Anusha R.I. is the Lead Architect in the area of Asset and Service Management at SAP. She has over 17 years of experience and has worked with various products including SAP on-premise and SAP Predictive Asset Insights. When it comes to IoT, Anusha has a wealth of knowledge to share on the growing field
by Rachel Johnson | 17 Feb, 2022
1. IoT in short
IoT, or the Internet of Things, is best described as a network of intelligent things or objects, which has a lot of sensors and activators. These devices in return give you a lot of data. But IoT is even more than the data you collect. It's also how you use this data – process it, massage it, and derive insights from it. IoT and big data analytics are interconnected in this way, because from IoT you actually end up with a large volume of data.
2. Early examples
Industry 4.0 was really the beginning of IoT, at least of IoT’s emergence in the software industry. Industry 4.0 completely revised the way companies and industries operate; Everything from manufacturing to the supply chain, ended up becoming smart: manufacturing into smart manufacturing, warehousing into smart warehousing. Every process started to become smarter, thanks to added intelligence from all the IoT data that was coming in.
3. How IoT has grown
I was born in the 1980s and come from a middle-class family in India; When I had to buy a computer that was a big thing. I think I remember I had a 128 MB RAM, and a very, very cheap 386 processor. Nowadays, I don't know if such a computer exists. For example, my daughter’s laptop for school is as good as what I have for work. That's because your hardware is becoming cheaper, and it is not like what it was 20 years back. Now you can easily have a lot of chips embedded in it. The cheaper price of the hardware has actually enabled IoT a lot, because it lets everybody embed these chips in their products and that's giving us a lot of data.
4. People’s misconceptions
For a lot of people, they misinterpret IoT to be smartwatches and other devices. They are also IoT, but IoT is much more than that; It can be anything. For example, buildings giving out information or activators for any kind of an object. IoT is not necessarily only machines, and it's not only these devices in which you actually see some data flowing in. There has always been data, it's just that people have not fully harnessed it. It’s just like saying the cloud is a new thing. The cloud was never a new thing. Many companies had their own swarm of servers similar to a private cloud. Like the cloud, IoT is also being used much more now than in the recent past.
5. How it affects our jobs
We should understand that IoT is not only the consumption-based side we always talk about – the smartphones, laptops, Alexas, and other wireless enabled voice systems. IoT is much more than your Wi-Fi enabled life. There is also the enterprise aspect of it, where you basically use the data that you're getting from IoT to make industries operate better, manufacture and supply products and offer enhanced services to your customer. People are able to make more informed decisions in their jobs.
6. Applications of IoT
IoT can be used in many areas: manufacturing, education, hospitality and in the medical industry and many more. At SAP, we are more focused in terms of industrial IoT, where we could help these large enterprises or even medium-sized enterprises to better run their processes leveraging the vast amount of data and information one could collect using IoT.
7. Encouraging Uses for IoT
The medical industry has a lot of potential to use IoT, even managing the pandemic. For instance, to better monitor the COVID-19 situation, the government could give everybody a chip or a smartwatch, take and collect all the data, and then make more informed decisions. Outside of COVID-19, there are so many ways you could use IoT in the medical world. For example, many lifestyle/chronic diseases can be better managed with constant monitoring and alerting. I also foresee IoT utilizing the data collected to better diagnose and treat patients from an early stage.
8. IoT saves live
I read a recent article in the news about a bridge that had sensors installed on it. The collected data indicated a change in the vibration levels when people walked or vehicles passed over a period of time. This alerted the bridge maintenance department to probe further. On deeper analysis, they were able to figure out that certain portions of the bridge had sustained damage due to wear and tear. With IoT, they were able to identify and fix the issue before something drastic happened. This is probably one of the most interesting incidents where IoT helped in averting an accident.
Security is a major challenge that we have with IoT applications. There are sensors that are continuously transmitting data through networks. Network security is a complex and cumbersome process with lot of data flowing in. Compared to maybe ten years back or five years back, the data volume is not growing linearly but exponentially. Same is with the number of devices around. Also, devices are small and do not have high processing capabilities. Having encryption capabilities in these devices also becomes challenging as they are vulnerable to physical attacks.
10. IoT in the future
IoT has gone through a big transformation in the last few years. And in the future it will play a much bigger role in the transformation of industries like automobile, construction, manufacturing, and more in healthcare. The future of IoT is extremely dazzling. With the ever-growing technology and adoption of IoT in the world, the outcomes of the industries, people, and systems would be enormous. That’s probably why we see a lot of young graduates and professionals venturing into this field.