What is an IoT solution?

January 2, 2022

A system of smart connected objects

Seen from above, an Internet of Things (IoT) solution is a system of physical objects connected to the Internet. These systems rely on sensors, embedded systems, communication networks and a combination of various remote computing resources, to transfer, extract and enrich real-time data without any human intervention. IoT solutions include specific software exploiting these data and connectivity to provide business users with smart services that solve their day to day problems. Asset tracking solutions, condition monitoring dashboards, alerting tools, remote command applications, augmented reality and connected products as a service are improving our working life and modernizing industries.
Surging across all industrial and commercial sectors like a tsunami, IoT is disrupting and transforming how businesses operate and work. If you are part of the 50% of companies who have not yet attempted IoT or if you have not yet reaped the rewards, this article is for you!
Surging across all industrial and commercial sectors like a tsunami, IoT is disrupting and transforming how businesses operate and work. If you are part of the 50% of companies who have not yet attempted IoT or if you have not yet reaped the rewards, this article is for you!
The Industrial Internet of Things is indeed a massive wave that can no longer be ignored, and that is flooding over all industries. With a current growth rate of 25%, the global IoT market is expected to grow, according to the latest report from IoT Analytics, by several hundred billion dollars within the next 5 years, before reaching $1.5 trillion by 2027. On a global scale, the number of connected objects in 2025 is expected to reach 31 billion, which is ten times more than a decade ago. This means that there will be an average of 4 to 5 connected entities for every inhabitant of this planet!

IoT Solutions are built to solve real problems

A study, published by Gartner reveals that the COVID-19 health crisis has accelerated the adoption of IoT by businesses, despite the slowing down of global economy in 2020. Indeed, with more and more people forced to work from home, companies have had no choice but to adapt the way they operate. Companies have also become more aware of the necessity to operate their factories, equipment or products remotely, to ensure service continuity and to monitor sanitary conditions. Even though budget resources have not yet been fully mobilized, the strategic aspect of IoT has become clear and obvious to executives and operational teams alike.
Another driving factor behind the spread of IoT is the looming climate crisis. Indeed, monitoring and analyzing environmental data in real-time makes it possible to measure temperatures and weather conditions, the emission of glasshouse gases and pollution, as well as water levels, in order to detect anomalies and take preventive, instead of corrective measures. For example, placing sensors in the streets would help reduce traffic and pollution, thereby reducing noise pollution as well. With IoT, over hundreds of billions of liters of petrol and water could be saved worldwide in the next ten years. Specific applications which help to locate the source of waste and to limit the use of resources such as energy, raw materials, or even water, are continuously being developed.
Industrial companies will also increasingly face pressure to comply with new regulations, and many are already preparing for this. In the outcome of the Grenelle Environment Forum (Grenelle de l’Environnement) in France, the new Environmental Norm (Réglementation Environnementale RT 2020), which has come into force on January 1, 2022, stipulates that all new buildings must be built in such a way as to produce as much energy, if not more, than their total consumption. It thus regulates the energy consumption of buildings, imposing a maximum energy consumption of 100 kWh/m² per year per single-family house. The building’s energy needs must be estimated precisely, measured in real-time and covered by equivalent or greater renewable energy production, itself closely monitored.
An IoT solution is first and foremost designed to solve a well-identified problem and to provide a measurable benefit using real-time data or remote access. It is not just an extraordinary technology but a powerful instrument.

An IoT solution is first and foremost designed to solve a well-identified problem and to provide a measurable benefit using real-time data or remote access. It is a powerful instrument to transform business and increase efficiency.

What are the outcomes of IoT solutions?

Companies rely on IoT to:
 1) reduce their operational costs;
2) boost their business operations;
3) correct and improve current processes
4) adapt to hybrid working methods;
5) deeply transform their business model. 

IoT solutions can bring multiple benefits to businesses. In most cases, companies rely on IoT firstly to reduce their operational costs and boost their business operations. By harvesting and analyzing real-time data of a specific equipment, they are able to measure with great precision what exactly is happening on the field and be rapidly alerted of any malfunctions: product defect, excessive temperature, abnormal position, engine failure… Then, this information is used to rapidly  correct and improve current processes, before the end-user even has time to notice the problem. Thanks to IoT, which improves remote visibility, it is easier for connected companies to adapt to hybrid working methods, combining remote and face-to-face work, saving office space, transport expenses and consequently reducing their environmental impact. Finally, with the help of this technology, companies can deeply transform their business model – the Holy Grail of digital transformation – by delivering their product as a service, on a subscription basis.

Take the example of a smart city, which implements a wide variety of IoT solutions to improve water distribution, traffic control, waste management, environmental monitoring and urban safety. For this city, waste management is a major issue and the main budget item. Did you know that in France, each citizen generates around ½ ton of waste per year? With the help of Stackeo IoT solution manager, enabling us to model and simulate the cost and ROI of connected solutions, we discovered that a smart waste collection system, based on measuring the filling level of containers by IoT, could reduce costs by at least 30%. Indeed, the field data injected into the garbage truck route optimization algorithm helps to drastically reduce fuel costs, inconvenience and pollution caused by traffic jams. Applying this innovation to a city like Toulouse – whose waste collection and recycling budget was €101M in 2019, that is to say an average of €131 per inhabitant or €0.27 per kg of waste – would reduce taxation by €100 to €200 per family and per year. Twice as much could be saved if citizens are also incentivized to contribute to reducing pollution, thanks to a taxation policy based on measuring the filling of waste containers, promoting the adoption of a zero-waste reflex.
Industrial IoT can be applied not only to smart cities, but also to smart buildings, smart grids, precision agriculture, connected hospitals and connected vehicles, as well as factories. All these innovations can lead to virtuous, eco-friendly behaviors.

What are the IoT solutions types?

Many solutions and technologies are emerging. In each economic sector, IoT solutions are invented to provide tailored services in relation to tractors in agriculture, patients in hospitals, production lines in manufacturing, interconnection or delivery stations in the case of a gas pipeline, etc… 
1- Telemetry based on sensors like temperature, humidity, pression, vibration, level sensors, is often the first type of solution implemented; followed by
2- Tracking solutions via geolocation; 
3- Alerting and remote diagnosis to prevent failures using preventive maintenance, even predictive maintenance;
4- Remote control through automated machines (PLC), robots and connected drones;
5- Remote surveillance through cameras and image analysis. 

45% of IoT solutions are pre-packaged and sold by pure-players, named IoT Solutions Providers. The other 55% are tailored solutions often built in-house to solve a specific problem that turn-key solutions do not solve well. But the build or buy IoT solution decision is not always an easy one to make.
Companies that have successfully built a custom-made solution are sometimes looking to industrialize and sell it as a new product, transforming themselves into IoT Solution Providers. This is a way to get a good return on the initial investment.

Take away

With the power of augmenting companies with new and valuable data, the IoT digital revolution is inevitable, and getting on board with it is a must.
Organizations that have already adopted IoT are positioning themselves as market leaders and gaining a significant competitive advantage. To remain competitive, all companies must quickly transform themselves with IoT.
Companies can leverage IoT solutions to reduce their operational costs,   improve current processes or deeply transform their business model.
Today many turn-key IoT solutions are sold by Solution Providers. For late adopters, this is certainly the quickest and safest pathway to start an IoT journey. Ultimately to transform a business with IoT-based services, building a custom-made system will be inevitable. To reach this stage, the company will have to reduce the IoT skill gap and surround itself with trusted IoT partners.

About Stackeo - At Stackeo, we have a long experience in business analysis, design thinking, network architecture and software development of Industrial Internet and Cloud solutions. We have developed unique tools based on a top-down method for ensuring the IoT success of our customers. We deliver the first low-code and intelligent software that assists teams in planning and running at scale turn-key or custom-made Internet of Things solutions. Contact us or follow us on LinkedIn if you want to learn more about it.