logistics, and IoT systems are playing a role in managing these capabilities. About half of the executives in the survey in transportation-related organizations, 47%, report having either departmental-level IoT efforts underway or implementations that reach across their enterprises. The most important use cases are increasing productivity (40%) as well as logistics monitoring and routing (40%). Close to half of transportation companies, 46%, have some level of visual analytics incorporated into their IoT efforts. Cameras and sensors, for example, may be placed along railroad tracks to monitor wear and tear on wheel assemblies or anomalies with freight cars.
As these examples demonstrate, every industry has the potential to reap the benefits from IoT. Yet it’s up to executives to recognize the potential of these technologies and determine how best to leverage them within their companies and respective industries. Those who do will certainly reap the rewards.