What is IoT?

It's your equipment, machines, products, and devices that are connected to the cloud and outfitted to collect and securely transmit data.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT) and how can it help your business? IoT enables your organization to analyze and act on data, allowing you to make smart decisions in real-time. With the timely and relevant insights about your business and customers that come with these new sources of data, there’s great potential for industries of all kinds—including manufacturing, transportation, energy, agriculture, retail, and government—to operate more efficiently and provide new value to customers by implementing the right IoT solution.

What can I do with IoT?

IoT lets you solve your business problems using your own data. The Internet of Things isn’t just about connected devices—it’s about information and how connecting devices to the cloud provides powerful, immediate insights that can transform your business by lowering costs by reducing loss or materials, improving operational and mechanical processes, or building new lines of business that are possible with reliable real-time data. Create a real competitive advantage by using IoT to turn your data into insights, and those insights into action.

Explore five common uses for IoT technologies and start thinking about how accessing previously untapped data may support your company goals:

Remote monitoring

Monitor almost any kind of asset—including heavy machinery, vehicles, and even livestock—almost anywhere, either continuously or at regular intervals. By tracking location, performance, condition, or environmental factors, the insights you gain from IoT-connected things may help you:

  • Reduce your service costs and refine your business processes.
  • Understand how your products are performing to provide a better experience for your customers.
  • Increase the number of appointments per day, cut fuel costs, and reduce wear-and-tear by using machine learning capabilities to route freight or vehicles more efficiently.
  • Know where your resources are at any given moment—down to which vehicle they’re on—for improved field service, stronger security, and increased employee safety.

Predictive maintenance

Similar to remote monitoring, predictive maintenance incorporates machine learning software that analyzes data to predict outcomes and automate actions. Predictive capabilities allow service providers to move beyond the traditional reactive and scheduled maintenance business model to using data and analysis to identify issues before they become critical, allowing technicians to intervene before customers even realize there's a problem. Armed with this information, you’re able to:

  • Figure out what mechanical or operational conditions are causing failures or slowdowns.
  • Better predict what spare parts to keep in your inventory before repair issues arise.
  • Move beyond a break/fix business model by preventing equipment failures through just-in-time maintenance.

Facilities management

This IoT scenario focused on monitoring your buildings, infrastructure, and other spaces, allowing you to improve energy efficiency, space utilization, productivity, and safety using the data you collect. The insights you gain may help you:

  • Save money by automating lighting or optimizing heating and cooling cycles.
  • Increase employee or occupant satisfaction by keep equipment running or ensuring that supplies are stocked.

Manufacturing efficiency

Every business is different, but many manufacturing processes share a common pathway from raw materials to finished products. Learn from your own systems—find out how to new ways to manage your processes and product quality with data from your devices and sensors. With these data insights, you’re able to:

  • Identify bottlenecks that reduce efficiency, enabling you to improve your process.
  • Reduce downtime caused by unplanned maintenance or equipment failure.
  • Eliminate substandard materials, parts, or errors before your product is complete.
  • Improve materials and inventory management so that you always have what you need on hand.

Connected products

Connected products have smart, connective components that allow data to be exchanged between the product and its user, manufacturer, or environment. Related IoT solutions may help you build smart factories with new functionality, greater reliability, and higher product utilization. Using connected products, you’re empowered to:

  • Streamline the development and maintenance of your products.
  • Provide more secure, connected experiences for your customers.
  • Create new lines of business with managed service and support.
  • Monitor how products perform to improve design, manufacturing, and reliability.

Why choose IoT?

Organizations that invest in the Internet of Things are able to deliver more value, including more personalized customer engagement, less waste of materials and labor, and increased operational efficiency. As data is collected and analyzed, new trends may even reveal new revenue opportunities.

$267 billion

Predicted spend on IoT by manufacturers by 2020 1

+$100 million

Average increase in operating income among the most digitally transformed enterprises 2

$25.1 billion

Gartner predicts 25.1 billion installed IoT units by the end of 2021 3

Get started with IoT

Whether your company has the resources to plan and implement an IoT solution on its own or needs to work with a partner, the basic steps for a successful IoT deployment are usually the same:

Begin with a defined business case.

Work with an empowered team that represents OT, IT, and management.

Start small, working your way up in terms of scope and complexity after you’ve achieved initial success.

Defining your IoT business case

Rethink your current IoT-enabled business model or find a new model that better supports how you interact with your customers. Explore several strategies based on pricing power and revenue recurrence in this free e-book.

Accelerate your business transformation with IoT

Reduce complexity, lower costs, and speed up your time to market with fully managed IoT services and solution accelerators.

Discover the right IoT insights for your business

Extract information from massive data with cloud analytics so that it’s readily available and easily categorized. Use this information to better understand how your products or services are performing. Incorporate cloud analytics using fully managed IoT services that provide deeper insights to drive faster decision-making.

Starting small—but thinking big

Gain new business insights using the equipment you already have and the right IoT solution. Learn how Azure IoT helps you grow your business with secure, innovative managed services and solution accelerators. Gain insights into how to start small and scale up at your own pace in this free e-book.

Take your IoT solutions from device to cloud

Build according to your needs with solutions for devices, at the edge, in the cloud, and connected to your line-of-business systems. Edge computing lets data to be processed closer to where it’s generated, enabling you to analyze that data closer to real-time. Cloud computing is a model in which servers, applications, data, and other resources are integrated and provided as a service over the Internet. Learn more about cloud computing.

Work with a trusted IoT leader

Contact us

1 https://www.businessinsider.com/internet-of-things-in-manufacturing-2016-10

2 Keystone Strategy interviews October 2015 - March 2016; Incremental operating income of $100M is based on median company revenue of $3.4B

3 Gartner Getting Started: How to Strategize, Prepare, Plan and Manage Enterprise IoT Projects, Emil Berthelsen, Peter Havart-Simkin, 12 April 2018