The Top IoT Analytics Use Cases Today
By Scuba Insights
The rapid growth and deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT) have dramatically shaped the digital transformation of the world around us. From fitness trackers and smart homes to transportation logistics and smart manufacturing processes, IoT has become entrenched in nearly all aspects of buying, selling, making, and using everything–and enabled the convergence of the physical and digital worlds.
By 2025, the number of connected devices worldwide is projected to reach 30.9 billion active endpoints, with IoT-connected devices generating around 79.4 ZBs. However, brands continue to struggle with analyzing and leveraging the massive influx of data coming from smart devices–how to use it to drive critical business decisions. A recent report found that 86% of businesses are not leverage data from IoT projects as effectively as possible.
For brands to truly succeed in their respective industries, they must invest in collecting and analyzing IoT data. Apart from the sheer volume of data available, IoT data also provides valuable and previously inaccessible information about how users interact with IoT-connected products. There’s also an undeniable financial opportunity: a recent McKinsey report predicts IoT could unlock a potential global economic value of $5.5 trillion to $12.6 trillion by 2030.
Read on to explore the versatility of IoT data across industries and how those insights can benefit your brand.
1. Factories: Moving towards optimization
McKinsey predicts that the factory industry could see the largest potential economic value from IoT, with an estimated $1.4 trillion generated through the deployment of IoT.
It is the perfect environment for advancements with opportunities in operations management, predictive maintenance, and smart manufacturing to optimize production efficiencies.
Overall, the manufacturing industry is experiencing a digital revolution–helping businesses become more flexible, innovative, cost-effective, and able to withstand external pressures.
With this technological change, the potential for data collection is boundless, and with all factories competing for the best results at the lowest cost, the motivation to improve is undeniable.
But, the challenge lies in how to start collecting more data and connecting devices to one another. Many factories have already deployed IoT to help “minimize downtime by providing real-time visibility over the status of every machine in the factory.”
Companies, like Amazon, have benefited from IoT applications for logistics through standalone drop shipping bolts and lockers, resulting in improved delivery and increased profits.
But the future is even brighter. Many factories still have a long way to go from automation to truly using the IoT as an analytics powerhouse for their company. IoT is transforming the manufacturing industry with:
- Improved asset management with a connected supply chain
- Autonomous machinery to take over time-consuming tasks that require human labor
- Improved product quality at every stage of the production cycle
- Enhanced plant safety and security.
Because factories rely on a very delicate sequence of events, baseline analytics on every part of the chain will have a great impact on revolutionizing industrial production.
2. Cities: Improving the quality of public life
Small advancements toward “smart cities” have already become commonplace in many urban areas around the world. Cities are using the data from the IoT to make smarter decisions and ultimately improve the quality of life for their citizens. A 2022 report forecasts that the IoT smart cities market will grow from $130.6 billion in 2021 to $312.2 billion by 2026.
One of the biggest hassles in a city is navigating transportation and traffic both as a commuter and a city planner. Smart cities are using IoT for a number of traffic-related improvements and efficiencies. Among the top use cases are using IoT for:
- Centralized and adaptive traffic control (making sure those traffic lights are timed correctly)
- Deploying autonomous vehicles
- Creating IoT-based congestion pricing.
By using data from connected devices, cities are tracking when vehicles enter the city center, and charging drivers for those periods of time when congestion is at its worst. The same concept has been applied to Southern California freeways for a number of years.
In addition to tackling the behemoth of traffic, cities are also turning to IoT to support environmental governance and sustainability. Many cities are deploying sensors for air and water quality monitoring to help municipalities make informed decisions on everything that contributes to air and water quality.
From water and electricity usage, pollution, trash collection, crime, air quality, traffic, and schools, the future potential for smart cities is endless. As more objects in cities become part of the IoT, city planning will be shaped by the data they collect. The IoT in cities should react and respond to the problems that urban developments have, and the data we collect from “smart cities” plays a role in making that possible.
3. Healthcare: How the IoT is quickly becoming the IoMT
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of implementation and adoption of IoT in healthcare with increasing numbers of providers and patients seeking virtual care–which includes everything from telehealth visits with your doctor to remote patient monitoring.
IoT is driving innovation and advancements in healthcare in a number of ways leading to a subset called the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). It’s not only changing how and where patients receive care from their providers, but also the quality of care they receive, and the overall experience of being a patient.
Recent research predicts that the number of IoMT in smart hospitals will surpass 7 million by 2026. And unsurprisingly, researchers nodded to the pandemic as bringing an increased focus to healthcare.
At the height of the pandemic, healthcare providers who struggled with a lack of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients used remote monitoring to keep an eye on less critical patients who were sent home to recover. By February 2021, healthcare company Providence (which runs hospitals in Alaska, Oregon, Montana, California, Washington, and Texas) had remotely monitored more than 16,000 patients.
Many healthcare systems are combining already existing wearable technology to facilitate disease prevention and detection, providing critical data on patients they are monitoring.
In a recent study, researchers used Cardiac and Activity Monitoring devices to monitor patients with Multiple Sclerosis both inside and outside a clinical setting. Over the course of the study, researchers gathered valuable information, equivalent to 50,000 hours of data.
The data being collected via IoT in healthcare is being used to change lives for the better, with behavior modification and improved and targeted treatment plans. The literal life-changing benefits of IoT in healthcare can be seen on a daily basis, both with patients and providers.
IoT in healthcare has helped to reduce costs for providers, prevent wasted resources, reduce errors, improve the patient experience, improve patient outcomes, and allow for better drug management.
As providers and patients begin to collect and access this data, the key will be making this data manageable and accessible, not a data dump.
4. Retail: Consumer-driven innovation
Most innovations in retail have focused on the shopper's journey through the store selecting items. From frictionless shopping and checkout experiences to efficient store management, product tracking, and stock management, as well as improved store security, the implementation of IoT in retail stores can transform the shopping experience for everyone involved.
Smart checkouts are an example of this, where the checkout station has been designed to scan, weigh, tell if shoppers are using their own bags, and complete all functions of a checkout person within a small “smart” station.
Amazon took this one step further with their idea for a store that automatically scans the items you picked and charges you on your way out the door, with no need to scan each individual item.
Other retailers, like Krogers, has been experimenting with RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to create smart shelves in its grocery stores for several years now. In addition to using smart shelves to display digital price tags, Krogers is exploring other functionalities like providing on-demand nutritional information.
Amazon and others have piloted drone “quick” delivery services, and other retailers, such as luxury retailer Everlane, are also offering hour-of delivery. With drones becoming more commonplace, quick shipping via drone could see a boom, specifically for customers within a certain radius of brick-and-mortar stores or storage and shipping facilities.
Another mind-boggling application of IoT is shoe brand Timberland’s use of geo-targeting SMS to drive sales. By leveraging customer location and lifestyle data, Timbaland sent dynamic ads to potential customers’ phones. Timberland increased in-store visits by 6% using geo-targeting.
These examples underscore how retail is using IoT to improve the consumer experience by alleviating the worst parts of purchasing, like waiting in line, waiting for items to ship, or finding that perfect item. This is bringing mechanization to parts of the retail chain that haven't been upgraded in the same way as back-end manufacturing processes.
But they don't speak to how the data from these smart devices are going to be used to make the retail experience even better. Does adding a carbon footprint to food really help a shopper? Are drone flight patterns going to be measured against weather pressure systems to ensure speedy delivery?
Good IoT analytics use cases will uncover better indicators as to how consumers interact with purchase experiences—how are people moving through stores, how long are they looking at items or in dressing rooms or waiting in line? What are their pain points, and what is influencing their purchasing decisions in brick-and-mortar locations?
Implementing smart technology in retail should yield answers to these questions through a wealth of data collected from the way customers behave.
Whether you're trying to optimize the manufacturing process, get across town at rush hour, improve your health, or increase your odds of finding the perfect shoe, the IoT has the potential to revolutionize the way you achieve your goals—but only if you let it.
While it can be difficult to wrap your head around the idea that your Amazon order will be delivered by a drone, or your wearable watch is sending health data to your doctor, or even that retailers are sending you ads based on your geolocation, IoT data is changing the world we live in so many ways, for the better. Embracing this possibility and taking a critical eye on what we can do with a flood of new information will pave the way to the future.
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