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Will IoT Live Up To The Hype?

Remember the dawn of the Internet? Remember all the skeptics who didn’t see its transformational genius? Remember how it became enormous?

It’s happening again.

What’s happening involves the Internet, of course, but in a newly emerging context. I am referring to a phenomenon called the Internet of Things (IoT). Accenture describes this as the convergence of intelligent products and services that communicate with each other, and with people, over global networks. As a market, it has arrived.

There are believed to many lucrative business opportunities to be pursued.  And consumers are targeted as big beneficiaries. But is there substance to back this up?

The answer is “yes.”

For the next several years, count on IoT businesses driving consumer electronics industry growth across a broad spectrum of devices, such as smartphones, wearable fitness monitors, home security systems, home thermostats, kitchen appliances and home audio systems.

More sensors in more devices is a key driver of IoT

If you are skeptical of the hype, think of it this way: A rapidly growing number of devices coming into the market are now connected. This is simple math. A typical smartphone houses eight to 10 sensors. A leading-edge home thermostat, which is an emerging device category, contains between four and five. Another new type of product, a wearable fitness monitor, embeds two to three. Beyond these are many more new devices containing numerous sensors.

More electronics devices equipped with more sensors means more opportunities to connect these products to others, build more applications, embed in them more software, offer more services, travel through more networks, generate more revenues for businesses, and deliver more benefits to consumers.

In new and more intelligent ways, these devices will collect, analyze and send data to more businesses, devices and people than ever to improve decision making, business outcomes and consumer experiences.

According to a new global survey done to support the Accenture Technology Vision 2015, the range of emerging channels that companies say they are using to engage customers includes wearables (cited by 62 percent of survey respondents), connected TVs (68 percent), connected cars (59 percent) and smart objects (64 percent). In fact, 87 percent of survey respondents acknowledged a greater use on the edge of networks of more intelligent hardware, sensors and high tech devices.

Three trends driving IoT

How IoT has coalesced is traceable to three fundamental trends. First, Internet-connected networks are becoming ubiquitous. More people than ever can afford to connect to these networks.

Second, prices of devices that connect to the Internet continue to drop, making them more available to many more people. A growing percentage of the global population, for example, can afford to buy a cellphone, wearable device, PC or smart thermostat. 

Third, barriers to entry using Internet-connected devices continue to plummet. It costs less than ever for people to start a business on the Internet. They can use inexpensive IoT devices, Internet connections they don’t have to pay to use, and software already written by someone else.

Going forward, a big challenge will be deciding in which IoT opportunities to invest. One especially worth considering is medical devices consumers use for faster, easier and less expensive personalized healthcare services. It’s clear the healthcare market is going to be one of the first and largest IoT markets. Consider the potential for hospitals where preventable medical errors remain a leading cause of death. These errors are often caused by false alarms, slow responses and incorrect information.

By networking distributed medical devices, alarms can become smarter so they only get triggered when multiple devices indicate patient danger. Adding sensors to checkpoints allows clinicians to track their compliance with protocols and safety standards. And connecting measurements to patient treatments enables smart drug-delivery systems to react to their conditions faster and more reliably.

Final thoughts

Throughout the electronics and high-tech industry, executing IoT strategies should be at the top of the agenda.  And the focus should be on delivering to consumers what they really want: not more products or services, but more meaningful business outcomes. These companies need to seize this big moment now.

Bart Fischer is a managing director for Accenture’s electronics and high-tech group. He can be reached at [email protected].