Don’t turn your back on the Internet of Things

Imagine knowing in 1996 just how much the internet would transform our world?
3 May 2019

Elon Musk’s Tesla is reaping the fruits of acting ahead of the curve. Source: Shutterstock

Two years ago, Cisco reported that almost 75 percent of business Internet of Things (IoT) projects were failing.

But, the company also estimated that IoT will consist of 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020 which is now only eight months away.

5G is waiting in the wings, promising faster download speeds, greater reliability, and lower latency. Could this signal the beginning of something special?

Separately, both IoT and 5G are regularly said to be overhyped. However, together they are expected to redefine the digital landscape.

With no immediate 5G deployments for IoT products at scale here in 2019, it can be challenging to imagine how different that future will be. But make no mistake, we are entering significant ‘imagination’ territory.

Emerging technologies such as IoT, 5G, and blockchain may sound like buzzwords, but in our immediate future, they will go hand in hand.

For example, any of the problems surrounding IoT can be attributed to the lack of reliable and faster connectivity available. 5G will change all that in connecting device-to-device communications at an unprecedented scale.

Learning from Tesla

Leaders with the vision to see what is waiting on the horizon can position their business to leverage these emerging technologies and secure a competitive edge. A great example is how car manufacturers are currently struggling to catch up with the early lead secured by Tesla.

Waymo frequently shares how the company has achieved seven billion miles in simulation tests. But the reality is that simulation is very different from the 10 million miles on public roads secured by Tesla. ARK Invest believes that Tesla is around three years ahead of its electric vehicle (EV) production competitors.

Vast amounts of autonomous data in real life scenarios, autonomous hardware, and battery production are just a few areas that are enabling Musk’s firm to leave its competitors behind. Many car manufacturers that failed to see what was on the horizon and are now struggling to stay relevant in the new digital world.

The IoT opportunity

As business leaders, startup founders, innovators, and entrepreneurs continue to navigate through uncharted digital waters, further transformational change is inevitable.

We can also expect new business models to emerge as a  result of this adoption that will begin solving real problems. Everything from improving efficiency, increasing employee to enhancing customer engagement will be affected.

Consider this a wake-up call. Every business needs to think about how they can reimagine their products and services to leverage the opportunities that IoT sensors using 5G networks can unlock.

In the next few years, these sensors will be inside our cars, farmers’ fields, buildings and will bring entire cities to life by making sense of vast amounts of data in real-time.

The convergence of 5G, AI and IoT will help retailers enhance customer engagement and experiences through the smartphones in our pockets. Augmented reality is also expected to step up and improve omnichannel shopping experiences. And while technology is often blamed for the downfall of bricks and mortar retail, it could also end up being its savior too.

A combination of IoT tracking sensors, 5G connectivity and blockchain could also bring much-needed transparency into every aspect of the supply chain. For the first time, a consumer will eventually be able to see the entire journey of every item they purchase.

Avoiding mistakes of the past

Right now the adoption of 5G for IoT appears to be many years away. But it would be foolish to dismiss as hype or be labeled as one of the businesses that just doesn’t get it. When faced with pivotal moments, I am reminded by how the establishment responded to technological change in our past.

Everyone from Bill Gates to David Bowie tried to paint a picture of how the internet would change our world and were mocked accordingly. Maybe, it’s time to learn from our past and understand the importance of learning to think bigger and look beyond our desire for instant gratification.

Imagine knowing in 1996 just how much the internet would transform our world? Or how many household names that failed to adapt to the new digital world would perish. What would you do differently?

Here in 2019, we are beginning to see the convergence of many emerging technologies and the potential impacts on businesses across every industry. I’m not suggesting that every business rushes into the next big thing or hops on board the hype train, but it is time to understand how these technologies are changing the way companies think, plan and conduct their future strategies.

Rather than being dismissive about the inevitable change ahead, it’s time to arm yourself with insights, understand the impacts these changes will have on your products or services and take one step at a time into a brave new digital world where everything will be connected.