Internet of Things: the Smart Solutions that Transform Business

May 2, 2019

Cars able to launch an alert in case of road hazards, wearable technological devices intended to control physical or environmental parameters, machines able to communicate with each other to optimize time and resources. We are not in a futuristic movie, but in the contemporary world of the Internet of Things. A world, populated by intelligent and connected objects, destined to radically transform consumption, businesses and governments in the next 4 years.

Today, we increasingly hear about smart objects, sometimes mistakenly identified with computers and smartphones. Any object can in fact become part of the IoT universe, if it is possible its unique identification through an IP address and it has the ability to exchange data over the network without the aid of man. The expression Internet of Things, coined by Kevin Ashton, researcher at the MIT in Boston, indicates the common denominator of a set of technologies, which allow an object to connect and communicate via the network with the aim of monitoring, controlling and transfer useful information to carry out consequent actions. Refrigerators, light bulbs, roads, bracelets, but also animals, plants and ‘people’ become smart, starting from the assumption that intelligence is not in fact linked to the objects as such, but to the services they are able to offer.

The potential of IoT is increasingly evident and close to our daily lives, entering at a fast pace in the homes, businesses and organizations in which we operate. By 2023, the IoT Forecast Book estimates that in the United States alone, households will spend over $ 90 billion on smart home appliances, while the global total of industrial robotic systems will reach 6 million installations. In the next four years a significant investment in IoT systems is expected also by governments around the world, which will devote almost 900 billion dollars to the development of smart cities, equipped with connected cameras, street lights and smart meters, able to provide real time information about traffic, utilization of utilities, crime and environmental factors. Also in Italy, the IoT recorded a strong positive trend, with smart metering, smart car and smart logistics driving a market that reached a value of 5 billion in 2018, up for 35% compared to the previous year.

One of the most interesting applications of the IoT is certainly the one linked to the intelligent factory. The better, leaner and smarter the production can be, the higher the chances of being successful in the market. In the Smart Factory, in fact, the new generation logistic and production systems are inspired by the main lean management techniques and the principles of Industry 4.0 to significantly reduce costs, often not considered, such as those related to the issuing of orders, handling and supplies.

Not only factories, understood as productive systems, but companies in the broad sense, from utilities to health, from production to public administration, are benefiting today from the Internet of Things innovation. As reported by the results of the second edition of the Intelligent Enterprise Index, a global research that assesses at what point the evolutionary path towards Intelligent Companies is, the organizations that met the criteria of today’s Intelligent Enterprise in 2018 were twice as the year before. In fact, there is a strong growth in investments in connected devices and their implementation, so that the average annual expenditure, on a global level, has increased by 4% compared to 2017. Around 86% of the companies involved also foresee an additional increase in the next two years and about half of them have already planned an investment growth of between 11% and 20%.

The IoT is particularly appreciated in the private sector, where the world of home automation confirms the growing trend thanks to the effects of services such as Voice Recognition, Cloud, security and artificial intelligence solutions, with a total turnover of 380 million Euros in 2018 and a growth of 52% compared to 2017. Safety, energy management and comfort are the pillars of this technological world that guarantees a mix of intelligence, flexibility and customization.

Through small wearable devices, the IoT can bring important solutions also in the field of safety at work, offering a valid aid both in the prevention of accidents and in the timely management of an eventual emergency at the workplace. In the food sector, on the other hand, the IoT technology allows to transfer to the consumers important information on the quality of the product and its nutritional properties, even warning them of a possible expiration date. The so-called ‘intelligent agriculture‘ is also being developed, which is supposed to reach 11.5 billion euros of production by 2023. There are indeed enormous opportunities to improve the quality and sustainability of our food, and agriculture is one of the main areas where the solutions offered by the Internet of Things can reduce the costs and resources needed for cultivation.

The Internet of Things has today reached an important stage of development and permeation of society, transforming people’s everyday lives and the way companies and institutions operate. To be able to fully grasp its potential, developing in parallel an appropriate risk control, Bologna Business School aims to train managerial figures able to identify and understand IoT innovation and bring it to companies and organizations, to create value. The Master in Digital Technology Management / Internet of Things is a Full-time program in English, which combines technological and business aspects to train professionals capable of identifying the opportunities offered by smart objects and translate them into innovative products, services and processes able to radically transform the organizations in which they work, thus raising their level of competitiveness.

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