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IoT trends 2020

What is the role IoT will play in fighting climate change? Explore our IoT trend report for 2020 and beyond.

At the beginning of a new decade, we worked with Northstream, part of Accenture to analyse this trend in our second edition of IoT  trends 2020. This trend we foresee is that IoT will play a positive enablement role in fighting climate change. In this report we look at how IoT will not only drive the connected economy but will be an important enabler for a more sustainable and responsible connected economy.

IoT trends 2020 report

Complete report with IoT trends for 2020 including analysis from consulting firm Northstream.

Summary of our IoT 2020 trends report

Retrospective look at our 2019 trends report and how far we have come

In the first edition we identified five IoT trends for 2019 and beyond on how IoT will drive the connected economy. These early trends remain very relevant today. The first trend identified  was that enterprise data will take the lead in data trading. The abundance of data coming from connected “things” in the IoT is leading many companies to explore opportunities for monetization by selling their data to third parties.

We predicted that data from enterprise IoT (e.g. machines and sensors) will be in focus for large-scale data trading as it is subject to less data protection regulations than data from consumer IoT.

The second trend highlighted was that digital value will be unlocked faster. Enterprises that embarked early on a digitalization journey have achieved benefits but have often created a technology landscape comprised of disparate in-house systems with complex interactions. However, we predicted that newcomers to digitalization will “leap” over the complexity that first  movers experienced and develop and deploy IoT solutions faster and at lower cost.

Third, connectivity will be at the center of digital product innovation. A well-functioning connectivity solution is a crucial part of product performance and an enabler for a digital offering. However, connectivity is still too often an afterthought. We predicted that to enable new digital products and experiences, enterprises will integrate connectivity technology considerations into the overall product development cycle from the start.

A fourth trend identified in 2019 was that connectivity will push e-commerce even further. The logistics industry is undergoing rapid change, powered by the growth of e-commerce. Smart logistics, with connectivity at the centre, linking all stakeholders (e.g. suppliers, carriers, warehouses) is expanding from high-value assets to mass deployment. We predicted that connectivity technologies combined with AI, robotics and sensors will be a main driving force for logistics innovation.

The fifth trend identified was that managed connectivity will become even more important. In both the consumer and enterprise IoT domains, Wi-Fi has been widely adopted as a connectivity technology, especially when the product or service is aimed at a price-sensitive segment. However, there are scenarios where products need to be highly reliable and secure as in the case of smart locks or SLAs are involved (e.g. video surveillance security services).  For a growing number of such use cases managed connectivity (cellular or Wi-Fi) is a better fit and is rising to be a primary technology  selection criteria, in addition to the solution’s technical and commercial merits.

In this edition of our IoT trends report, which also comes at the beginning of a new decade, we add one more prediction for the coming years. We foresee that IoT will play a key role in fighting climate change. IoT will not only drive the connected economy but will be an important enabler for a more sustainable and responsible connected economy.

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IoT to play a key role in fighting climate change and combatting global warming

Under rising pressure from society, customers, and regulators, businesses are searching for ways to balance their drive for profit with the need to reduce their environmental footprint. Are these two objectives necessarily at odds? The various drivers influencing these objectives are explored in the report and it highlights the key role IoT has to play.

As companies have embarked on journeys of digitalization and implementation of IoT solutions as apart of those efforts, a lot of the focus has been placed on improving efficiency and reducing cost in the manufacturing, transport, supply chain and maintenance of products. The cost reduction achieved is often a result of optimizing the use of production materials ranging from electricity, fuel and water to cotton, iron, timber and more.

This means that as part of those commercial initiatives aimed at financial benefits, there has been a positive contribution to sustainability.

What are the drivers for the Internet of Things?

From their perspective, customers increasingly strive to make more ethical and sustainable choices, with many willing to pay a premium for such products and services. Sometimes it can be hard to discern which option is more sustainable.

Therefore, customers are also increasingly seeking greater transparency about how the products they buy are sourced, manufactured, transported as well as the total environmental impact.

Another driver discussed in this report is the growing trend of IoT’s role in fighting climate change as regulation puts new requirements on businesses. However, there is a rising trend towards companies stepping up and making voluntary commitments to align their corporate strategies with the goals of the Paris Agreement by going “carbon neutral”.

Governments worldwide are implementing stricter legislation on whole industries related to emissions, pollutants and use of natural resources. Companies are also voluntarily setting ambitious goals to become carbon neutral, seen of course as a very positive driver of change. While regulation is a strong driver for change that is affecting many industries, governments as a whole are not doing enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are already falling behind the globally agreed Paris Agreement aim of  ”holding warming well below 2°C, and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C”.

What will be the impact of IoT (Internet of Things)?

IoT has the potential to play a very important role in decreasing humans’ environmental footprint. In the coming years we expect the following will be part of the impact picture. Firstly, sustainability goals will become an integral part in many commercial IoT deployments. Environmental sustainability will no longer be just a by-product of becoming “smart”. IoT solutions will increasingly be designed with sustainability as a key component, alongside business and technology requirements.

Newer generation technology is also typically more energy efficient and thus kinder to the planet.

Companies will leverage the data from IoT to create offerings for environmentally conscious consumers and businesses. This impact means that companies will collect and act upon IoT data to optimize resource usage and respond to environmental legislation, for example stricter regulations on emissions in the shipping and maritime industry that require both technical and operational measures.

Many companies will also go the next mile – create new offerings based on sustainable products and services that are targeted for environmentally conscious consumers. These businesses see sustainability not as a cost but as a competitive edge that they place at the core of their brand  identity and product design.

How can IoT contribute to a more sustainable product lifecycle?

Companies have historically focused on making and selling as many products as possible at the lowest cost possible, with less focus on how often a product is used or what happens when it is no longer needed. Businesses and consumers are realizing that this “take-make-dispose” model is no longer suited to the reality we are facing. Innovative companies are starting to apply circular-economy principles to their product lifecycle management.

This approach is based on 3Rs: reduce the use of resources, reuse products and parts as much as possible and recycle the raw materials.

The circular economy principle one, reduce the use of natural resources narrowing in on reducing waste. Also, it is focused on the design and manufacture phase focused on improving processes and reduce waste. IoT can help make products more sustainably, from design through manufacturing. This principle also refers to rethinking distribution, in other words enable more efficient transport and logistics. Connected fleet is one of the domains where IoT is already widely applied leading to savings in fuel consumption, level of congestion, noise and pollution that can be reduced in cities.

Not only can the location of goods be monitored during distribution but also their state.

In terms of principle three, product reuse, the focus will be on to optimize use, extend lifetime and share products. One of the areas where IoT can deliver the most impact is in making cities and buildings more sustainable by reducing energy consumption since fossil fuels burned for energy are one of the greatest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions.

The as-a-service model for connected assets is also at the heart of the growing sharing economy for anything from electric scooters, bikes and vehicles to garden tools and pest control. The sharing economy powered by IoT solutions is thus contributing to the circular economy by increasing the utilization and lifetime of products and thus reducing wasteIt is also giving the service providers a clearer responsibility for disposing and recycling the product at the end of its useful life since they retain ownership of the product.

Improving waste sorting and collection forms part of the principle three of reuse, focused on collect and recycle functions. An orderly and well-functioning recycling and waste collection system can also encourage people to put more effort into separating their waste, which is crucial for a circular economy that aims to repurpose, remanufacture and reuse materials from discarded products.

In the IoT Predictions 2020 Report, examples are highlighted of how companies have connected the whole value chain, from sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, and product use, to collection and recycling and how IoT plays a crucial and integral role in emissions reduction. One example in the report is for instance, the smart water management pumps from Grundfos.

IoT 2020 trends report conclusion

IoT has great potential to play a key role in helping fight climate change by helping us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and live more sustainably. Read in this report of examples that show how thought leaders across many companies and industries are embracing IoT solutions to create innovative products and services that are both competitive from a business perspective and at the same time more environmentally conscious.

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