Besides creating the entire connected device industry, the Internet of Things (IoT) has now become a critical part of many organizations’ digital transformation initiatives. Companies using IoT data are benefiting in myriad ways, including improving decision-making, achieving operational efficiencies, upgrading the customer experience, and seeing cost savings from proactive equipment maintenance. IoT data is everywhere, powering companies of all sizes in a wide range of industries. This article answers the question, “What is IoT?” It also looks at how IoT works and how today’s businesses use IoT data.
What Is IoT, and How Does It Work?
IoT is the network of physical objects embedded with technology that connects them to the internet and to other devices and systems. These objects collect and share data about the way they’re being used and about their environment. Nearly any physical object can be transformed into an IoT device, as long as it can be connected to the internet. IoT devices include everything from fitness trackers to smart home appliances to connected industrial equipment.
IoT technology works by using built-in sensors, software, and communication hardware to collect and send data generated by their usage and environment. IoT devices share this data through an IoT gateway or platform or another IoT device. Data is typically sent to the cloud for storage and analysis. IoT technology is frequently used in situations that can be automated for efficiency or in dangerous environments that pose a risk to human health and safety. But it’s also used in a variety of other cases to support better decision-making.
Types of IoT Data
IoT data comes in three different types, based on the device generating it and the use case.
Status data: Status data is basic, raw data that communicates the status of a device or system.
Automation data: This type of data is created by automated devices and systems such as smart thermostats and automated lighting.
Location data: Location data communicates the geographical location of the device or system. It’s frequently used in logistics, warehousing, and manufacturing.
The Business Value of IoT Data
Today’s organizations are using IoT data in many ways to achieve various business goals. These six advantages produce much of the interest in IoT and organizational initiatives to include more IoT data in a company’s data strategy.
1. Increase productivity and efficiency
With data from connected systems, you can identify bottlenecks and opportunities to increase efficiency. You can also run tests to see which processes offer the most significant productivity gains.
2. Gain contextual awareness of equipment and systems
Know how your equipment is performing and what machines are due for maintenance or experiencing issues. Prevent many problems from occurring at all, and quickly solve them when they do arise.
3. Create new business models and revenue streams
IoT data can help you identify how customers are using your products. With this information, you can create new business models, use cases, and revenue streams.
4. Improve the customer experience
By boosting performance, you’ll improve the customer experience. Additionally, with data from your products, you can spot opportunities for improvement. IoT data also informs product development.
5. Make marketing more effective
When you know how customers are using your products and how different market segments are implementing various use cases, you can target your marketing messages more precisely.
6. Increase safety and security
Using IoT security devices, you can increase the safety of your buildings, equipment, and other assets. You’ll also have a record of which employees were where at what time, helping you to identify internal security breaches if they occur.
How Industries Are Benefiting from IoT
IoT data gives companies the information they need for product innovations and operational improvements. While IoT technology is experiencing high usage in logistics and manufacturing, a wide variety of industries are benefiting from IoT technology. Here are a few examples:
Manufacturing companies use connected production line monitoring systems for proactive maintenance. IoT sensors can detect potential issues and output anomalies, and then send an alert. As a result, manufacturers are improving uptime and reducing operating costs.
The healthcare industry uses IoT monitoring to track everything from wheelchairs to equipment. IoT devices allow healthcare providers to quickly find the assets they need when they need them. IoT is also used for remote healthcare and monitoring and better management of infrastructure.
Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods
Retail and CPG companies can more efficiently manage inventory and improve their supply chains, reducing costs. IoT sensors can monitor inventory and send an alert when a SKU is low, for example.
Financial services companies are setting themselves apart by offering personalized financial advice to their customers. These companies are also functioning as a concierge that connects customers to other relevant services using IoT. Additionally, IoT is used for fine-tuning risk management and executing automatic payments.
Media and entertainment
Using data collected from IoT sensors, media companies target customers with personalized ads geared toward their immediate needs. And those in the entertainment industry can track their customers and products, and monitor their premises.
Cities are using smart devices to automate lighting, track parking usage, and notify residents of outages, among many other things. IoT data also informs city planning.
Snowflake for IoT Analytics
To benefit from IoT data, organizations must start with sufficient data infrastructure and appropriate architecture, and they must be able to manage IoT data coming from various locations. Additionally, their data platform must support stream processing across data pipelines to ensure they can access IoT data in real time. And, of course, they must prioritize security and privacy for compliance.
The Snowflake Data Cloud is ideal for IoT data. It provides flexible and elastic compute and storage and can ingest the diverse data sets that IoT devices produce. Streaming and non-streaming data pipelines are both fully supported, and Snowflake's Streams and Tasks features enable you to build data pipelines. Snowflake’s platform empowers users with the data analytics applications needed to uncover actionable insights quickly. And security and governance tools ensure that sensitive data maintained by your organization is protected and help you achieve and maintain regulatory compliance.
See Snowflake’s IoT data capabilities for yourself. Spin up a Snowflake free trial to:
Explore the Snowflake UI and sample data sets
Process semi-structured data with full JSON support
Instantly scale compute resources up and down to handle unexpected workloads and unique concurrency needs
Set up and test-run data pipelines and connect to leading BI tools
Experiment with programmatic access
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