How Can IoT and M2M Connectivity Improve Your Business?

The Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine (M2M) deployments have already carved out a substantial piece of the global market. Indeed, with tens of billions of connected devices already online all over the world, the ascent of IoT is showing no signs of abatement. Here are some IoT use cases of how businesses can use IoT and M2M connectivity to boost revenue, deliver to quality-of-life improvements, and reduce environmental impact:

IoT Use Case: Logistics Management

Let’s say your company is responsible for refilling vending machines installed in a particular city or geographic area. You fill up your trucks and have your drivers stop by each vending machine, take a quick inventory, and restock them accordingly.

However, there are a few potential stumbling blocks that could impact efficiency and bottom-line. For instance, some machines won’t require restocking and some products are bound to be in higher demand. As such, your drivers run the risk of making unnecessary stops or running out of certain products before they finish their routes.

With smart vending machines, capable of communicating with your delivery logistics team, you’ll be able to:

  • Eliminate unnecessary stops, and thus save on fuel costs and improve delivery times.
  • Plan routes and deliveries more efficiently.
  • Make informed purchasing decisions.
  • Reduce the amount of time to fill up your fleet of delivery trucks.
  • Generate more turn-over since refills will be done when required.


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IoT Use Case: Personal Services

Nobody likes looking for parking; especially in big cities, where parking spots can be scarce, and traffic is often dense. And we’ve all been there! There’s almost nothing more frustrating than showing up late for dinner plans or missing appointments due to a lack of parking.

Fortunately, more and more city planners and parking garage managers are leveraging IoT to roll out smart parking spaces. By simply outfitting parking spots with sensors, they’re able to build mobile apps that direct citizens towards the nearest available parking spaces.

This has several benefits, including:

  • Citizens spend less time looking for parking and miss fewer appointments.
  • Less traffic congestion and lower carbon emission.
  • Increased customer satisfaction for parking garages.
  • More efficient use of parking spaces.


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IoT Use Case: Smart Home Appliances 

People purchase home appliances based on the anticipated value of the appliance. While value can be calculated in any number of ways, one of the most important metrics from a consumer standpoint is long-term cost savings. How much water does a dishwasher use per load? How energy efficient are LED lights compared to incandescent lights? You get the idea.

Manufacturers are increasingly leveraging machine learning and IoT technologies to hand down extraordinary cost savings to consumers. This obviously helps them differentiate themselves on store shelves, but it also makes their products vastly more important on a macro level.

For example, another IoT use case to consider: the humble thermostat. By using sensors and algorithms that collect and analyze heating and cooling data in millions of homes across the globe, smart thermostats promise to reduce global demand for electricity. This means:

  • Increased power plant and grid capacity.
  • Lower carbon emissions on a global scale.
  • Reduced consumer utilities bills.


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IoT Use Case: Smart Public Transportation, Bus Shelters, and Metro Stops

Public transport is one of the most important services a city can offer, providing convenient and affordable commuting options for citizens, commuters, and visitors alike. According to estimates from the American Public Transportation Association, for every 1 billion U.S. dollars invested in public transportation, 50,000 jobs are created and sustained across industries. Moreover, for every dollar of investment, public transportation generates approximately 5 dollars in economic returns.

This is where IoT comes into the picture. Smart City solutions like electronic bus stop signage, smart metro timetables, and Wi-Fi-enabled vehicles, are some of fastest growing areas of investment for public transportation. Indeed, such solutions offer more efficient services, improved commuter travel experiences, new revenue streams, and the ability to serve important alerts.

By outfitting bus shelters and metro stops with smart timetable screens, cities will be able to:

  • Offer real-time estimates for arrivals, departures, and traveltimes, as well as information pertaining to unforeseen or expected delays.
  • Serve targeted digital advertisements, like promotions for nearby restaurants.
  • Broadcast emergency alerts, severe weather warnings, and other public-safety related messages.


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IoT Use Cases: Smart Kiosks

These days, smart kiosks can be found practically everywhere — at supermarkets, retailers, restaurants, airports, hotels, banks, healthcare centers, government agencies, and in Smart City deployments of all types. And there’s a good reason for this! Smart kiosks lead to shorter lines, more efficient services, lower labor costs, boosted revenue, and, most importantly, improved customer satisfaction.

Indeed, in a landscape dominated by ecommerce, social media, and endless hours of on-demand digital content, consumers have come to expect near-immediate gratification. While brick-and-mortar-based businesses will never be able to replicate the speed of an online media platform, technologies like smart kiosks can nevertheless deliver better experiences at better costs.

Today, smart kiosks are commonly found in:

  • Restaurants, such as Fastfood chains and other quick-service restaurants, where they enable customers to bypass the counter to order their meals. This has the added benefit of allowing staff to focus on other areas of service.
  • Retailers, where they’re leveraged in point of sale (POS) solutions that let customers scan and pay for goods on their own. In addition, self-checkout kiosks offer an opportunity to display targeted digital advertisements and promotions.
  • Banks, where they can be used by customers to open or check accounts, order replacement cards, schedule appointments with their personal banker, review their investment portfolios, and more.


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IoT Use Cases: Connected Vehicles 

The automobile industry is one of the biggest manufacturing industries in the world. What’s more, with an estimated one billion motor vehicles in use worldwide, it also happens to be highly competitive. So, to differentiate their fleets, many manufacturers are turning to IoT.

Consider this. According to Statista, approximately 28.5 million connected cars with embedded telematics were sold in 2019 alone. Moreover, a report from Markets and Markets predicts the connected vehicles market will reach a value of 166 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.

There’s no mystery here. IoT and connected vehicle solutions provide near-limitless potential for improving driver experiences, safety, and life-time value by enabling manufacturers to:

  • Improve telematics, preventative maintenance, accident prevention, and entertainment systems.
  • Facilitate remote or Over-The-Air (OTA) software updates across their entire fleet of connected vehicles.
  • Capture and share actionable diagnostics and track driver behavior.
  • Create new revenue opportunities with location services, value-added services, and direct, affiliate, and affinity marketing.


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IoT Use Cases: City Safety

Violent crimes are costly. They take not only an emotional toll on victims and their families, but also inflict concrete economic costs. What’s more, they impose large costs on communities through lower property values, higher insurance premiums, reduced investment, and higher taxes.

So, unsurprisingly, cities all over the globe have turned to IoT to help protect the lives and properties of their citizens. For instance:

  • Smart Cameras: By connecting CCTV cameras to a video analytics software, cities can dramatically reduce the amount of video that personnel have to look at to identify potential threats or otherwise illegal behavior.
  • City Lighting: A recent report found that outdoor lighting cut crime by a whopping 39%. Smart lighting systems that are connected via an IoT platform can automatically warn city managers when lights are nearing the end of their lifetime, facilitating timely repairs. (This example also extends to other city assets, such as traffic cameras, environmental sensors, etc.)
  • Connected Citizens: Cities can tap into smartphones, smart LCD screens, and smart speakers to send out timely emergency alerts.


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IoT Use Cases: Smart Homes and Smart Buildings

According to Future Business Insights, the Smart Home market is on pace to reach a value of 622.59 billion U.S. dollars by 2026. Moreover, they expect the value of the global Smart Building market to reach an estimated 109.48 billion U.S. dollars by the same year.

For those in the IoT industry, these numbers are unsurprising. Smart Home solutions offer homeowners countless benefits, including the ability to intelligently manage home devices, energy consumption, and utilities. In addition, they give people the ability to keep an eye on children, pets, home security — even carbon monoxide levels.

Likewise, the Internet of Things has helped facilities managers reduce the maintenance costs associated with their Smart Buildings, while simultaneously improving overall energy efficiency. Indeed, according to some estimates, IoT solutions can deliver a 15% reduction in energy costs.

Common Smart Home and Smart Building solutions include:

  • Smart meters, which provide real-time consumption data.
  • Smart sensors, which power intelligent lighting systems, smart thermostats, humidity sensors, smoke detectors, etc.
  • Remote management platforms, which leverage Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity to keep homeowners and facilities managers connected to their properties whether they’re picking up groceries or sipping Mai Tais on a faraway beach.


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IoT Use Cases: Air Pollution

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is responsible for more than 4.2 million deaths per year. And governments and organizations all over the globe are beginning to take the threat seriously, fining cities that fail to meet air quality standards and imposing taxes and regulations on high-polluting industries.

Fortunately, IoT has delivered substantial gains in environmental monitoring. It’s easier and more affordable than ever to keep tabs on such things as air quality, carbon dioxide levels, and the presence of carbon monoxide. Smart monitors and sensors capable of providing real-time insight into air pollution help companies, industries, and local governments stay within regulatory boundaries, avoid pollution-related fines, reduce their tax burdens, and, most importantly, protect the environment and foster healthy living conditions.

Some common IoT solutions for Air Pollution include:

  • Air Quality Monitoring, which helps organizations monitor the concentration of aerosols, enabling them to manage air quality more efficiently and maintain health standards.
  • Gas Monitoring Systems, which enable organizations to address leaks quickly and with efficiency.


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IoT Use Cases: Traffic Congestion Monitoring

According to a recent study by the analytics company INRIX, drivers in the United States spent an average of 97 hours sitting in traffic in 2018, costing the country some 87 billion U.S. dollars. Moreover, not only is this frustrating for drivers, it’s also terrible for the environment.

To address these issues, civil engineers and urban planners have turned to IoT traffic congestion monitoring solutions. By placing smart cameras at key locations and implementing machine learning technologies to count car volume and measure capacity, these solutions help infrastructure managers identify and respond to instances of congestion, peak hours, and environmental factors (accidents, weather, etc.).

The benefits of using IoT to monitor traffic congestion include the ability to:

  • Track improvements against infrastructure and policy changes.
  • Make informed decisions for future road and infrastructure projects.
  • Eliminate the reliance on human traffic-counters.
  • Prevent errors in traffic congestion measurements.


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IoT Use Cases: Tracking Weather Patterns

For most people, an accurate weather forecast is something of an afterthought: if you work in a climate-controlled office, then a little rain is unlikely to ruin your day. Nevertheless, there are some industries in which such forecasts are absolutely vital. Take agriculture, for instance.

All over the world, farmers and agronomists are leveraging connectivity technologies to help maximize their crop yields. While IoT sensors enable real-time measurements of weather and climate conditions, Big Data platforms and applications can be used to analyze this data and facilitate informed decision-making when planning for future crop cycles. Combined, these technologies help farmers reduce the risk of crop failure while simultaneously enabling them to save on labor, watering, and fertilization costs.

IoT weather sensors track:

  • Fluctuations in temperature.
  • Rainfall and humidity over a set time period.
  • Storm indicators, such as windspeed, air pressure, etc.


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IoT Use Cases: Energy Management

Intelligent energy management is among the most valuable uses for IoT. What’s more, the return on investment is both immediate and easy to calculate. In fact, it’s estimated that smart appliances and smart energy management solutions can reduce energy consumption in buildings by 20%.

These savings extend to the Smart City space as well. For instance, by building an interconnected system of smart streetlights, motion-activated traffic and surveillance cameras, and other real-time monitoring devices, cities can optimize their smart infrastructure and cut down on unnecessary energy consumption.

Here are some other ways IoT can facilitate better energy management:

  • Optimized usage of renewable energy for private homes, offices, cities, wind and solar farms, and more.
  • Smart vehicles that leverage energy management systems to maximize fuel efficiency.
  • Smart home appliances that leverage IoT sensors and machine learning technology to adapt to homeowner behavior.


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IoT Use Cases: Smart Devices

Smart devices, such as smart phones, tablets, smart watches, smart speakers, connected TVs (CTV), and Bluetooth headphones, are among the most commonly available IoT products. According to Google, 61% of people around the world own at least one smart device.

Moreover, many smart devices are capable of functioning as IoT hubs that connect much larger networks of sensors, monitors, and devices. A tablet, for instance, can be transformed into a comprehensive home command center. Use it as a TV remote, to stream video from security cameras, to find lost keys with Bluetooth keychains, to turn lights on and off around the house, to lock car doors, to make sure windows are closed during winter or when the A/C is on — the possibilities are endless!

Aside from phones, tablets, and smart TVs / CTVs, some of the most common smart devices include:

  • Smart watches, which can be used to stream audio, send and receive text messages, count steps, etc.
  • Smart collars, which can be used for training purposes as well as for finding missing pets.
  • Wearables for healthcare, which can be used to monitor body temperature, pulse rate, and other vital signs of at-risk individuals.


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IoT Use Cases: Home Security and Surveillance

In 2017, property crimes in the United States resulted in a total loss of approximately 15.3 billion U.S. dollars. Moreover, according to the New York Times, homes are 300% more likely to be burgled if they don’t have a home security system. So it should come as no surprise that home security is one of the most lucrative segments of the IoT market. Indeed, products like motion detecting cameras, video doorbells, smart locks, and smart smoke / CO detectors are incredibly popular among consumers and businesses alike.

By enabling home security and surveillance systems to connect to the Internet, or by equipping home appliances and other products with speakers and motion detecting cameras, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can offer consumers the ability to:

  • Deter potential and occurrent home invaders with two-way audio systems and visible security cameras.
  • Record home invasions in progress to help law enforcement identify suspects.
  • Detect fires, gas leaks, and carbon monoxide leaks.
  • Use mobile devices to remotely alert authorities to home invasions or fires.


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IoT Use Cases: Economic Growth

Globally, growth in economic productivity is continuing to slow; not only for developed countries, but for developing countries as well. This makes it difficult for governments to achieve their prosperity goals and thus help citizens attain higher living standards. While there are numerous complex reasons for this, IoT nevertheless offers a chance to fight back.

According to the GSMA, the world economy benefited by an estimated 175 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 due to the use of IoT technologies. While this may seem a modest sum — a “mere” 0.2% of global GDP — it corroborates the potential of the technology. Indeed, as more investment is directed into smart devices and solutions, the returns will be increasingly lucrative. Case in point: the GSMA predicts that by 2025, the productivity benefits of IoT will be worth over 370 billion U.S. dollars per annum, or 0.34% of global GDP.

What’s more, while manufacturing businesses have thus far been the greatest beneficiaries of IoT (representing more than half of the total benefits), other industries have also begun to reap the rewards. For example, globally, enterprises report annual savings of between 4% and 6% of operating costs on average. But developing countries, despite meager adoption of IoT technologies, are reporting even higher savings — 7% and upwards!

Extrapolate these savings over industries and across time and the benefits add up quickly. As IoT connections continue to grow, smart devices continue to proliferate, and new use cases continue to be dreamt up, productivity gains will surely follow. What’s more, technologies like 5G networks, Wi-Fi 6, cloud and edge computing, and eSIMs, and soft SIMs promise to deliver increasingly sophisticated IoT solutions. That is to say, the future remains very, very bright.

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