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How Different Industries Are Adopting the Connected Space

How IoT is affecting different industries, the leaders and the ones who are just starting to catch up.

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There are three tropes that always show up when you talk about the internet of things: human redundancy, the industries that will be first and the ones that are already there. We’re pretty interested in the latter and have been digging into a wealth of companies already adopting the IoT connected space.

The thing about IoT is that everyone’s looking out for a huge, futuristic vision where our refrigerators and security systems are talking to us when actually, it’s so much simpler than that. The connected space is fueled by a series of small, discrete touchpoints that make our lives easier, faster, better. They’re often not visible to the naked eye, nor should they be. Like the iPhone, the best forms of technology are the ones that make interaction seamless and innate.

Here are how five key industries are adopting IoT in exactly that way.

Healthcare and the connected space

Healthcare has long been held up as an industry that’s already beginning to adopt IoT, but is it ready? In healthcare, the “things” are not actually as relevant as the systems they improve and create.

For example, at home you might like to have your refrigerator talk to you when you run out of milk. That’s fine for one person or one family and it’s useful in a sense. In a hospital setting, it’s not enough to have one monitor or one screen talking to one person.

Here, the adoption of the connected space needs to be the adoption of the internet of systems, where things and processes are joined up to create a new system or way of doing things.

As we mention in this article, the four individual areas that will make up the connected space system include:

  • Wearable medical devices or devices the patient already owns
  • Patient tracking machines and connected healthcare devices that collate data and manage medication or treatment plans
  • Smarter hospital “things” (doors, beds, TV screens and so on)
  • Doctor tracking devices and aids to everyday systems and checks

Another part of the healthcare connected space is security. As one specialist at the University of Maryland stated: "Security should be part of the design requirements of the [healthcare] system. Software security is the biggest area of vulnerability."

With so many aspects to consider, yet such a huge amount of benefits on offer once implemented, it will be a race of procedure against budget for the connected healthcare space.

Education and the connected space

Education is one industry that, despite being largely or partly NFP, is managing to make progress in IoT-enabled classrooms. Schools throughout the UK, USA and China are creating connected classrooms that join up teaching both in the classroom and the wider world.

Applications for the connected education space are being developed rapidly. After all, the “internet of school things” is unlikely to go away. The benefits for students are huge. Imagine an IoT-enabled classroom of the future where everyone, regardless of language, disability or learning level, is connected. Smart learning aids, whiteboards, digital screens and such items all connect student to teacher and to the learning method they like best.

The connected education space becomes a learning environment much like the internet itself: where preferences are taken into consideration and learnings are made about behavior and past experience.

Rather than school being something you go to, then return from, it becomes a much more joined up unit between home and school, parent, teacher and student.

IoT begins disrupting the classic learning format as early as kindergarten and can carry on going as far as higher education, moving away from a static system and space which hasn’t changed much in decades.

Retail and the connected space

Innovation in retail happens at an almighty pace. After all, these are the guys with the budgets, right?

Part of the pull of the connected space for retailers and brands is the “bring your own device” (BYOD) element. Unlike schools and potentially healthcare, most shoppers will have a smartphone already attached to their person.

All the retailer has to do is to tap into this. This puts far less strain on the physical infrastructure of the connected retail space and more onus on how it can adapt and cocoon the people close by.

Still, IoT-enabled retail spaces are far more than just an exercise in connecting wearable devices and phones to gadgets or screens. It’s about changing the level of interaction and the flow of movement.

It’s about understanding the consumer and adapting the physical space as a result. Of course your beacon can reach out and tug on the smartphone of any passer-by. The question is: should it?

There are obvious threats for those retailers who are already refusing to adapt to the connected retail space. Yet things are equally as tenuous for those who adapt and adapt wrong.

In this article, we looked at applications for the connected space—the ones that are being proposed in vision (Minority Report came up a lot) and the ones which are actually feasible.

In looking at the vision vs the reality, we found this: unlike some industries, the smart connected retail store is already here. Many of the devices we encounter are already connected and we don’t even realize it (this is good). The big ideas need a little more work—and mainly thought—to make them customer-centric and not just annoying.

For the connected retail space, that’s where the future vision will adapt and grow.

Hospitality and the connected space

How do you implement IoT into an industry that has a fixed infrastructure? Quite easily, apparently. Hotels have been adopting “smart” systems for years, even before IoT hype took hold. Think of your regular hotel system like air conditioning, elevators, heaters, thermostats, room card keys. Most of them are smart already.

The way IoT will impact hospitality most as an industry will be through individual smart systems which join up into one larger connected space. Then it will be through the secondary and third benefits of IoT. Right now, most hotels are looking at customer experience and improved flow; once this becomes implemented as standard, benefits such as energy conservation and improved efficiency will need to be second on the list.

Smart cities, on the other hand, are certainly not the norm. Security and data management in a city will be much harder to manage than in a hotel room or floor.

Yet with the right infrastructure and management, the benefits of data from IoT-enabled city spaces will have an untold effect on tourism and the efficiency of moving visitors around a city.

The connected workspace

The workplace is one space that’s going to look completely different once the connected office takes hold. For many years, we’ve been focused on company culture and what the physical space looks like and how that appeals to employees.

The internet of things is yet another wave of new products, applications, services and solutions that are re-imagining the office environment.

This will lead to improved and more efficient working for employees and a big change in day-to-day management of departments such as the sales floor and traditional HR.

Some of the ways the connected workplace is changing physically, whether for health, safety or performance reasons, is through smart lighting and heating, power-tracking algorithms, smart meeting rooms and more employee tracking.

Meanwhile, screens—or “wall rivers,” as some futurists are already calling them—will facilitate communication. Already, we are helping offices to share real time traffic information, news and sport updates with employees.

Consulting firm McKinsey Global Institute estimates that IoT applications for the office could provide a productivity improvement of 10%, while activity monitoring could improve productivity by 5%. Meanwhile, energy monitoring could result in savings of 20%, and IoT security applications could reduce labor costs by 20%-50%.

The third wave of the internet will reduce jobs, increase jobs, make work easier and security harder. If you look closely, you’ll already see it taking hold.

The best industries currently adopting IoT to create the connected space are the ones doing it without a big song and dance—in which incremental steps and long-term visions are working towards a better world where things are connected and people can move through with ease. Whether that’s in healthcare, retail, the workplace or education, we’re excited to see where each industry (effortlessly) takes us.

 SC Gradient

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