IoT Blog
IoT Blog

The Connected Everything: New Business Models and the Industrial IoT Revolution

The Internet of Things isn’t just a new Industrial Revolution, a phrase that is quickly becoming cliché. While the IoT certainly seems poised to bring massive societal changes, as have previous industrial revolutions, it will revolutionize industry itself—all industries. 

The ways that OEMs have been doing business for decades, even centuries, is changing. Products are transforming, and not just physically: the transformation is almost philosophical, as software turns tangible items into a connected web of data services. Every component of this web can be connected, whether a kitchen, a car, or a 400-passenger jet. That’s the heart of Machine to Machine (M2M) technology. That’s the Internet of Things. But while this massive shift is exciting, it can also be overwhelming. Businesses are reluctant to change their basic models. Entropy, tradition, and worry about large capital outlays can lead to hesitation.

That’s why a number of traditional manufacturers are turning to end-to-end service providers to help them maneuver through the complexity of options and implement their transformation. You say you want a revolution? Here’s how to change your world. 

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The Need for Transformation

Manufacturers that can leverage the IoT to deliver services will stand out. Technology is available today for them to deliver devices that can securely:

  • Collect data;
  • Transmit data to the cloud to be analyzed;
  • Share information with other connected devices;
  • Be receptive to predictive maintenance;
  • Be compatible with OTA updates and maintenance; and, of course,
  • Perform their original functions.

However, research tells us that many OEMs are simply not prepared:

  • Just 35% of manufacturers are currently collecting and using data from smart sensors.
  • Only 34% believe that adopting an IoT strategy is “extremely critical” for manufacturers. 
  • 80% believe the IoT will be transformative and disruptive.
  • 90% feel they are unprepared for these changes.

But the IoT revolution is already happening—and having a dedicated wireless partner will allow you to stay competitive in a sea of new options. To understand just how transformative the IoT can be, let’s take look at a single use case: the HVAC system. 

Smart HVAC, Smarter Buildings: A New Economic and Industrial Model
Imagine an HVAC system going into a new 25-story, steel-and-glass mixed-use building. When the General Contractor was looking for an HVAC supplier, she had many choices, but she wanted one that would be able to connect the system to other smart devices in the building. HVAC, after all, is no longer just about supplying heat and AC, but about working as a service to maintain energy efficiency. Here’s how such a system might function: 

Collecting and Transmitting Data

A 25-story building that houses everything from commercial and retail to residential means that the HVAC system will be used in extremely different ways at different times of the day. Office workers with easterly windows will be warmer in the morning, and a west-facing restaurant on the bottom floor must adjust its temperature as the sun sets. For the HVAC system to be most efficient, it must collect and respond to this information—as well as data from every other part of the system.

Communicating Information with Other Connected Devices
But one of the great benefits of the IoT is that every connected device can work in harmony. The HVAC system can be in constant communication with sensors around the building. These sensors will help it know that if someone turns on an oven in one unit, the AC doesn’t need to kick on two doors down. And when the sun starts to hit the windows of that bottom-floor restaurant, the system will know to expect that automatic blinds will soon close and the temperature will drop. Every part of the building is working together.

Predictive OTA Maintenance

There is much more to the IoT than communicating with smart ovens, of course. Maybe most importantly, connected devices will be able to send out an alert when they are breaking down, when there is a glitch in their software, or if there is something wrong in the wider system. Each device can report anomalies to a central cloud (run either by the OEM, the building manager, or another party), which can transmit an over-the-air fix. There is no need to send out an engineer or a maintenance person. Problems can essentially be solved before they occur, saving building owners and managers an enormous amount of money. In fact, predictive maintenance is estimated to save manufacturers $630 billion dollars a year by 2030.

OTA Updates
This HVAC system will be operational in the building for a long time. So it’s essential that every sensor, every module, and every connected thermostat receive software updates as new technology is developed. This could be expensive and costly if it required manual intervention, but over-the-air updates allow upgrades every time a new version comes out or a security patch is developed. A connected system allows for operational flexibility, modality and security.  

This example certainly doesn’t mean the Industrial IoT is limited to HVAC. Every industry, from automotive to energy, is poised to transform—and everyone will need a way to transmit and manage the data generated. 

Wireless Solutions for Tomorrow’s IoT
In order for manufacturers to position themselves as part of the IoT revolution, they will need to enable their devices to be wireless-friendly in order to transmit and receive data. But this can’t be a bolt-on, piecemeal solution. In order to fully transform, OEMs will need a wireless partner who:

  1. Can Provide IoT-Enabled Modules for Any Network including 3G, 4G, and LPWA. These IoT modules must be flexible and adaptable, able to easily fit into any manufactured device. 
  2. Uses Smart SIM Cards to enable shifts between networks if providers change. eUICC-enabled Smart SIMs will be able to instantly change networks to avoid coverage interruptions. This ensures the consistent connection that the IoT requires. 
  3. Creates a Reliable IoT Cloud Platform. The cloud platform will enable device and connectivity management, allowing your components to function as a seamless whole. 

Simply put, the IoT is allowing manufacturers to grow. Rather than only manufacturing goods, they are now service providers. This change requires not just a philosophical shift, but an IoT partner who can help quickly and efficiently make the transition. In the near future, OEMs will either have to tell their customers that they are doing things the old-fashioned way—or that they are IoT-ready, and can provide devices that will enable total connectivity, saving time, money, and resources. Start with Sierra to begin your transformation, or watch our webinar to learn more about IoT readiness.